Dalai Lama and his followers
Tenzin Gyatso, is the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader revered among Tibetans. The most influential figure of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, he has considerable influence over the other sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans traditionally believe him to be the reincarnation of his predecessors.
The Dalai Lama was born fifth of 16 children to a farming family in the village of Taktser, Qinghai province, China. His first language was the regional Amdo dialect. He was proclaimed the tulku or rebirth of the thirteenth Dalai Lama at the age of two. At the age of fifteen, on 17 November 1950, one month after the Chinese army's invasion of Tibet, he was formally enthroned as Dalai Lama. He thus became the region's most important spiritual leader and political ruler.
In 1959 the Dalai Lama fled through the mountains to India following a failed uprising and the effective collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement. He had at first, in 1951, ratified a Seventeen Point Agreement to let Tibet to be a part of People's Republic of China. In India he set up a Tibetan government-in-exile. Among the 80,000 or so exiles that followed him Tenzin Gyatso strives to preserve traditional Tibetan education and culture.
A noted public speaker worldwide, the Dalai Lama is often described as charismatic. He is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West, where he seeks to spread Buddhist teachings and to promote ethics and interfaith harmony.
The Dalai Lama has been successful in gaining Western sympathy for Tibetan self-determination, including vocal support from numerous Hollywood celebrities, most notably the actors Richard Gere and Steven Seagal, as well as lawmakers from several major countries.
In 2005 and 2008 Time Magazine placed the Dalai Lama on its list of the world's 100 most influential people.