The Dalai Lama has apologised after an unsettling video appeared on social media in which he kissed a young Indian boy on the lips before asking him to ‘suck’ his tongue.
Footage of the uncomfortable incident showed the moment the Tibetan spiritual leader invited the boy on stage during a charity event at his temple in Dharamshala, India in February.
In the video, the boy asks the Dalai Lama ‘can I hug you?’, to which Tenzin Gyatso responds: ‘Okay – come!’
The spiritual leader first asks the boy to kiss him on the cheek, before pointing at his lips. He holds the boy’s face as they briefly kiss, then the pair press their foreheads together.
Just as the boy goes to pull away, the Dalai Lama instructs him: ‘And suck my tongue’ – prompting him to slowly inch forward towards the 87-year-old’s outstretched tongue.
The Dalai Lama has apologised after a unsettling video appeared on social media in which he kissed a young Indian boy on the lips before asking him to ‘suck’ his tongue
Some supporters of the Dalai Lama sprang to his defence, claiming their leader was simply ‘joking around’
Others went as far as to describe the Dalai Lama as an ‘insidious false prophet’ while one user called for him to ‘be arrested for paedophilia’
Attendees of the event, held by India‘s M3M Foundation, can be heard laughing as the boy sits awkwardly in front of the aged Tibetan Buddhist leader and nervously follows his orders.
Before letting the child go, the Dalai Lama imparts some wisdom, telling him to ‘look to those good human beings who create peace, happiness’ and not to ‘follow those human beings who always kill other people’.
Some supporters of the Dalai Lama sprang to his defence, claiming their leader was simply ‘joking around’.
But the clip has sparked outrage on social media, with commentators branding the Dalai Lama’s actions ‘scandalous’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘absolutely sick’.
Others went as far as to describe him as an ‘insidious false prophet’.
‘Utterly shocked to see this display by the #DalaiLama. In the past too, he’s had to apologise for his sexist comments. But saying “now suck my tongue” to a small boy is disgusting,’ wrote user Sangita.
Another poster, Rakhi Tripathi, said: ‘What did I just see? What that child must be feeling? Disgusting.’
In this file photo taken on December 29, 2022, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama waves during his first day of teaching session at the Kalachakra Ground in Bodhgaya
The office of the spiritual leader posted a formal statement on social media today apologising for his actions.
‘His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused,’ the statement read.
‘His Holiness often teases the people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,’ it added.
‘He regrets the incident.’
The Dalai Lama remains the universally recognised face of the movement for Tibetan autonomy.
But the global spotlight he enjoyed after winning the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize has dimmed and the deluge of invitations to hobnob with world leaders and Hollywood stars has slowed, partly because the ageing leader has cut back on his punishing travel schedule, but also due to China’s growing economic and political clout.
Beijing accuses him of wanting to split China, and has referred to him as a ‘wolf in a monk’s robe’.
The Dalai Lama was forced to apologise in 2019 for saying that any woman who succeeded him ‘should be more attractive’
Just weeks ago, the spiritual leader courted more controversy when he named an eight-year-old boy with joint US and Mongolian nationality as the reincarnation of the third most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism
He was ‘deeply sorry’ and ‘genuinely meant no offence’ after his comment sparked a global backlash.
The monk’s office said his ‘off-the-cuff remarks’ had ‘lost their humour in translation’, insisting he was a strong supporter of women’s rights.
The comments, which were criticised around the world, were made in an interview with the BBC.
Then just weeks ago, the spiritual leader courted more controversy when he named an eight-year-old boy with joint US and Mongolian nationality as the reincarnation of the third most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism.
The formal title of the child, who is said to have a twin, is the tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché – the third most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism and the faith’s leader in Mongolia, according to The Times.
Rumours about the boy’s identity had swirled around the spiritual community for years, but his existence has only now been confirmed with his public appearance in India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.
The unveiling sparked fury in China, which previously said it will only recognise Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaders their special government-approved appointees have chosen.