THE Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet, a role he has held for over eighty years.
Here, we look at what he does in his role and what has been said about him.
Who is the Dalai Lama?
Tenzin Gyatso – his spiritual name – was born as Lhamo Thondup in 1935 to parents who farmed buckwheat and barley in an isolated mountain hamlet, on the northeastern edge of the Tibetan plateau, Taktser, in Qinghai province.
He was acknowledged as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama when he was two years old.
As a toddler, he recognised objects belonging to the 13th Dalai Lama, which resulted in lamas proclaiming him as celestial heir.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Dalai Lamas are the manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion and are enlightened beings, who have chosen to take rebirth (reincarnation) in order to serve humanity.
The first Dalai Lama was identified in the 15th century.
At the age of just four, he was taken from his parents to start daily spiritual training at a monastery.
When China’s Mao troops invaded Tibet in 1950, he was forced to assume political power even though he was aged 15. In the past, Dalai Lamas have also served as the political leaders of Tibet.
But, in 1959, when Tibetans took to the street to publicly protest against the Chinese rule, thousands were killed by troops.
With rumours circulating that he would be kidnapped or assassinated, the Dalai Lama fled to India on foot after the failed uprising.
And he hasn't set foot in Tibet ever since.
In occupied Tibet, any sign of loyalty to the Dalai Lama can be met with arrests, lengthy sentences, torture, violent crackdowns and "re-education" programmes.
China says its leaders have the right to approve his successor, as a legacy from China's emperors.
But the Nobel peace laureate monk, who lives in exile in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala, has said that his incarnation could be found in India after he dies, and that any other successor named by China would not be respected.
He dreams of returning home to Tibet, but his life’s ambition is unlikely to fulfilled, as China has dismissed him as a "wolf in monk's robes".
What did the Dalai Lama say?
The Dalai Lama was forced to apologise after a video of him kissing a young boy on the lips went viral.
During the interaction, the religious figure then asked the young child to suck his tongue, as he was sticking it out.
The boy had asked for a hug during a public gathering.
An apology was posted on his Twitter page, claiming that he often teases people in an "innocent and playful way".
What does the Dalai Lama do?
He promotes the principles of Tibetan Buddhism.
He was asked to become head of state in Tibet at the age of 15.
The Dalia Lama travels the world to spread his message of peace, non-violence and compassion.
He is also thought to have played a large role in Tibetan politics alongside his spiritual leadership.
In 2011, he announced he would be taking a step back from his influence over politics in order to focus on spirituality.
The name Dalai Lama means "ocean of wisdom".
Is the Dalai Lama married and does he have any children?
The Dalai Lama has never been married and doesn't have any children.
He has previously described himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
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