“Suck My Tongue”: An Explanation of the Dalai Lama Video Controversy

The Dalai Lama continues to be the widely recognized spokesperson for the campaign for Tibetan independence.

After a social media video of the Dalai Lama requesting a youngster to “suck my tongue” went viral, the Tibetan spiritual leader issued an apology. “A video clip of a recent encounter in which a small kid requested the Dalai Lama’s embrace has been making the rounds on social media. His Holiness wants to express his regret for any harm his comments may have caused to the little child, his family, and his numerous friends throughout the globe, according to a statement from the office of the spiritual leader.
What’s the dispute about?
The incident happened on February 28 during a conversation at a gathering in the Dharamshala neighbourhood of McLeod Ganj. Around 100 school pupils attended the ceremony, which was held in a temple, according to The Guardian.

On the microphone, a student in attendance requested a hug from the Dalai Lama. The child was invited to approach the platform where the 87-year-old was sitting.

The monk then leaned down to give his respects and laid a kiss on the boy’s lips. He then requested the youngster to suck it with his tongue while pressing his forehead on the boy’s. According to the site, the youngster walked away as the Dalai Lama chuckled and gave him another embrace.

The responses
One of the participants filmed the video, which has received over 1 million views. The video received harsh criticism on Twitter, with some using the words “absolutely sick” and “disgusting” to describe it.

“Absolutely stunned to witness the #DalaiLama’s performance. He’s had to apologize before for making sexist remarks. But telling a little youngster to “Now suck my tongue” is revolting, one person tweeted.

What just happened? How the youngster must be feeling? Disgusting,” added a second.

Tibetan greetings and culture
In Tibet, putting out your tongue is a sign of welcome, contrary to what a 2014 BBC piece said. According to the publication, the Tibetan people have practiced it since the ninth century, when Lang Drama, a ruler noted for his black tongue, governed the area.

When asked to affirm that they are not like the late monarch (or his reincarnation), the people began to exhibit their tongues.

This is also mentioned in an article from 2014 from the Institute of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. According to the institute’s website, in traditional Tibetan culture, putting out one’s tongue is a gesture of respect or agreement and is often used as a welcome.

Disputes involving the Dalai Lama in other contexts
The Dalai Lama apologized in 2019 for stating that a woman would need to be “attractive” if she were to be his successor. The remarks were made in an interview with the BBC and received criticism from all across the globe.

He also caused a stir by declaring on the subject of immigration that “Europe belongs to the Europeans” in the same year. The spiritual leader said that refugees should go back to their home countries at a seminar in Malmo, Sweden.

In 2018, he said that Jawaharlal Nehru rejected Mahatma Gandhi’s request to appoint Muhammad Ali Jinnah as prime minister because Nehru was “self-centered.” He continued by saying that had Mahatma Gandhi’s predictions come true, India and Pakistan would still be together. Later, the Tibetan spiritual leader expressed regret for his comment.

The Dalai Lama continues to be the widely recognized spokesperson for the campaign for Tibetan independence. Beijing views him as a separatist since he fled to India in 1959 after a failed revolt against Chinese control in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama appointed an eight-year-old Mongolian child born in the United States as the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche, the third highest position in Tibetan Buddhism, last month.

News Desk

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