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The 17th Karmapa and the controversies

india Updated: Apr 24, 2012 19:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Right from his enthronement as the 17th Karmapa- head of Karma Kaguy school of Tibetan Buddhism, controversies have followed Ogeyn Trinley Dorje like a shadow.
While his recognition as the 17th Karmapa has been a subject of controversy, the Tibetan Spiritual Leader’s dramatic escape to India brought him under the scanner of Indian intelligence and then his name appeared in cash stash controversy that hit the headlines in year 2011.

Brief profile
Born on June 26, 1985 in the Lhatok region of East Tibet, Ogeyn Tinley Dorjee’s was initially called Apo Gaga.

Apo Gaga did not talk of any connection to the Karmapas in his early age. However, in 1992, he asked his family to move the location of their nomadic home to another valley, and told them to expect a visit from traveling monks.
Apo Gaga was discovered to be the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje at the age of 7 by followers of 16th Karmapa. He was enthroned on September 27, 1992, with the permission of the Chinese government.
The Karmapa lineage is the most ancient tulku lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, predating the Dalai Lama lineage by more than two centuries.

The Karmapa Controversy
The recognition of 17th Karmapa has been the subject of controversy. Since the death of sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, in 1981, two candidates two candidate are the persisting claimant to the office and title. Besides, Ogeyn Trinley Dorge, another claimant is Trinley Thaye Dorje who lives in Kalingpong in West Bengal.

Both have already been enthroned as 17th Karmapa, and both independently have been performing ceremonial duties in the role of a Karmapa. Later a third candidate named Dava Sangpo Dorjee also claimed for the office and title. He is presently living in Nepal. The situation has led to a split in Kagyu followers all over the world.

Dramatic escape of Ogeyn Trinley Dorjee
At the age of 14, Ogyen Trinley Dorje escaped to India through Nepal and arrived at Dharamsala- headquarters of Tibetan Government in exile and Tibetan Spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. His dramatic escape brought him under the scanner of Indian Intelligence agencies there as he was suspected to be a Chinese spy. He resides in a temporary residence in Gyuto Monestry at Dharmasala under the watchful eye of Indian intelligence and restriction imposed on his movement.
Since he arrived in India he has travelled to the west (US) only twice, once in 2008 and second time in 2011.
The cash controversy

On 28 January 2011, the Himachal Pradesh Police raided office of Karma Garchen trust- the trust backed by Karmapa and seized unaccounted money valued over Rs 60 million in currencies of 25 different countries including Chinese Yuan. The raids were made following seizure of Rs. 1 crore from a jeep by Una Police on the interstate border.

During investigations it was revealed that the money was meant for purchase of land for the Karmapa Trust.
The Karmapa denied all the allegations and said that the seized money came via the donations from his followers. In December 2011, the Himachal Pradesh Police filed a chargesheet against Ogyen Trinley Dorje, naming him as an accused in the case