Dalai Lama’s controversial belief on his reincarnation has been brought up before.The 14th Dalai Lama recently hinted towards his rebirth as a woman , speaking to his followers at the Tawang Stadium. Tawang is a small town located in the North-eastern Arunachal Pradesh in India.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Buddhist religion of Tibet. In the mid-twentieth century, the thirteenth Dalai Lama declared Tibet an independent nation. China, a neighbor to Tibet, opposed this declaration because ‘it needed the water and mineral resources’ of Tibet, so it attacked the smaller country. In 1959, the Tibetans attempted to get out from underneath the Chinese rule in an uprising led by the 14th Dalai Lama who had just taken over. The rebellion ended in a bitter loss for the Tibetans, and the Dalai Lama fled Tibet to seek refuge in Dharamsala, India along with many of his followers.
The Chinese have, since then, completely taken over the political reign of Tibet. The Chinese tried to repress the Tibetan people by taking their land and putting them in urban camps at odds with the latter’s nomadic culture. China has minimized the use of the Tibetan language in Tibetan schools and taken many nuns and monks of the Tibetan Buddhism religion as political prisoners. China even made a person having an image of the Dalai Lama on him or her punishable by torture.
Therefore, when the Dalai Lama spoke in Tawang on Saturday, his comments were linked to a political fighting statement against China by people around the world.
According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a Dalai Lama is reincarnated as a child upon his death. Usually, an aging Dalai Lama will make his trip to an area he hopes or expects to be reborn to seek a successor.
When the Dalai Lama went to Tawang on Saturday, therefore, there was speculation that he expected to be reincarnated in the region. When questioned about that assumption, the Dalai Lama stated it was possible that he may be reborn there. Members of the Associated Press pressed him further on whether he believed he would be reborn as a woman, and to that he replied, “That might also happen.”
The statement made on Saturday was not the first time the 14th Dalai Lama said he might be reincarnated as a female. In a 2015 interview, the Dalai Lama had remarked he might just be reborn a woman, and an attractive one at that. He said the reason for the prerequisite attraction is that beautiful women seem to have influence over others. His remark raised controversial debates on social media at the time.
The Implications of the Dalai Lama’s Remarks
A female Dalai Lama would be unprecedented, but so would the Dalai Lama being reincarnated outside of Tibet. The Dalai Lama being reincarnated outside the Chinese influence would mark the weakening of the superpower’s hold on Tibetan Buddhists. The Chinese wanted the next Dalai Lama to be born within their grasp so they could control the Tibetans in matters of land and politics. The Tawang speech is the Dalai Lama’s way “of getting under the skin of the Chinese, of probing them, and reminding them that they have no control over where the next reincarnation occurs,” said historian Robert Barnett of Columbia University.
The Dalai Lama protested this claim and reiterated he was not into politics, and said it will be up to the Tibetan people if they wish to keep the reincarnation tradition or not.
- Huffington Post – “Dalai Lama Hints At Rebirth As A Woman Outside China’s Influence”
- Huffington – “Dalai Lama Asserts A Female Successor Should Be ‘Very Attractive.’ It’s Not The First Time.”
- The New York Times