Among all the Buddhist countries of Asia, the highest developments of
Indian Buddhism were preserved in Tibet. All schools of Buddhism in
Tibet maintain the monastic discipline of the Vinaya the graduated
spiritual practices and philosophical systems based on the Sutra and
their commentaries, the shastras, and the esoteric meditative practices
associated with the Tatras. Different school developed in different
periods of Tibetan history, each derived from distinctive lineages or
transmissions of the Indian Buddhism.
The oldest, the Nyingmapa, are associated with the early dissemination of Buddhism during the period of the Yalung Dynasty. The Sakyapa and the Kagyupa, along with the Kadampa, appeared in the 11th century on the basis of later developments in Indian Buddhism. The Gelukpa originated in Tibet during the 14th century, but can claim descent from the others, particularly the Kadampa and the Sakyapa. Each of these schools has had its great teachers and personalities over the centuries. Each has held political power at one time or another and each continues to exert influence in different parts of the whole Tibet plateau. Tibetan Buddhism reached its height of power and splendor during the period between the founding of Gelugpa through to the mid 20th century. Since then, it has started to spread throughout the world.
Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama
Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama are the titles for the leaders of Gelupa, founded by Tsong Khapa in the 14th century. Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama are the two most influential religious leaders of Tibet.
The title of 'Dalai Lama' came into being during the third Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso in year 1578 of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The title Dalai Lama was endowed by the Mongolian leader of Qinghai Province who was converted to Buddhism duo to Sonam Gyatso's missionary work. 'Dalai' means 'Sea' in Mongolian and 'Lama' refers to the word 'Master' in Tibetan. Dalai Lama means 'a master with profound knowledge and transcendent achievements in Buddhist cultivation'. Thus Sonam Gyatso became the third Dalai lama for Gedun Drub and Gedun Gyatso were admited posthumously as the first and second Dalai respectively. The title was acknowleged by the central government of the Ming Dynasty in 1587. Later in the year 1653, Emperor Shunzhi (Qing Dynasty 1644-1911) invited the fifth Dalai to Beijing and conferred the title 'Dalai lama' on him officially. A gold seal and a gold nominating album were granted together. Since then the title 'Dalai Lama' had been significant both politically and religiously.
'Panchen' means 'Great Scholar' in Sanskrit and Tibetan. In the year 1645 the leader of Mongolian conferred the title 'Panchen Lama' on Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen, who became the forth Panchen Lama with the former three Panchen admitted posthumously. In 1713, the Emperor Kangxi formally granted the fifth Panchen the laudatory title of 'Panchen Erdini', which means 'Treasure' in Manchu. Since then the status of Panchen has been established. For the Dalai and Panchen are followed the reincarnation system, each reincarnated boy should be proved by the central government since then.
Relations between Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama
As Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama both root in the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, they bear a close relationship with each other. In fact, they bear the relationship of master and apprentice. For example, the first Dalai Lama was the disciple of the first Panchen Lama. According to the sutras of Tibetan Buddhism, Dalai Lama is the incarnation of Avalokitesvara or the Bodhisattva of Compassion while Panchen Lama the Amitabha, Buddha of Infinite Light. Both of the two play significant role in Tibetans religion and politics. Theoretically speaking, the status of Amitabha is higher than Avalokitesvara, but Dalai Lama was stronger in terms of political and religious affairs. Dalai dominated the front Tibet centered by Lhasa while the rear Tibet centered by Tashihunpo Monastery was ruled by Panchen.
Succession of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama
Firstly, Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama were succeeded by their disciples. When it came to the succession of third Dalai and fourth Panchen, the Reincarnation System was adopted. According to Buddhism, Buddha's soul never perishes and it incarnates to save mankind. The reincarnated boy should be found and identified to be the successor. By doing so, the internal strives were avoided. Dalai Lama is said to incarnate to the 14th and Panchen Lama the 11th now.
Om Mani Pedme Hum
The Sanskrit 'Om Mani Padme Hum' is the most popular kind of all the mantras murmured by Tibetan Buddhists. Tibetans believe the unceasing murmur accumulates personal merits and helps each person to become Buddha. It can also be seen written on houses, rocks, mani stones, prayer wheels, amulets, and other sacred articles, in the hope that it will bless them. 'Om Mani Padme Hum' is said to be the fundamental true words of the Lotus of Esoteric Buddhism. It originated from the chant for Elysium sung by the Buddhist master Padmasambhava, and then became the spoken mantra of Avalokiteshvara, also known as the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Each word has a meaning by itself. 'Om' represents the heart of Buddha; 'Mani' means 'treasure' in Sanskrit; 'Padme' means 'lotus', symbolizing the pure dharma of Buddhism; 'Hum' represents the heart of the Vajra and implies that following the Buddha will lead us to the final Dzogchen. The whole expresses the good wish for living with the Buddha.