the title of the high priest of Lamaism in Tibet. The institution of the Dalai Lama originated at the beginning of the 15th century, when Lamaism was established and a unique feudal-theocratic form of government was founded. One of the dogmas of Lamaism was the principle of the reincarnation of a soul, according to which the Dalai Lama does not die but is reincarnated in a child born at the moment the Dalai Lama dies. In accordance with this dogma, the Dalai Lama was chosen by an established ritual from among Tibetan boys born immediately after the death of the previous Dalai Lama.
On coming of age, the Dalai Lama became not only the spiritual but also the secular ruler of Tibet. However, he often was in fact only an obedient instrument in the hands of his mentors—representatives of feudal-theocratic forces. Tibetan high priests began to bear the title Dalai Lama in the 16th century. The last (14th) Dalai Lama, Jetsun Jampel Ngawang Lhasang Yishey Tensing Gyatso (born 1935), cooperated at first with the government of the People’s Republic of China, but after the armed rebellion against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959 he emigrated to India.