Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The name “Dalai Lama” is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning “ocean” or “big” (coming from Mongolian title Dalaiyin qan or Dalaiin khan,translated as Gyatso or rgya-mtsho in Tibetan) and the Tibetan word བླ་མ་ (bla-ma) meaning “master, guru”.The Dalai Lama is also known in Tibetan as the Rgyal-ba Rin-po-che (“Precious Conqueror”)or simply as the Rgyal-ba.
The rôle of the Dalai Lama
Potala PalacePotala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s residence until 1959
The Dalai Lama is the head monk of Tibetan Buddhism and traditionally has been responsible for the governing of Tibet, until the Chinese government took control in 1959. Before 1959, his official residence was Potala Palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, which is the largest and most influential tradition in Tibet.The institution of the Dalai Lama is a relatively recent one. There have been only 14 Dalai Lamas in the history of Buddhism, and the first and second Dalai Lamas were given the title posthumously.According to Buddhist belief, the current Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of a past lama who decided to be reborn again to continue his important work, instead of moving on from the wheel of life. A person who decides to be continually reborn is known as tulku.Buddhists believe that the first tulku in this reincarnation was Gedun Drub, who lived from 1391-1474 and the second was Gendun Gyatso.However, the name Dalai Lama, meaning Ocean of Wisdom, was not conferred until the third reincarnation in the form of Sonam Gyatso in 1578.The current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.
“I thought I’d have to try and convince him,” she told Reuters in an interview from her home in Auckland.
“That moment of recording him, my goodness I was shaking like a leaf before I went in there,” she said.
Kunin did the initial recordings at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala in India.
Once back home, she worked with her husband Abraham and other musicians to produce music for the tracks.
“It’s an incredible honour. But it was unbelievably, daunting like the trust and responsibility. It’s immense,” Abraham Kunin said.
On a promotional video for the album, when asked why he had agreed to take part, the Dalai Lama answers: “The very purpose of my life is to serve as much as I can.”
The release comes five years after Patti Smith led the crowd at Britain’s Glastonbury Festival singing Happy Birthday to him for his 80th.
(Reporting by Sarah Mills; Writing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)