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Introduction to the controversy about Karmapas
A few historical points
1959 : Karmapa flees to India
Difficulties in 16th Karmapa's times
Years 1980 Through 1990
Events beginning 1992
Events during May and June 1992
Propaganda campaign
Orgyen Trinley, Situ Rinpoche's Karmapa
Events during November and December 1992 in Rumtek
Some information about Sikkim
Year 1993 - situation deteriorates in Rumtek
Recognizing the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje
Year 1994
Controversy: opposing viewpoints
Relationship between Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama
A quick glance at events from years 1995 to 1999
Year 2000
Year 2001
Chronology of Events
Bibliography and data sources
french version
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Recognizing the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje

Identifying Karmapa Thaye Dorje - as related by Shamarpa

After Situpa's "coup"

Shamarpa has the child come to India


Identifying Karmapa Thaye Dorje - as related by Shamarpa

Years later, in 1996 at an international Karma Kagyu conference in KIBI, New Delhi, Shamar Rinpoche would disclose the events that led to the finding and recognition of the 17th Karmapa. The question was on everyone's lips. How did it happen that the young Karmapa, living in virtual anonymity in occupied Tibet, caught the eye of his senior disciple?

After all, Shamarpa, residing thousands of miles away in northern India, had little access to and no influence in Tibet and, unlike Situ Rinpoche, remained out of favor with the Chinese, the true masters in Lhasa. Karmapa's authentic instructions about his future return, provided these existed, were not available to the senior regent either.

The answer that Shamarpa gave carried us back to the turbulent years that followed the 16th Karmapa's death in 1981. As the reader must have realized, mistrust and animosity got the better of the Rinpoches charged with the future of the Kagyu school. During that unstable period, the process of identifying the next Karmapa, a solely spiritual task, became hostage to mundane gains. A number of lamas went after money and power. Forced to operate in a worldly-minded environment, and probably convinced that his chief rival, Situpa, was pursuing an agenda over the head of Karmapa's interests, Shamar Rinpoche chose to go it alone. His story from the conference revealed the extent of the friction that had appeared at the top of the lineage well before the clash in 1992. It also provided us with an insight into the intricate manner in which the seventeenth incarnation decided to manifest.

Chobgye Tri Rinpoche contacts Shamarpa

In 1986, while staying in Delhi to supervise the construction of KIBI, Shamarpa received an unexpected visitor. Chobgye Tri Rinpoche, a highly qualified Sakya lama who had been held in greatest esteem by the 16th Karmapa, had an urgent message to convey to the senior Kagyu regent.

"Shortly before the late Karmapa passed away, I had had a dream," Chobgye Tri started enigmatically. "His Holiness went around a stupa wearing his usual Dharma robes. He appeared to be sad. In my dream, I too felt sad and shed tears. Soon after my dream, Karmapa died. Then, just a few days before coming here, I had yet another dream. This time, His Holiness was clad in a yellow robe, while again he walked around a stupa. The color of his vestment was radiant, and his mood was cheerful. At noon the same day, a relative who had arrived from Lhasa visited me. He brought a photograph of a young child who was well-known in the area my relative came from. People there knew that the child had on several occasions said that he was Karmapa."

When he heard this, Chobgye Tri Rinpoche felt he had to communicate the news to Shamarpa. And so, cutting short a visit to his monastery, he presented himself without delay in Delhi. "You must not make a decision on the basis of what I have told you," Chobgye Tri concluded gravely. "Your judgment must be based on the instructions left behind by the late Karmapa, as well as on the visions and experiences of qualified masters of the lineage."

The child in the photograph looked very young. Shamarpa guessed he was barely three years old. Impressed by what he had heard, the Kagyu regent must have decided to keep the incident to himself, for he failed to mention it to his three peers. He also must have concluded that the matter was well worth further investigation.

Lopen Chechoo Rinpoche brings back information

An opportunity came into his hands in early 1987 when Lopen Chechoo Rinpoche, representing the Nepal Buddhist Association, was dispatched to Lhasa. Shamarpa asked him to discretely approach the child and to make sure that nobody discovered the real purpose of his mission. The child's family was living at that time in the Bakhor district of Lhasa. His father was Mipham Rinpoche, a well-known Nyingma master.

