Ganden Phodrang

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Ganden Phodrang
Tibetan regime
Mongol overlordship (1642-1720)
Chinese overlordship (1720-1912, 1951-59)

Capital Lhasa
Languages Tibetan
Religion Tibetan Buddhism
Government Buddhist theocratic
 •  1642-1682 5th Dalai Lama (first)
 •  1950-1959 14th Dalai Lama (last)
 •  Established 1642
 •  Disestablished 1959
This article is about the historic Tibetan regime or government. For other uses, see Ganden Phodrang (disambiguation).
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The Ganden Phodrang or Ganden Podrang (Tibetan: དགའ་ལྡན་ཕོ་བྲངWylie: dGa' ldan pho brang, Lhasa dialect IPA: [kɑ̃̀tɛ̃̀ pʰóʈɑ̀ŋ]; Chinese: 甘丹頗章; pinyin: Gāndān Pōzhāng) was the Tibetan regime or government that was established by the 5th Dalai Lama with the help of the Güshi Khan of the Khoshut in 1642. Lhasa became the capital of Tibet in the beginning of this period, under the overlordship of the Khoshut Khanate. After the expulsion of the Dzungars, Tibet was under administrative rule of the Qing dynasty between 1720 and 1912, but the Ganden Phodrang government lasted until the 1950s, when Tibet was incorporated into the People's Republic of China.


"Ganden Phodrang" was named after the residential quarters of the holder of the Dalai Lama lineage in the Drepung Monastery since the 2nd Dalai Lama. When the 5th Dalai Lama came to power and the expansion of the Potala Palace began, the Dalai Lama moved away from the actual quarters Ganden Phodrang and stayed at the Potala in the winter and Norbulingka in the summer. According to some, the Ganden Phodrang is represented by the Central Tibetan Administration or Dalai Lama's government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India after 1959. However, this is "Ganden Phodrang" in a different sense, the personal service or labrang of the Dalai Lama.


The Potala Palace in Lhasa

Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols chose the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism as his Buddhist faith. In 1577 he invited the leader of this order, Sonam Gyatso, to come to Mongolia and teach his people. He designated Sonam Gyatso as "Dalai" (a translation into Mongolian of the name Gyatso, meaning "ocean"). As a result, Sonam Gyatso became known as the Dalai Lama. Since this title was also posthumously given to Gendun Drup and Gendun Gyatso, who were considered Sonam Gyatso's previous incarnations, Sonam Gyatso was recognized as being already the 3rd Dalai Lama.

The 5th Dalai Lama (r. 1642–1682) is known for unifying the Tibetan heartland under the control of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the Tsangpa prince, in a prolonged civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of aid from Güshi Khan, the Oirat leader who established the Khoshut Khanate. With Güshi Khan as a largely uninvolved overlord, the 5th Dalai Lama and his intimates established a civil administration which is referred to by historians as the Lhasa state. The core leadership of this government is also referred to as the "Ganden Phodrang" or "Ganden Podrang", derived from the name of the estate of the Dalai Lamas at Drepung Monastery.

The 5th Dalai lama initiated the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, and moved the centre of government there from Drepung. It remained the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

In 1717, the last khan of the Khoshut Khanate, Lha-bzang Khan, was killed by the Mongol Dzungar Khanate forces invading Lhasa. The Dzungar forces were in turn expelled by the expedition forces of the Qing dynasty from Tibet in 1720, thus beginning the period of Qing rule of Tibet.

The Kashag, the governing council of Tibet also lasted in Lhasa until the 1950s, was created in 1721[1] and set by the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty in 1751. In that year the Tibetan government was reorganized after the riots in Lhasa of the previous year.

The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were the Portuguese missionaries António de Andrade and Manuel Marques in 1624. They were welcomed by the King and Queen of Guge, and were allowed to build a church and to introduce the Christian faith. The king of Guge eagerly accepted Christianity as an offsetting religious influence to dilute the thriving Gelugpa and to counterbalance his potential rivals and consolidate his position. All missionaries were expelled in 1745.[2][3][4][5]

After the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, the 13th Dalai Lama declared himself ruler of an independent Tibet, although it was considered by the Republic of China as a part of the new republic, which gave Tibet the status of an "Area". This would last until the 1950s, when Tibet was incorporated into the People's Republic of China. The state structure remained in place for a few years but was formally dissolved in 1959 after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and the Tibet Autonomous Region was established in 1965.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dawa Norbu, China's Tibet Policy
  2. ^ Lettera del P. Antonio de Andrade. Giov de Oliveira. Alano Dos Anjos al Provinciale di Goa, 29 Agosto, 1627; Maclagan, The Jesuits and The Great Mogul, pp. 347–348.
  3. ^ "When Christianity and Lamaism Met: The Changing Fortunes of Early Western Missionaries in Tibet by Lin Hsiao-ting of Stanford University". Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  4. ^ "BBC News Country Profiles Timeline: Tibet". 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  5. ^ Stein 1972, pg. 83