Karmapa and the Chinese connection

KarmapaA lot has been written and said in the past days over the affiliation of Karmapa, Ugyen Trinlay Dorje, over the money seized from his monastery. While there have been angry retorts from his supporters, Indian media has been full of stories of suspicion of Karmapa being a Chinese spy.

Here is an article being reproduced below from the Times of India published on January 30, 2011. The article gives an insight over the whole Karmapa issue. In fact there are two Karmapa which are claimant of heading the Kagyu sect. The appointment of Ugyen Trinlay Dorje as Karmapa leads to many questions.

Yuan haul re-ignites China-link row

SHIMLA: The recent haul of about Rs 7 crore, including more than 11 lakh yuans, among the currency of 25 countries, recovered from the Gyuto Ramoche temple, where the 17th Karmapa of the Kagyu sect has housed his monastery, has brought the intelligence agencies into action yet again and perhaps given credibility to the words of Shamar Rinpoche, a senior regent of the Kagyu order, who had described the escape of Ugyen Trinley Dorje to India on January 5, 2000, as a political ploy in agreement with the Chinese government to claim the property of the Karmapa.

In fact, after the head of Kagyu order, the 16th Karmapa, died of cancer in Chicago in November 1981, leaving behind property worth billions and no letter of prediction about his own reincarnation, Shamar Rinpoche, searched Trinlay Thaye Dorje, a Tibet-born boy as the reincarnation of the Karmapa. He smuggled the boy, along with his parents, to India. But thereafter, Tai Situ Rinpoche, third in order of the Kagyu hierarchy, announced Ugyen Trinlay Dorje as the reincarnation.

Ugyen Trinlay Dorje was ordained as the 17th Karmapa at the monastery in Tsurphu, 30 kms from Lhasa in Tibet, on September 27, 1992. Beijing had officially recognized the boy two months earlier on June 29, bestowing the title of the Living Buddha on him and it coincided with Dalai Lama’s formal recognition which was given at Dharamsala on the same day. Thus there became two claimants to the throne of the Kagyu sect at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim.

What has alarmed the intelligence agencies is the fact that Tai Situ Rinpoche, who played an instrumental role in searching him as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, started playing a key role in getting permission from the Centre for Ugyen Trinley Dorje to go to Rumtek in Sikkim, which has so far been denied. Tai Situ had earlier been debarred from entering India because of his suspected links with China, but managed later because of his equations in Delhi, and had reached McLeodganj within an hour of the arrival of the Karmapa, giving rise to suspicion that he may have played a major role in the Karmapa’s escape.

Interestingly, photographs of Ngthup, sister of the Karmapa, who had supposedly come with him, were published two months before the arrival of Ugyen Trinlay Dorjey, as talking to the Dalai Lama at a function in Gaya. The photographs reached the intelligence agencies pressing home the point how could she be present at a function in Gaya held two months earlier. Later, she had admitted to have come to India two months earlier.

Tibetans fleeing China normally contact the Tibetan reception centre at Kathmandu on reaching Nepal, from where they get the necessary papers of their refugee status so that they can come to India. But the Karmapa group’s escape was so meticulously planned that they did not have to call upon the Dalai Lama’s representatives at Nepal nor even stop at the centre.

Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, headquarters of the Kagyu order, is apparently important for India as there is a large number of followers of the sect living there, and equally for China, as the latter refuses to recognize Sikkim as an integral part of India and thus important to reach the throne at Rumtek, as there could be repercussions if the Karmapa, recognised by China, who came suddenly from the blue, gains access. Ironically, Ugyen Trinley Dorje had expressed his desire to go to Rumtek, and till that time, be allowed to move to the Sherabling monastery, which is now the headquarters of Tai Situ Rinpoche.

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One Response to "Karmapa and the Chinese connection"

  1. Thetibetanphotoproject   February 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    The Karmapa did meet with the Dalai Lama on Arrival in India. And this was not exactly the escape of the everyday Tibetan escaping China

    Having traveled to India twice and also having visited the monastery of the Karmapa and an outlet for Mother Teresa and numerous temples etc. It is easy to understand why there would be donations in foreign currency.

    A $20 bill amounts to 10 100 rupee notes… and for the tourist there is a currency exchange on practically every corner… a traveler tends to get what they need for a period and keeps the rest in homestyle cash to exchange or give along the way.

    Leaving India, a U.S. traveler can only reconvert to U.S. Dollars up to $250… Therefore a person needs to keep a close watch on currency.

    We made donations to Mother Teresa’s outlet in Varanasi and to Tibetan monasteries and nunneries, Hindu and Muslim temples in exchange for the privilege of being able to visit and the mix was U.S. Dollars and Rupees along the way.

    What was constant, was meticulous, hand written accounting in EVERY case.

    The bottom line in the case of the Karmapa Lama is likely a problem with aides. Sloppy or corrupt. If anyone wants, we have photos… since his arrival, India has kept the Karmapa under very nearly house arrest and he is constantly… constantly surrounded by Indian Military or police

    The Tibetan Photo Project


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