• Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (L) shakes hands with retired Assam Rifles personnel Naren Chandra Das.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (L) shakes hands with retired Assam Rifles personnel Naren Chandra Das. (Photo : Getty Images)

During his visit to northeast India, the Dalai Lama met Naren Chandra Das, an Indian soldier guard from his flight from Tibet in 1959. The Tibetan spiritual leader is now 81 years old while the Indian soldier is 79.

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"Looking at your face, I now realize I must be very old too," the Dalai Lama said.

Back in 1959, The Tibetan leader met the guard following a difficult two-week journey across the mountains from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. He fled to India after a failed Tibetan rebellion against the Chinese reign.

With India’s pledge to extend support, the Dalai Lama disguised as a soldier and was able to cross the borders together with a small entourage.

"Guards of the Assam Rifles Platoon No 9 had brought the Dalai Lama from Zuthangbo and handed him over to five of us at Shakti [in Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China and Bhutan],” Das said.

"We brought him to Lungla from where he was escorted on his onward journey to Tawang by another group of guards," he added.

According to the retired member of the Assam Rifles, troops were forbidden to speak a word to the Dalai Lama.

"Our duty was only to guard and escort him during his journey," Das said.

The Tibetan leader expressed his gratitude to the retired soldier and said that he was "very, very happy" to unite with a member of the troop that brought him safely to India.

The Dalai Lama lived at the Tawang monastery shortly after his escape. He then went to Dharamsala in north India where he settled and established the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The spiritual leader is scheduled to visit the monastery later this week to convey his teachings.

China is angered with the Dalai Lama’s visit. The Chinese government claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory.

Weeks earlier, China has given warnings to India on the possible damages the visit could bring to China-India ties.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman advised India to "avoid taking any actions that would further complicate the border issue, [and to] not provide a platform for the 14th Dalai clique's separatist activities."

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama deemed his return to northeast India "like a reunion."

"When I revisit the Tawang area, I am reminded of the freedom that I had experienced for the first time [in 1959]. That was the beginning of a new chapter in my life," he said, as quoted by the Associated Press News Agency.

The meeting of the Dalai Lama and Indian soldier guard has revived the memories of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.