Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorje, head of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, on Monday rubbished allegations that he was a Chinese spy and expressed readiness to make clarification to any government official in this regard.
"I am not a Chinese spy, agent or a plant in India," he said, adding he was deeply hurt by such insinuations in his "second home" which would be "difficult to forget in this lifetime".
Describing China as a "totalitarian regime", he said, "Unlike democratic India, there is no religious freedom there."
The Karmapa Lama is the spiritual leader of one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, ranking only behind the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama in the Tibetan spiritual hierarchy.
On his reasons for fleeing Tibet in 1999, he said his spiritual education as the 17th Karmapa would not have been completed if he had stayed in Tibet.
"I had to receive the oral teachings of the Karmapa lineage which have been passed down in an unbroken chain from India since the time of Lord Buddha," he told a rare press conference here.
The spiritual leader said had he stayed in Tibet he would have had to denounce the Dalai Lama, whom he described as the force behind the Tibetan cause.
In the hour-long interaction, the Karmapa fielded a volley questions on allegations of being a Chinese spy and was asked whether the Indian government had conveyed its regret on the matter.
"I am not aware of what has been said or what has appeared in the media. But what I can say is that I have made it abundantly clear that there is not a speck of reason to believe that I am a Chinese agent," the Karmapa said.
An official in the Karmapa's administration said the government has given a clean chit to the spiritual leader.
On the issue of seizure of huge amount of cash in foreign currency, the official said it was received as offerings from the followers of the Karmapa.
He said the spiritual leader had received offerings worth Rs five crore in foreign currency from his followers from across the world. Another Rs one crore in cash in Indian currency that was recovered was meant for purchase of land, the official said.
He said the office of the Karmapa was in talks with the Government of India for seeking permission under the Foreign Currency Regulation Act to receive donations in foreign currency.
The Karmapa had fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in December 1999. Ever since, he has mostly lived in the Gyuto Tantric monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.