INDIA – The Dalai Lama is currently under fire after a bizarre video surfaced showing the 87-year-old spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism kissing a young Indian boy on the lips, and then inviting the child to suck his tongue.
In February, the Dalai Lama had been taking questions from a stage in an Indian town called Dharamsala – where he lives after China declared him to be a criminal separatist after he fled Tibet following a failed uprising in 1959 – when a young boy asked him, “can I have a hug?”
While being recorded on video, the Nobel Prize winner asked the boy to come on to the stage and requested that the child to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek; after the youngster did this, the Dalai Lama then pointed to his lips and said, “then I think finally here also.”
After then pulling the boy’s chin and kissing him on the lips, the Dalai Lama then bizarrely added, “and suck my tongue,” sticking the appendage out of his mouth immediately afterwards.
The two then touched their foreheads and the boy briefly stuck out his tongue and attempted to leave, but at that point the Dalai Lama pulled him in and gave him yet another hug and then attempted to tickle him.
“Now, you should look [to] those good human beings who create peace [and] happiness,” the Dalai Lama said. “[You] should not follow those human beings who [are] always killing other people.”
After outrage over the clip swept the public and news media on Monday, the official Twitter account for the Dalai Lama sent out a message to its 19 million followers, attempting to explain the awkward interaction.
“A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked his Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug,” the tweet read. “His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused. His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras.”
However, Haq: The Center for Child Rights – a Delhi-based child rights group – released a statement on the incident, saying that it condemns “all form of child abuse,” adding that “some news refers to Tibetan culture about showing tongue, but this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable.”