Gyalwang Karmapa To Sikkim
The Denjong Lhade
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje has been residing in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh after his escape from Tibet (China) in the year 2000 AD. His predecessor, the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa Rangjyung Rigpe Dorje lived and died in Sikkim. Karmapas are the Supreme Head of the Kagyupa Lineage of Lamaism. Due to various circumstances, restrictions have been imposed on His free movement since. However He has been allowed permission to travel across the world, off-late. The Indian government has also permitted him visit several places in India over the years. In the recent years, He was even allowed to visit Mirik in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal State to conduct religious rituals and ceremonies for over a week.
The monks and lay devotees in Sikkim have infinitely been waiting for the arrival of their Dharma Guru since the passing away of the 16th Karmapa in 1981. With the escape of the 17th Karmapa to India in 2000, the ever waning aspiration of the devotees rejuvenated once again. Overwhelming majority of the Sikkimese people acknowledges Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa and have since been representing the Indian government to allow Him to visit Sikkim, at-least once to bless them. The government has also been given prerogative to decide on the location in Sikkim where the Karmapa could be allowed to visit. However, in the garb of security it so far has fallen only on the deaf ear of New Delhi for sixteen-long years despite popular demand.
In 2014, the Sikkim Legislative Assembly passed two historic Resolutions urging the Indian government to grant permission to enable the much awaited visit of the 17th Karmapa to Sikkim to bless the land and its people. Earlier, about 40,000 people came to streets in 2010 with the same demand. Once again in May 2016, the monk community from Sikkim called on a two-day long Peace dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Again, back at home, on June 22, 2016, all the major and minor monasteries of Sikkim held historic meeting at Gangtok and unanimously resolved that the Indian Government must immediately grant permission to His Holiness. With no response from the Indian authority, a massive Rally was held at Gangtok by hundreds and thousands of monks & lay devotees once again on July 10, 2016 with the same demand. Moreover, since July 10, 2016 – Sikkimese monks have begun indefinite Relay-hunger strike at BL House, Gangtok seeking early visit of His Holiness to Sikkim.
It is very condemnable that the religious rights and interests of the people should be encroached or subdued for a long period of sixteen years in the name of security. National security & concern is indeed a matter of utmost concern and there is no compromise on it, we respect this. However, the manager of national security must also be sensitive and considerate to our religious concern at the same time for the Buddha dharma has strongly been guarding the nation’s northern frontier with its message of peace & non-violence. It’s been sixteen frustrating long years now. A generation of Sikkimese have passed away with this simple aspiration of having their Root Lama (Karmapa) at Sikkim before they die. Root Lama is the ultimate sacred guide to any Buddhist. Since the state of tolerance of the Sikkimese devotees has crossed all heights, it can go to any extent in redeeming their simple dharma aspiration of having their precious dharma guru in their own land for few days. Perhaps, this dharma aspiration of the Sikkimese people is not a very big deal if perceptively addressed by the Indian authorities with more human heart.
India has witnessed rampant massacre of Buddhist monks in Arunachal Pradesh in the recent months. Let it not become precedence in this oft-called land of religious tolerance. If the Karmapa can be allowed to Mirik in Darjeeling (hardly one & half hour drive from Sikkim), why can’t he be allowed to Sikkim? What is the variation of security perspective between Sikkim & Mirik? Who is circulating / composing such reports (misreports rather) and analyses or who is influencing or guiding such communications at local level to the authorities? Did the authorities at New Delhi ever authenticate such reports with reality? Can the national security and common aspirations be based on such biased assumptions or reports which are a complete deviation from reality? Let the Karmapa’s visit to Sikkim be more smooth and in accordance to its dharma tradition and lineage and without ill-heart.
If the Indian authority still keeps on denying permission to the Karmapa to visit Sikkim, series of volatile questions arise. Its reluctance to unanimously decide on the matter poses grave question of Sikkim being a part of the Union unlike the way the Union has decisively allowed Him to Himachal Pradesh, Bihar or West Bengal - its other constituent units like that of the Sikkim State. Indian government must maintain complete authority on all matters pertaining to its territory. Moreover, the disinclined approach of the Indian authority is also indicative of its feeble foreign policy wherein it appears to be under duress of some extra-territorial power or unseen factor that apparently is even beyond its sovereign jurisdiction. If so, is India - the largest democracy that helpless? Frustrated Sikkimese devotees now remember and compare that when the 16th Karmapa came to Sikkim in 1956, there was no trouble at all regarding permission, asylum, etc. for then they had their own Chogyal (King) as the Head of the State. They did not move from post to pillar of alien systems as today. It simply was faith and respect that worked then.
We live in an era of instant communications, connections and contacts owing to tremendous technological advancement. At such circumstances, mere physical presence of any individual at any given location, and more so of the stature of a Karmapa who is already delimited by intelligentsia & security beeline on any visits can never have repercussions, if ever. Such conceptions are no more than hallucination at this age. It rather is the intention of the Indian authority that has to be stable, clear and pro-people. The government must realise the fact that the security of the nation depends largely on its people and not necessarily on circumstances or territory.
We, the Sikkimese monks and devotees already have had enough of it in this past sixteen years. In fact, it has been an infinite wait out of the rough and insensitive handling of New Delhi. We have begun Indefinite Relay Hunger Strike since July 10, 2016 at Gangtok as Holy Crusade and will go to any extent in simply having our dharma guru here in Sikkim for few days. Indian government! Aren’t we justified in expressing our simple dharma aspiration?
Karmapa Khyeno Karmapa Khyeno Karmapa Khyeno
Gangtok July 19, 2016