The Dalai Lama has apologised after he faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour after kissing a young boy on the lips and asking him to “suck his tongue” at a public event in India.
The interaction, which took place in late February at the Dalai Lama’s temple in Dharamshala, was attended by about 100 young students who had just graduated from the Indian M3M Foundation.
The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the holiest figure in Tibetan Buddhism and has lived in exile in India since 1959, when Tibet was annexed by China.
In a video that has gone viral, one of the young male students approached a microphone at the event and asked the Dalai Lama: “Can I hug you?”
The Dalai Lama, 87, told the boy to come up to the platform where he was seated. Motioning to his cheek, he is heard saying “first here”, after which the child kissed him and gave him a hug.
The Dalai Lama kept hold of the boy, saying “I think here also” and then planted a kiss on his lips. “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 went to move away while the Dalai Lama laughed and pulled the boy in for another hug, as the audience laughed.
The spiritual leader then spoke to the boy, advising 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.
As the video spread across the internet it was condemned by many, who called it “inappropriate”, “scandalous” and “disgusting”. The controversy prompted an apology from the office of the Dalai Lama, who said his behaviour had been “innocent and playful”.
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It said in a statement: “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.
“His holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.”
The Dalai Lama has faced previous controversies. In 2019 he caused an outcry after suggesting that if the Dalai Lama returned as a woman “she should be more attractive”, for which his office apologised.