Home Discussion Forum How did the Dalai Lama get his name?

How did the Dalai Lama get his name?

OK,, i understand this man is some sort of leader in Tibetan Buddhism, and that he is quite an improtant person but there are a few things i don’t know/understand…
1) How did he get to the top (i.e. was he elected?)
2) Why is he called a Dalai?
3) Is his real name (something) Lama? If not how did he get?
Please,, enlighten a very confused person…..


  1. “Dalai Lama” is a title. He got it when he was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous (13th) Dalai Lama.
    The present (14th) Dalai Lama’s actual name is “Tenzin Gyatso”.

  2. he was born around the time the last dalai lama died, he apparently recognised some of the old dalai lamas things without ever knowing him, so they ran some”tests” on him and they concluded that he was the last dalai lama reincarnated, then he was elected when he was 3 years old (or something like that, according to himself in The Dalai Lama Interview shown on youtube.. ) I think Dalai Lama is just the ttle of his position, like Pope, but i dont know if there is a translation of it meaning something per sae..

  3. He was not elected. He was “discovered” at age 8 to be the reincarnation of the former Dalai Lama. His real name is Tenzin Gayatsu. There have been many Dalai Lamas – it is a lineage kind of like the Pope.
    Lama means a teacher of Buddhism. Think of lama kind of like “Deacon” or “bishop” in other religions. The dalai lama is a specific lama – a specific teacher. Very much like the pope. The Pope is not his real name and neither is “Pope Benedict” whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger.

  4. The Dalai Lama that you are talking about is the 14th Dalai Lama to exsist.
    He was the fifth of 16 children born to a farming family in the village of Taktser in the Tibetan province of Amdo where he learned the Amdo dialect of Tibetan as his first language. He was proclaimed the tulku (rebirth) of the thirteenth Dalai Lama two years after he was born.
    “Dalai” means “Ocean” in Mongolian, and is a translation of the Tibetan name “Gyatso”, while “Lama” is the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit word “guru”, and is commonly translated to mean “spiritual teacher”.
    His real name is Tenzin Gyatso

  5. It’s a title which has been handed down for centuries by the sect of which he is the spiritual leader, he stands for peace, is from Tibetan descent, but has fled to India where he is keeping safe from the Chinese who has been prosecuting Tibetans for centuries.
    He is selected during a ritual, (like the Pope) but the title could go from father to son, (like a Sovereign title).


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