By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, July 2: Following the backlash over the remarks made on an interview by the BBC with the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama which aired recently, his office has come out with a statement
with clarifications as well as apologies.
His office in a statement issued Tuesday said, “His Holiness genuinely meant no offence. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies.”
The octogenarian Tibetan leader while responding to a question told BBC in an interview recently that a future Dalai Lama can be a female and that she “should be attractive” remarks sparking a barrage of responses that accused the foremost Buddhist monk of objectifying women.
The statement by his office denied such intent and asserted that the Dalai Lama on the contrary emphasizes the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances.
His office said, “The original context of his referring to the physical appearance of a female successor was a conversation with the then Paris editor of Vogue magazine, who had invited His Holiness in 1992 to guest-edit the next edition. She asked if a future Dalai Lama could be a woman. His Holiness replied, "Certainly, if that would be more helpful," adding, as a joke, that she should be attractive. He was at least partially responding to the unfamiliar ambience of working with a team whose prime focus was the world of high fashion.
“It sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humour in translation when brought into another. He regrets any offence that may have been given.”
Also issuing a context on the remarks on keeping “Europe for Europeans” and that refugees must return to their own homeland after acquiring education and skills to rebuild their own country, his office stated, “His Holiness's views about the current refugee and migration crisis may have been misinterpreted. He certainly appreciates that many of those who leave their countries may not wish or be able to return, and that Tibetans, who cherish the idea of returning home, would find their country irrevocably altered.
“However, His Holiness also understands the uncertainties and difficulties of those in countries where refugees and migrants make their new homes”.
While the remarks made by the Tibetan leader attracted backlash on the social media, one going to the lengths, calling for the stripping of the Nobel peace prize, Tenzin Mingyur Paldron, a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley’s Rhetoric Department wrote an opinion piece
that gave what some say is a pragmatic view to the whole situation. “When I look at him I don’t see a Nobel Peace Prize laureate or a celebrity. I see someone with limited fluency in English and its nuances, who is a permanent guest in a foreign land (India). I see a refugee and an elder, with everyday imperfections,” Tenzin wrote in his piece.