The 4th Dalai Lama

By Christian Schmidt

1589_____Yönten Gyatso, the 4th Dalai Lama, is born: in Mongolia, making him the only Dalai Lama so far to be born outside of Tibet. Legend has it that the foetus does not develop in an amniotic sac, but rather within a halo of crystal roses. Not long after his birth, the baby identifies himself as the reincarnation of the 3rd Dalai Lama, and a delegation comes from Tibet to check whether this son of a converted Mongolian family is in fact the 4th Dalai Lama. At the age of 13 the young man sets off for Tibet with his entourage.

They ride along the Great Wall, initiating monks and giving lessons en route. When the party arrives at Drepung Monastery, the young man’s training proper begins. All in all, Yönten Gyatso is not able to effect any great changes during his tenure as Dalai Lama. He is thought to be a quick study, but short on political ability. He is also a great-grandson of the Mongol Prince Altan Khan, which makes the Nyingmapa faction fear the growth of an alliance between the Mongols and the Gelugpa faction. Gelugpa monasteries come under attack, and Yönten Gyatso is forced to flee Central Tibet.

The 4th Dalai Lama dies at the age of 28.