By Abhaya Srivastava | AFP
NEW DELHI, India, 12 April 2019
The Dalai Lama told his followers on Friday to “feel at ease” as he was discharged from a New Delhi hospital three days after being admitted with a chest infection.
“I received the necessary medical treatments and now feel kind of normal,” the 83-year-old told reporters in a video posted on his official Twitter account as he left the medical facility on Friday morning.
“I have recovered very well. So, everyone, please feel at ease! I wish to thank everyone for your sincere concern and prayers for me,” he said in the video shot by Voice of America’s Tibetan language service, according to accompanying subtitles of his remarks in the clip.
The Tibetan spiritual leader said the cause of his illness had been a “kind of flu… which persisted for a while. After a thorough check-up — X-rays and other diagnosis — it was found that there was some lung (infection).”
The Buddhist monk, global celebrity and thorn in China’s side was admitted to the Max hospital in the Indian capital on Tuesday.
His personal spokesman Tenzin Taklha told AFP that the Dalai Lama would now spend “several days of rest” in Delhi before returning to Dharamshala, the northern Indian hill station where he has lived in exile for six decades.
In 1959, at the age of 23, he fled the Tibetan capital Lhasa and across the frozen Himalayan border, disguised as a soldier, as Chinese troops poured into the region to crush an uprising.
In India he set up a government-in-exile and launched a campaign to reclaim Tibet that gradually evolved into an appeal for greater autonomy — the so-called “middle way” approach.
The self-described “simple Buddhist monk” has spent decades criss-crossing the globe mixing with monarchs, politicians and Hollywood actors pressing his case.
His status as a global symbol of peace whose message transcends faith has earned comparisons to visionaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
But he has also drawn the fury of an increasingly assertive China, branding him a “wolf in a monk’s robe” and accusing him of trying to split the nation.
Although still a hugely popular speaker, he has cut back on his global engagements and has not met a world leader since 2016 — while governments have been wary of extending invitations to him for fear of angering Beijing.
Even India, which gave him asylum in 1959, has turned its back, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government reportedly warning officials against attending events featuring him, citing diplomatic sensitivities.
His admission to hospital this week, which attracted widespread media interest and a flood of wishes of good will on social media, also served as a reminder that the question of his succession is far from clear.
The Dalai Lama has sought to pre-empt any attempt by Beijing — which has effectively wiped out organised opposition to its rule in Tibet — to name his reincarnated successor, even announcing in 2011 that he may be the last in the lineage.
The Tibetan spiritual leader enjoys wide support across the partisan divide in Washington, where a senator raised the issue of his succession at a hearing Tuesday.
Senator Cory Gardner, the Republican who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Asia, said the United States should follow the Dalai Lama’s lead on how to choose his successor.
“Let me be very clear — the United States Congress will never recognise a Dalai Lama that is selected by the Chinese,” Gardner said.