Gauhati - The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said on Saturday that it was up to his followers to decide whether the office of the Dalai Lama exists in the future.
During a visit to the northeast Indian town of Tawang - the second-highest seat of Tibetan Buddhism - the Dalai Lama denied that he had any knowledge of where his successor would be born. Asked if the next Dalai Lama could be a woman, he said, "That might also happen".
Theory on rebirth
The question of who will replace the 81-year-old spiritual leader has gained significance in recent years, with Beijing insisting that the next Dalai Lama be born in China.
The Tibetan leader said on Saturday the people should decide on the question of the next Dalai Lama.
"They will decide whether the tradition continues or not," he told reporters in Tawang, located in India's remote northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Dalai Lama is on a weeklong visit to Arunachal Pradesh despite objections by China, which considers the state a disputed region.
On China's claim on the next Dalai Lama, he said, "Let China first come clear on its theory on rebirth."
The Dalai Lama said that he has nothing to do with "politics" and that it was the Tibetan self-declared government-in-exile that handled all political matters, including the Tibetan cause.
"I retired from politics in 2011 and all political matters are handled by our government-in-exile," he said. "However, I am committed to promote and preserve Tibetan culture and ecology".
The Dalai Lama and his followers have been living in exile in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala in northern India since they fled Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
China doesn't recognise the Tibetan government-in-exile and hasn't held any dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama since 2010.