Dharamsala - Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is torn between two homes. More than half a century after he was forced along with some 80,000 Tibetans to flee his homeland March 17, 1959, the elderly monk still wishes to go back to Tibet before he dies.
At the same time, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate says he considers himself a son of India.
"All particles in my mind contain thoughts from Nalanda. And itâ€™s Indian "dal" and "chapati" that has built this body. I am mentally and physically a son of India," the Dalai Lama said at a national conference of doctors held near his hometown-in-exile, Dharamsala earlier this week.
Going down memory lane, the Dalai Lama Feb 28 said: "When we first arrived in Dharamsala in (May) 1960, there were only two shops in McLeodganj (where the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) is headquartered). But now after five decades, there is huge development with restaurants and hotels."
In his addresses, the Dalai Lama is often quoted as saying: "India and Tibet share a relationship of "Guru" (Teacher) and "Chela" (Disciple). When I see some part of my guru being corrupt, as a chela I feel ashamed."
"Indiaâ€™s moral support is always there. It is our preference to have direct talks with the Chinese," a post on the website of the CTA quoting the spiritual guru said.
He was responding to a question: Does India have a role in the Tibetan dialogue process with China?
The Dalai Lamaâ€™s latest book, "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World", published by US-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said: "I am an old man now. I was born in 1935 in a small village in north-eastern Tibet. For reasons beyond my control, I have lived most of my adult life as a stateless refugee in India, which has been my second home for over 50 years. I often joke that I am Indiaâ€™s longest-staying guest."
In the book, the Dalai Lama, who inspires writers from the Orient and the West, argues that religion is not a necessity for pursuing a spiritual life. Rather, he proposes a system of secular ethics grounded in a deep appreciation of our common humanity.
But the one place the 76-year-old globe-trotting monk pines to visit is his native land Tibet.
"Yes, I remain optimistic that I will be able to return to Tibet. China is in the process of changing. Besides, I am not seeking separation from China," the Nobel laureate wrote on his official website.
Even the Dalai Lamaâ€™s first political successor Lobsang Sangay believes the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet is his top priority.
"I have never been allowed to set foot in Tibet. My late father, like many of our parents, could not return to Tibet. Together, we will ensure the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, reunite our people, and restore freedom in Tibet," 43-year-old Harvard- educated Sangay said after taking oath of office of prime minister Aug 8, 2011.
"We are always ready to embark on this epic journey from Dharamsala, the abode of Dharma, to Lhasa, abode of the Gods. From the town where the Dalai Lama lives, to the city where he belongs," he said.
In 1959, the occupying Chinese troops suppressed the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa and forced the Dalai Lama and over 80,000 Tibetans into exile in India and neighbouring countries.
On reaching India after a three-week-long treacherous journey, the Dalai Lama first took up residence for about a year in Mussoorie in Uttarakhand.
On March 10, 1960 just before moving to Dharamsala which also serves as the headquarters of the exiled Tibetan establishment, the Dalai Lama said: "For those of us in exile, I said that our priority must be resettlement and the continuity of our cultural traditions. We Tibetans would eventually prevail in regaining freedom for Tibet."
Every year, Tibetan exiles worldwide remember March 10 -- the day when the Chinese launched a crackdown to suppress an uprising in Tibet.
Currently, India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans and the government-in-exile, which has never won recognition from any country.