Dalai Lama, title of the head of the Tibetan Buddhists. When a Dalai Lama dies, his successor is chosen from among young boys born within two years of his death. Each Dalai Lama is considered by Tibetan Buddhists to be an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the founder of this branch of Buddhism. The present Dalai Lama, the fourteenth, born Tenzin Cryatso in 1935, took refuge in India in 1959, when the Chinese government put down a rebellion in Tibet against Chinese rule. Since then he has traveled widely throughout the world.