A term in Tibetan Buddhism used to describe someone who has consciously chosen the exact circumstances of his rebirth, as opposed to someone who is simply reborn according to his karma and the state of mind at the time of his death.

Generally, tulkus choose their next rebirth for a specific purpose, such as to continue the work they started in the previous life time.

For example, the Dalai Lama is believed to be the tulku of the previous Dalai Lama.

"Tulku" (sprul.ku) is the Tibetan term for nirmanakaya, a presentation in form as a body.

In the eleventh century, after the death of the Dusum Khyenpa, called the Karmapa (Man of Action), a famous lama of Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, the monks of the various monasteries founded by him found the support of their lay patrons rapidly drying up.

They soon found what they claimed to be the direct reincarnation or embodiment or tulku of the Karmapa.

Thus the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism was initiated as was the tradition of passing control over the resources of various associated monasteries and lands that became the trait of all of the other Tibetan Buddhist schools.

Essentially, a tulku was the lord of a particular fiefdom.

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