Definition of lama in English:



  • 1An honorific title applied to a spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism, whether a reincarnate lama (such as the Dalai Lama) or one who has earned the title in life.

    • ‘The political power of the lamas was taken away and given to Tibetan leaders nominated by the central government in Beijing.’
    • ‘The boy also stands to gain tremendous knowledge and support from a number of leading lamas, including the Dalai Lama, who have made India their home.’
    • ‘This lama mastered all of the teachings of the Dro clan, including the Kalachakra.’
    • ‘And one question was at least in Tibetan Buddhism, people are expected to learn things at different stages, and the master, the lama, sort of validates in a sense, that the pupil, the disciple, has moved to another level.’
    • ‘Another heroic figure of Bhutan is Shabdrung, the lama who assumed the title of Dharma Raja in the seventeenth century and laid the political foundations of Bhutan State.’
    • ‘They were followed by the Tsogchen Tulkus, high ranking reincarnate lamas.’
    • ‘It is even, at times, hard to imagine that Rinpoche is an incarnate lama who spent fourteen of his first nineteen years in rigorous monastic training in Old Tibet.’
    • ‘Whether a lama is recognized as the incarnation of a previous master is not paramount to Tibetans.’
    • ‘The local lama (Buddhist spiritual leader) is informed of the birth and the time that it occurred.’
    • ‘Children are usually identified as having specific traits indicative of a reincarnated lama, then tested further to prove their identity.’
    • ‘The young Buddhist leader is the first lama whose authority is recognized both by China and the Dalai Lama.’
    • ‘Authorization as a lama usually comes directly from one's teachers and is often not given until the recipient has completed much practice and study.’
    • ‘In his younger days, the Karmapa spent much of his time in a monastery where he received a special education befitting a boy believed to be the reincarnation of a previous lama.’
    • ‘The custom of erecting stupas over the remains of great saints and lamas also continued in Tibet.’
    • ‘They are very often reincarnations of previous lamas.’
    • ‘All others are totally lacking in freedom, because they must subordinate their will to that of the patriarch, lama, emperor, pharaoh, or whatever else the despot may be called.’
    • ‘Even if we obtain teachings from such people, they cannot be regarded as spiritual masters or lamas.’
    • ‘It is important that they both pray to the Three Jewels, their root and lineage lamas and their deities, chiefly Palden Lhamo and other Dharma protectors, for a clear answer.’
    • ‘My case was a little different because I was raised as a reincarnate lama.’
    • ‘Both Hindus and Buddhists cremate their dead, except for important lamas (Buddhist spiritual leaders), who are buried.’
  • 2A Tibetan or Mongolian Buddhist monk.

    • ‘Ricard, himself a Buddhist lama, is the French translator for the Dalai Lama and has photographed life in Tibet and Nepal for 30 years.’
    • ‘I remember my father and other members of the older generation of Tibetan lamas saying that they didn't blame the Communist Chinese for the destruction of Tibet.’
    • ‘If you are searching for other mentions of individual lamas and teachers, past and present, the Search Engine may help.’
    • ‘So the ceremony actually involved five monks - it involved a Sri Lankan monk, a Burmese monk, a Thai monk, a Tibetan lama and an Australian monk.’
    • ‘The high-frequency sounds of the maraca have been used by American Indian shamans for healing and by Tibetan lamas to uplift the soul.’
    • ‘In 1717, the Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi sent lamas to create a map of Tibet.’
    • ‘Many lamas came to India as refugees around the time Khandro Rinpoche was born in 1967, and settled in the areas close to the borders of Tibet.’
    • ‘Inner Mongolia, like Tibet, is an Autonomous Region of China, and during the Cultural Revolution the Mongolian lamas were forbidden to practice their religion or wear their robes.’
    • ‘No doubt, becoming a student involves finding an appropriate teacher, irrespective of whether that teacher is a bhante, lama, rinpoche, sensei or roshi.’
    • ‘The Jewel Heart centers have a humanitarian wing that provides financial assistance to young Tibetan lamas at monasteries-in-exile in India.’
    • ‘There is quite an old tradition of married lamas, who can be just as revered as spiritual teachers as those who follow the monastic tradition.’
    • ‘She was very much like a Zen monk, or a lama, or my guru.’
    • ‘Puman was taken to India at the age of six to be trained as a Tibetan Buddhist lama, while his parents stayed in Taiwan.’
    • ‘Consequently, the great majority of Gelugpa lamas are monks and the master who is a layman is a rarity.’
    • ‘So he sent three lamas to my next course in Sarnath.’
    • ‘I told her the lamas I had been around were mostly non-drinkers.’
    • ‘The Tibetan lamas were delighted with these donations and thanked us.’
    • ‘Venerable Lama Samten is one of the resident lamas at Karma Choeling Buddhist Monastery, Kaukapakapa, New Zealand.’
    • ‘For men, a middle name is given by the lama, a Buddhist holy man.’
    • ‘Mongols sought the counsel and help of the lama (priest or monk) for every aspect of their life: migration, marriage, childbirth, disease, and death.’


Mid 17th century: from Tibetan bla-ma (the initial b being silent), literally superior one.