- Dalai Lama camp fear China may try to influence his successor's selection
- China controls the Panchen Lama who is key to recognising next Dalai Lama
- Dalai Lama has rejected the idea of China identifying rebirths
"Ladakh wants me to reincarnate in Ladakh. China wants me to reincarnate in China, European countries want me there. One soul... how to divide it?" the 14th Dalai Lama said in his trademark booming laugh. "At the time of my death, some indication may come, at the moment, no indication," he said. "At the moment, I have no destination."
Worries in Dalai Lama camp that China may try to influence who the next Dalai Lama has made the reincarnation issue controversial.
China controls the Panchen Lama who is key to recognising the next Dalai Lama. About 20 years ago, the 14th Dalai Lama had recognised the 11th Panchen Lama, a six-year-old boy in Tibet. But Chinese authorities reportedly whisked him away and had another child anointed in his place.
Dalai Lama scoffs at the idea of China's communist government - which finds religion incompatible with its ideas -- identifying rebirths. "They say the next Dalai Lama or an even higher Lama... the China government will find the next one. That is nonsense," he said. "Let the China government first say they believe in rebirth and find the reincarnation of Maosedong and Deng Xiaoping."
Tawang's biggest claim to be the birthplace of the next Dalai Lama is that the sixth Dalai Lama was born there in the 17th Century. Tsangyang Gyatso was a Monpa by ethnicity and was born at Urgelling Monastery, five kilometres from the Arunachal capital, on March 1, 1683.
A senior monk at Urgelling said, "We pray His Holiness lives for a thousand years but when the time comes we want him to reincarnate here. The 6th Dalai Lama had made some predictions too about it."
At the parade ground in Tawang, where the Dalai Lama is preaching for over two days, young men and women echo the sentiment. "We want the Dalai Lama to reincarnate in Tawang. We worship him here, almost like god," said Rashi Tsering, a college student.
A young mother, Tsering Pema, who came to the meeting with her baby boy tied to her back said, "Tawang was also where the Dalai Lama came first after leaving Tibet. I hope he reincarnates here."
Bad weather had made flying in from Guwahati in a helicopter impossible. So the spiritual leader made a 500 km journey by road which took days. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu publicly apologised to the Nobel laureate.
Gyalten lekdin, an American monk based at a Mysuru Monastery, who came to Tawang for the Dalai Lama visit, said, " When the issue of reincarnation came up 7 or 8 years ago, the Chinese government said he can't reincarnate in Tibet without its permission. Where the Dalai Lama reincarnates is his business alone, nobody else's.'
But many in Tawang and beyond are wondering if the Dalai Lama will exercise another option of reincarnation he mentioned on Saturday. That is, choose a disciple and ask them will take his place.