The 14th Dalai Lama explained that the title originated when the Mongol leader Altan Khan intended to translate the name "Sonam Gyatso" into Mongolian. However, "...many writers have mistranslated Dalai Lama as "Ocean of Wisdom". The full Mongolian title, "the wonderful Vajradhara, good splendid meritorious ocean", given by Altan Khan, is primarily a translation of the Tibetan words Sonam Gyatso (sonam is "merit"). And "The very name of each Dalai Lama from the Second Dalai Lama onwards had the word Gyatso [in it], which means "ocean" in Tibetan. Even now I am Tenzin Gyatso, so the first name is changing but the second part [the word "ocean"] became like part of each Dalai Lama's name. All of the Dalai Lamas, since the Second, have this name. So I don't really agree that the Mongols actually conferred a title. It was just a translation."
A title referring to the secular and religious leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lamas are the lineage of spiritual and temporal leaders of Tibet, begun in the 14th century by Tsong Khapa. They are chosen by investigations into their inner identity, which is always determined by qualified lamas or priests. There have been fourteen Dalai Lamas.
"The Dalai Lamas have not always integrated completely with divinity. However, the Dalai Lamas are adepts in the complete sense of the word." - Samael Aun Weor
In The Story of Tibet, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama said, "If someone asks me whether I am the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama," he said, "Then I answer, without hesitation, yes. This does not mean that I am the same being as the previous Dalai Lama. Some Dalai Lamas are a manifestation of Manjushri. Some are a manifestation of Chenrezig... I have a special connection with the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the Fifth Dalai Lama. I have felt some kind of karmic relations or connections even with the Buddha... we might have been born in the same time during a past life; a teacher and a student; or a ruler and a subject or we might even have been spiritual friends."