WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — At the age of 7, he was deemed to be the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa — one of the most revered figures in Tibetan Buddhism — and whisked from the yak-hair tent of his nomad family in the Himalayas to be groomed in a monastery for leadership.
Now 26, his mere appearance on the stage alongside the Dalai Lama at a major ceremony in Washington this month sent a flutter of excitement through the Tibetans in the crowd. Here was more evidence to them that the Dalai Lama had taken the young Karmapa under his wing, serving as teacher and father figure in India, where both live in exile, because China claims sovereignty over Tibet.
The Karmapa and the Dalai Lama lead different Tibetan Buddhist lineages and are not equals; the Dalai Lama, who is 76, is the pre-eminent spiritual leader of Tibet. And yet, many Tibetans are looking to the Karmapa to assume the mantle of the Dalai Lama when the elder lama dies, to take on the role as shepherd of the Tibetan people and lead them home from exile.
The succession talk appears to be burdensome for the young Karmapa, a solid 6-footer with a serene gaze whose name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Asked about his future during an interview at the mountainside monastery here that is his North American seat, the Karmapa said that the Dalai Lama had made it clear that his hopes for the future of Tibet rested with its young leaders.
“In that regard, His Holiness has been very kind to me, and has served as a mentor and guides me greatly,” the Karmapa said in Tibetan, translated by an American lama. “But I’m only one of many.”
Then, breaking into English, he added, “I don’t need more pressure.” The Karmapa smiled, and then grew serious and added in Tibetan: “I don’t think I can do any more. It’s hard enough just to be the Karmapa.”
His Holiness the Karmapa, has just come through a trying time. Earlier this year, he was investigated by the Indian police who found more than $1 million in foreign currency in his residence, including more than $166,000 from China.
The Karmapa and his aides insisted that the money had been donated by devotees who flocked to India from around the world to see him. Although there is a rival who also claims the title, the Karmapa is regarded by the Dalai Lama and most Tibetans as the leader of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the four main schools in Tibetan Buddhism, with hundreds of monasteries and dharma centers in more than 60 countries.
The Karmapa’s aides said they planned to use the money to buy land for a monastery in India. But the Indian media fanned rumors that he was a Chinese spy.
To Tibetans and to scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, the notion is absurd. The Karmapa fled Tibet when he was 14, climbing out a window of his monastery to a waiting car, avoiding military checkpoints and riding a horse through the Nepalese outback to reach India. The escape was reminiscent of the Dalai Lama’s dash over the icy passes of the Himalayas in 1959.
But the rumors about the 17th Karmapa persisted in part because the Chinese government has recognized him as the legitimate leader of the Kagyu tradition, and avoided denouncing him even after his flight to India. That is in marked contrast to the Chinese denunciations of the Dalai Lama as a “splittist.”
This puts the Karmapa in a singular position, said Robert J. Barnett, director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University.
“The Karmapa is perfectly placed to be someone who could broker a solution in the future,” Mr. Barnett said. “This is one of the rather rare issues where exiles and those in Tibet are in agreement. They have very wide respect for the Karmapa.”
Mr. Barnett likened the allegation that the Karmapa is a Chinese spy to the “birther controversy” involving President Obama, saying that to experts it has no legitimacy.
The rival Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, has the backing of one senior lama in the Kagyu tradition and some followers in the West (who managed to secure the rights to the Web address karmapa.org). But Mr. Barnett said that while Tibetans are free to choose the teachers they prefer, most recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the true Karmapa. “For most people, this is a settled issue,” he said.
Tenzin Chonyi, president of the Woodstock monastery (called Karma Triyana Dharmachakra), was an aide to the 16th Karmapa, and as a child fled Tibet with him in 1959. He said the 17th Karmapa was identified by a group of lamas who were entrusted with the task of finding the child who they believe is the reincarnation of the previous Karmapa.
“This Karmapa was found based on the previous Karmapa’s instruction,” Mr. Chonyi said. “So we have no doubt.”
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was recently taken to review the restrictions on his travel in an attempt to “engage” him.
Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Published:May 24, 2017 2:26 am
The government is set to lift the travel restrictions imposed on Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu (Black Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in Tibet and escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached McLeod Ganj, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, in 2000. He lives in Dharamshala and is recognised by the Dalai Lama.
