Exhausted Dalai Lama axes trips

by Ashwini Bhatia, Associated Press, August 28 2008

Dharamsala, India -- The Dalai Lama is suffering from exhaustion and has cancelled two planned international trips to undergo medical tests. The 73-year-old Nobel peace prize winner had been "experiencing some discomfort in the past couple of days", a statement from his office said.

The Tibetan spiritual leader has just returned from an 11-day visit to France, capping an intense few months since the violent uprising against Chinese rule in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March and the subsequent Chinese crackdown.

He spends several months a year travelling the world teaching and highlighting the struggle of Tibetans for greater freedom from China.

He cancelled trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic and will spend three weeks resting, said Thupten Samphel, a spokesman for the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile. His doctors have diagnosed exhaustion.

The spokesman said that the Dalai Lama would travel to Mumbai for medical tests before returning to the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala to recuperate. He gave no further details.

The Dalai Lama has had his headquarters in Dharamsala since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after an abortive uprising against China.

Although he is thought to be in good health, this is not the first time that exhaustion has laid him low. In 2006, the Buddhist leader was grounded by his doctors because of exhaustion and cancelled all his engagements for a month.

Since the outbreak of violence in Tibet, China has stepped up its campaign to vilify him, blaming him for recent unrest, which Beijing says was part of a campaign to split the Himalayan region from the rest of China.

He has denied the allegations, saying that despite the violence he only wants greater autonomy for the Himalayan region in order to protect its Buddhist culture.