The 17th Karmapa, Ogeyn Trinley Dorje, head of powerful Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, on Saturday reached flood-ravaged Kinnaur district, where he will be preach and bless people.
This four-day tour is his first visit to Kinnaur in three years. The visit comes after a request from devotees initiated by Lochen Rinpoche.
The Karmapa is the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
“During his time in Kinnaur, he is scheduled to give two days of teachings to devotees at Rekong Peo, including Mahamudra teachings on September 1 and Phowa teachings on September 2 followed by bestowing of long-life empowerment to those gathered,” said Kunzang Chungyalpa, director in the Karmapa's office of administration, adding that Karmapa would lend a support to flood victims, a majority of whom are Buddhists.
With Tibet along its eastern border, the Indian region of Kinnaur is strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhist culture, traditions, customs and language. The Kinnauri people have a deep historical connection to Tibetan Buddhism and several monasteries over 1,000-year-old are found in the region.
With this visit to Kinnaur, the Gyalwang Karmapa retraces some of the steps of his predecessor the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, who also visited the region while on pilgrimage to Mt Kailash in 1948.
Travelling as a state guest of the Himachal Pradesh government, the Karmapa was accorded a grand welcome on his arrival at Chaura, the entry point to Kinnaur.
“Spiritual support helps people heal from crises and it is the Karmapa's earnest hope that he will be able to contribute in some measure,” said Chungyalpa.
He added that after paying visits to several different monasteries and temples in Kinnaur, on his return trip the Karmapa will also stop at Lhamo to visit the nunnery of Lochen Rinpoche, and at Solan to visit the Bon Monastery.
“On September 6, the Gyalwang Karmapa will then travel to Delhi where he will attend the first Founding Members' Conclave of the International Buddhist Confederation, organised by the Ashoka Mission,” said Chungyalpa, adding that the spiritual leader will join representatives of Buddhist sanghas from throughout the world in the historic first meeting of a new global Buddhist umbrella body.
He said during the four-day conference, the Gyalwang Karmapa has been invited to chair a session on “Changing times: Buddhism in the 21st century”, as well as to give a talk on the theme of Buddhist responses to the environment.
The 28-year-old Karmapa resides in his temporary residence, Gyuto monastery at Sidhbari near Dharamsala town.