LONDON - Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has courted controversy over his alleged sexist comments on a future female successor. And, he said, if that has to happen, she basically has to be attractive and easy on the eye.
In an interview with BBC's Clive Myrie, the Buddhist leader, hailed by Western activists and celebrities for his advocacy of independence for Tibet, among other causes, said that while he would be happy for a female to take over his role, a plain or ugly candidate would not be suitable.
"If a female Dalai comes, the face should be very attractive," the 14th Dalai Lama told a startled BBC interviewer, Clive Myrie.
An astonished Myrie sought clarification. "So you can only have a female Dalai Lama, if they are attractive," she asked, after laughing rather awkwardly. "Is that what you're saying?"
"That female must be attractive, otherwise it is not much use," the Tibetan leader shot back.
"Really?" Myrie said in disbelief. "You are joking, I am assuming. Or you're not joking?"
"It's true," the 1989 Nobel Peace laureate confirmed he was not joking.
The Dalai Lama will make a decision with other Buddhist leaders about whether a successor should take on the role of being the 15th Dalai Lama when he is around 90-years-old.
Earlier during the interview, the 80-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader whose real name is Tenzin Gyatso, explained why a woman would make a good successor.
He said that a female Dalai Lama would have "biologically more potential to show affection...and compassion".
"In today's world there is a lot of trouble - it is a troubled world. I think female should take a more important role."
The self-declared feminist is on a nine-day visit to London, where he is promoting the concepts of compassionate and considerate behavior.
The perceived sexist comment has been met with widespread criticism from women's rights groups and social media. In the past, the Dalai Lama has said he does not like backlashes of this sort, saying some feminist activists are too emotional.
"Do you consider your face 'attractive', Dalai Lama ji? Or is that not important for men?" wrote Rama Lakshmi, a Washington Post reporter in India, on her Facebook page.
"You'd think that as someone who's all about learning and enlightenment he'd have figured a few things out," read one posting on the feminist blog Jezebel.com, according to Sydney Morning Herald.
Another added: "I had hoped for so much more from him - in the end, yet another patriarch".
Others however seemed to think it was a 'dad joke' gone wrong.
"I can't watch the video but the part about attractiveness seems a bit like a dad joke gone wrong," a reader wrote. "Like 'of course she'd have to be pretty! After all, the only reason I've done so well is because of how hot I am!' Dad chuckle."