London: Amid concerns over his age and falling health, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has said that he may be the last to hold the title.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, the 14th Dalai Lama said, "I have no concern," adding that it is "possible" he would be the last to hold the title.
The exiled spiritual leader also criticised the Chinese government for "being more concerned about the institution of the Dalai Lama than the man who carries that name.”
The Tibetan leader also rued the fact that the Chinese establishment still viewed him as a political leader, and not as a spiritual leader.
The previous men carrying that title were for centuries. But since 2011, I totally retired from political responsibility - not only myself retired, but also a four-century-old tradition, he was quoted as saying.
The ageing leader, however, maintained that “Buddhism in Tibet far precedes the Dalai Lama, and in the future, Tibetan Buddhism will carry on without the Dalai Lama."
Dalai Lama made these remarks shortly before he was hospitalised and forced to cancel several appearances in the United States.
The spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists also mentioned how he has been labelled as an "anti-China splittist," who wants Tibet - a region of China - to become an independent country.
"We are not seeking independence. Historically, we are (an) independent country. That's what all historians know - except for the Chinese official historian; they do not accept that, " he said.
Labelling him a "splittist fits well with China's hardliner policy, he opined.
During the interview, the Dalai Lama also gave a piece of advice to Chinese President Xi Jinping by asking him to “think more realistically."
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet.
Tibetan Buddhism's second-highest figure is the Panchen Lama - a figure who is meant to play a key role in the choice of the next Dalai Lama.
A young boy was named as Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama in 1995, but China rejected this and chose its own candidate. The whereabouts of the Dalai Lama's choice are unknown.