Gendun Drup, 1st Dalai Lama

Gendun Drup, 1st Dalai Lama

Infobox Monarch
name =Gendun Drup
title =1st Dalai Lama of Tibet

caption =
reign =
coronation =
othertitles =
native_lang1 =Tibetan
native_lang2 =Wylie translit.
native_lang2_name1=dge ’dun grub
native_lang3 =Pronunciation
native_lang3_name1=IPA| [kẽ̀tyn ʈʂʰùp] (IPA)
native_lang4 =transcription (PRC)
native_lang4_name1=Gêdün Chub
native_lang5 =THDL
native_lang5_name1=Gedün Drup
native_lang6 =other transcriptions
native_lang6_name1=Gendun Dup, Gendün Drub
full name =
successor =Gendun Gyatso, 2nd Dalai Lama
suc-type =
heir =
queen =
consort =
spouse 1 =
spouse 2 =
spouse 3 =
spouse 4 =
spouse 5 =
spouse 6 =
issue =
royal house =Dalai Lama
dynasty =
royal anthem =
father =
mother =
date of birth =1391
place of birth =Tibet
date of death =1474
place of death =
date of burial =
place of burial =|

Gendun Drup also Gendun Drub and Kundun Drup (1391–1474) is retrospectively considered to be the first of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet, who are believed to be reincarnations of Chenresig (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara), the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Gendun Drup was born in a cowshed as the son of nomadic tribespeople, and raised as a shepherd until the age of seven. His birth name was Pema Dorje (bo|t=པད་མ་རྡོ་རྗེ་|w=pad ma rdo rje). Later, he was placed in Nartang (Nar-thang) monastery, and by the middle of his life he had become one of the most esteemed scholar-saints in the country. Gendun Drup was a student of his uncle, the great scholar and reformer Tsongkhapa. [Farrer-Halls, Gill. "World of the Dalai Lama". Quest Books: 1998. p. 60]

It is said that Palden Lhamo, the female guardian spirit of the sacred lake, Lhamo La-tso, promised the First Dalai Lama in one of his visions "that she would protect the reincarnation lineage of the Dalai Lamas." Since the time of Gendun Gyatso, the Second Dalai Lama, who formalised the system, monks have gone to the lake to seek guidance on choosing the next reincarnation through visions while meditating there. [Laird, Thomas (2006). "The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama", p. 139, 264-265. Grove Press, N.Y. ISBN 978-0-8021-827-1.]

In 1447, Gendun Drup founded the great monastery of Tashilhunpo at Shigatse, which was later to become the seat of the Panchen Lamas. ["Chö Yang: The Voice of Tibetan Religion and Culture". (1991) Year of Tibet Edition, p. 79. Gangchen Kyishong, Dharmasala, H.P., India.]

Gendun Drup had no political power. The political power was in the hands of viceroys like the Sakyas, the prince of Tsang and the Mongolian Khan. The political role of the Dalai Lama only began with the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama.

He remained the abbot of Tashilhunpo monastery until he died in 1474 at the age of eighty-four. ["The Dalai Lamas of Tibet", p. 35. ISBN 81-7436-085-9. Thubten Samphel and Tendar. Roli & Janssen, New Delhi. (2004).]

Some of the most famous texts Gendun Drup wrote were:
* "Sunlight on the Path to Freedom", a commentary on Abhidharma-kosa
* "Crushing the Forces of Evil to Dust", an epic poem on the life and liberating deeds of Buddha Shakyamuni
* "Song of the Eastern Snow Mountain", a poem dedicated to Je Tsongkhapa (Btsong-ka-pa)
* "Praise of the Venerable Lady Khadiravani Tara", an homage to the Goddess Tara

Glenn H. Mullin's collection of translations of Gendun Drup's commentaries ("Selected Works of the Dalai Lama I") is a good start to learning more about the writings and teachings of this prolific and important Tibetan Buddhist teacher.


Further reading

* Mullin, Glenn H. (2001). "The Fourteen Dalai Lamas: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnation", pp. 50-85. Clear Light Publishers. Santa Fe, New Mexico. ISBN 1-57416-092-3.

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