Author Topic: The hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism  (Read 8309 times)


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The hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism
« on: September 17, 2012, 08:25:25 AM »
Around 1400, Tsong Khapa reformed the Tibetan Buddhism, and founded the Gelug school. This school, known as the 'yellow hats', became very popular in Mongolia as well as in Tibet. In 1578, the Mongol ruler Alta Khan met Sonam Gyatso, said to be the second reincarnation of Tsong Khapa's amin disciple. Like Prince Godan, the great Khan was impressed by this spiritual leader and was converted to a Buddhist. He bestowed the title 'Dalai' on Sonam Gyatso, as an acknowledgment to his deep understanding in Buddhism. The institution of Dalai Lama was then crested.

Sonam Gyattso was the third Dalai Lama, as his previous two incarnations (Gendun Gyatso and Gendun Druba) were given the same title posthumously. The Fourth Dalai Lama was given to the Alta Khan's family, and this secured the relationship between the two countries. The Fourth Dalai Lama became the political as well as the spiritual leader of Tibet.

98.9   The 'Great Fifth'

In 1642, the 'Great Fifth' became the first Dalai Lama to lead a united Tibet. He wrote many books and mastered the Tantric arts. Being a powerful leader, he gained hegemony over the military in Tibet, and was well respected by the Tibetans. Due to the political stability and independence, Tibet enjoyed three uninterrupted succession of Dalai Lamas peacefully.

98.10   Tibetan Buddhism in 20th Century

The 13th Dalai Lam (1876-1933) was a great ruler who planned to improve the economy and the education system, and to reform the monasteries. Unfortunately, Tibet was invaded by the British army and forced to sign the unfair trade agreement. Moreover, the Chinese general Chao Erh-feng organized a number of brutal raids into Tibet, and attempted to capture the 13th Dalai Lama. The 13th Dalai Lama had to flee to India and died in 1933 when the political situation of Tibet was still in chaos.

In 1937, Reting Rinpoche succeeded in searching the reincarnation of Dalai Lama in Eastern Tibet. After a number of tests and verifications, the 4-year-old boy was enthroned as the new Dalai Lama, 14th in his line. That is the Dalai Lama today, who was born in 1935. His name is Tenzin Gyatso.


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Re: The hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 10:25:25 AM »
Tibetan Buddhism is divided into a hierarchy consisting of the higher and lower clergy. The two supreme positions belong to the Dalai and Panchen Lamas. Theoretically, the two Lamas hold equal power; however, the Dalai Lama is considered more powerful because he possesses a greater temporal jurisdiction. Next in command are the Hutukhtus, or the spiritual dignitaries. Following them are the Bodhisattvas. The Bodhisattvas are those Buddhists who have undergone intense ethical and spiritual discipline. These three spiritual orders create the Tibetan Buddhist higher clergy. The lower clergy is recruited purely on the basis of spirituality . The lower clergy is divided into four factions ranking from highest to lowest: abbot, religious mendicant, priest and novice. Each of these four orders take a vow of celibacy and most live in monasteries.