There is no doubt that the Karmapa is a very intelligent young Lama, one of the brightest of his generation (so is Ling Rinpoche, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama’s former tutor).
Karmapa is now been entangled in two issues.
One, a large amount of foreign currency has been found in his monastery near Dharamsala. I have dealt with the issue in my Rediff.com article. Second, he has been accused of being an ‘agent’ of China.
At first sight, it is ridiculous; nevertheless it is a fact that doubts are still in the minds of some officials in India.
In a way, the present difficult times are a good opportunity to sweep the old cobwebs aside and start on a fresh note.
What make Indian officials reluctant to give a clean sheet to the young Lama?
One answer is in yesterday’s declaration of Xu Zhitao, an official at the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee. He told The Global Times: "The 17th Karmapa Living Buddha [reincarnation] is the first reincarnated Living Buddha confirmed and approved by the Central Government of the People's Republic of China after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951. …The reincarnation of holy men is a unique form of succession in Tibetan Buddhism, which has long been recognized and respected. Karmapa left China in 1999 for the purpose of religious behaviors, just as he claimed.”
Whether the people of Tibet have been ‘liberated’ or not (more than one million dead for a ‘peaceful liberation’ is a lot) is another issue. What made hard core atheists become experts in reincarnation?
The ‘official’ anointment of the Karmapa by the Communist Party contributed to create doubts in India. But the young Lama has now lived for the past 11 years in Himachal Pradesh and the Indian intelligence agencies have had ample time to verify that he is or not a Chinese agent. It is unfair and unprofessional to keep the matter hanging without giving any proof or clarification.
Have you been to Gyuto Monastery where the Karmapa has a temporary residence? If you are granted an audience by the Lama, you will notice that there is always someone listening. Indian security/intelligence agencies are everywhere around. If the Karmapa is a ‘spy’ as some ‘news channels’ announced last week, do you think that the intelligence agencies would have not noticed during all these years?
Are they so totally inefficient?
When Xu Zhitao declares, "the speculation by India's media, regarding the matter of the Karmapa as a Chinese agent or spy, shows that India is keeping its mistrustful attitude toward China," is however true and in a way, understandable. India had recently good reasons to mistrust China.
The fact that The Global Times denies that Karmapa is a Chinese agent does not hold water. If he was a spy or an agent (and he is certainly not), China would not notify Delhi that the Karmapa is working for the PRC. It is usually not the practice of the intelligence agencies to publish the name of their agents.
That there are some moles reporting to China the moves of the young Lama is always possible, but it does not mean that he is himself an agent or influenced by such people, if they exist. The gratuitous accusation of the news channels has deeply shocked the followers of the Karmapa in India and abroad.
There is also the possibility of the Sharma Lama having informers inside the Karmapa’s establishment. Who tipped off the police about the ‘unaccounted’ cash? It is up to the Office of the Karamapa to find this out.
But if he one look deeper at the issue, who is benefiting from all these charges (frivolous for spying and probably right for poor accounting)?
I personally believe that it is the Chinese government. The last thing Beijing wants today is to see the Dalai Lama designates a ‘spiritual’ successor before he leaves this world. Beijing has been planning for decades for the Dalai Lama’s succession.
In 1995, I wrote an article in the weekly, Blitz about the recognition of the Panchen Lama in which I mentioned the case of the Karmapa: “The fact that a totalitarian communist regime could start dealing with the search of incarnated souls put a smile on the lips of many. …A few years back, the Chinese government had for the first time decided to recognise Tulkus (reincarnated lamas), when the head of the Kargyu sect of Buddhism, the 17th Karmapa was officially recognised by the Communist government. What is worth noting is that the Karmapa had been discovered by one of his disciples, Situ Rinpoche while conducting the search in Tibet. [The choice] was subsequently approved by the Dalai Lama after the appropriate tests had been performed. It is only later that the Chinese government ‘officially appointed’ the boy as the 17th Karmapa and enthroned him in Tsurphu, north of the Lhasa, the traditional seat of the Karmapas. …In the case of the Karmapa, though he was recognised by the Dalai Lama, the Chinese has completely taken over his education and he is already been used for political purposes. On May 1st , he was paraded with Jiang on the rostrum of Tiananmen Square on the occasion of the celebration of the Workers Day.”
The leadership in Beijing did not foresee that the boy had his own mind and that he would escape to India and take refuge near the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. But by recognizing him, Beijing had created a precedent; thereafter the Communist Party began interfering in the ‘reincarnation’ process of the so-called Living Buddhas, preparing the way for the day when the Dalai Lama would go. The Panchen Lama was the second case of interference.
