Karmapa to visit Sarnath next month

Friday, February 18, 2011

DHARAMSALA - As the controversy over the recovery of foreign and Indian currency worth Rs.70 million ($1.5 million) from the 17th Karmapa’s monastery is gradually coming to an end, the Karmapa is headed next month to Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism, monastery officials said.

Even as the state and central intelligence agencies are keeping tabs on his movement, the Tibetan religious leader’s office administration website www.kaguuoffice.org said the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is scheduled to visit Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

“The Karmapa will visit Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath from March 9 to 12 as part of his spring teachings. His visit will be broadcast live on the internet,” a post on the website said.

Confirming his visit, a top monastery functionary told IANS Friday: “It’s a routine visit of His Holiness. He will attend religious ceremonies and bless the devotees. It was planned long back and got a confirmation from government officials.”

This would be the first visit of the Karmapa ever since the controversy arose over the recovery of huge unaccounted money, the bulk of it Chinese yuans and $600,000, during raids on the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery on the outskirts of this town, where he has been residing since 2000.

Investigating agencies are still baffled over the recovery of neatly packed Chinese bundles that did not seem like money offered by the devotees as claimed by the Karmapa and his functionaries.

Denying all allegations, the Karmapa had told the investigating agencies that the money seized during the raids on his monastery was given by his devotees and he was not managing any financial affairs.

Seven people, including the Karmapa’s aide Rubgi Chosang, popularly known as Shakti Lama, are still in police custody.

Deki Chungyalpa, adviser to the Karmapa Office of Administration, told IANS: “He is regularly attending the morning-prayer session (in the monastery) and gives public audience as per his scheduled programmes (every Wednesday and Saturday).”

However, his aides have avoided his interaction with mediapersons after the controversy.

Monastery functionaries are quite upbeat after the union home ministry, while signalling a clean chit to the Karmapa in the controversy, Wednesday asked them to register the Karmae Garchen Trust that the Karmapa heads with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and to apprise monastery functionaries, including the Karmapa, on the Indian laws.

A delegation of the monastery officials met Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai in Delhi and apprised him regarding the role of the spiritual leader in managing financial affairs.

Ever since the Karmapa had mysteriously escaped to India in January 2000 with a few close aides from the Tsurphu monastery near Lhasa, the government of India has restricted his movements. He is allowed to move freely within a 10-12 km radius of his monastery. Beyond that, he has to take police permission.

In the Tibetan religious hierarchy, he is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.

The present Karmapa is the 17th reincarnation of the sect’s founder. The headquarters of the sect is in the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, set up by the 16th Karmapa. The government of India has banned the entry of the 17th Karmapa to the monastery.

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