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Tibetan Buddhism

Padmasambhava, Founder of the Nyingma school

Tibetian Buddhism — formerly also called Lamaism, after their religious gurus known as lamas — is the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and the Himalayan region. Aside from Tibet, it is widely practised in northern Nepal, Bhutan, and northern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim). It is also practiced in Mongolia and parts of Russia (Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva) and Northeast China. It is a multifaceted and integrated teaching, naturally implementing methods for all human-condition levels: Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana (Tantric Path) and Ati Yoga (Dzogchen). Although Tibetan Buddhism comprises many distinct schools, it is primarily divided into four main traditions: Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug, and Sakya.

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The Jokhang Temple, (Tibetan: ཇོ་ཁང་Wylie: Jo-khang; Chinese: 大昭寺pinyin: Dàzhāosì), is the first Buddhist temple in Tibet, located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. It was built during the reign of king Songsten Gampo (605?-650 CE) to celebrate his marriage with Chinese Tang Dynasty princess Wencheng, who was a Buddhist. The temple was called the Tsulag Khang or 'House of Wisdom' but it is now known as the Jokhang which means the 'House of the Buddha'.[1]

For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pansectarian, but is presently controlled by the Gelug school.

Along with the Potala Palace, it is the most popular tourist attraction in Lhasa. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace" and a spiritual centre of Lhasa.


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Gendun Drup
The 1st Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup, also Gendun Drub and Kundun Drup (1391–1474) is retrospectively considered to be the first of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet, who are believed to be reincarnations of Chenresig (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara), the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Gendun Drup was born in a cowshed in Gyurmey Rupa, near Sakya in the Tsang region of central Tibet, the son of Gonpo Dorjee and Jomo Namkha Kyi, nomadic tribespeople. He was raised as a shepherd until the age of seven. His birth name was Pema Dorje (Tibetan: པད་མ་རྡོ་རྗེ་Wylie: pad ma rdo rje, Vajra Lotus/Lotus Vajra) . Later, he was placed in Nartang (Nar-thang) monastery. In 1405 he took his novice vows from the abbot of Narthang, Khenchen Drupa Sherab. When he was 20, about 1411, he became fully ordained into the monkhood. He received the name Gendun Drubpa upon taking the vows of a fully ordained monk (gelong) from the abbot of Narthang monastery. At twenty years of age he became a disciple of Tsongkhapa (1357 – 1419) and the first abbot of Ganden Monastery, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409.

By the middle of his life he had become one of the most esteemed scholar-saints in the country. Gendun Drup was a student of the great scholar and reformer Tsongkhapa.

It is said that Palden Lhamo, the female guardian spirit of the sacred lake, Lhamo La-tso, promised the First Dalai Lama in one of his visions "that she would protect the reincarnation lineage of the Dalai Lamas".



Tradionally, Tibetan Buddhism knows four principal schools: Nyingma, Karma Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. Since the 20th century the traditional religion of Tibet, Bön, has been adopted as the fifth school of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Dalai Lamas

There have been 14 recognized reincarnations of the Dalai Lama:
  1. Gendun Drup 1391–1474
  2. Gendun Gyatso 1475–1541
  3. Sonam Gyatso 1543–1588
  4. Yonten Gyatso 1589–1616
  5. Lobsang Gyatso 1617–1682
  6. Tsangyang Gyatso 1683–1706
  7. Kelzang Gyatso 1708–1757
  8. Jamphel Gyatso 1758–1804
  9. Lungtok Gyatso 1806–1815
  10. Tsultrim Gyatso 1816–1837
  11. Khendrup Gyatso 1838–1856
  12. Trinley Gyatso 1857–1875
  13. Thubten Gyatso 1876–1933
  14. Tenzin Gyatso born 1935

Panchen Lamas

There have been 11 recognized reincarnations of the Panchen Lama:
  1. Khedrup Je 1385–1438
  2. Sönam Choklang 1438–1505
  3. Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup 1505–1568
  4. Lobsang Chökyi Gyalsten 1570–1662
  5. Lobsang Yeshe 1663–1737
  6. Lobsang Palden Yeshe 1738–1780
  7. Palden Tenpai Nyima 1782–1853
  8. Tenpai Wangchuk 1855?–1882
  9. Thubten Chökyi Nyima 1883–1937
  10. Lobsang Trinley Lhündrub Chökyi Gyaltsen 1938–1989
  11. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima 1989–?





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