Stir to allow 17th Karmapa into Sikkim gaining momentum - Kalimpong News

Pramod Giri, HT, 18 Sep 2016,

SILIGURI: As all political outfits and social groups across the spectrum in Sikkim unite over the issue of the 17th Karmapa, it is only a matter of time before the central government comes under enormous pressure to life the ban on his entry into the state. The chief minister, all opposition parties and religious groups have already expressed their desire to see Orgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, take his seat at the Rumtek monastery, the Dharma Chakra Centre of Kagyu sect of Buddhism which he represents. The Dalai Lama has already endorsed him as the 17th Karmapa. But the Centre’s decision to ban his entry into Sikkim has made the people of the Himalayan state quite restless.

Observers feel that if the issue is not tackled deftly, it may snowball into a major problem that may have far-reaching repercussions.

According to the Kagyu sect of Buddhism, the Karmapa is the head of the sect and is regarded as Living Buddha. The Karmapa’s seat at the Rumtek monastery is lying vacant since the death of the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpey Dorjee, on November 5, 1981.

Leaders of Sikkim, cutting across party lines, and Buddhist monks of the state have come under one common platform to press the Centre to allow Orgyen Trinley Dorje to visit the state. Ogyen Trinley Dorje, recognised as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa by the Dalai Lama, had fled Tibet and reached Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh in January 2000. He has always remained as a controversial figure because there have been at least three claimants for the post. Buddhists monks across the globe are also divided over the matter and are supporting different claimants, although Orgyen Trinley Dorje, who stays at Dharmasala, has the largest following.

However, the circumstances leading to his recognition, remains a bit controversial. Denjong Lhadey, the association of Buddhist monks of Sikkim, has been organizing a relay hungerstrike in Gangtok for the last 65 days demanding his early entry into Sikkim even if he cannot be allowed to visit Rumtek, which is a matter that is sub-judice for now. On September 10, the Denjong Lhadey had organised a sit-in protest in front of the Raj Bhawan in Gangtok. Earlier, a pro-Karmapa rally held in Gangtok on July 10 was attended by former chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari, Sonam Lama, the Sangha legislator, Tsheten Tashi Lepcha, the Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC) convener, and Bharat Basnett, the president of Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee, apart from monk heads from various monasteries of Sikkim.

Sonam Lama, the Sangha MLA representing the opposition SKM and leading the movement for the Karmapa’s entry to Sikkim, told HT, “It is due to the non-serious attitude of the state government that the 17th Karmapa is not being able to come to Sikkim.” Sangha is an MLA seat reserved for religious leaders. Lama, who had led a team of Buddhist monks to stage a two-day-long dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, said, “If the Centre cannot allow the 17th Karmapa to enter Rumtek, he should be allowed to come to either Fodong or Ralang monastery.”

Former chief minister Bhandari also blamed the state government for adopting “dual standards” with regard to the Karmapa issue. However, chief minister Pawan Chamling recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and requested him to expedite the process of the Karmapa’s entry into Sikkim.


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