By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 6 July 2021
In a rare action by any Indian leader, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has greeted Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on his birthday.
Modi in a tweet said, “Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life.”
New Delhi recognises Tibet as a part of China, and Indian leaders have generally treaded cautiously while dealing with the Dalai Lama to avoid annoying China.
Beijing regards the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” bent on breaking Tibet away from China, and frowns at any world leader engaging with him.
The Dalai Lama has lived in the Himalayan village of McLeod Ganj in Northern India since coming in to exile in 1959. He established the Central Tibetan Administration, which rallies for autonomy through what he calls the Middle-Way approach, rather than seeking independence.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the occasion marking the centenary of Communist Party of China last week, warned that foreign forces attempting to bully China “will find themselves on a collision course with a steel wall forged by 1.4 billion people”.
The Dalai Lama addressed his followers through a video message, reiterating his resolve to serve the humanity through karuna (compassion) and ahinsa (non-violence) until his last breath.
“I am just one human being. Many people show their love for me. And many people love my smile. Despite my old age, my face is quite handsome. Many people show me genuine friendship”, said the Dalai Lama in the video.
“Since I became a refugee and now settled in India, I have taken full advantage of India’s freedom and religious harmony. I want to assure you that for the rest of my life I am committed to reviving ancient Indian knowledge”.
He urged his followers to commit themselves to practice karuna and ahinsa in their daily lives.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen also wished the Dalai Lama a happy birthday, tweeting: “Thank you for teaching us the importance of coming together to help one another through this pandemic.”
The Dalai Lama was born on 6 July 1935 in the village of Taktser in traditional Amdo province, what is now called Qinghai province of China.