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Dalai Lama & Panchen Lama

Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama

A lama is a teacher. They are often a senior member of a monastic community - a monk or a nun - but
lay people and married people can also be lamas. They are very often reincarnations of previous lamas.
As well as being learned in Buddhist texts and philosophy, lamas often have particular skills in ritual.
The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, both of the Gelugpa lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, are at the
top of the lama hierarchy in old Tibet. They used to be the Tibetans’ religious and administrative leaders
. The Dalai Lama ruled Utsang (front Tibet) while the Panchen Lama ruled Tsang (rear Tibet).
Dalai is a Mongol word meaning ocean, and refers to the depth of the Dalai Lama's wisdom. The Dalai
Lama is considered the incarnation of Chenrezi (Avalokiteshvarra), Bodhisattva of Compassion and the
patron deity of Tibet by Tibetan people. There have been fourteen Dalai Lamas, each one considered a
reincarnation of the former. The first Dalai Lama to bear the title was the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso. (The two previous incarnations were
named "Dalai Lama" after their deaths.) The current Dalai Lama (2002), Tenzin Gyatso, was born in Amdo, Tibet in 1935 and is the fourteenth
Dalai Lama.

The title of Panchen, Great Scholar, was conferred on Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen by Qosot Mongol
Gushri Khan in 1645. Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen was the fourth Panchen Lama and the three abbots
before him were conferred the title posthumously. In 1713, Emperor Kangxi conferred the title of
Panchen Erdeni (Erdeni, in Manchurian, means treasure) to the fifth Panchen Lama. The Panchen
Lama is esteemed as the incarnation of Amitayus, Buddha of Infinite Light. Tashilungpo Monastery is
the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas. Till now there have been eleven Panchen Lamas. The
eleventh Panchen, identified in 1995, now lives in China.


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