Lopen Chechoo Rinpoche returned to Nepal with plenty of information. He learned the parents' names, their history, and the birth dates and places of their two sons. Chechoo Rinpoche also discovered that the father was in possession of a good number of religious objects and letters that had belonged to the previous Mipham. One such letter caught Lopen Chechoo's attention. The document stated that in his next incarnation, Mipham would beget a son by the name of Rigpe Yeshey Dorje. Shamarpa must have immediately realized that the Rigpe Dorje portion of the name bore a reference to the late Karmapa's own name: Ranjung Rigpe Dorje. The clue was very encouraging.

Another emissary to Lhasa

In order to obtain further details, Shamarpa sent yet another emissary to Tibet. This second person came back with more exciting news. One account, in particular, must have put the Kagyu regent on the alert.

One day the young child went to the Jokhang temple of Lhasa accompanied by his father's friend. While the two walked around the building, they noticed a large crowd that had gathered at the entrance. Following the group inside, they saw a heavy set lama applying gold paint to the face of a Buddha statue. When the child spotted the lama, he ran up to him and asked, "Do you recognize me?" The lama replied, "No." Later, the father's friend recounted the incident to the parents. Curious, they decided to talk to the lama. After making inquiries, they found out that it was Gyaltsab Rinpoche. However, as they were getting ready to meet the prominent Rinpoche, their son stopped them. "I don't want to see him because he doesn't recognize me," the child exclaimed and refused to see the lama.

A mysterious 16th Karmapa's devotee shows up

According to Shamarpa's testimony from the Kagyu conference, at about that time a well-respected person, devotee of the 16th Karmapa, approached the senior regent with a momentous disclosure. The highly regarded individual claimed to be in possession of Karmapa's instructions that indicated His Holiness' succeeding incarnation. He claimed to have obtained the information directly from Karmapa but, bound by his guru's command, was unable to reveal it as of yet.

The more signals Shamarpa received about Karmapa's next rebirth, the less he seemed inclined to share these reports with the three Rinpoches. He attended the few inconclusive meetings the four held in Delhi but told the Rinpoches precisely nothing. His trust in his peers must have hit rock bottom in those days.

A final emissary to Lhasa is uncovered

Secretly pursuing his investigation, Shamar Rinpoche decided to send a third courier to Lhasa. The child's father, a known lama, was in a special position. He would frequently be asked to assist people in spiritual and worldly matters. The family kept their home open; anybody could drop in to request a blessing or advice from the lama. Shamarpa's directives to his envoy were to contact the family on the pretext of seeking business guidance. The emissary was then to return daily with the hidden purpose of observing the child. The clandestine plan, though, didn't quite work as expected. No sooner had Shamarpa's man entered the house than he thought it prudent to withdraw in haste. A young boy of fair complexion met him inside and calmly declared, "You've come to look for me." That was enough. The man stayed for a few more days in Lhasa and promptly returned to Nepal. But the story he brought was further proof of the child's exceptional qualities. The research was gathering pace.

Shamarpa enters a meditation retreat

To be able to arrive at a decision about who the child was, Shamarpa chose to do a meditation retreat. This was a method traditionally used by lamas to verify their choice of reincarnation. In the absence of authentic instructions, the only reliable signs could be obtained through meditation. On the morning of the seventh day of the retreat, Shamar Rinpoche had a singular dream. The 16th Karmapa was performing a ritual on behalf of a deceased person. Upon completing his prayers, Karmapa declared, "Now I can come to wherever you want me to come." The next day, yet another dream followed. There, Shamarpa saw a golden Buddha statue of enormous proportions. As he started to throw rice grains towards the Buddha, the rice turned into rain that fell on the statue. Light started radiating in all directions from a very large butter lamp that was filled with nectar.

Shamarpa decides to meet the child and travels to Lhasa

In the face of such auspicious visions, The Kagyu regent must have become convinced that the child in Lhasa was the genuine reincarnation. Excitedly, he made arrangements to travel to Tibet in order to secretly examine the child. His design was to appear in the Tibetan capital disguised as a businessman, enter the family's house with an excuse to consult the father, and then check the young boy. The plot, such as it was, felt easy enough, and so Shamarpa embarked on his covert mission, probably confident that soon he would set his eyes on the young Karmapa.

