Karmapa breaks his silence: Tibet is India’s problem too (Indian Express)

The Indian Express[Tuesday, March 02, 2004 19:40]
By JYOTI MALHOTRA


NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 27 - For the first time since he escaped to India four years ago from Chinese-controlled Tibet, Karmapa lama Ugyen Trinley Dorji has stated that ‘‘Tibet’s problem is India’s problem’’ and that India ‘‘a big and powerful nation can do much more for the Tibetan cause’’ than it has been able to do so far.

Never before has the Karmapa lama — all other Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, have lived in India since 1959 on the condition that they do not participate in any ‘‘political’’ activity or commentary — so directly referred to the simmering tensions variously between India, China and Tibet.

Speaking today at the end of an hour-long Buddhist teaching session on love and compassion at the India International Centre, the 18-year-old Karmapa surprised his audience by voluntarily commenting on the ‘‘times of crisis’’ in Tibet which had been greatly assuaged by the ‘‘profound intimacy’’ between New Delhi and Lhasa that had lasted over a thousand years.

Given this relationship, the Karmapa said, ‘‘the problem of Tibet is India’s problem too. Any benefit that arises (for Tibet), is India’s benefit too.’’

Speaking through a translator, the Karmapa, who continues to be under suspicion by the Indian establishment — the argument here goes that he would not have been able to successfully escape from the Tsurphu monastery outside Lhasa in December 1999-January 2000 and make the arduous trek to the Nepal border without the knowledge of Chinese intelligence — then volunteered to answer questions from the audience.

Asked by The Indian Express what else India, in the light of this deep intimacy, could do to help the cause of Tibet, the Karmapa replied: ‘‘India and Tibet are close geographically, and closer spiritually. The closeness of the relationship cannot be measured in terms of help and benefit. I feel and hope much more is possible.’’

‘‘From the point of view of where I am, India is a big and powerful nation and I feel India can do much more for the Tibetan cause.’’

Political observers pointed out that the Karmapa was only voicing what a large section of the Tibetan community in India privately felt, but would not go public with. That New Delhi, in its eagerness to improve its frosty relationship with China, the border issue included, had sacrificed what little was left of the ‘‘Tibetan card’’ after 45 years.

Because of this simmering tension over the Karmapa issue with New Delhi, Tibetan sources confirmed that he had not even applied for an ‘‘international certificate’’ to travel outside the country, although thousands of his disciples abroad wished him to come.

That he continued to live in the Dharamshala foothills not far from the residence of the Dalai Lama on the basis of the ‘‘resident certificate’’ given to all Tibetans who lived in India.

But the Karmapa, whose claims to the headship of the Karma Kagyu Buddhist sect has been contested by a rival in the courts — he has, therefore, not been allowed to take his seat at the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim — was not finished at the IIC yet.

Indirectly referring to the controversy over the ‘‘real Karmapa’’ that has dogged him these last few years, Ugyen Dorji said his audience here was ‘‘familiar with the number of misunderstandings, concoted issues and misrepresentations.’’ But, he added, the Tibet Support Group had played an important role in ‘‘clarifying the truth in effective and beneficial ways.’’

At the beginning of the talk, the Karmapa had already pointed out he had been ‘‘encountering a number of obstacles in the execution of (his) activities,’’ and had wondered if this event in Delhi was actually going to take place.

But like the rest of the Tibetan community, young Dorji also reiterated his genuinely felt gratitude for the support the Indian people had given to the Tibetan cause.

‘‘In recognition of this deep and profound relationship, His Holiness the Dalai Lama turned to India along with a number of Tibetans. Trusting that bond, and in the same spirit, I have come to India... My heartfelt thanks for the support that you continue to provide to us,’’ the Karmapa said.

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