Tibetan Buddhism, Karmapa Controversy and Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Lamaism is another name of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s a body of Buddhist religious doctrine which is followed in Tibet and other Himalayan parts such as Bhutan, Nepal, India’s Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh as well as Sikkim.

  • Tibetan Buddhism is the state religion of Bhutan.

There are 4 schools of Tibetan Buddhism viz. Nyingmapa, Kagyupa,Sakyapa and Gelugpa.

1. Nyingmapa: Nyingmapa means the "Ancients". This is the ancient school of Tibetan Buddhism and was founded by Padmasambhāva and Śāntarakṣita. Its teachings are divided into 9 streams.

2. Kagyupa: Meaning of the word Kagyupa is the "Followers of Buddha’s words". This school is an oral tradition, which is concerned with the experiments with the meditations.

 Milarepa was a famous mystic of 11th century of this tradition. This school is divided into 4 sub sects viz.

  1. Karma Kagyu: It is headed by a Karmapa
  2. Tsalpa Kagyu
  3. Barom Kagyu
  4. Pagtru Kagyu.

3. Sakyapa: Sakyapa means “Grey Earth”. This is another school which follows the traditions of old times.

4. Gelugpa: Meaning of Gelugpa is the "The Path of Virtue”. It began as a reformist movement and grew with its major emphasis on logic and debate.

  • Its spiritual head is Ganden Tripa , while the temporal head is the Dalai Lama.
  • ? So, the Dalai Lama is a temporal head of Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Karma Kagyu subsect of the Kagyupa school of Tibetan Buddhism is headed by a Karmapa.

  • ? The chief monastery or seat of this tradition is Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet.

This sub-school originated in some 12th century. The last undebated Karmapa of this sub sect was 16th Karmapa named Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who lived between 1924 and 1981. When he was 13 year old, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenjin Gyatso had performed his hair cutting ceremony. After that he came to India on a "Pilgrimage" with Dalai Lama. In 1950s, the instability of Tibet and subsequent takeover by China led him to escape from the Tsurphu Monastery with some 150 students and move over to Bhutan with the relics and all other things he could carry.

After spending some time in Bhutan, it was the King of Sikkim (Sikkim was not a part of India then) Tashi Namgyal offered some land to the Karmapa in Sikkim.

Thus, this 16th Karmapa established the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, in 1966, which is now the seat of the Karmapa of these exiled Buddhists in India.

Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa died in 1981. After that a controversy over the next Karmapa began, which is known as "Karmapa Controversy". The two candidates are

  1. Ogyen Trinley Dorje
  2. Trinley Thaye Dorje

Both of them are performing their duties as Karmapa independently. The succession is basically based upon the claims of incarnation of the previous master. It is believed that the new Karmapa is able to recognize the colleagues and associates of the previous Karmapa. The previous Karmapa may also in some symbolical language declare the next Karmapa, which is not easy to interpreted.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje was confirmed by the office of the Dalai Lama in Dharamasala as 17th Karmapa. The Chinese Government also accepts him. In 1992, he was formally enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet. Up to 1999, he was in China and by this time, he was able to understand that the Government of China has placed too many restrictions on him. So, in that year, this Karmapa made a daring attempt to escape from China and come to India in 2000. From that time he is in India.

Another candidate Trinley Thaye Dorje was born in 1983 and was recognized by Shamarpa, another head of a Tibetan School. He escaped Tibet in 1994 and arrived in New Delhi. The issue is not yet resolved.

The former candidate, Ogyen Trinley Dorje was recently dragged in a currency controversy. The Himachal Pradesh Police raided him and seized money in currencies of 25 countries including China valued at over 60 million. Some traveler’s cheques and land deal documents were also seized, and the police suspected it may lead to a kind of Hawala scam. He insisted that the money was donated. Dalai Lama also supported him but said that he must have created a ‘fund’ to avoid this controversy. On 11 February, the authorities had cleared the Karmapa of all charges, finding that the money in question had been donated by followers.

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