Monday, April 12, 2010

More on Karmapa

A rather thoughtless petition originating from Dharma Centers in the US has been circulating. It is addressed to Sonia Gandhi. It says inter alia: “We believe the Indian government’s actions in this situation are inequitable and unjustified. The broader issue, which we address, is one of the Karmapa’s basic human rights. The Karmapa is not a criminal, why is he treated as such? …The unreasonable and inconsiderate practice of confining him in India is a violation of his human rights and a blatant abuse of his freedom for religious expression.”
It requests the Government of India “to address the unlawful confinement of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. We petition for his immediate release from confinement in Sidbhari (India)”.
One doubts that it will have the desired effect; on the contrary, it is bound to create more doubts in the mind of those who believe that the young Lama is being manipulated from abroad.
The probable reaction will be, “If the Karmapa is not happy in India, he is free to go to the US, nobody will stop him”.
While recently discussing the issue with an official who had been involved with the Karmapa issue, I was told: “Tibetans have only themselves to blame for having produced three Karmapas (I knew of two only). You can’t blame on the Government of India, when there is a dispute (and court cases) between Tibetans. It is partly of Tibetan making.”
Unfortunately, he has a point.
Zealous supporters should have kept the foreign visit on a low key and not tried to unnecessarily boost the image of ‘their’ leader. In such a case, difficulties are bound to arise. I still remember the first visit of the Dalai Lama in Europe in 1973; at that time there were a lot of doubts in Government circles, but the Tibetan leader did everything to keep it low key. He was wise.


Anonymous said...

When did democracy and freedom of speech become a thoughtless activity?
The last time I checked people have the basic freedom to voice their objection or praise. Perhaps it is cultural yet you are not the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to overseeing the ministry of social agency across the globe.
Perhaps in your community there is an agreed social economic class system of those who can recognize the attributes of equality fraternity and liberty, and those who are -too thoughtless to know anything at all!
Yet maybe it is you who are wearing the blinkers when it comes to compassion of those in the West?
So try and imagine outside of India there are those good hearted and educated people in the west, many in the west who signing this petition in the thousands who cannot understand what India's democracy has become!
For years they have admired and championed India in all their school books, an entire generation. These are the people living in 2010 not 1973. Wake up ..the world has changed since then. This is the year of Commonwealth games in Delhi. Those in the west genuinely don’t understand why India has denied the Karmapa travel! If there is one or 50 Karmapas it makes no difference to those in the West! India is the land of hundreds of cultures why was the permit for this Karmapa denied?
In 1973 the Dalai Lama was virtually unknown. And there was not internet and web stream like now. And ten years of expectation has contributed to the Global story of the Karmapa It is too easy to blame the understandable enthusiasm of those who have waited almost ten years. Those in the west have no desire to control the Karmapa on the contrary they see him as of India one the great spiritual leader in the world to be shared with devotion for all.
Therefore all the points quoted in this petition are not only true from their view—it is the basis of their ethics and values and quality of life. Articles like yours will create tremendous anger and deep mistrust to those in the west. It will confirm that India has no genuine interest and has sold-out on the very foundation of its independence. Where is the freedom they are asking? The respect for shared rights of all people that defined the end of colonial rule? This is how they will respond and you cannot just dismiss this global response as thoughtless!
India has a golden opportunity here to be the real super power! And if they were wise it will find a middle path and meet the diplomatic efforts of those working with this Karmapa to build positive relations. Let him travel and then come home to India - free. this si the india of the imaginatin of the west. Perhaps they have illusions but it is not thoughtless.

Claude Arpi said...

Let me clarify a few points:
I concluded my earlier posting by saying: “Of course, all these points are difficulty verifiable, but one hopes that the organizers who have invested a lot of time, money and energy to receive the Karmapa in Europe will be informed of the real reasons behind the cancellation, so that they can find a remedy and get the blessings of this bright young Lama.”
It shows that I believe that the Karmapa should be allowed to travel abroad. Further the title of my posting was “Trying to guess why the Karmapa's tour was cancelled”.
My information is that it is Shamar who managed to block the visit through his contacts in Delhi.
Regarding the petition, it is based on false premises, namely the Karmapa is a prisoner in Sidbhari (Himachal Pradesh). It is simply wrong: he can travel wherever he wants in India (except Sikkim because of the court case put by Shamar and co.) and he does travel in India.
I maintain that a petition based on false premises will make the case more difficult.
It would help if his followers try to understand the intricacies of the situation before reacting.

Anonymous said...

Well, in the past, India had never allowed this kind of travel, except for last year's tour to America. An interesting question might therefore be, why the trip was at all publicly anounced, tickets sold all over Europe and a lot of publicity done before receiving India's okay for it? This looks more like a problem produced by the organizers, willingly or unwillingly...

Anonymous said...

It it said instruction were there was not to be public announcement until permission was given by India. No tickets to be sold before the permission yet it seems a very few did not listen. In fact there is no documentation that tickets were sold all over Europe.

The petiton is not correct.

It is said as with events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama there is a requirement to book venues in advance and this includes a deposit.

Due to the fact several times events even with the Dalai Lama who has permisison has been cancelled in Europe there is no insurance available on these events.

Apparently if one does not sell tickets you have no way to get deposit for a venue unless you have donors! Yet even the donors only provide loans in most cases and expect to be paid back from ticket sales, sales that must also cover all the expences of the trip.

Shamar booked Queen Elizabeth Hall at the South Bank Hall on the Thames in London last September. How much do you think this cost and how much time time in advance to get this booked and publicty in their brochures? This is a great deal of money.

The difficulties for those organisers with the Karmapa is from all sides.

The other important point ties back to " India had never allowed this kind of travel (for Karmapa in Sidburi) except for last years tour to America.@ It is said India only gave permission four weeks before US tour was to happen after a great deal of negotiations.

Anyone who had not pre-booked a hall, promotion or tickets in advance would have had no place to host him unless it is a small dharma centre.
Perhaps it is necessary to book and pay deposits.

Venues need to be booked in advance. So learning from the expereince of the US trip perhaps this is how a few and not many made decisions as the months went by. Only 6 weeks before the Europe Trip was to begin India denied the permit to travel to Europe.

It is said that assurance was given by those respected that there was no problem with this application for the Europe trip.

Unknown said...

Dear Claude Arpi

just in brief one point, you mentioned in your reply to the first comment

"It is simply wrong: he can travel wherever he wants in India (except Sikkim because of the court case put by Shamar and co.) and he does travel in India."

This is simply wrong, HHGK can't even go to McLeodGanji without getting a permission and it was refused occasionally. Visits to Mirik, Mandy etc were cancelled, a trip to South India had to be rescheduled earlier this year and ... many more sad restrictions for his freedom of move.

What are the deeper reasons for that is beyond my comprehension -
just wanted to point this out.