In Arthur C. Clarke's Collected Stories, as a foreword to "The Nine Billion Names of God", the author notes:

This story triggered a charming response from the highest possible authority - His holiness the Dalai Lama

The author also mentioned it in a Locus magazine interview:

I received a nice letter the other day from the Dalai Lama. He had read 'The Nine Billion Names of God'.

Was this letter ever published?

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    "Was this letter ever published?" Given it contained the 9 billionth name, would you want it to be published? ;) Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Got it!

In December 2014, the National Air and Space Museum Archives at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum received Arthur C. Clarke papers collection from the Arthur C. Clarke Trust in Sri Lanka. Read about it here, here and here.

I contacted the Smithsonian, and they kindly sent me a photocopy of the Dalai's Lama letter. The letter is short and simple. I am quoting the text, since I'm not sure if I'm allowed to upload the photocopy.

[ Central Tibetan Administration Logo]


February 27, 1997

Mr. Arthur C. Clarke, CBE
"Leslie's House"
24 Barnes Place
Colombo 7

Dear Mr. Clarke,

Thank you very much for sending me copies of your two books: 1984: SPRING - A Choice of Futures and THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD. Mr. Jeff Greenwald was kind enough to bring these to me.

Your short story titled "The Nine Billion Names of God" was particularly amusing.

Once again, thank you for your thoughtful gesture.

With prayers and good wishes,

Yours sincerely,


Alas (or rather, fortunately) the letter doesn't contain the 9 billionth name after all ;-)

  • 2
    Excellent work! Although I am not the OP I'd like to say thank you for going the "extra step". Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 19:20
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    Although I admit that the content was somewhat less exciting than I thought it would be Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 19:25
  • He didn't say he actually read them (except the named short story) Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 15:36
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    @LiorKogan I don't want to engage in an edit war, but consider keeping the quote formatting. As I write in my edit reason, text formatted as code gets read letter-by-letter by screen readers, meaning blind or partly blind users will have a VERY hard time "reading" (actually listening) your post.
    – Jenayah
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 16:40
  • 2
    What Jenayah said. Formatted as it is currently, your answer is pretty much useless to people using certain assistive technologies. Given that someone went to the trouble of fixing this problem, so you didn't even have to take the trouble yourself, it seems rather, um, rude to reject that help - both to Jenayah and to people using screen readers.
    – Martha
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 17:09

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