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Who is Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje?

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IE reports:

Nearly 12 years after a “daring escape” from Tibet in 1999, 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje — then only 14 — and his Gyuto monastery in Dharamshala have come under scanner with top state and central agencies stepping-up investigations into the source of the huge cash and foreign currencies recovered from the monastery complex.

With raids continuing for the second day, except for the accounted currency seized on Friday, the police claimed to have recovered Rs 6.50 crore worth foreign currency — belonging to at least 23 countries, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Denmark, Korea, Australia, Japan,Thailand, US, UK and Nepal.

TOI reports claims by intelligence agencies:

The 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, could be a Chinese “plant”, suspect Indian intelligence agencies looking into the spiritual leader’s affairs after raids on his transit home at Sidhbari near Dharamshala on Thursday night. Rs 8.5 crore worth foreign currency was recovered.

Intelligence agencies say the Karmapa may be part of a Chinese plan to control monasteries along the Sino-Indian border. The exact circumstances of Dorje’s “escape” from Tibet in 2000 have always puzzled Indian agencies. He claimed to have hoodwinked Chinese authorities by going into exclusion and reaching Nepal.

A source said the agencies have information to suggest the Karmapa has links with China, including funding. “The huge recovery, including 11 lakh Chinese yuan, substantiates what we have always suspected. The Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities have been asked to probe this,” said an intelligence official. He added Dorje may be questioned.

It may be a long time before this specific issue is resolved, but it is definitely one more move in the tripartite game to control Tibet.

Jan 30, 2011

The Karmapa’s clarification was quoted in the Tibet Post:

The statement of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, which was delivered by Karma Topden, Spokesperson of Karmapa Reception Committee in Sikkim was aimed at quelling the groundless allegations leveled against the Karmapa. The press conference [held at Gyuto monastery in Dharamshala on Sunday], which was attended by major Indian and Tibetan media networks addressed the speculation that the Karmapa is a “Chinese spy” and “possessed money through illegal deals” which have appeared in the Indian media.

“The first reason was that the Chinese are beginning to put pressure on him to go against the Dalai Lama and to support the Panchen Lama selected by them [Chinese government]. The Karmapa did not want to be put in this position of going against the Dalai Lama. So he decided to leave Tibet,” Karma Topden explained.

“The second reason for coming to India was that he wanted to complete his spiritual studies. For the completion of his spiritual studies, he has to receive the oral teachings according to Karma Kagyu tradition from the gurus of his lineage who had also received them directly from the 16th Karmapa directly, his predecessor. All these gurus were in India. And since they could not come to Tibet to give these teachings, he decided to come to India so that he could receive the teachings and complete his spiritual education,” he continued.

“The third reason was that he wanted to see the Dalai Lama and to receive His Holiness’ blessings.”

“The fourth reason was that he had heard a lot about the activities of his illustrious predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, all his activities in India and in Sikkim where he settled in Rumtek Monastery which became his headquarter in India. As he heard a lot about this, he wanted to come to India to visit and see these places. Also he had heard a lot about the activities of his predecessor in India from where traveled to other countries and spread the words of Dharma and set up various Karma Kagyu centres all around the world. So the 17th Karmapa wanted to follow the footsteps of the 16th Karmapa. Believing and knowing that India is a free country unlike Tibet, where there is suppression and religious freedom is not allowed, he had come to India so that he could freely gain spiritual knowledge from his gurus and freely practice and preach Dharma in India and in the rest of the world. That was the main reason for his coming to India.”

“Fifthly, when he came to India he was given refuge in India. He is very grateful for the refuge given to him by the government and people of India and for all the courtesies and hospitalities shown to him throughout his stay in India. He continuous to be very grateful and shall remain grateful always to the people and government of India. Throughout his stay in India, he has been conscious of his obligations to India and he has prayed for the welfare of the people of India and he continues to do that even now.”

In concluding the press statement from the Karmapa he added, “he assures me that he has not done anything while in India in any way to undermine and harm the interest of India. India is his second home and he is happy here. He looks forward to India becoming a powerful and prosperous nation. He has no intention in any way of undermining anything against the interest of India. This is what he has asked me to convey.”

Feb 16, 2011

HT reports closure on this case:

The Centre is understood to have given a clean chit to Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa Ugyen Trinely Dorji in the case relating to the huge foreign currency haul from his house, saying the money had come in the form of donations and offerings by devotees. This was the conclusion arrived by the central government, after its agencies probed the case following the recovery of foreign currency to the tune of Rs 7.5 crore from the Gyuto Monastery, the transit home of the Karmapa, in Himachal Pradesh, sources said.

“The foreign currency recovered during raids are donations and offerings from devotees and the affairs of the Trust backed by him are managed by the trustees. It happened due to the callousness of his associates and lack of knowledge of laws,” a source said, adding the Karmapa’s associates had made the mistake of keeping such a huge amount of foreign currency.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Karmapa’s followers met Union Home secretary Gopal K Pillai on Wednesday and apprised him about various aspects of the case. The delegation pleaded for the innocence of the Karmapa and assured all cooperation from his side to the ongoing probe.

The Home secretary is learnt to have asked the delegation to advise the Karmapa and his associates about existing laws, to hire chartered accountants to manage his funds and to register the trust under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Is this an opaque case of a state government mounting a smear campaign? The press has essentially only reported briefings and statements till now. Will it follow up on the motivations behind this strange case? Given the lack of investigative journalism in India, it hardly seems likely.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

January 29, 2011 at 4:25 am

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