Now suppose that the Dalai Lama tomorrow nominates two ‘spiritual’ regents (for example the Karmapa and Ling Rinpoche), it would be a great blow for Beijing; their plans to have a docile ‘Living Buddha’ in their hands (like today their own puppet Panchen Lama) would be completely spoiled.
It is therefore clear that China is the first to benefit from the present messy situation in Dharamsala, particularly from the apparently not-properly accounted cash recovered from the Gyuto monastery. It is probably why the Dalai Lama said that, in the interest of all, a proper inquiry should be conducted. And rectifications should be made, if necessary.
Another issue: the fact that there are other candidates to the Black Hat of the Karmapas is not healthy. At least two other ‘Karmapas’ are active today. One contender is Thaye Thinley Dorje, the Shamar Lama’s candidate living in Darjeeling, who often travels abroad (without the restrictions imposed on the real incarnation in Dharamsala).
The other candidate is one Dawa Sangpo, residing in Sikkim. After the police raids on Gyuto monastery, Sangpo said that the Indian government should “cancel exile Tibetan government since this is a serious breach to national security.” It is not clear what ‘cancelling’ the government in exile means.
Moreover he reiterated his previous claim that he is the true incarnation. He declared that “he is always open to prove himself and that test will define who the real 17th Karmapa is. He said that his life is in great danger in present situation but he would accept any fate to die for truth anytime.”
One problem only in his claim, he is born several years before the previous (the Sixteenth) Karmapa passed away!
A friend recently told: “Karmapa is so fastidious, every robe on every monk has to be perfect! He is so strict! He reviews all details, oversees everything – doesn’t miss anything!” But he told a delegation of the Tibetan Assembly (led by the Chairman Penpa Tsering) that he did not know how much money was offered to his monastery by his devotees. His first task is perhaps now to concentrate his energy to educate his monks about the intricacies of Indian laws and to be ‘fastidious’ about the financial administration of his monastery. He should be able to find good Indian advisors to help him.
He should also ask the Government of India to bring to his notice, any wrong doings by his followers or staff and take himself severe actions if such things occur.
But if the Government has nothing against him, his name should be cleared. Otherwise it is basically unjust.
And the Karmapa should continue his wonderful work for the environment of the Himalayas.
China denies Karmapa spy reports
January 31 2011]
By Jia Cheng
A Chinese official Sunday denied Indian media reports that Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu sect, could be part of a Chinese plan to control monasteries along the Sino-Indian border.
Xu Zhitao, an official at the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times Sunday that "the speculation by India's media, regarding the matter of the Karmapa as a Chinese agent or spy, shows that India is keeping its mistrustful attitude toward China."
Additionally, thousands of devotees thronged Gyuto Monastery near Dharamshala on Sunday to show solidarity with the Karmapa, according to the Times of India.
One of the Karmapa's German followers said, "We stand by Karmapa. He is no Chinese spy."
The Times of India had reported that Indian intelligence agencies reportedly said the Karmapa may be a Chinese "plant," after Indian police found a large number of foreign currencies, including Chinese yuan, at his monastery Friday. The currency recovered belongs to about 26 countries, including Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Germany and the US.
The Karmapa was questioned on Sunday for the second time in connection with nearly $1.5 million worth of unaccounted foreign currency in his monastery. The questioning was ended by the Karmapa's claims that the money was given by devotees, said a report on indiablooms.com.
The news has pushed Indian media to link the terms "agent" and "spy" to China.
OneIndia News also reported that "The foreign currency seized in the raid is Chinese yuan, linking the Karmapa's apparent clandestine relationship with China," and said the connection between the Karmapa and China is "sinister."
Xu said, "The 17th Karmapa Living Buddha is the first reincarnated Living Buddha confirmed and approved by the Central Government of the People's Republic of China after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951."
The reincarnation of holy men is a unique form of succession in Tibetan Buddhism, which has long been recognized and respected.
"Karmapa left China in 1999 for the purpose of religious behaviors, just as he claimed," Xu added.
Meanwhile, the Karmapa's office also dismissed on Saturday the alleged Chinese links, saying in a statement, "The cash in question under the current investigation by police is offerings received for charitable purposes from local and international disciples from many different countries wishing to support His Holiness Karmapa's various charitable activities."
This is not the first time that India's media has linked "spies" with China. Earlier this month, three Chinese citizens were arrested in India on suspicion of money laundering and spying on border security. But the Chinese foreign ministry said they were actually tourists who had mistakenly crossed the border from Nepal.