The 14th Dalai Lama today addressed a press meet in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh as he marked his first visit to the state in this decade.
Tawang is very dear to the Dalai Lama as the mountain town is from where he entered India 58 years ago when he exiled himself from Tibet.
The visit has caused consternation in Beijing, which stakes claim to parts of India in the northeast, particularly Tawang.
At the press meet, the Dalai Lama spoke on a variety of issues, including international affairs, spirituality, and his reincarnation.
He appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's work for farmers' development, reiterated that he is not involved in Tibet politically and quipped about how if there were to be a female Dalai Lama, she would have to be 'very attractive.'
The Dalai Lama had made a similar comment about a female Dalai Lama in 2015 and had sparked furore with critics the comment sexist. He later clarified that he had made that comment half-jokingly.
- TIBET: 'I am a Tibetan. (But) as far as my responsibility is concerned, all my (political) responsibilities ended in 2011 (when the Tibetan parliament in exile was voted in). My commitment is to preserve ecology and especially Tibet. A Chinese scientist had said Tibetan plateau is a third pole. So even they have realised (its) importance.'
- INDIA: 'India is the true picture of religious harmony. It is a democratic country with complications. Despite being a centuries old country, it is progressing.'
- CHINA: 'My friend China always politicises the issue (of me coming to Tawang). A Chinese student told me that his impression about the Dalai Lama had changed. Wrong information is being given to people to China...the people of China are being fooled.'
- EXILE TO INDIA: 'On 10th March 1959, the uprising happened... Thousands of Tibetian were killed...for one week I tried my best to cool the situation. I had to ask the people not to kill...but then I escaped and entered India. We sent messengers to both Bhutan and India...We were not sure if the Indian side will allow us...we finally reached Tawang.'
- I AM THE GURU NOW: 'Indians are historically our guru and we are quite the reliable chela. India is the land of Buddha...We (took in) all the knowledge and made it grow as well. India and Tibet relation is very special...now guru has become like a chela...I am the guru now and local people are my chela.'
- COMING BACK TO TAWANG: 'I feel and have fresh memories...I have been here few times but I like to meet the people...I met an old retired soldier in Assam. I was moved. My friend China always politicises the issue and criticises it.'
- GOING BACK: 'I think more than 90 per cent of Tibet is keen to bring me back...many are waiting for me. Even millions of Chinese Buddhists want me back. Just when the right signal comes from the Chinese government...I will go back. The Chinese government is against us and has a hard-line (stance) there. I am not seeking independence of Tibet.'
- NARENDRA MODI: 'I also admire (him)...he is quite active. When he was CM of Gujarat...I went for a Buddhist conference and he came to me and we met. He is doing very good and is working for farmers' development."
- FEMALE DALAI LAMA: 'Possibility of a female Dalai Lama...is very high in years to come. (But) The next female dalai lama should be very attractive.'
- REINCARNATION: 'Nobody knows (when it will happen). (But) I will take rebirth. I don't know if I am the same spirit of the 13th Dalai Lama. The Chinese government cannot decide who will be the next Dalai Lama. It is quite nonsense. There may be some indication at the time of my death of the next Dalai Lama. I am only one soul.'
- UNITED STATES: 'America is a leading nation of free world... (But, the) America first policy...I am in disagreement with it. America should act as a leader and its relations for other countries are important. I feel uncomfortable for the new policies.'
- RELIGIOUS HARMONY: 'Man is a social animal and we need to get inner peace. A human killing another human is no more news. We need to eliminate (this kind of) thinking (about) killing. The use of religion is required for spreading religious harmony.
- TIBETAN CULTURE: Tibetan language is the best to explain ancient Nalanda thoughts because there is record of every word. Even debates have been added in the language and culture. Preservation of Buddhist culture and language is now important to ensure survival of Chinese Buddhists also.
- WILDLIFE AND ENVIRONMENT: 'All major rivers originate in Tibet...from Indus to Ganga and from Tsangpo to Brahmaputra. Over one billion lives depend on these rivers so we need to take special care of the Himalayas. Preservation of wildlife and environment (in) Tibet is being done now...'
- MODERN EDUCATION: 'My commitment is to promoting human value and compassion. Unfortunately modern education (has a slant toward) materialistic teaching. And not human values. We (also) need to produce a curriculum with secular ethics.'