As it happened, the only people he continuously had to set his eyes on while in Tibet were Tibetan traders from Kathmandu on a business visit to Lhasa. The exquisite plan misfired badly. Since he had never been to Lhasa before, Shamarpa imagined that the Bakhor district, where the family lived, was a large area where one could disappear undetected. In actual fact, the Bakhor turned out to be a crowded, tiny locality-a few narrow streets that led to the Jokhang temple-a lot like the enclosure of a small monastery. Much to his disappointment, the regent realized that he couldn't mingle incognito with the people. On top of this, the streets were filled with Tibetan merchants from Nepal-some of them his neighbors in Kathmandu-who might find it at best peculiar if not totally bizarre to see the Kagyu senior regent running around Lhasa in a business suit. Chances were that if he ventured anywhere near the family's home, he would be exposed at once.

The Chinese authorities were no fools either and had probably sniffed out the fact that Shamar Rinpoche had entered Tibet and was at the moment playing tourist in the Tibetan capital. Confined to the security of his hotel room, Shamarpa must have understood that he was under surveillance. Any attempt to enter the family's house under such inhospitable conditions might have had grave consequences. There was no choice but to abort the mission. To confuse the Chinese police, the regent opted for an excursion to Namtso, a tourist area in the north of the country. When he returned to Lhasa, he quickly took the next flight back to Kathmandu.

Shamarpa resorts to a last method

Once in Kathmandu, Shamar Rinpoche resorted to a last method to confirm his presumption. In Tibet, a person looking for signs about a reincarnation would traditionally write down the various possibilities on paper, then roll the pieces of paper into balls of dough, and throw them into a vessel. He would thereafter journey to a holy site and meditate that the paper with the correct indication would fall out when the vessel was turned over. Determined to verify what, by that time, must have been a near certainty that he was on the right track, the regent sent his senior adviser, Lama Tsultrim Dawa, to a few sacred places in and around Kathmandu with the instruction to perform the customary ritual. One such place, Parphing, was highly popular with pilgrims, and since in those days Nepal was awash with speculation about the 17th Karmapa's true identity, rather than go himself, Shamar Rinpoche chose to dispatch his learned lama. The spectacle of the Kagyu regent engaged in a future-seeking ceremony might have given birth to yet another bout of uncontrolled gossip.

Two scraps of paper were put in a basket: one read that Mipham Rinpoche's son was the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, the other stated that he wasn't. Lama Tsultrim Dawa repeated the ritual four times at four different locations, and each time the paper asserting that the boy was the 17th Karmapa fell out. In the regent's eyes, the evidence was overwhelming. Having amassed his proof, Shamar Rinpoche contacted the person who had confessed to be in possession of the late Karmapa's directions. After hearing Shamarpa's report about the unique child and the fact-finding missions to Lhasa, the man affirmed that he held no objections to the course Shamar tulku had taken. But he stressed that he could not, at this point, reveal his information. The time to do so had not come yet.

Although he had obtained a set of assurances, Shamarpa kept his mouth sealed. He did not even vaguely suggest to the three Rinpoches that, in fact, he believed he had discovered the authentic reincarnation. The reason for his secrecy must have been the rather unpleasant conclusion that his peers, whether intentionally or not, would hinder Karmapa's activity once they were allowed to encircle him. Perhaps Shamarpa also suspected that Situ Rinpoche, if given a chance, would happily keep the young Holiness shut away in occupied Tibet. Situpa's alliance with the Communist Chinese was, at that time, an open secret.

Shamar Rinpoche gives more details

The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, was born in 1983 in the Year of the Pig. He is the first-born of the 3rd Mipham Rinpoche of the Nyingmapa School of Buddhism.

The 17th Karmapa's father is the third reincarnation of the 1st Mipham Rinpoche, the head of 13 Nyingma monasteries in Kham, Tibet, and a descendant from many generations of doctors and learned medical scholars. His mother, Dechen Wangmo, is the daughter of a noble family descended from King Gaesar of Ling. In his youth the 3rd Mipham Rinpoche escaped the fate that befell many Tibetan people unable to practice their religion under Chinese communist rule. His teacher found a hiding place in the mountains where they were able to practice the Dharma continuously ever since his early childhood. In 1982, after a general relaxation of government restrictions on religious practice, Mipham Rinpoche went to Lhasa to take part in the reconstruction of Buddhist institutions and practice. Due to his good connection with the Panchen Lama, his activities were particularly successful.

