Happy Birthday Tenzin! 5 things you didn't know about the Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama, a spiritual Tibetan symbol, celebrated his 80th birthday on Sunday in California with fellow Nobel Prize laureates, celebrities and more than 18,000 followers. While the monk describes his life as modest and simple, his influence is global, reaching far beyond his status as Buddhist and nationalist leader.

Here are five things you might not know about Tenzin Gyatso:

 Happy Birthday Tenzin! 5 things you didnt know about the Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso. AFP

1. His real name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, but has been shortened to Tenzin Gyatso. Every Dalai Lama, since the second, has used the surname 'Gyatso'.

2.  According to this Newsflicks tweet,  The Dalai Lama has shaken hands with every Indian prime minister from Jawaharlal Nehru  to Narendra Modi.

3.  The Dalai Lama is fascinated by science and technology. As the Chicago Tribune has also reported, he has said that had he not  become a monk, he would have become an engineer.

4. The Dalai Lama is non-vegetarian. The Dalai Lama was a vegetarian for a short time, but after developing health problems such as jaundice, as this interview reveals, he reintegrated meat into his diet.

5. In the last decade, the Dalai Lama has consistently voiced support for gay rights. According to The Telegraph, when asked about his stance on gay rights during Larry King interview the Dalai Lama said  that gay marriage was up to each government and the business of the individual saying "If two people – a couple – really feel that way is more practical, more sort of satisfaction, both sides fully agree, then OK".

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Updated Date: Jul 06, 2015 12:04:49 IST