The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, has issued an apology after a video surfaced of him kissing a child on the lips and then telling the child to “suck my tongue” at an event in northern India. The incident occurred during an event in the hillside city of Dharamshala in February, but the video went viral on social media, causing widespread criticism and controversy.
In the video, the young boy can be seen approaching the Nobel Peace Prize winner and asking if he can hug him. The Dalai Lama then invites the child on stage, where he kisses him on the mouth after pointing to his lips and saying, “then I think finally here also.” He then tells the child to “suck my tongue” and pokes out his tongue.
The spiritual leader’s office released a statement on Monday, April 10, apologizing for the incident and expressing regret for any hurt his actions may have caused. The statement also noted that the Dalai Lama often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras.
The incident occurred at an event hosted by the M3M Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Indian real estate company M3M Group, based in Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama lives in permanent exile.
The video of the exchange has sparked outrage and debate on social media, with many users criticizing the Dalai Lama’s actions as inappropriate and unacceptable, especially given his status as a religious leader and role model to millions of followers around the world. Some have also defended the Dalai Lama, citing cultural differences and the playful nature of the exchange.
Utterly shocked to see this display by the #DalaiLama. In the past too, he’s had to apologize for his sexist comments. But saying – Now suck my tongue to a small boy is disgusting.
— Sangita (@Sanginamby) April 9, 2023