Tibetan Buddhism

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Recently, Dalai Lama named a US-born Mongolian boy as the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

About Tibetan Buddhism:

  • Buddhism originated in India and became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD.
  • It evolved from the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism, incorporating many tantric and shamanic practices of both post-Gupta period Buddhism in India.
  • Tibetan Buddhism also incorporates the Bon religion which was spread across Tibet before Buddhism’s arrival.
  • Tibetan Buddhism has 4 major schools: Nyingma (8th century), Kagyu (11th century), Sakya (1073) and Gelug (1409)
  • The Janang school (12th century) is one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya school.

What is Gelug School?

  • Since 1640, the Gelug School has been the predominant school of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The Dalai Lama belongs to Gelug School (‘Dalai’ means ‘ocean’ in Mongol).
  • The Dalai Lama is the foremost spiritual and temporal authority of Tibet.
  • The 5th grand lama of the school, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, was first conferred the title of Dalai Lama. 
  • To consolidate his rule, he instituted the tradition of succession through reincarnation in the Gelug School.
  • He claimed to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, one of the most important Bodhisattvas in Mahayana traditions.


Q1) What is the Nyingma School of Buddhism?

The Nyingma School is also called Nyingmapa, is the oldest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It was established in Tibet during the reign of the Emperor Trisong Detsen (742-797 CE), who brought the tantric masters Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava to Tibet to teach and to found the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Source: The question of the Dalai Lama’s succession: what tradition says and Chinese interference