On 8 April 2023, the newly opened Twi6er account “Yin Sun” published an excerpt from a video
showing the Dalai Lama with a young Indian boy offering to “suck his tongue”. On the same day, this
publica(on was viewed 7,300,000 (mes, which requires the use of powerful robots to mul(ply it
from an account that has only been open for a li3le over a month.
The video, which went viral in a ma/er of days, went all around the world, in part through the use of
a great number of “influencers”, several of whom later publicly apologised.
(Peepoye : h”ps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7C-sZkVVuQ – Loy Macheedo :
To understand what really happened, you have to see the video from the beginning and not just the
clip published on social networks. The mother of the Indian child was si8ng next to the Dalai Lama
and could therefore clearly see the interac1on between her son and the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
They had already spent the day together with the 120 newly graduated students. Despite the fact
that the boy had already interacted a lot with the eminent Lama by publicly giving him the presents
on behalf of the school his mother was in charge of, he insisted on being permi5ed to give the
Tibetan spiritual leader a hug:
What happens next can only be understood when one knows that in Tibetan culture, it is common to
see elderly grandparents not only kissing small children, but also giving them a small sweet or a piece
of food from their mouth, directly from mouth to mouth. Once the elder has given a kiss and a
sweet, as there is nothing le/ in his mouth, nothing more to give, he says the phrase “Okay, now eat
my tongue”. The Tibetan expression is “Che le sa”. They say this as in “I gave you all my love and
sweets, so that’s it – all that’s le) is to eat (or suck) my tongue”. This is a game that children know.
This prac*ce is very common in the Amdo region, where the Dalai Lama originally came from.
In addi’on, since the ninth century of our era, Tibetans have been in the habit of s+cking out their
tongues as a sign of welcome and respect. The expression used by the Dalai Lama therefore has no
sexual connota,on, unlike in our part of the world.
This scene was filmed in its en0rety by the Voice of Tibet TV channel, but also by several local Indian
channels and broadcast live on Facebook. It was thus seen live on 28 February 2023 by several million
people around the world. Despite this widespread broadcast, there was no reac5on of indigna5on, as
for the viewers the sequence that later caused controversy was a harmonious part of an event
perceived by all as moving.
So the ques*on is, where is the reason that five weeks later, on 8 April, this out-of-context excerpt
sugges%ng the Tibetan leader’s paedophile character was blown up in an extremely well-orchestrated
manner, first on Twi/er, YouTube, Facebook, etc., and then picked up by TV news and newspapers
around the world? The main reason, according to most informed observers, is that on 8 March 2023,
in Dharamsala, the 14th Dalai Lama officially enthroned the 10th incarna5on of the main Mongolian
spiritual leader Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, in the presence of 600 Mongolian dignitaries and 5,000
Tibetan monks. According to tradi3on, this leader will have a decisive role in the designa+on of the
future Dalai Lama. This enthronement has par4cularly exasperated the Chinese Communist Party,
which has, for several years, arrogated to itself the monopoly of the power to designate the
reincarna’ons of the high Buddhist Lamas and in par(cular that of the successor of the 14th Dalai
Lama, whom it describes as a “wolf in a monk’s habit”. The excerpt from the video released on social
networks is just one example of the new form of warfare that uses communica5on manipula5on to
destroy the highly idealized image of the only figure who is unanimously accepted by the Tibetan
community both inside and outside his na0ve country, as well as by a large part of world public
opinion for whom the Dalai Lama is a symbol of peace, altruism and wisdom.
Among the many indignant reac0ons of the Internet users to the out-of-context excerpt of the Dalai
Lama’s expression of affec1on to the young Indian boy, many voices were raised to denounce the
trauma that the la*er would have undergone as a result of the ” inappropriate ” approach bringing to
light the alleged paedophilic tendencies of the Tibetan spiritual leader. It is therefore worth watching
the interview with the boy and his mother recorded on the same day, just a5er the event:
When one sees the posi+ve reac+ons of the child and his mother and puts the facts in their cultural
context, one may ask why the Dalai Lama publicly apologised. It is mainly due to the outpouring of
hos$le reac$ons based on an undeniably truncated presenta$on of reality with a view to damaging
the image of the spiritual leader and of Buddhism in general that the Dalai Lama’s office issued this
apology for those who might feel hurt by these facts.
To go deeper into the analysis of this event, the two-part tes(mony of the Tibetan Jigme allows us to
measure the wound caused within the Tibetan community by the smear campaign widely reported
by the world media:
The tes’mony of Lobsang Sangay, former Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile, provides
an interes)ng and enlightening insight into the spontaneous a1tude that the Dalai Lama has always
had in his dealings with heads of State and government, including a certain Barack Obama.
The impact of this poli/cal interference in spiritual and cultural ma4ers and the magnitude of the
controversy have made this clarifica2on necessary.
Brussels, 18 April 2023
President of the Buddhist Union of Belgium