Recognizing the 17th Karmapa
Trinley Thaye Dorje
Karmapa Thaye Dorje - as related by Shamarpa
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
DZA YI YUL DU KI YI DRONG KHYER NA
The area of Dza The town Ki (is)
LHAMO NORBU DZIN PE SER NGAL DU
Goddess Devi, Norbu Dzinma (holder) (in her) golden womb (of) the wish-fulfilling
KHAILASH YI CHUD LY YONG SMIN PE
By nourishment of (Mt.) Khailash fully (it will) ripen
THAYE DORJE DROWE PAL DU SHAR
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.
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
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."