By Rajini Vaidyanathan
BBC News, Dharamshala
27 June 2019
He is, without a doubt, one of the best-known people on the planet. In an age where celebrity is worshipped, the Dalai Lama is a faith leader who has become a spiritual superstar.
As he approaches his 84th birthday, the monk who has handed out millions of handshakes and crafted as many inspirational quotes, is candid and at times shocking.
I met him at his residence high in the mountains, in the town of McLeod-Ganj near Dharamshala in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
For a man so revered – seen as superhuman by many – he was refreshingly down to Earth. As he entered the room wearing his trademark red robes, assisted by his aides, he emanated the air of an approachable Clark Kent rather than an unearthly Superman.
And yet this is a man who has met world leaders and shared stages with pop stars and actors. A man who has long been a thorn in China’s side.
“One Chinese official once called me a demon,” he said laughing, before raising his hands to his head to mimic horns. “When I first heard that, my response was – yes, I’m a demon with horns.”
“I pity their ignorance, their political thinking is very narrow minded,” he added as he chuckled.