Dharamsala: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says he doesn't care about alleged pressure from China forcing the cancellation of events in Delhi to mark 60 years of the Tibetan government’s exile in India. He also said the position of the Dalai Lama has become irrelevant now and that the Tibetan people must decide on whether to continue it.
Speaking to senior journalist Vir Sanghvi on CNN-News18’s show Virtuosity, the Dalai Lama said, "As early as 1969, in an official statement, I had mentioned whether the very institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not is up to the Tibetan people. I very much admire democracy and feel the Tibetan system is feudal, is wrong.”
"As soon as I reached India, I took the responsibility to set up a Reform Committee to change some of our systems and practices which failed to succeed as the Chinese government wanted reforms in their own way. Even spirituality should have democratic representatives…. People should focus on studying in order to preserve the Tibetan spirituality and not on the institution of the Dalai Lama. I feel the Dalai Lama is not relevant anymore."
The spiritual leader also identified himself as the "son of India".
"I certainly feel at home in India for two reasons. Firstly, since the 8th century, Tibet has followed Nalanda traditions. So from a very young age, I started studying certain texts from Nalanda University… Secondly, for 70 years, my body has survived on Indian dal, rice and chapatti. Sometimes, I describe myself as a son of India,” the spiritual leader said.
He also spoke about how he was originally influenced by Chinese Marxism and felt he was a Marxist "as far as social economy is concerned".
The Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet to India in March 1959. The Tibetan government-in-exile is about to complete 60 years in the country. Amid the recent tensions with China, the Centre was reported to have cautioned its senior officials to stay away from events aimed at marking the start of the Dalai Lama's 60th year of exile.
"I don't care about the formalities, have a formal function and deliver a speech. It doesn't matter, what is important is here (in heart). Tibetan people, whether they are at home or away, they have the Tibetan spirit that is wonderful. And I think, a majority — about 99 per cent of them — are Buddhists and about 1% comprise Muslims, Christians etc."
Pressed further on how it didn't matter to him, the Dalai Lama replied that the Tibetan knowledge of Buddha dharma teaches "a good self-confidence".
"You see the totalitarian Marxism... very narrow-minded and short-sighted. I must make it clear that as far as Marxism is concerned, as far as the social economy is concerned, I am Marxist. Marxist economy emphasises on equal distribution. That's very good. The emphasis and special right is given to the working class people, it's so wonderful."
He said he was originally impressed by Chinese communism that nourished during the time of Mao Zedong. He also spoke about his demands for autonomy and recalled how in 1974 the Tibetans gradually decided to talk with the Chinese government and gave up their demand for separation or independence "but at the same time not satisfied with the present condition".
"Every Chinese knows that we are not seeking separation... we are simply seeking the right which is mentioned in Chinese constitution... regarding preservation of our culture, including Tibetan language."
He said the Tibetans established some contacts with successive Chinese governments without any major headway. "In 2001 or 2002, there was a revival or direct contact under the leadership of (then President) Ziang Zemin. There was a meeting with Chinese officials in 2010 that was the last time. Since then, there has been no direct contact."
Asked about what severed the communication, he said he didn't know but "I think some of them are hard-liners".
Watch the entire episode here: