His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

Information about the Dalai Lama in conjunction with his address to the Monmouth University community on September 21, 2021.


Bstan-’dzin-rgya-mtsho (also spelled Tenzin Gyatso) was born as Lhamo Thondup on July 6, 1935, in the village of Taktser, Qinghai province, China. His parents were peasants of Tibetan birth. He was identified as the 14th Dalai Lama in 1937 and enthroned in 1940. He received an extensive education, and in 1959 he earned a degree equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.

The Dalai Lama assumed his full role as ruler of Tibet on November 17, 1950, at age 15. A month later he fled the advance of Chinese troops, which had entered Tibet in 1949. He returned to Lhasa in 1951 and spent several unsuccessful years attempting to make a peaceful and workable arrangement with China.

In 1959 the Chinese crushed an attempted revolution, killing tens of thousands of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama fled along with about 100 followers. They eventually settled in the Himalayas, in Dharmsala, India. There the Dalai Lama created a government-in-exile and waged a peaceful campaign to end the Chinese military presence. For his efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He received the Templeton Prize in 2012.

The Dalai Lama traveled widely, teaching, lecturing, and meeting with many world leaders. Wherever he went, he spoke out against Chinese abuses of Tibetans and the destruction of Tibetan culture. The first Dalai Lama to become a global public figure, he became a spokesman not only for his people but for Tibetan Buddhism. He wrote several books about Buddhism, as well as an autobiography.

After the Dalai Lama reached the age of 70, the question of his successor was repeatedly raised. In the first decade of the 21st century, he declared that the 15th Dalai Lama would be discovered not in Chinese-controlled Tibet but in exile. He later suggested that he might appoint his successor. The Chinese government rejected this idea, declaring that the tradition of selecting a new Dalai Lama by determining the reincarnation of the previous one had to be maintained. In 2011 the Dalai Lama stepped down as the political head of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

From: DALAI LAMA (B. 1935--D.). (2017). In N. Faulkner, L. Coakley, & E. Lachner (Eds.), People you should know. Britannica Digital Learning. Credo Reference: