Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drupa in 1447, and in due course of time became the most vibrant monastery in U-Tsang province of Tibet. The monastery grew in importance in the 16th century, when Tashi Lhunpo Monastery’s Abbot, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662) was recognized by the 5th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Amitabha, the spiritual teacher of Chenrezig, the patron saint of Tibet, and was given the title Panchen Lama. ‘Panchen’ meaning Great Scholar.
The Panchen Lamas became, along with the Dalai Lamas, the most important religious figures in Tibet.The relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama is unique. Each Lama in his lifetime is not only involved in the search of the other’s reincarnation, but also assumes the role, first as the disciple and later in life as the guru of the other.