You must have heard about a great spiritual leader named the Dalai Lama. Whom does it refer to? Let us first understand about a religion called Buddhism. In 520 BC, a great man named Gautama Buddha reached enlightenment. People who followed his preaching were soon called Buddhists. Buddhism is followed all over in Southeast Asia, China and some parts of Russia and Netherlands. Their places of worships are called monasteries which are looked after by monks. A monk is someone similar to priest.
In Tibet, the biggest follower of Buddhism, the spiritual leader is called Dalai Lama. In Mongolian Dalai means ocean and b-Lama (b is silent) means teacher. The Dalai Lama is considered to be the wisest teacher and leader. The Tibetans believe in the concept of “reincarnation”. It means that a Dalai Lama after his death gets reborn as a new person to spread the love and continue his life’s work that he had left behind. So how do buddhists recognise the new Dalai Lama? Well, there is a special priest that has visions and mystical knowledge about the newborn Dalai Lama. The chosen priests begin their search and find the child who matches all the requirements. The chosen kid is trained at the monastery at an early age and takes over the state when fully educated. The 14th and the current Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935 in Taktser, China. His parents called him Lhamo Thondup. He was fully educated by the age of 15. He was then the head of the political power of Tibet as the Dalai Lama.
In 1959, China attacked Tibet and Dalai lama and his followers had to flee Tibet to save their lives. He now lives in exile in Dharamsala, Uttar Pradesh in India. Since then, the Dalai Lama has taken numerous peaceful actions to free Tibet. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sadly, the age old tradition of Dalai Lamas might fade away in future as the current Dalai Lama lives outside Tibet and the new one would need to do the same, which might be unacceptable to the people of Tibet.