Home India News After cash, Karmapa faces new controversy in contender

After cash, Karmapa faces new controversy in contender

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu: The Karmapa, the head of one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhists, who has just survived a controversy over large amounts of foreign and Indian currency found in his monastery in India’s Himachal Pradesh, now faces a third contender to the spiritual title.

Sikkim-born Dawa Sangpo Dorje is the third contender for the spiritual title, and at a press conference in Kathmandu Monday asserted that Ogyen Trinley Dorje was not the rightful reincarnation of the Karmapa, Tibetan spiritual leader Dusum Khyenpa who died in 1193 AD. Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the monk recognised by the Tibetan government in exile in India and the Dalai Lama.

Since Dusum Khyenpa’s death, the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhists believes he was born 16 times more, in keeping with the Tibetan tradition of reincarnation of spiritual leaders with supernatural powers.

However, after the death of the 16th Karmapa – Rangjung Rigoe Dorje – in 1981, different groups put up different candidates for the post of the 17th Karmapa.

The Dalai Lama-recognised Ogyen’s claim has been challenged by Trinley Thaye Dorje, a 28-year-old who like Ogyen, was born in Tibet and escaped to India.

Dawa Sangpo, the third challenger, was born in north Sikkim, making him the first India-born contender for the title.

The 34-year-old, who has a fan following in Sikkim, started a renewed campaign in the Indian state this year to claim the disputed title.

The Sikkim Karmapa Committee, formed to push his claim, is also demanding that the Rumtek monastery in Sikkimese capital Gangtok, which was barred to all Karmapa claimants after the ownership tussle, be opened to Dawa Sangpo.

“I am ready to undergo examinations to prove my claim,” Dawa Sangpo said in his Kathmandu press conference Monday.

“I am ready to undergo scientific and traditional examinations as well as one for testing supernatural powers,” he added.

He also said it was a mistake to recognise Ogyen as the 17th Karmapa. His followers are saying Ogyen’s image was tarnished by the controversy that erupted in India this year following the raids on his monastery and suspicions that he could be a Chinese spy as a large amount of the Chinese yuan currency was found during the raids.

Ogyen maintained the money was donated by devotees and the Indian authorities, after subsequent investigations, gave him a clean chit.