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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Tulku

(T). This term is sometimes applied to a high ranking Tibetan Lama or even the head of a monastery. When used in a narrower sense it refers to lamas who have proved their ability by controlling the time and circumstances of their reincarnation. They prove this by recalling, to the satisfaction of witnesses, particulars of their former life and are said to be able to identify articles that previously were theirs. The two most important Tulkus are the Tashi and Dalai Lamas.

Tulkus are of several kinds. In addition to the two mentioned Lamas, there is the Mahatma who is able to project a ray, as it were, from himself in order to take incarnation, either temporarily or permanently. The living embodiment of the Divine Ray will then act as a “messenger” sent into the world to teach.

Some have thought that Helena P. Blavatsky may have been such a Tulku and that from time to time her teacher as well as others actually “took over” her body for certain purposes. Henry S. OLCOTT, in fact, attests in his Old Diary Leaves (cf., e.g., I, ch. 15) to having witnessed this phenomenon on more than one occasion.

P.S.H.

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