Dalai Lama Fast Facts

Updated 9:31 AM EDT, Fri July 10, 2020

Here is a look at the life of his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, Buddhist spiritual leader of the people of Tibet.

Personal

Birth date: July 6, 1935

Birth place: Taktser, Amdo, Eastern Tibet

Birth name: Lhamo Dhondup

Father: Choekyong Tsering

Mother: Dekyi Tsering

Education: Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy), 1959

Other Facts

The Dalai Lamas are considered the manifestations of the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people.

This Dalai Lama, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatsois, is the 74th manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, the enlightened Buddha of compassion.

Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wishfulfilling Gem, or simply Kundun – The Presence.

Has traveled to numerous countries with a message of religious and cultural tolerance and peace.

Awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Timeline

1938 - Is taken from his family in Taktser to the Kumbum monastery after a delegation of monks looking for the new Dalai Lama find him.

February 22, 1940 - Enthronement ceremony takes place in Lhasa, Tibet. His birth name is forfeited and he assumes the name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso.

November 8, 1950 - Chinese soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army invade Tibet at Lhasa.

November 17, 1950 - The Dalai Lama assumes full political power as Tibetan Head of State and Government ahead of schedule. Investiture is moved up from his 18th birthday as a result of China’s invasion of Tibet.

1954-1959 - Participates in unsuccessful peace talks in Beijing with Chinese leaders including Mao Tse-Tung, Chou En-lai and Deng Xiaoping. In 1959, the talks end when the Chinese army forces 80,000 Tibetan refugees into exile.

March 17, 1959 - Goes into exile; leaves Lhasa for India dressed as a soldier.

April 21, 1959 - Officially takes up residence in exile in Mussoorie, India.

1960 - Dharamsala, India, becomes home to the Dalai Lama and headquarters of the government-in-exile of Tibet.

1963 - Enacts a new Tibetan democratic constitution based on Buddhist principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

September 30, 1973 - Meets with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican, the first ever meeting of a pope and a spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

May 1977 - The Chinese government makes the Dalai Lama a conditional offer, the opportunity to return to Tibet after acceptance of Chinese rule over Tibet. The offer is rejected.

August 3, 1979 - Arrives in the United States for a 49-day tour.

February 2, 1986 - Meets with Pope John Paul II in New Delhi.

September 1987 - Attends the Congressional Human rights Caucus in Washington, DC, and proposes a Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet’s future.

1989 - Wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to the nonviolent liberation of Tibet.

April 16, 1991 - White House meeting with US President George H. W. Bush, the first ever between the spiritual leader and a president of the United States.

May 6, 1993 - Meets with US President Bill Clinton and US Vice President Al Gore at the White House.

September 1995 - Tours the United States urging government involvement with talks with China over Tibetan autonomy.

March 27, 1997 - Meets with President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan in Taipei.

December 25, 1997 - Disney, through Touchstone Pictures, releases the biopic “Kundun,” directed by Martin Scorsese.

November 10, 1998 - Requests assistance in opening official negotiations with China regarding the future of Tibet at a meeting of senior government officials in Washington, DC, that includes Clinton. The Dalai Lama says that the distrust between himself and China is too great to re-open the talks.

May 2001 - Meets with US President George W. Bush, Congressional leaders and US Secretary of State Colin Powell, among others in Washington, DC.

2002 - Speaks out against China, stating that China should embrace democracy if the country is to be a major world power in the coming years. He also criticizes the United States-led war on terrorism, saying that the use of force to override terrorists overlooks the underlying problems that lead to terrorism.

September 2003 - Begins a 16-day tour of the United States in San Francisco. Other cities he visits include New York; Boston; Washington, DC; and Bloomington, Indiana, meeting again with Bush and Powell.