The Dalai Lama has apologised after a video showing him asking a child to "suck my tongue,” then kissing him on the lips, sparked backlash.
A statement posted on his official website on Monday said the 87-year-old leader regretted the incident and wished to "apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.”
The incident occurred at a public gathering in February at the Tsuglakhang temple in the northern India city of Dharamsala, where the exiled leader lives.
He was taking questions from the audience when the boy asked if he could hug him.
In the now viral video, which ITV News has chosen not to share, the Dalai Lama invited the boy up toward the platform he was seated on.
He is filmed gesturing to his cheek, then the child kisses him before giving him a hug.
The Dalai Lama then asked the boy to kiss him on the lips and stuck out his tongue.
He then can be heard saying "and suck my tongue,” as the boy sticks out his own tongue and leans in, prompting laughter from the audience.
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The footage triggered a critisism online with social media users condemning his behavior.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement from the Dalai Lama read.
The Dalai Lama has made the hillside town of Dharmsala his headquarters since fleeing from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
India considers Tibet to be part of China, though it hosts Tibetan exiles.