The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile has maintained that the Dalai Lama only showed his “innocent grandfatherly, affectionate attitude” in a video of him asking a young boy to suck his tongue.
Penpa Tsering, 56, the political leader of the exiled Central Tibetan government, said Thursday that the spiritual leader had been “falsely labeled with all sorts of names that really hurt the sentiment of all his followers.”
The Dalai Lama apologized earlier this week after video footage of a public event showing him apparently kissing the boy on the lips went viral, sparking a wave of social media comments calling his behavior down on abuse.
The 87-year-old’s behavior, seen in the footage, had been misinterpreted, Tsering told reporters in New Delhi, adding that a life of celibacy and spiritual practice had taken the Dalai Lama “beyond sensory pleasures.”
The music video, filmed in February and distributed this month, has been viewed more than a million times on Twitter.
Penpa Tsering, 56, the political leader of the exiled Central Tibetan government, said on Thursday that the Dalai Lama (pictured) had been “falsely labeled with all sorts of names that really hurt the sentiment of all his followers.”
The Dalai Lama has apologized after a disturbing video emerged on social media of him kissing a young Indian boy on the lips before asking him to ‘suck’ his tongue
Tsering said investigations have shown that “pro-Chinese sources” were involved in making the video go viral, adding that “the political angle of this incident cannot be ignored.”
Footage showed the Tibetan spiritual leader inviting the boy on stage at a charity event at his temple in Dharamshala, northern India, in February.
In the video, the boy asks the Dalai Lama “Can I hug you?” to which Tenzin Gyatso replies, “Okay – come!”
The spiritual leader first asked the boy to kiss him on the cheek before pointing to his lips. He held the boy’s face as they seemed to kiss for a moment, then the couple pressed their foreheads together.
The Dalai Lama then instructed him, “And suck my tongue” — prompting him to slowly creep forward toward the 87-year-old’s outstretched tongue without making any connection.
In the video, attendees of the event, held by India’s M3M Foundation, can be heard laughing as the boy awkwardly sits in front of the elderly Tibetan Buddhist leader and nervously follows his orders.
Some even went so far as to describe the Dalai Lama as a “treacherous false prophet,” while one user called to be “arrested for pedophilia.”
Before letting the child go, the Dalai Lama gave him some wisdom, telling him to “look at those good people who create peace and happiness” and not “follow the people who always kill other people.”
Some of the Dalai Lama’s supporters came to his aid, claiming that their leader was just “joking.”
But the clip sparked outrage on social media, with commentators calling the Dalai Lama’s actions “outrageous,” “disgusting” and “absolutely sick.”
Others even described him as a “treacherous false prophet.”
“Utterly shocked by this display by the #DalaiLama. He has also had to apologize in the past for his sexist remarks. But saying to a little boy “now suck my tongue” is disgusting,” wrote user Sangita.
Another poster, Rakhi Tripathi said, ‘What did I just see? What must that child feel? Awful.’
The spiritual leader’s office posted a formal statement on social media earlier this week apologizing for his actions.
“His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends around the world, for any pain his words may have caused,” the statement read.
“His Holiness often teases the people he meets in an innocent and playful manner, even in public and in front of cameras,” it added.
“He regrets the incident.”
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama waves during his first day of teaching at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya (file photo)
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama arrives to attend a prayer at the main Tibetan temple in McLeod Ganj (file photo)
The Dalai Lama remains the universally recognized face of the Tibetan autonomy movement.
But the global spotlight he enjoyed after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 has faded and the deluge of invitations to talk to world leaders and Hollywood stars has dwindled, partly because the aging leader has cut back his arduous travel schedule, but also because China’s growing economic and political influence.
Beijing accuses him of wanting to split China and calls him a “monk-robed wolf.”
In 2019, the Dalai Lama apologized for saying that if his successor were a woman, she should be “more attractive.”
He said he was “deeply sorry” and “sincerely no offense” after his comment sparked a global backlash.
The monk’s office said his “off-the-cuff remarks” had “lost their wit in translation,” highlighting that he was a strong supporter of women’s rights.
The comments, which were criticized around the world, were made in an interview with the BBC.
Just weeks ago, the spiritual leader sparked more controversy when he named an eight-year-old boy of joint American and Mongolian citizenship as the reincarnation of the third most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism.
The child’s formal title, said to have twins, is Tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché – the leader of the faith in Mongolia, according to The Times.
Rumors about the boy’s identity had been circulating in the spiritual community for years, but his existence was only now confirmed through his public appearance in India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.
The revelation sparked anger in China, which previously said it will only recognize Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaders who have chosen their special government-approved appointees.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. The Chinese army marched in and took control in 1951.
He has spent decades working to garner global support for linguistic and cultural autonomy in his remote, mountainous homeland between India and China.
Beijing has accused him of inciting separatism and does not recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile, which represents about 100,000 Tibetans living in about 30 countries.