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was re…
One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders worries about the growing Chinese influence and diminishing numbers of the community in exile
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi
In the year 2000, a 14-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji or Karmapa Lama, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of Tibetan Buddhists, escaped from Tibet and walked across the mighty Himalayas to India. His daring escape was viewed with suspicion by some who thought that it was part of a Chinese conspiracy to disrupt Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist Exile community in India. Karmapa, who was selected through a complicated process that combined prophecy and rigorous interviews by Buddhist monks in Tibet, through the force of his charismatic personality has been seeking to assuage the misgivings and controversies that plague the exile community. Karmapa lives in Dharamshala, where Tibet’s capital in exile is located. He enjoys an excellent relationship with Dalai Lama and many see in him as the spiritual lea…
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (London Time)
May 2011:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 16:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2111:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 17:00• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2714:00 - 18:00• Long Life Empowerment
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (Indian Time)
May 2015:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2115:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:30• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2718:30 - 22:30• Long Life Empowerment
Gangtok, May 20 (PTI) A delegation of monks of various monasteries of Sikkim met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging early permission for Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit the state.
The monks called on Singh, who is on a two-day visit here, at the Raj Bhavan last evening, officials said.
They submitted the resolution taken after a peace rally here on May 18 which urged the Government of India to grant one of the "most important demand and aspiration" of the Buddhists of Sikkim seeking early permission for the Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation was led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected political representative of the monks in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the officials added.
A central government order bans entry of all the three Karmapa claimants to the title of Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in East Sikkim since 1994.
The Sikkimese Buddhists who follow the Khagyu sect recognize the 31-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorj…
DHARAMSHALA: Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration, attended the convocation ceremony of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectic, Dharamsala and the college of higher Tibetan studies, Sarah, this morning. The event was held at Sarah college of Tibetan Higher Studies.
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Thinlay Dorjee graced the inauguration of the convocation as the chief guest. The function began with recitation of prayers by the students followed by serving sweet rice and butter tea to the guests, staff and students.
Ven. Kalsang Damdul, the director of IBD and CHTS gave welcome speech and briefly introduced the college and courses provided by the institution. Mr. Passang Tsering, Principal of CHTS read out the report of the college. The function was attended by Mr. Topgyal Tsering, secretary of Kashag secretariat, CTA, Mrs. Nangsa Choedon and Mr. Karma Senge, Secretary and Acting Secretary of Department of Education, representives of…
Centre may allow him to visit any place, except Sikkim, without seeking its nod
Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, may be allowed to visit any place in the country, except Sikkim, without seeking the government’s permission. The Home Ministry has moved the proposal before the Cabinet Committee on Security, a senior government official said here on Tuesday.
The move assumes significance in the wake of China’s repeated warnings over the recent Northeast visit of the Dalai Lama, who Beijing describes as a “separatist” for spearheading the Tibetan freedom movement.
Though the Dalai Lama has endorsed Urgyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa, it does not necessarily mean that the latter succeeds him, said Amitabh Mathur, Adviser to the Home Ministry on Northeast subjects, including Tibetan affairs.
“But that doesn’t mean he is seen as his successor. That will depend on how Tibetans see him and whether they will look up to him for s…
May 24, 2017 – St Catharine’s and King’s College, Cambridge, England
Today His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa left London and travelled north to Cambridge, a city whose name has become almost synonymous with its world-famous university. The Karmapa’s visit to Cambridge was hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation’s Secretary for Environment and Conservation, Dr Barbara Maas.
His Holiness’s day in Cambridge began with an academic seminar on animal sentience and animal welfare science, and their significance for our relationship with and treatment of animals. Veterinarians turned animal welfare scientists, Dr Murray Corke and Peter Fordyce from the University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, provided His Holiness with background about the complexities of assessing the wellbeing of animals and introduced him to some of the latest research developments that have transformed our understanding of animal awareness and suffering. These include a wide range of behavioural and physio…
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived in central London this afternoon on his first ever visit to the United Kingdom. A long line of devotees offering katas greeted him on his arrival at his hotel. He was then officially welcomed at a special reception in the form of a traditional English afternoon tea.
April 30, 2017 – Sarah College of Higher Tibetan Studies, Dharamshala, Kangra, HP, India
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s car passed by ordained and lay students who stood along the tree-lined road leading to Sarah College. After a brief visit to the college office, he was invited into the main hall where he was offered a mandala and the three representations of body, speech, and mind. As the Chief Guest, the Karmapa had come to confer, along with Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, certificates to the Lobpon graduating students, the Uma Rabjampa and the Parchin Rabjampa students from Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, which shared this convocation ceremony with Sarah College.
Welcoming everyone, the Karmapa noted that he’d had quite a bit of experience attending functions at universities, both in India and abroad, yet he felt a special connection with Sarah College that made him especially happy to participate in this ceremony. For special greetings, the Karmapa singled out the students who had studied the…