Dalai Lama Asks Boy To Suck His Tongue

Spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has apologized after a viral video on social media showed him asking a boy to suck his tongue.

The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the best-known living Buddhist figure in the world. He is the 14th Dalai Lama. He fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. After fleeing Tibet, the Dalai Lama is now living in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. 

On 28 February 2023, an event was going on in McLeod Ganj which is in Dharamshala. Around 100 school students were present at the event, which was organized at a temple.One of the students present there asked the Dalai Lama on microphone if he could hug him. The Dalai Lama asked the boy to come up to the platform where he was seated. The Dalai Lama points to his cheek and says, “first here,” asking the boy to give him a hug and a kiss. The Dalai Lama then points to his lips, and says: “then I think finally here also.” He then pulls the boy’s chin and kisses him on the mouth. “And suck my tongue,” the Dalai Lama then said, sticking out his tongue, forehead to forehead with the student. The boy quickly stuck out his own tongue and touched his forehead with the Dalai Lama. He then took the boy’s hand and touched it to his cheek. The Dalai Lama then hugged the boy and advised him to look to those who create “peace and happiness” and not to follow “human beings who always kill other people”, before giving him a final hug. The identity of the boy is not known.

The video was recorded by one of the attendees and amassed more than 1 million views. Twitter users slammed the footage, calling it "disgusting" and "absolutely sick". A lot of users criticized the Dalai Lama’s actions. 

The Dalai Lama has recently apologized after the video went viral. On 11th April 2023, the office for the Dalai Lama said he “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,” adding he “regrets” the incident. The statement said, “His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” 

According to a 2014 BBC article, sticking out your tongue can be considered as rude, but in Tibet, sticking out one's tongue is a sign of respect or agreement and is often used as a greeting in traditional Tibetan culture. It has been a tradition followed by the Tibetan people since the ninth century, when the region was ruled by Lang Drama, who was known for a black tongue. After the death of the king, the locals started showing their tongues when asked to confirm that they are not like him or his reincarnation. 

But this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable. February’s incident isn’t the first time the Dalai Lama has sparked controversy in recent years.

He had to apologize after a 2019 interview during which he said if a female Dalai Lama should succeed him, she “should be more attractive.” In 2018, he said that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to give the prime ministership to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, but Jawaharlal Nehru refused as he was "self-centered". He added that India and Pakistan would have remained united if Mahatma Gandhi's dream had come true. The Tibetan spiritual leader later apologized for his comment.