Dharamshala: In a joint statement issued on 21 April, a group of 35 academic scholars of Tibetan studies across the world strongly criticised and condemned the distasteful media coverage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s exchange with a young Indian boy at a public event, while calling it an ‘ill-intentioned attack’ on the authority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the sentiments of Tibetan community as well as the global Buddhist community.
The statement further cautions global news networks to perform a thorough investigation of the sources of their information before disseminating information on sensitive matters such as this and urges the news media to carefully decode the context of the fuller video specifically in the light of the Tibetan cultural context where it is a commonly recognised traditional ways of greeting. Moreover, it appeals to the mainstream media to scrupulously take into account the sanctity of the lifelong oath-bound celibacy to which His Holiness has committed himself.
“It is well known that the current Dalai Lama is physically playful with many of the people he meets, of all statuses and ages and genders, including when he embraced and tickled Archbishop Tutu under the chin with humour and in friendship”, the statement reads and further rejects the misuse of the momentum of the #metoo movement to impose sexual connotation on the otherwise unadulterated exchange of genuine affection.
“The current incident of the Dalai Lama is not an instance of sexual abuse, and it is harmful to everyone to claim that it is. Among many other things, to do so diminishes the voices of survivors who have courageously shared their stories and shined a light on systematic abuse, both in religious and many other contexts”, the statement asserts.
The statement expresses solidarity with the Tibetan community inside and outside Tibet whose sentiments were deeply hurt by the deliberate insinuations to tarnish the integrity of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
This statement was jointly issued by Geoffrey Barstow (Associate Professor of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oregon State University), Daniel Berounsky (Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Charles University), Benjamin Bogin(Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Skidmore College), Katia Buffetrille (Ecole pratique des hautes etudes, Paris), Jose Cabezon (Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies at University California), Cathy Cantwell (Associate Faculty Member of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at University of Oxford), Hildegard Diemberger (Research Director of Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit at University of Cambridge), Jacob Dalton (Professor in Tibetan Buddhism at University of California Berkeley), James Duncan Gentry (Assistant Professor of Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University), David Germano ( Professor of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at University of Virginia), Janet Gyatso (Professor of Buddhist Studies at Harvard University), Catherine Hartmann (Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at University of Wyoming), Hanna Havnevik (Faculty of Humanities at University of Oslo), Lama Jabb (Lecturer in Tibetan at Oxford University), Sarah Jacoby (Associate Professor at Northwestern University), Mathew Kapstein (Directeur d’etudes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes),Samten Karmay (Director of Research emeritus at Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Donald Lopez (Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at University og Michigan) and Robert Mayer (University of Oxford).