The First Dalai Lama

Who is the First Dalai Lama of Tibet?


The First Dalai Lama is Gedun Drupa

The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa, was born in 1391 in a cowshed in Gyurmey Rupa, near Sakya in the U-tsang region of central Tibet. The son of Gonpo Dorjee and Jomo Namkha Kyi, he came into a tibetan nomad family and was raised as a shepherd until the age of seven. His birth name was Pema Dorjee meaning Vajra-Lotus.

Ordains as a Monk...

In 1405, at the age of 14, he was ordained as a Monk or took his novice vows from Khenchen Drupa Sherab, the abbot of Narthang Monastery who gave him the name Gedun Drupa. (The person being ordained is usually given one of the names of the ordination master. Usually Tibetan monks and nuns have many tibetan names and it gets a bit confusing!)

Later in 1411, he took the Gelong vows or full ordination from the same abbot. Tibetan monks usually cannot take full ordination until the age of 20 as there are a large number of vows and one really needs to be a bit more mature to fully understand them all.

Becomes Lama Tsong Khapa's Disciple...

At the age of 20 the first Dalai Lama became a disciple of the Great Lama Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) who some say was his uncle.

Around this time he also became the first abbot of Ganden Monastery, (not far from the Tibet capital, Lhasa) one of the four great Gelug Monasteries, founded by Lama Tsongkhapa himself in 1409.

He was given a set of monks robes by his new teacher, a sign that he would spread the Buddhist Teachings all over the plateau of Tibet.

Establishes Tashi Lhunpo Monastery...

In 1447, the first Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa founded the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet, which became one of the largest monastic universities of the Gelug school. (There are 3 other schools in Tibetan Buddhism: Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma) The three other large monasteries are Sera, Ganden and Drepung. (All four have been re-established in south India where the freedom to practice Tibetan Buddhism and meditation is possible unlike in Tibet these days under the chinese regime)

Tashi Lhunpo later became the seat of the Panchen Lama. (With no concern for tibetan rights or freedoms, the chinese government kidnapped the current Panchen Lama at the age of 6 and declared their own in his place! As if the chinese communists know anything about recognizing a reincarnated lama! Ah...last time I checked, this was not part of the communist doctrine!)

Writes Books on Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy...

Throughout his life, the First Lama Dalai, Gedun Drupa was widely acknowledged as a scholar and a saint. He wrote many books on his insights into the Buddha’s teachings and philosophy. These books by the Dalai Lama are still available today.

How the Search for the Next Reincarnation begins...

In the Dalai Lama biography, it says that Palden Lhamo (Protecting deity of Tibet) promised the first Dalai Lama that the line of Dalai Lamas would represent the Bodhisattva Chenrezig, deity of compassion and that she would protect the reincarnating lineage. For this reason, when beginning the search for each new Dalai Lama, the monks meditate at the sacred lake called Lhamo La-tso as Palden Lhamo is also a guardian of the lake.

Hopefully a vision will send them in the right direction to find the Tibetan baby who will be the next Dalai Lama.

The First Dalai Lama Dies in 1474...

In 1474, Gedun Drupa died in meditation at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery at the age of 84. He had presided over the monastery for more than 20 years.

This is a brief history of how the Dalai Lama lineage began; it is very important in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.

Did you know that some people actually write ‘Dolly Lama’! (Well hello dolly, you are looking swell dolly...)

I have also seen ‘Dalai llama’...isn’t a llama one of those strange looking south america animals...?! oops...

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