‘We need a system to keep Tibetan people together’ - The Times of India
The Times of India (New Delhi edition)
9 Jul 2016
The 17th Karmapa, looks set to play a bigger role in Tibetan affairs. He spoke to about the future of the Tibetan movement and his expectations of India on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday earlier this week.
|His Holliness Karmapa Rinpoche with former Kalon Mr Tempa Tsering at the launch of a book on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, published by Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in New Delhi.(6 July 2016)|
What are your thoughts on His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 81st birthday? What does the occasion mean to you and the Tibetan people?
Over the second half of the past century , the Dalai Lama has worked tirelessly for the Tibetan cause, to preserve and promote Tibetan culture.He has also worked for world peace. So his birthday is not about an individual, but a person who made great contributions to peace. Also, earlier, Tibetans were not so united...The Dalai Lama united everyone at a very difficult time.
The Dalai Lama is 81. There will be a post-Dalai Lama situation. How do you see this given how big an influence he has been?
It will be difficult... there will not be one individual like the Dalai Lama. At the same time, Tibetan people have to devise a system, or organisation so as not to depend on one person. So His Holiness has emphasised ensuring representation for all Tibetans. We need a system which can keep the Tibetan people together.
In this context, what will be your role? How can you keep different denominations united?
I am the reincarnation of the Karmapa. This lineage is the highest and oldest in Tibet.But there is no need for any special role for me. Just the tradition of the reincarnation of the Karmapa itself can help me contribute in preserving our culture. I have to be more open and innovative. I should not be regionalistic. How I think will itself be important in terms of new approaches to Tibetan issues. There are allegations that the Karma Kagyu sect has tried to take over monasteries belonging to other sects.Allegations have surfaced Allegations have surfaced over conversion of monasteries, allegedly to Karma Kagyu beliefs, in social media. I tried to verify the claims.Since all this happened in Tibet, investigations are not easy. It turns out that some of the monasteries in question were falling into disuse. The Karma Kagyu stepped in to look after them. But if the other traditions want to take them over, the Karma Kagyu will be more than happy . We have no intention to take over or convert.
What are the reports you receive about conditions in Tibet?
The news is that since 2008, when there was a national uprising, there have been several self-immolations. This is because of frustration of the people. The incorporation of parts of Tibet with Chinese provinces like Sichuan and Yunan has made people unhappy . The denial of religious and cultural rights and discrimination against Tibetans is a burning issue.Indiscreet and reckless exploitation of Tibet's natural resources has affected lives.
Do you think your religious and spiritual journey has progressed far enough to fulfil your role as Karmapa?
The reason I came to India is that it is free and democratic. I have been here for 17 years.The Indian government has given us asylum. But these have been extremely difficult 17 years. There were suspicions and restrictions. I made it clear that I came to study ... but if my presence is a problem, though this is not my intention, then I can go elsewhere.
Is the Indian government giving you the respect you expect?
Some departments are positive about me, some are negative... some negatives are more powerful. But I now see a positive change. I have great expectations. Sometimes, I felt I was losing hope. But I would say things are looking up. The Rumtek monastery in Sikkim holds special significance for you but you cannot go there due to a dispute. Sikkim is a part of India. It is an integral part of India.Rumtek is the seat of my predecessor. Unfortunately , I have not been able to go. But I do understand there is a court case. But the reason why I am not able to travel to Sikkim despite many requests. I do not want get into party politics.