A Tibetan in the dock | india | Hindustan Times
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A Tibetan in the dock

india Updated: Sep 01, 2011 10:31 IST
PP Wangchuk
PP Wangchuk
Hindustan Times
Ogyen Trinley Dorje

‘We love our country… But we venerate our spiritual gurus… Stop making wild allegations against our guru — the Karmapa Lama.’ It is the expression of pain of hundreds of Buddhists who had gathered last week in Delhi to stage a three-day prayer-dharna for the welfare of the 26-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje. They were protesting against the ‘excesses’ against the third highest-ranking lama by the Himachal Pradesh police and district authorities.

Among the crowd were over 100 monks and men and women of ages between 10 and 80, mostly from the Himalayan regions. The monks played huge trumpets and prayed to ‘invoke’ the gods to help save their ‘living Buddha’. Among the laity there were shocked devotees, some sobbing and crying for ‘justice’ because their guru was ‘in pain’. They had only one point to make: “Our spiritual guru is not a Chinese spy and the money seized from his monastery was donations from millions of his followers. Let him be in peace.”

It was not possible for one to visit the dharna site and not get emotional. The recent raids on the Karmapa’s temporary residence at the Gyatso monastery at Sidhbari, Dharamshala, and the controversy that have ensued were avoidable. The Himachal police reportedly seized R7 crore in various currencies, including the Chinese yuan. And that led to the allegation levelled against the Karmapa that he is a Chinese operative.

But who gains from such an unsubstantiated allegation? Without doubt, China. Which is the last thing that India wants — the Government of India, at any rate.

As regards the seizure of the money, the Karmapa, as a leading Buddhist spiritual leader, has a large number of followers in the world. He gets donations in various currencies, including the yuan from his Chinese followers who flock in thousands to his monastery every year for his ‘darshan’. The managers of the Karmapa’s trusts have said that the Government of India didn’t allow them to open a foreign currency bank account despite repeated attempts over several years. This important point should be underlined in the ongoing investigations.

There is a question being raised from some quarters: if the Karmapa is not a Chinese spy then why has he been so quiet for so long about China, the country he fled in January 2000? I had the opportunity of meeting the Karmapa sometime ago at the majestic Gyatso monastery, and raised this point.

The Karmapa, by tradition, is an apolitical lama and other than his religion, ‘nothing else’ interests him. He had told me that his only aim in life was to preach the Buddha dharma in the land of the Buddha and Gandhi, which he could not have done if he had not left China.

Incidentally, the Karmapa is recognised by both the Dalai Lama and China. China has no interest in the Karmapa and, thus, the Karmapa is as good as an ordinary Tibetan refugee, as long as he stays in India. No wonder China has been quiet for all these years on him — except when recently Beijing refuted the allegation from Indian quarters of the Karmapa being a Chinese spy. The terse few words that Beijing issued were: “Karmapa is not our spy.”

China knows that the Karmapa’s role is only religious and it is better he remains outside Tibet. It means one less trouble for China.