US grants visa, makes way for Karmapa’s first trip
With international spotlight firmly focused on Tibet, as the Olympic torch winds its troubled way across the world, the US grant of a visa to the 17th Karmapa for his first visit outside India is unlikely to thrill the Chinese government.
The visa grant comes at a time when Beijing is facing international condemnation for its fierce crackdown on anti-China protestors seeking more freedom for Tibet. China blames the Dalai Lama for instigating the violence which, it claims, is aimed at disrupting the Olympic Games scheduled in Beijing in August. India has joined the international community in urging China to seek a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan issue through dialogue.
The government has given a Registration Certificate to all officially registered Tibetan refugees in India — around 185,000 — including the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa to permit them to legally live here.
They also have an Identity Certificate, which permits them to travel abroad. This certificate states that they are resident in India but do not hold Indian citizenship.
It will be the first trip abroad for Ugyen Trinley Dorji, the 22-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader heading the Karma Kagyu sect, since he escaped to India eight years ago. In Tibetan tradition, enlightened teachers are reincarnated as Karmapas, which means “the one who carries out Buddha-activity”.
The Karmapa, who is close to the Dalai Lama, is scheduled for a two-week tour from May 15, visiting New York, Colorado, Washington and Seattle for religious discourses and lectures.
The Karmapa has sought permission from the External Affairs Ministry to visit his seat Karma Triyana Dharamchakra in Woodstock and other institutes managed by the Kagyu sect, which he heads.
The official website of the Karmapa, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, said his office had received a “confirmation” from the Indian government about his visit to the US.
The government claims it doesn’t monitor who goes where or what government issues visas to Tibetans after they have issued the Identity Certificate.