I am developing an application which calculates peoples age/ birthdays. In this app I have one entry for the Dalai Lama.

My understanding is that its the 14 Dalai Lama who is alive right now. So a concern is raised that should I use the name Dalai Lama or 14 Dalai Lama

I want to know if there can be two Dalai Lamas alive at the same instance if this is not true I can simply use the name Dalai Lama Please shed light on this aspect!

2 Answers 2


Basically you should always use "14th Dalai Lama" even though the Dalai Lama is that same continuous Awakened being incarnating as Dalai Lama, because each and every Dalai Lama has a different ego, body, and often temperament and purpose in life. Also to answer your main question, they also never live at the same time i.e. 13th has to die before can incarnate as 14th.

If you are mentioning the "14th Dalai Lama" solely in your writing, then it is OK to shorten it to just "the Dalai Lama." Even better than this is to avoid the convention altogether and refer to him by his real name "Tenzin Gyatso."

This naming convention also goes for the countless Buddhas. The Buddha of our planet is "Shakyamuni" (the jewel of the shakya clan") or referrable by other more specific personal names.

There's some good books and articles out there showing each Dalai Lama's life. It makes one think... "when I become a bodhisattva, what incarnations will I take on to complete various karmas and purposes?"


It should be "14th Dalai Lama" or "14th Dalai Lama", not "14 Dalai Lama".

I think that "Dalai Lama" is a title, not a name.

According to Wikipedia,

The 14th Dalai Lama (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub,[1] 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama

Another example of a title is "President of the United States". For example, Barack Obama is "the President", and he is also more specifically called "the 44th President".

  • Agreed on the 14th part, but it is still not clear enough if I should use Dalai Lama or 14th Dalai Lama
    – Junaid
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 9:02
  • The controversy of a Chinese Dalai Lama and TIbetian Dalai Lama also surrounds this problem!
    – Junaid
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 9:11

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