Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682), the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, was born in 1617 in Chongye, south of Lhasa. He is the first of the Dalai Lamas to have a significant influence on the Tibetan people. He united the three provinces of Kham, Amdo and Utsang under his leadership and government (Ganden Podrang). The Great Fifth was both a scholar and statesman. During his time the relationship between Tibet and its neighbors, India, China and Mongolia flourished. Another achievement by Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, and his regent Desi Sanggye Gyatso, was the construction of the Potala Palace. As the principal home of the Dalai Lamas and the largest structure in Tibet, the Potala Palace stands today as the icon of Tibet.
Tenzin Dharlo 3-2005
5th Dalai Lama Biography: Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, 1617-1682 (ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho), was born to a family of Nyingma practitioners in 1617 in the Yarlung Valley of Tibet, descendants of the Imperial line of the Yarlung Dynasty. His father was Miwang Dundul Rabten (mi dbang bdud 'dul rab brtan) and his mother was Kunga Lhadze (kun dga' lha mdzes). In 1622 he was identified as the rebirth of Sonam Gyatso by the First Panchen Lama Lobzang Chokyi Gyaltsen (paN chen bla ma blo bzang chos kyi rgyal mtshan), who had been the tutor to the Fourth Dalai Lama. The Panchen Lama gave him the name Lobzang Gyatso (blo bzang rgya mtsho) and enthroned him at Drepung ('bras spungs).
Lobzang Gyatso's recognition was not without controversy. The boy had been unsuccessfully claimed as the reincarnation of a Kagyu hierarch, the Fourth Tsurpu Gyaltsab Dragpa Dondrub (mtshur phu rgyal tshab grags pa don grub). At Drepung, he was in competition for the position of Dalai Lama with another candidate, Dragpa Gyaltsen (grags pa rgyal mtshan), who was later identified as the fourth incarnation of Panchen Sonam Dragpa (paN chen bsod nams grags pa), the Fifteenth Ganden Tripa (dga' ldan khri pa). Following the suspicious death of Dragpa Gyaltsen in 1656, the deity Dorje Shugden (rdo rje shugs ldan) appeared, embodying a lasting rift in the Gelug tradition between those who accept and those who condemn Nyingma elements within the tradition. (Read more...).