In the early 1980s, Mipham Rinpoche's yidam (a personal deity in Vajrayana Buddhism) predicted to him that if he took a consort that he would produce several sons who would be great bodhisattvas. The next day a group of pilgrims from Kham arrived to see him; among them was Dechen Wangmo. He realized that she was humble and gentle and an accomplished Chakrasambhara practitioner. When he proposed marriage, she immediately accepted.

As man and wife, Mipham Rinpoche and Dechen Wangmo settled in an apartment rented from an old lady in the Bakor area of Lhasa on the same street that circled three-quarters around the famous Jokhang Temple. A son was born in wedlock in the year 1983. At the age of two and a half, the little boy started to tell people that he was the Karmapa. The landlady happened to be a distant relative of the late 16th Karmapa and had met him before he escaped from Tibet in 1959. He told her once, "Before you die, you will meet me again." Due to the exceptional behavior of the boy, she was convinced that he was the Karmapa himself. Out of strong devotion, she offered the use of her apartment to the family for free. However, Mipham Rinpoche remained silent about his son while hoping that he might turn out to be the reincarnation of the great Nyingma master Katog Situ Rinpoche.

One day in early 1985, when Ngorpa Lagen, a humble old Sakya lama, was circumambulating the Jokhang Temple in the circular street, he noticed the gleaming white face of a little boy peering out of the window of a private house. Drawn by curiosity, he walked towards the window, and the little boy said, "Don't you know that I am the Karmapa?" Without pondering the seriousness behind these simple words, Ngorpa Lagen replied, "If you are, then give me a blessing." The boy stretched out his arm and touched the lama. According to the lama, he instantly felt something akin to the post-meditative experience of deep calm and expansiveness that prevails over all forms of gross emotions.

A few days after this blessing, the Sakya lama, together with a group of pilgrims who had arrived from his homeland, went to Mipham Rinpoche for a prediction as to where their next pilgrimage should be. He noticed the little boy who previously had blessed him playing in a corner by himself. Mipham Rinpoche asked the group of visitors how many families they were. When they answered, "seven," the little boy rang out from the corner and said, "Eight!" All of them were obliged to count again. When they realized that the boy was right, the lama reported that his hair stood on end and that his shock and excitement were so great that it was difficult to hide his reaction completely.

Further along his pilgrimage in late 1985, Ngorpa Lagen went to Kathmandu, Nepal, and joined a large annual prayer and recitation gathering led by Lama Sherab Rinpoche, a disciple of the late Karmapa. The two soon became acquainted, and Ngorpa Lagen began telling Lama Sherab Rinpoche about his encounter with the little boy in Bakor. After this, Lama Sherab Rinpoche and his attendant Chopel Zangpo left for the Tsurphu Monastery but first stopped to visit Mipham Rinpoche in Lhasa. The boy was not with his father when they arrived, so Lama Sherab Rinpoche asked if he could nevertheless see the boy. When he was brought in, he sat next to his father quietly, but from time to time would eye the guests and smile with obvious amusement. When Lama Sherab Rinpoche inquired about the wife of Mipham Rinpoche, he replied she was doing a Chakrasambhara retreat. During the course of the conversation, Lama Sherab Rinpoche reported that he started to tremble and was unable to stop. As soon as they left, his attendant immediately told him that something very strange had happened to him while they were talking, which was exactly what Lama Sherab Rinpoche himself had felt.

The above story was first recounted to me in 1987 by Lama Sherab Rinpoche. The circumstances of the story matched those of an earlier report brought to me from Lhasa. In October 1986, Chobje Tri Rinpoche had alerted me about Mipham Rinpoche's son and showed me a photograph of the young boy.

Shamarpa asks disciples to pray the 17th Karmapa for his long life

In spite of my personal conviction about the identity of the Karmapa, the time still had not come to make a formal declaration. However, in early 1991, at the inauguration of the Karma Kagyu monastery built by Shangpa Rinpoche at Phokhara which was attended by Dhazang Rinpoche, Shachu Rinpoche and hundreds of lamas plus more than four thousand Tibetans, I announced: 1) Tibet probably would be the country of the Karmapa's next reincarnation; 2) The supplication to the 16th Karmapa for his early rebirth should be changed to supplication to the 17th Karmapa for his long life; 3) The name of the 17th Karmapa that I had decided on was Thaye Dorje. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from this announcement was that I had in effect confirmed the reincarnation of the 17th Karmapa.

