Fresh twist to Karmapa controversy

Feb 5, 2000

Category: Urgyen Trinley Dorje

GANGTOK - With the Centre still `undecided'' over granting asylum to the 14-year-old Urgyen Trinley Dorjee, the 17th Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Denzong Nang-Ten Sung-Kyob Tsongpa (DNST), an apolitical organistion, has requested Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for installation of the ``rival'' claimant of the 17th reincarnation of the Gyalwa Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim.

Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre (DCC) is the seat-in-exile of the Karma Kagyu sect, some 24 km east of Gangtok. The DNST in a memorandum to the PM on Janaury 28, copies of which were released to the media here on Saturday, had requested the PM to provide neccessary assistance and security to the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorjee, for his ``safe'' passage and arrival at his permanent seat at Rumtek DCC.

The DNST, a pro-Sharmar Rimpoche organistion, is opposed to the 14-year-old 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa. The memorandum said, the Rumtek DCC in Sikkim has been the internationalheadquarters of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhist ever since 1959 when the 16th Karmapa establised the centre after his flight from Tibet in the wake of the Chinese ``takeover'' of their homeland. The DCC has been without a head (the Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Kagyu sect) ever since the 16th Karmapa passed away in 1981.

Tkunzing Shamar Rimpoche, one of the four Rumtek regents had recognised Trinley Thaye Dorjee as the ``authentic'' reincarnation of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Runjung Rigpae Dorjee as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. He lives alternately in New Delhi and Kalimpong. The centre too has been providing security to 17 year-old Trinley Thaye Dorjee.

The DNST has stated that devotees and followeres were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 17th Karmapa, their supreme guru for over two decades now. The Centre must assist the Sikkimese devotees to install dhrama guru to take his seat at the DCC at the earliest. The Rumtek monks are divided into two factions, one headed by regent Tia-SituRimpoche another by regent Galtasab Rimpoche who recognise Urgen Trinley Dorjee as the 17th Karmapa.

The other faction led by the third Rumtek regent, Shamar Rimpoche is opposed to the claim and has recognised another Tibet-born boy, 17-year-old Trinley Thaye Dorjee, who was brought to India and enthroned as the 17th Karmapa in new Delhi in 1995.

Both Shamar Rimpoche and Tai-Situ Rimpoche were banned from entering Sikkim after the Rumtek DCC witnessed violent clashes between warring factions in 1993. The Jamgon Kongtrul Labrang (JKL) or the supreme administrative body of the Jamgon Kuntrul Rimpoche's monastry in Lava in Kalimpong, the seat of the fourth Rumtek regent the late third Jamgon Kuntrul Rimpochhe, strongly refuted media reports that he along with Shamar Rimpoche had ``questioned'' the ``letter of prediction'' of the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa left behind by the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpae Dorjee.

JKL general secretary, Tenzing Dorjee said media reports about the``questioning'' and the claim that the late Rimpoche had ``recognised a Sikkimese boy as the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa, was'' totally unfounded and baseless.

Dorjee said the regent had offered his personal views about the letter of prediction in an interview, his last before death in April 1992. Dorjee said the interview filmed for the Hollywood production The Living Buddha has already been screened throughout the world.

The release of the JKL also clarified that unlike the recognition of other tulkus or reincarnate monks, the tradition of recognition of sucessive reincarnations of the Gyalwang Karmapas have been in accordance with the prophesies left behind by the previous incarnations and confirmed by the Dalai Lama.

The release said media reports that the regent had recognised a boy from Sikkim as the reincarnation of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa was unfounded.



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