Sat, Apr 13, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Dalai Lama leaves hospital, assuages supporters’ anxiety

AFP, NEW DELHI

Tibetans attend a special prayer for the health of the Dalai Lama at a Tibetan refugee colony in New Delhi yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

The Dalai Lama yesterday told his followers 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 yesterday 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 that the cause of his illness had been a “kind of flu ... which persisted for a while. After a thorough checkup — X-rays and other diagnosis — it was found that there was some lung [infection].”

The monk, global celebrity and thorn in China’s side was on Tuesday admitted to the Max Hospital in the Indian capital.

His personal spokesman, Tenzin Taklha, told reporters that the Dalai Lama would now spend “several days of rest” in Delhi before returning to Dharamsala, the northern Indian hill city 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 figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

However, he has also drawn the fury of an increasingly assertive China, which has branded him a “wolf in a monk’s robe” and accused 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 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government reportedly warning officials against attending events featuring him, citing diplomatic sensitivities.

His hospitalization this week, which attracted widespread media interest and a flood of well-wishes 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 organized opposition to its rule in Tibet — to name his reincarnated successor, even announcing in 2011 that he might be the last in the lineage.

He enjoys wide support across the partisan divide in Washington, where a lawmaker raised the issue of his succession at a hearing on Tuesday.

“Let me be very clear: The United States Congress will never recognize a Dalai Lama that is selected by the Chinese,” US Senator Cory Gardner said.

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