Zhabdrung was a title used when referring to or addressing great lamas in Tibet, particularly those who held a hereditary lineage. In Bhutan the title almost always refers to Ngawang Namgyal (1594–1651), the founder of the Bhutanese state, or one of his successive reincarnations.
Buddhist monasticism is an important part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, all the major and minor schools maintain large monastic institutions based on the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya (monastic rule) and many religious leaders come from the monastic community.
There are also many religious leaders or teachers (called Lamas and Gurus) which are not celibate monastics and in some cases the lama is the leader of a spiritual community.
Some lamas gain their title through being .