Lifestyle & Belief

Karmapa row continues to simmer

It seems that the Karmapa Lama's troubles won't go away.  As the police and the Enforcement Directorate continue to investigate the origins of around $1.5 million in cash found in a raid on a monastery in Dharamsala--the exile home of the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa--the spotlight has fallen on a series of land deals that the authorities believe are questionable.  Meanwhile, the police suspicions about the Karmapa's links to China--founded solely on the presence of a large quantity of yuan, allegedly in new bills, discovered among the foreign currency stash--have revived a debate over the lama's legitimacy that dates back some 30 years.

According to the Indian Express newspaper, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Income-Tax, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the state CID have identified at least half a dozen properties, particularly lands linked to the Karmapa’s trust, within and outside Himachal, which may be illegal.  Some of the 

Some of the Gyuto Monastery's land deals may have violated Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, which debars non-Himachalis, including foreigners or non-resident Indians, from buying any land in the state except in a case when approval has been granted by the state Cabinet, the paper said.

As thousands of devotees and monks Wednesday took out a peaceful march here to express solidarity with their religious leader, 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the Karmapa urged them to let the investigative agencies complete the probe, the Times of India reports from Dharamsala.

But in the environs of the main Rumtek monastery of the Karmapa's Kagyu sect (the Black Hats), located in Sikkim, the queries into the monk's cash have revived an old controversy about whether he is really the 17th incarnation of the lama, according to the Calcutta Telegraph.  

Since 1994, there have been two claimants to the Karmapa title. Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the young man who is now under investigation, was selected within Tibet by a committee of monks in 1992, and later made what seemed to be a daring overland escape to India in 1999.  But because of an internecine dispute, a second committee of monks within India disputed his selection and chose their own candidate, Thinley Thai Dorji, who was enthroned as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute in New Delhi.

Ugyen Trinley Dorje (the guy under investigation) is now recognized both by the Dalai Lama and by China--despite his escape.  But followers of Karmapa II say the escape was a ruse and the Dalai Lama has been taken in by a Chinese stooge.

According to the Telegraph, some exiled Tibetans now feel a conflict between the sects could have a role in the seizure of the six suitcases full of Indian and foreign currencies from Dorje’s Dharamshala home on Thursday.

That all sounds like something out of The Lion in WInter, I know.  But this stuff really does get that crazy.  Chinese authorities kidnapped the boy selected as the Panchen Lama by Tibetans and replaced him with another boy of their own choosing in 1995, and they have never let the original boy go.