NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Tibet's exiled spiritual head the Dalai Lama on Saturday questioned whether the tradition of leadership reincarnation should be continued, saying he and other leaders of Tibetan Buddhism will take a call on the issue in about 15 years, a statement on his official website said.
"When I am about ninety I will consult the high lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not," the Dalai Lama wrote in the statement.
Traditionally, high lamas, Buddhist priests, can take years to identify a child deemed to be a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, a search usually limited to Tibet, now part of China which regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.
Tibetans fear that China will use the thorny issue of the Dalai Lama's religious succession to split the movement, with one new Lama named by exiles and one by China after his death.
The current Dalai Lama, 75, has stated previously that he will not be reborn in the People's Republic of China if Tibet is not free and that no one, including China, has the right to choose his successor "for political ends."
The Dalai Lama relinquished his political role in April and Tibetan exiles elected a Harvard law scholar as their political leader, who is likely to bring in a more radical government-in-exile to challenge China.
(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky; Editing by Ed Lane)