Today, its just about the Dalai Lama culture which evolved in Tibet!
Karma Pakshi, the 2nd Karmapa was the head of Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Tibetan Buddhism school Kagyu. On his death bed, he wrote a will to protect Karma Kagyu by advising his disciples to find a boy to continue the lineage. That boy is then considered as a reincarnation of their master and is trained and made the next Karmapa. All the other Tibetan Buddhism schools also started following this teacher incarnation (Tulka).
The Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet was once the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until 14th Dalai Lama fled to India. It now serves as world heritage and museum.
Tulka selection Process:
There are two levels of selection – Identification and Confirmation.
The High Lamas go to their sacred lake Lhamo La-tso to medidate and they identify based on the visions they get. They may also decide based on dreams. They believe that while cremating one Dalai Lama, the direction of the smoke will indicate the direction of the new prospect.
Once a prospect is identified, he is provided a set of artifacts which includes objects used by the previous Dalai Lama. If he picks an artifact used by previous Dalai Lama, he is confirmed to be the reincarnation. If there are too many prospects, a public lot would decide who is the next Dalai Lama.
The first Dalai Lama was Gendun Drup.
14th Dalai Lama:
The current 14th Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who was recognised in 1937 and enthroned in 1950. He was recognised as an incarnation when he correctly picked the artifacts of the 13th Dalai Lama, claiming it as his own toys. Currently he is in exile in India due to the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion. He, then, established the Government of Tibet in Exile in Dharamsala and helped in the settlement of the refugees who followed him to India. When asked about his next incarnation, he suggested that it can be even a woman, which has never happened before in the Dalai Lama history!
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Have a good one! 😀