The offices of Ganden Phodrang, the official institution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Dharamsala, India , have been beseeched with inquiries from media over the last 24 hours, asking for clarification on a report in German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, which strongly suggested that the present Dalai Lama could be the last one. The report which has been heavily cited in media has alarmed Tibetans around the world who are expressing their shock and sadness on internet platforms.
However an official at Ganden Phodrang told VOA Tibetan that the report in Welt am Sonntag which contained the following quote from the Dalai Lama, “We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama,” is incomplete and that the quotation was a brief comment from a much longer and fuller response to a question on reincarnation in which the Dalai Lama stated that the ultimate decision on whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or cease to exist would be up to the Tibetan people.
The Dalai Lama’s position that Tibetans should be the ultimate arbiter of whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue is not a new one and in fact has been stated many times by the Dalai Lama over several decades. More importantly, in recent years, the Dalai Lama has stressed two important factors regarding his possible reincarnation: Firstly that he would decide on the matter upon close consultation with senior Tibetan religious heads in around 15 years, and that secondly, were he to return as the 15th Dalai Lama, that it would be logical for him to be born in an environment that would allow him to continue working for the things that he had spent his present life doing, and not in a Tibet under present conditions.