- Buddhist Tibet: 7th - 8th century AD
- Tibet and China: 7th - 13th century AD
- Dalai Lamas: from the 14th century
- Spiritual rulers of Tibet: 1642-1912 AD
- Panchen Lamas: from the 17th century
- Manchu protection: 1720-1911 AD
- Tibet Subject to Western Aggression
- Communist Invasion
- Chinese Aggression in Tibet
Dalai Lamas: from the 14th century
From the 8th century various Buddhist monasteries in Tibet acquire strongly defined identities and become in effect separate sects within Tibetan Buddhism. Their abbots are men of power and importance.
In the 14th century the abbot of one such monastery declares that his reincarnated future self must be found and made abbot in his turn. The abbot dies in 1338. A child, born in 1340, is judged to be his reincarnation and is brought up to be head of the sect. These first two spiritual leaders, in a sequence still continuing, are later given the retrospective title of Dalai Lama. They are believed to have been incarnations of a Bodhisattva.
The third reincarnated abbot is the first to be called Dalai Lama in his lifetime. He is given the title by an admiring khan of one of the Mongol tribes. Dalai, relating to a Mongol word meaning 'ocean', is chosen to suggest the breadth and depth of the Lama's wisdom. Lama is the Tibetan word for 'superior', applied to a priest or a monk.
Perhaps not surpisingly, in view of this close link with the powerful Mongols, the fourth Dalai Lama is discovered in the person of a young Mongol prince. During his subsequent reincarnation, from 1617 to 1682 as the fifth Dalai Lama, there comes into being the form of government which until recent times has remained characteristic of Tibet.