The 17th Karmapa's name fits predictions

Karma Pakshi, the 2nd Karmapa, in his esoteric works (sangwei namthar) called Dugpa Tsarchod predicted the rebirths of 21 Karmapas and gave or predicted the name of each rebirth. The name of the 18th Karmapa is Thaye Dorje. However, the 5th Karmapa also predicted, "My lineage weakens, at the time of the 16th or 17th Karmapa." On the surface Karma Pakshi's prediction seems inconsistent with my recognition and naming of the 17th Karmapa as Thaye Dorje. The apparent inconsistency can be readily explained, though. As is well known, the reincarnation of the 14th Karmapa only lived for three years and was never enthroned; so official protocol does not count the fifteenth rebirth as the 15th Karmapa. Thus, it follows that the sixteenth rebirth of the Karmapa becomes the 15th Karmapa upon enthronement and so forth. In other words, the predictions of Karma Pakshi and the 5th Karmapa are not ambiguous but actually correct. The 5th Karmapa's prediction of the weakening of the lineage at the time of the 16th or 17th Karmapas actually refers to the discrepancy between the number of rebirths and the number of enthronements caused by the early death of the fifteenth reincarnation. Karma Pakshi's predicted bestowal of the name Thaye Dorje for the 18th Karmapa is actually correct since the 17th Karmapa to be enthroned is the 18th by rebirth.

A poem received from Lobpon Kunzang Rinpoche

My announcement at Pokhara no doubt caused much excitement but also provoked many comments. It also stimulated Lama Sherab Rinpoche to come to me immediately in Kathmandu and show me a poem written on a piece of paper. A very hold saint named Lobpon Kunzang Rinpoche, who had already passed away before 1991, had given the paper to Lama Sherab Rinpoche in 1983 in strict confidence on one of his many visits to Lobpon Kunzang Rinpoche's retreat in the Rinag mountains in Sikkim. The exact literary origin of the poem is still being ascertained. According to Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Manang tribal community of Nepal, Lobpon Kunzang Rinpoche said there are two possible sources. One is the old text called The Treasures of Yogi Zilon Lingpa (Zilon Lingpa belonged to the Nyingma School of Buddhism). The other possible source for the poem is the late Dudjom Rinpoche when he was performing a special Guru Padmasambhara puja in Kalimpong in the 1960's. The poem contains the following four verses:

The area of Dza The town Ki (is)

Goddess Devi, Norbu Dzinma (holder) (in her) golden womb (of) the wish-fulfilling jewel)

By nourishment of (Mt.) Khailash fully (it will) ripen

Thaye Dorje (for the) welfare of living beings (will) arise

The meaning of the poem is by and large self-evident. The references in the first verse to Dza and Ki refer to the birth places of the 3rd Mipham Rinpoche and Dechen Wangmo, his consort and the mother of the 17th Karmapa. The allusion to Mount Khailash refers to Dechen Wangmo who is a Tantric adept. The Chakrasambhara Tantra is her main practice, and Mount Khailash is, in the Tantric universe, the mandala of Chakrasambhara.

Reading this account of facts, it must be clear that the identification and recognition I have done about the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dordje, happened according to the centuries-old Karma Kagyu tradition. As such, these acts were spiritually pure.


After Situpa's "coup"

As if following a malicious story line, at the regents' crucial meeting in March 1992, Shamarpa's darkest suspicions became reality. Situ Rinpoche's "prediction letter" was, to the best of Shamarpa's knowledge, nothing but an inept forgery. He refused to accept the letter as having come from Karmapa's pen; however, he did not mention his own breakthrough either. Instead, he insisted on a forensic test of the document. A confrontation became inevitable.

After the Situ and Gyaltsab Rinpoches swiftly executed their scheme and, with the Dalai Lama's formal approval and Chinese support, brought forward and recognized their choice for Karmapa, Shamar tulku was left behind helpless. With few options left, he once more requested the advice of the person guarding the 16th Karmapa's mandate. Shamarpa wanted to know if the letter was genuine and how to proceed in light of the latest, disgraceful incidents. Without wavering, the man declared that Situpa's "prediction letter" was false, but as nothing else could be done at that moment, he recommended that the senior regent let the others finish what they had so deviously started. Thus, for the next year and a half, the Kagyu regent waited patiently for his hour, sometimes not sure what to do, but always staying in touch with the mysterious custodian, fully convinced that the boy in Lhasa was the right Karmapa.

