TENZIN GYATSO, the 14th Dalai Lama, stepped on Indian soil for the first time on March 31, 1959, after escaping from Tibet. Last month, the world watched as he visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, through which he had made that historic journey to become, in his own words, India’s “longest-standing guest”.
On Wednesday, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, who is globally revered as a messenger of peace, will be the guest at the Express Adda in New Delhi. Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change.
Born on July 6, 1935, at the village of Taktser in Tibet’s Amdo province, Lhamo Thondup, as the Dalai Lama was then called, belonged to a family of farmers who grew barley, buckwheat and potatoes. Today, he is a “living God” for millions of Tibetans across the world.
A staunch advocate of non-violence, the Dalai Lama has travelled to more than 67 countries, spanning six continents and received over 150 awards, including honorary doctorates, in recognition for his message of peace and compassion. He has also co-authored more than 110 books.
In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet from China, which described him as a “dangerous separatist”.
On March 14, 2011, the Dalai Lama wrote to the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies — the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile — requesting that he be relieved of his temporal duties. On May 29, 2011, he formally signed a document transferring his temporal authority to a democratically elected leader and ended the 368-year-old tradition of Dalai Lamas functioning as both the spiritual and temporal head of Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has said that he has three main commitments: promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline; promotion of religious harmony and understanding among major religious traditions; and, preserve Buddhist culture and protect the natural environment of Tibet.
At the Express Adda, the Dalai Lama will be in conversation with The Indian Express’s Executive Director Anant Goenka and National Opinion Editor Vandita Mishra.
Guests at the event in the past include Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, filmmaker Karan Johar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Niti Aayog Vice Chairperson Arvind Panagariya, writer Amitav Ghosh, cricketer Rohit Sharma, economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and, most recently, actor Saif Ali Khan.