◎The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa
The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa, was born in 1391 in Gyurmey Rupa, near Sakya in the Tsang region of central Tibet to Gonpo Dorjee and Jomo Namkha Kyi, a nomadic family. His given name was Pema Dorjee.
He did his primary studies of reading and writing Tibetan script with Gya-Ton Tsenda Pa-La, and then at the age of fourteen, he took his novice vows from Khenchen Drupa Sherab, abbot of Narthang monastery, who gave him the religious name of Gedun Drupa. Latter, in the year 1411, he took the Gelong vows (full ordination) from the abbot.
The young Gedun Drupa was aware of the fame of the Great Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa School and he became his disciple in 1416. His loyalty and devotion to Tsongkhapa persuaded the great master to make Gedun Drupa his principal disciple. Tsongkhapa handed Gedun Drupa a brand new set of robes as a sign that he would spread the Buddhist teachings all over Tibet. In 1447, Gedun Drupa founded the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, one of the biggest monastic Universities of the Gelugpa School.
The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa was a great person of immense scholarship, famous for combining study and practice, and wrote more than eight voluminous books on his insight into the Buddhas teachings and philosophy. In 1474, at the age of eighty-four, he died while in meditation at Tashi Lhunpo monastery.