Dali Lama is a high lama in the "Yellow Hat". Branch of Tibetan Budhism. The name is a combination of the Mongollian word Dalai meaning "ocean. and bla-ma (with a silent "b") meaning "teacher". The Tibetan word "Lama" correspond precisely to the better known sanskrit word "guru".
In religious term, the Dalai Lama is believed by his devotees. To be the rebirth of a long line tulkus; who are considered to be manifestation of the bodhisatwa of compassion, Avalokitesvara.
The line of Dali Lamas began as a lineage of spiritual teacher; the 5th Dalai Lama assumed political authority over Tibet. For Certain periods of time between the 17th century and 1959 , the Dalai Lamas sometimes directed the Tibetan government, which administered portions of Tibet from Lhasa.
The 14th Dalai Lama remains the head of state for the central Tebet administration (" Tibetan government in exile.") . Untill his retirement on March 14, 2011. He has indicated that the institution of the Dalai Lama may be abolished in the future, and also that the next Dalai Lama may be found outside Tebet and may be female. The Chinese communist government was very quick to reject this and claimed that only they have the authority to select the next Dalai Lama, despite being an officially atheist nation.