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Abstract

This article explores the evolving political standing of members of the Dalai Lama incarnation lineage. I survey the history of Tibet since the time of Tsong kha pa, the original inspiration for the dGe lugs School, showing how each Dalai Lama established his own position with an ever evolving set of external circumstances framed by rival schools, patrons, Mongolian khans, Chinese emperors, the nobility, the powerful monasteries, and their own regents. I conclude that there is no single model that captures the nature of the relationship between the Dalai Lamas and state power.