The Dalai Lama is facing widespread criticism after a video of him kissing a child on the lips at a Buddhist event went viral. In the video, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism can be heard saying “can you suck my tongue” and sticking out his tongue for the boy who came forward to pay his respects. The incident prompted the spiritual leader to issue an apology.
The Dalai Lama’s office noted in a statement shared on his Instagram handle, “The Dalai Lama often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way,” the statement said. “His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.”
The instance, however, is not the first time the Dalai Lama has come under fire for a comment, as per The Independent. Here’s a look at all the controversial remarks he has made in the past that drew flak for being offensive to women, Trump supporters, refugees and Indians.
‘Female [successor] should be attractive’
In a 2015 interview with the BBC, the Dalai Lama said that if a female were to become his successor, her face should be “very, very attractive.” He said what he said in response to remarks made a decade earlier about the need for a female Dalai Lama because, according to him, women had a greater “biological” capacity “to show affection… compassion”.
He made similar comments in a 2019 interview, where he reiterated that a female successor would need to be “very, very attractive,” as otherwise, she would be of “not much use.” The spiritual leader was asked whether his statement could be seen as objectifying women and whether taking on the mantle of the Dalai Lama should be about who the person is on the inside. “Yes, I think both,” he had replied. His office had later issued a statement offering an apology for the remarks. “His Holiness genuinely meant no offence. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies,” the statement said.
‘Trump lacks moral principle’
In the same 2019 interview, the Dalai Lama criticised former US president Donald Trump for his “lack of moral principle” over the US administration’s treatment of young children at the US-Mexico border. “When I saw pictures of some of those young children, I was sad,” he said. “America… should take a global responsibility.”
‘Refugees should develop their own country’
In 2018, the Dalai Lama also commented on the refugees in Europe, suggesting that they don’t belong there. “Receive them, help them, educate them… but ultimately they should develop their own country. I think Europe belongs to the Europeans.” His comments sparked anger and drew criticism.
India, Pakistan parted because of ‘Nehru self-centeredness’
In 2018, the Dalai Lama also irked many Indians with his thoughts on Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. He said that India and Pakistan would have stayed united after British colonial rule, had it not been for the “self-centred attitude” of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. “Jawaharlal Nehru’s self-centred attitude was the reason why Muhammad Ali Jinnah could not be appointed the prime minister of India,” he said. His office later apologised for the comment.
The Dalai Lama is considered by Buddhists as the manifestation of the Buddha or Bodhisattva, reincarnated to serve others. His teachings on compassion and nonviolence have inspired many around the world, and he continues to be a respected spiritual leader. However, his controversial comments have led to questions about his attitudes towards women and refugees, and have prompted calls for him to be more mindful in his public statements.
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