The Dalai Lama’s latest remarks have infuriated the Communist Chinese officials to no end.
During a recent interview with the BBC, the Tibetan spiritual leader suggested that he might be the last to hold the esteemed title and may not have a successor.
“There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won't come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama,” he said.
These statements from the exiled leader raised the hackles of top Chinese officials, who insist that the decision making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama resides only in the central government.
"The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has to be endorsed by the central government, not by any other sides including the Dalai Lama himself," said Zhu Weiqun, head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of China.
He further added that the Dalai Lama has taken a very disrespectful attitude toward the reincarnation, citing the monk’s earlier claims that his reincarnation could be "a female, a foreigner or even a bee."
"Religiously speaking, he has betrayed Tibetan Buddhism and the succession system of the Dalai Lama, which requires strict religious rituals," Zhu claimed.
The Dalai Lama currently resides in India, where he fled to exile after an alleged failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. Since then, China terms the Nobel Peace Prize laureate a violent separatist while the Buddhist monk denies supporting the violence In Tibet, claiming that he only wants genuine autonomy for the people.
China’s National People’s Congress in Beijing discussed the issue at its annual parliamentary meeting, where the head of Tibet's regional congress, Padma Choling, said that the Dalai Lama has to return, just as he has done for generations. As per the Buddhist traditions, each Lama reincarnates into a baby after his body dies.
Even though the Chinese leaders are referencing the traditional Buddhist values with the monk’s statement, this whole thing seems more like a battle for power, since the Dalai Lama is considered the head of the religion.
He was given the title when he was just a boy, but the events of 1959 raised some differences between China and the monk. In 1995, the Dalai Lama chose a boy in Tibet as a Panchen Lama – the second most powerful figure in Tibetan Buddhism; however, the Chinese officials disregarded the decision and chose another boy for the title, though many Tibetans consider him “fake”.
Since the Dalai Lama has expressed that the title could end with his death, signaling the Tibetans that next Lama could just be a facade if chosen by the government without his consent, which can cause future problems for the Communist Party.