He said he was very worried about the growing number of monks and nuns setting themselves afire.
In an interview with the BBC, the elderly monk said he was not encouraging such actions. He said there was no doubt they required courage, but questioned how effective it was.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in this north Indian town said till now, 11 Tibetans have set themselves afire to protest China’s policies, for their demand of freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland.
“The question is how much effect” the self-immolations have, the Dalai Lama said. “That’s the question. There is courage – very strong courage. But how much effect?
“Courage alone is no substitute. You must utilise your wisdom,” he said.
Asked whether he feared the actions could make life worse for people in Tibet, he said: “Many Tibetans sacrifice their lives…Nobody knows how many people are killed and tortured – I mean death through torture. Nobody knows.
“A lot of people suffer. But how much effect? The Chinese respond harder.”
Earlier this month, the spiritual leader asked the Chinese leadership to review 60 years of its Tibet policy, saying “using force is counterproductive and will not bring peace and stability”.
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans and the government-in-exile, which is not recognised by any country.