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H.H. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. The curriculum consisted of five major and five minor subjects. The major subjects were logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy which was further divided into a further five categories: Prajnaparimita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects were poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms. At 23 he sat for his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam (prayer) Festival in 1959. He passed with honours and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest-level degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. His Holiness has travelled to more than 62 countries spanning 6 continents. He has met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations. He has held dialogues with the heads of different religions and many well-known scientists. Since 1959 His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books. His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.

(Source: Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala, India)

Samdech Preah Agga Mahā Sangharājādhipati Tep Vong , Cambodia

The Great Supreme Patriarch, Kingdom of Cambodia and Patron of the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace

Samdech Preah Agga Mahā Sangharājādhipati Tep Vong (Khmer: ទេព វង្ស, born 12 January 1932) is a Cambodian Buddhist monk, currently the Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia, known for his role in re-establishing the Cambodian monkhood after the Pol Pot period and for his links to dominant political leaders since the 1980s.

He was born at Trapeang Chork village, Chreav commune, Siem Reap district, and at the age of 10 went to study at Wat Reach Bo in the provincial capital of Siem Reap. At the age of 16 he ordained as a novice at the same temple, but because of family duties only initially assumed robes for nine months. His preceptor was Ven. Hing Mao, the abbot of the temple. At the age of 21 he ordained as a bhikkhu at the temple with the same preceptor. He was made kru sotr, or second-ranking monk of the temple in 1956. Like almost all Cambodian monks, he was forced to leave the monkhood during the 1975-9 Pol Pot period. He was the youngest of seven senior monks re-ordained in a state-sponsored ceremony on September 19, 1979 in order to create a core of ordained monks who could go on to ordain others and formally re-establish the Cambodian Sangha, which had been nearly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. The new monastic lineage was not to make the distinction between Mahanikay and Dhammayut orders which had existed prior to the Pol Pot period.

The socialist People's Republic of Kampuchea did not use the term Sangharaja although the term is sometimes used to describe his position of leadership in the 1980s. He remained the sole leader of Cambodian Buddhism until 1991. Following the 1991 Peace Accords on October 23, which made former king Norodom Sihanouk head of state, the monkhood was once again divided into Mahanikay and Dhammayut orders. Royal titles were also re-introduced in the monkhood. On Nov. 8, 1991, in an official proclamation signed by Sihanouk, Tep Vong was given the title Samdech Preah Mahasomedhadhipati, and a week later, on Nov. 15, was named sangaraja of the Mahanikay Order. Venerable Bour Kry was appointed sangharaja of the Dhammayut Order by Sihanoul on Dec. 7. Tep Vong became an ex oficio member of the Cambodian Throne Council on September 23, 1993.


The Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, Vietnam

Is the President of the Board of Directors of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam. BSV is the only Buddhist Sangha recognised by the Vietnamese Government and is a member of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front. The BSV was founded after Vietnam's Buddhist Convention was held at Quan Su Temple on November 7, 1981. The BSV was founded to unify Buddhist activities of Vietnamese Buddhist monks, nuns and lay followers.


Ven. Prof. Mahinda Sangharakhita Mahathera, Sri Lanka

Venerable Professor Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkhitha Thera is the Chief Incumbent (Chief Priest) of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and Head of the Buddhist and Pali Faculty of the University of Kelaniya.

Becoming a monk in the 1960s under the guidance of the then chief incumbent of the Kelani Temple Ven. Thalewela Vijitha Dhammarakkhitha Thera, Sangharakkhitha Thera studied scripture at the Gangarama Temple in Hunupitiya and obtained graduated from the Vidyalankara Campus of the University of Ceylon studying Buddhist Philosophy and French language. Thereafter Sangharakkhitha Thera was awarded a two-year scholarship to study at the Sorbonne University in France to gain a postgraduate degree in French language. After which going on to gain a Masters and doctorate from the University of Delhi.

Returning to Sri Lanka, Sangharakkhitha Thera started lecturing at the University of Kelaniya, Faculty of Buddhist and Pali, later becoming a Professor. Sangharakkhitha Thera was appointed chief incumbent of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara in 1992.

Sangharakkhitha Thera started a special Pirivena to teach Buddhism in the English language and has taken laudable steps to encourage the monks who are on missions all over the world.