Shamarpa has the child come to India

Eventually, towards the end of 1993, Shamarpa must have determined that the time had come to act. Also, every additional day of delay carried the risk that the Chinese would get wind of the regent's true intentions and track down the child in Lhasa. A few Tibetans would, no doubt, lend a helpful hand to such an operation. As a final step before moving ahead, Shamarpa informed his secret confidant that he planned to invite the child and his family to Delhi. Nobody, of course, knew that this particular boy was Shamar Rinpoche's pick for the 17th Karmapa, and the regent must have felt satisfied that the boy's legal exit out of China could be arranged. Shamarpa admitted that once the boy arrived in India, he meant to go public with his conviction and introduce the child as the authentic Karmapa. The man did not object to such a scenario. "You are the Shamar incarnation; I cannot see anything improper in your course of action," he proclaimed thoughtfully. However, he added that he still could not reveal Karmapa's instructions. He insisted on doing things exactly as he had been told, and the time was not ripe to disclose the message he had been entrusted to protect.

Meanwhile, in Tibet, the clock was ticking. The child and his relatives had lately become the objects of official harassment. The hardships imposed bore no relation to the still hidden fact that Shamar Rinpoche had his gaze fixed on the family's junior offspring. But the regent knew very well that it was only a matter of months, perhaps even weeks, before the Chinese connected the boy's growing fame within his community with the Kagyu regent's clandestine research in Lhasa. So, in January 1994, the young boy and his parents applied for a permission to visit Kathmandu and upon receiving their passports, immediately set out on the overland journey to Nepal. It was a legal coup. The Communists didn't realize until it was too late that they had allowed the 17th Karmapa out of controlled Tibet. The Mipham clan slipped legally through the tight net that enclosed their country and arrived undetected first in Nepal and later in Delhi.

In January, 1994, the young Karmapa had come to Delhi. His family name was Tenzin Khyentse. The fact was known at the moment only to a handful of closest players. Nobody at KIBI suspected that the head of the lineage was being hosted at a secret location in the Indian capital. Shamar Rinpoche wanted to wait a few weeks before officially introducing him. Obviously, the dangers were still enormous. It was difficult to foresee how China and Situpa's party would react to our stunt, but one could expect a confrontation, maybe even a violent attack on KIBI. Karmapa's official introduction in KIBI was planned for the middle of March.

On January 27, an urgent message arrived from KIBI. Shamar Rinpoche had proclaimed in New Delhi that Karmapa's 17th incarnation had been discovered. His terse statement left no doubt, "I hereby announce that the authentic reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa Ranjung Rigpe Dorje has been found. H.H. the 17th Karmapa is presently in India. Details regarding the traditional procedures for his installation will be made known in the near future." The historic fact became public knowledge. He also disclosed that His Holiness would be accessible for public ceremonies in Delhi in March.

The young Holiness' whereabouts still had to be kept confidential. Shamar Rinpoche had only divulged that the boy was in India. Few expected that in reality the child was staying in a comfortable villa in New Delhi. We were awaiting Situpa's reaction. His people were probably digesting, with a certain degree of apprehension, the news that now they had a challenger to their tulku; even worse, they must have begun to fear that Shamarpa's nominee could prove more capable than theirs.

What China herself was contemplating was difficult to anticipate. The Communists were left with few legal means to trouble the young Karmapa in India. After all, unawares, they had legally let the whole family out of the country. Besides, the Indian government would probably feel no obligation to reply to a Chinese complaint that Delhi was hosting, against Beijing's wishes, a candidate for Karmapa, who, in Beijing's eyes, was a Chinese citizen. The two countries were sworn enemies, and the Indian government would no doubt welcome the opportunity to see their rival ridiculed. Yet, we harbored no illusions that, if necessary, China would take a less gentle course than just an official protest, thus the hush-hush scenario.

The first response to Shamarpa's announcement had appeared. In a formal letter addressed to the Dalai Lama, representatives from various Kagyu monasteries in India and Nepal stated that they disagreed with Shamarpa's illegal decision. They emphasized that there could only be one Karmapa and reminded the Dalai Lama of his approval of Urgyen Trinley.

Karmapa did not need anybody's consent to manifest in the world. He definitely did not require the votes of lamas, no matter how renowned. "He will express Karmapa's unique qualities regardless of what others think."