The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born Lhamo Dhondrub, 6 July 1935, in a peasant family in Takster, Tibet. Aged 2, he was recognized as the reincarnation of his predecessor - Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who reincarnate to serve the people, "Dalai Lama" meaning "Ocean of Wisdom".
He completed the Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy with honours, and in 1950, he started assuming political power in Tibet. But the country was threatened by China. In the 50s he met Chinese & Indian leaders, but in 1959 he was forced into exile in India, in Dharamsala, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet.
He appealed many times to the UN on the question of Tibet, and he has been working ever since to promote democracy, education, culture and religion to preserve Tibetan identity and restore fundamental human rights and freedoms.
He has visited many countries all over the world and met with many political and religious leaders, promoting better understanding and respect among the different faiths, and the importance of universal responsibility, love, compassion and kindness: "Universal responsibility is feeling for other people's suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our enemy is entirely motivated by the quest for happiness.".
He has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Opposed to violence, he has chosen to champion Tibet autonomy and not its independence. He retired from his political functions in 2011 and explained that the institution of the Dalai Lama had served its purpose and may stop with him, to give place to democracy.