The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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1. Lamaism denotes the version of → Buddhism practiced in → Tibet. Nowadays the concept refers especially to the theocratic system of Tibet before 1959 (→ Theocracy). (The prevailing Tibetan religion is now usually called ‘Tibetan Buddhism.’) ‘Lamaism’ comes from the word Lama (religious teacher), a title for ranking monks.


2. The first attempts to convert the Tibetans to Buddhism were made through Indian → Tantra Buddhism, beginning in 640 CE. Only through the effor…

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Marković, Željko, “Lamaism”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 26 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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