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The Dalai Lama /ˈdɑːlaɪ ˈlɑːmə/ (US), /ˌdælaɪ ˈlɑːmə/ (UK) is a monk of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.
The Dalai Lama is considered to be the successor in a line of tulkus who are believed to be incarnations of Avalokiteśvara the Bodhisattva of Compassion, called Chenrezig in Tibetan. The name is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning "ocean" (coming from Mongolian title Dalaiyin qan or Dalaiin khan, translated as 'Gyatso' in Tibetan) and the Tibetan word བླ་མ་ (bla-ma) meaning "guru, teacher, mentor". The Tibetan word "lama" corresponds to the better known Sanskrit word "guru".
In Central Asian Buddhist countries, it has been widely believed for the last millennium that Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, has a special relationship with the people of Tibet and intervenes in their fate by incarnating as benevolent rulers and teachers such as the Dalai Lamas.
According to the 14th Dalai Lama, long ago Avalokiteśvara had promised the Buddha to guide and protect the Tibetan People and in the late Middle Ages, his master plan to fulfil this promise was the stage-by-stage establishment of the Dalai Lama theocracy in Tibet.
First, Tsongkhapa established three great monasteries around Lhasa in the province of Ü before he died in 1419. The 1st Dalai Lama soon became Abbot of the greatest one, Drepung, and developed a large popular power base in Ü. He later extended this to cover Tsang, where he constructed a fourth great monastery, Tashi Lhunpo, at Shigatse