Photojournalist Raghu Rai has been photographing the Dalai Lama since 1975. His lush black-and-white work, now collected in His Holiness: The Fourteenth Dalai Lama (Mandala Publishing, 2018), invites us into the spiritual leader’s unique life.
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The Dalai Lama in his greenhouse. “He grew the most beautiful flowers,” says photographer Raghu Rai.
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The Dalai Lama’s personal prayer room. The central statue was carried out of Tibet in the 1960s and reunited with His Holiness in India.
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The Dalai Lama gives blessings and prayers to students at a school for the blind in Mundgod Tibetan Settlement, Karnataka.
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The Dalai Lama relaxes under a blossoming tree in his garden.

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama watching the TV series, Mahabharata.
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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fixing a television set.

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“In a lot of ways, he gave me everything a photographer ever wants from a subject,” the photographer says.
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“He loves to play with animals – I was waiting for him one day when he suddenly showed up with a cat,” Rai says.

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“When he sees his Tibetans, my god! You should see his eyes! It’s like a grandfather doting on his grandchildren,” Rai stated.
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He hosted his siblings, including his older brother, Gyalo Thondup, whom he introduced to guests as a “troublemaker” said Rai.

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He recalled being stopped by the Dalai Lama’s security. “I somehow managed to make eye contact with His Holiness and asked him if I could take some photos of him. He smiled and said yes,” Rai told the BBC.
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Photographs © Raghu Rai, from His Holiness: The Fourteenth Dalai Lama (Mandala Publishing, 2018)

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