Successor could be a young boy or girl: Dalai Lama

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Dharamsala : Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, Sunday kept everyone guessing about his successor, saying the issue was open on whether a new head was required, and added that it could be a young boy or a girl.

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“There are various ways of doing it (having a successor). The point is whether to continue with the institution of the Dalai Lama or not. After my death, Tibetan religious leaders can debate whether to have a Dalai Lama or not,” the Tibetan leader, who has been living in exile in India for the last 49 years, told media persons at his Mcleodganj-based headquarters here Sunday.

“The successor can be a young boy or a girl. Girls show more compassion. Also, women are dominating things all over the world,” he said.

“I may be the last Dalai Lama,” he also added.

The Tibetan leader felt sad that the Tibet issue was not being resolved. “Tibet is going through a death sentence. Its spirit is being killed,” he said.

Seeking India’s help in the resolution of the Tibet issue, the Dalai Lama said that India was “over-cautious” in the matter as it had its own compulsions with China.

The 73-year-old Dalai Lama, whose real name is Tenzin Gyatso, is the 14th in succession in the institution of the Dalai Lamas. The first Dalai Lama was made in the 15th century.

He has been under pressure from the exiled Tibetan community to choose a successor since he is getting older and has been hospitalized in recent months for various ailments. He was recently operated in a Delhi hospital for removal of gall bladder stones.

The Tibetan leadership here is worried that if the Dalai Lama dies without nominating or selecting a successor, the Chinese government might install its own choice as the next Dalai Lama as they did in the case of the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking Buddhist leader in Tibetan hierarchy, in 1995.

The Dalai Lama told reporters that there would be no dearth of leaders to take over the reins of the Tibetan community after his death. He said that Karmapa Lama, the third highest lama after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, and other religious leaders could lead the Tibetans. He added that the political role was already been looked after by Tibetan “Prime Minister” Samdhong Rinpoche.

Categorically putting all speculation about his retirement plans at rest, the Dalai Lama said he stood committed to the Tibetan cause and would continue to lead the Tibetans “till death” as it was his moral responsibility.

“Once all Tibetans return to Tibet after the issue is settled, I will hand over authority to others,” he said.

The Dalai Lama has been living in India in exile since 1959 when Chinese forces entered Tibet’s capital Lhasa and crushed an uprising by Tibetans.

He said that he chose to remain “silent” on the issue of seeking complete independence for Tibet instead of following his middle-path policy of seeking genuine autonomy.

The special meeting of the Tibetan leadership, called here Nov 17 to 22 by the Tibetan Parliament in exile at the instance of the Dalai Lama, Saturday reaffirmed faith in the leadership of the Dalai Lama and his “middle-path” policy to work for genuine autonomy for Tibet under China.

The meeting categorically requested the Dalai Lama not to even think of retirement or semi-retirement.

The Dalai Lama, in recent months, had been saying that he was in semi-retirement and wanted to retire from his public commitments.

The meeting asked the exiled government to hold back future talks with China till Beijing “responded positively” to the Tibetan demands of negotiating a genuine autonomy for Tibet, allowing exiled Tibetans to return and also protect Tibetan race, religion, language and culture.