Dalai Lama achieves phenomenal following on Twitter

July 26th, 2011 - 10:47 am ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar Dharamsala, July 26 (IANS) More than two million people across the globe religiously follow him on microblogging site Twitter, giving Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama an unprecedented reach.

The Dalai Lama has outstripped the following of many icons of cinema and sports, as he disseminates his teachings, speaks on various issues concerning his people and even reaches out to the Chinese people.

“To control negative physical and verbal actions, it is necessary to get at their root, the mind, and tame it,” is a spiritual lesson from him on Twitter.

As on 1.40 p.m. Monday, the Dalai Lama’s Twitter account @DalaiLama had 2,075,807 followers, having added over 6,000 followers since 7 p.m. Sunday.

Next in following is cricketer Sachin Tendulkar (sachin_rt), being followed by 1,239,638 people, and in the third place, was Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra (1,209, 115).

Following quite some distance behind were other Bollywood stars - Shah Rukh Khan at 1,029,611,
Amitabh Bachchan at 938,719, Aamir Khan at 888,974, Deepika Padukone at 867,065, Salman Khan at 849,532, Preity Zinta at 722,051 and Hrithik Roshan at 663,293.

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s SriSriOnTour Twitter account has 9,740 followers while yoga guru Baba Ramdev has a following of 5,420 people. Pope Benedict’s Twitter page is news_va_en with a 70,688 following.

Thubten Samphel, a spokesperson for the Tibetan government-in-exile, told IANS: “The aim of His Holiness to join Twitter is to reach out to the followers.

“The more important is to explain to Chinese youngsters about the nature of Tibetan struggle - not anti-China, not anti-Chinese, and just to fight it out with the wrong policies of the China government. In his tweets, he also preaches to Chinese scholars.”

In his interactions, the Dalai Lama touches upon various topics concerning Tibetan exiles, Samphel added.

According to a post on the Dalai Lama’s official website, he began tweeting soon after his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House (in February last year). During his US visit, the Tibetan spiritual leader met Twitter founder Evan Williams, who suggested he use the medium too.

On Feb 22, 2010, Williams tweeted: “Met the Dalai Lama today in LA. Pitched him on using Twitter. He laughed.”

Most of the Dalai Lama’s tweets link to webcasts on his official website where he talks about the life story of the Buddha.

Ramandeep Bajwa, a journalist by profession and follower of the Dalai Lama on the Twitter, said: “I am following him as he often talks on universal responsibility, love and compassion.”

The 76-year-old Nobel Laureate is now increasingly relying on tools like videoconferencing and Twitter to reach out to the ordinary Chinese.

Interacting with Chinese civil rights activist Teng Biao and human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong for the first time through videoconferencing in January this year, the Tibetan spiritual leader said: “Even though our consistent stand of middle way policy, based on the foundation of non-violence, has not yielded tangible result through dialogue with the Chinese government, it has helped us in getting strong support from the Chinese.”

The Dalai Lama, who believes in the “middle-path” policy that demands “greater autonomy” for the Tibetans, is viewed by the Chinese as a hostile element bent on splitting Tibet from China.

The Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile is not recognised by any country. Some 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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