He nods a lot. The “greatest apostle of compassion”, the “saint in our midst”, the “champion of harmony” whose religion, eternally listed as ‘kindness’ — besides frequently breaking into his famous, joyful chuckles — nods a lot. When he is introduced, he nods. The compere at the Dayawati Modi awards, where the Dalai Lama is being honoured ‘for his invaluable contribution towards universal peace, tolerance and social justice’ is introducing him.
The auditorium is packed. The sound of camera shutters is in sync with his every nod.
His talk is supposed to be on the power of women. But the 76-year-old, for the first 10 minutes, keeps it general, speaks of the oneness of humanity. But there’s no restlessness. There is instead a glimpse into the power of the man: He can talk about whatever he likes, and still keep a Delhi audience in thrall. “Even insects have a desire to achieve a period of no disturbance.”
At one point, he seems especially amused with himself. He’s searching for words to convey his thoughts. He apologises, “My English vocabulary very, very, limited (sic).” Nobody minds. He has a faithful translator by his side who resolves for him these mini oratorial crises. When the Dalai Lama turns to him, conveying his confusion to the tune of “do I mean media or do I mean medium?” the translator, head bowed, leans in reverentially and whispers, “medium”. Aah, right, ok, the Dalai Lama, satisfied smile in place, feels he can move on.
Somewhere he remembers that the talk is about women. He traces society’s problems to a “lack of human affection — without that: suspicion, distrust, loneliness.” The critique for our modern education system: “Only brain development; forgetting to teach warm heartedness.”
He is lavish with his praise for women — “better listeners”. Underlying the need for compassion, and the role of a mother’s love in creating happy generations, he invokes his mother — “very, very, warm-hearted”. He never saw her angry. He makes the auditorium laugh when he narrates how he used to ride piggyback on her and when he wanted to go left, he’d pull her left ear; and right — the right ear. “If no listen, I shout!” Aggressive women, he chuckles, exist, but are an exception. Pat comes another joke: “So while I’m praising female, I remain male and will not take surgery!”
When the place quietens down, he reminds the audience of the need for women to spread warm heartedness and adds: “Future Dalai lama could be female Dalai Lama - that’s my dream”.