Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588, Dalai Lama III).
Sonam Gyatso is the first to have the title Dalai Lama. Like his predecessor he became the abbot of Drepung and Sera monasteries in 1552 and 1558 respectively. A year after the death of Gendun Gyatso (Dalai Lama II), Sonam Gyatso was born in Tolung, near Lhasa in 1543. In 1574, Sonam Gyatso established the Namgyal College. Sonam Gyatso expanded Tibetan Buddhist teachings beyond Tibet's borders into Mongolia and China. He spent most of his later years in Mongolia with the Chief Altan Khan who had converted to the Gelugpa tradition along with most of Mongolia. It was Altan Khan that first translated the Tibetan name 'gyatso' (meaning 'ocean' in English), into the Mongol word 'dalai' and created the title Dalai Lama.
This painting belongs to a famous set depicting each of the Dalai Lamas along with the previous incarnations extending back to the deity Avalokiteshvara. This particular painting is number nine in the set.
Tenzin Dharlo 3-2005