The traditional temporal head of the dominant sect of Buddhism in Tibet and Mongolia, revered by Tibetan Buddhists as the living incarnation of the bodhisattva of compassion.
The traditional high priest of Lamaism.
Origin of dalai-lama
Tibetan Mongolian dalaiocean Tibetan bla-mamonk (so called because he is known as the ocean of compassion)lama
Though the whole of Tibet is under the suzerainty of China, the government of the country is divided into two distinct administrations, the one under the rule of the Dalai lama of Lhasa, the other under local kings or chiefs, and comprising a number of ecclesiastical fiefs.
The central government of this part of the country is at Lhasa; the nominal head is the Dalai lama or grand lama.
The Tashi lama or head of the monastery of Tashilhunpo near Shigatse is inferior to the Dalai lama in secular authority, of which, indeed, he has little - much less than formerly - but he is considered by some of his worshippers actually superior to him in religious rank.
The person next in consideration to the two great lamas is the regent, who is an ecclesiastic appointed during the minority of each Dalai lama.
To Sodnam rGyamtso the Mongol khans gave the title of Vajra Dalai Lama in 1576, and this is the first use of the widely known title of Dalai Lama.