The Karmapa’s comeuppance?

The Karmapa is the head of what is known as the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is claimed that the institution of Karmapa is more than 200 years older than the institution of Dalai Lama, who is the head of all Tibetan Buddhists, wherever they may be living, writes B. Raman in an opinion piece about present controversies surrounding the Karmapa.

The Economist explains:

A controversy that has festered for years among Tibetans has flared up. Ever since the infant Ogyen Trinley Dorje was recognised in 1992 by both the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama as the 17th incarnation of the Karmapa Lama, head of one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, he has faced challenges from rival claimants. And ever since 1999, when he fled from Tibet to India, some Indians have been suspicious of him, fearing that China helped him escape, hoping to make use of him.

Now he has been questioned by the Indian police after huge amounts of cash—the equivalent of $1.6m in some reports—in various currencies, including Chinese yuan, were seized from Gyuto, the monastery he occupies near the Dalai Lama’s base in Dharamsala, in northern India. Two people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

The suspicion is that some of the money came from China, for the Karmapa to use to buy influence in Tibetan monasteries in India, notably in Sikkim—where the 16th Karmapa had his seat at Rumtek monastery.


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This post was last updated: Feb. 1, 2011