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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

The Other Lama

September 23, 2008

Dinker Vashisht
Indian Express
Mon, 22 Sep 2008

Sherab Ling (Palampur), September 22 : Eight years after Ogyen Trinley
Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, made a sensational escape from China,
this leader of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is making his
presence felt here.

The Karmapa is the third most respected leader after the Dalai Lama and
the ‘missing’ Panchen Lama. For a long time after his escape he retained
a low profile, living in the shadow of the Dalai Lama. Even today, he
lives at the Gyuto Monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala, which belongs
to the Dalai Lama and the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. But with
the Dalai Lama ageing and the need for a future leader for the Tibetan
movement being felt, the Karmapa seems to be staking his claim.

This year, he visited the US for the first time. On September 9, he also
undertook his maiden Dharma tour to Ladakh, Lahaul & Spiti and Kinnaur.
On Sunday, he and 13 followers were airlifted from Lahaul after the
region was rendered out-of-bounds following more than 48 hours of snowfall.

Helping Karmapa in his endeavour is Pema Tonyo Rinpoche, the 12th Tai
Situ Rinpoche, who the Kagyu School deems to be the next Buddha and the
man who recognised Ogyen Dorje as the 17th Karmapa.

At Sherab Ling monastery near Palampur, the seat of the Kagyu sect,
there is frenetic activity these days. Usually, the Tai Situ preaches
only twice a year to two batches of 300 disciples each. Each session
lasts about a week. But the lectures this year have prolonged. They are
being imparted to a congregation of 2,000 disciples comprising monks,
children and foreigners.

A luxurious guesthouse is coming up in the monastery complex. With 350
rooms, this facility would significantly increase the existing capacity
of providing lodging for disciples. The old guesthouse could accommodate
only 20 people. Also being developed is an old age home. “The new
guesthouse is so luxurious that we call it the Sherab Ling, Hilton,”
jokes one of the disciples. Sanam, one of the officials at the
monastery, adds, “All these facilities will ensure that Sherab Ling
gains the eminence of the famous Nalanda university of ancient India.”

The Union Government doesn’t give the Karmapa the permission to visit
the Sherab Ling monastery. A new guesthouse is being constructed
exclusively for him at the Gyuto Monastery itself. Tai Situ regularly
visits Gyuto to give lessons to the Karmapa. After all, the Karmapa is
still very young (he turned 23 this year) and it is felt that he still
has to learn many things. As Tenam Lama, spokesperson of Tai Situ, says,
“Tai Situ takes care of the Karmapa’s education and the Karmapa himself
is aware of his responsibilities as a leader of the Tibetan people. As
regards the construction activity, these facilities are meant for the
comfort of disciples whose numbers are gradually increasing.”

However, in Dharamsala, Samdung Rinpoche, PM of the Tibetan government
in exile and the man selected as the representative of the Tibetan
movement by the Dalai Lama, says, “The Karmapa has lot of appeal and a
large following among the Tibetans. But I think it would be
inappropriate and bit too premature to suggest that he is emerging as
the heir apparent to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
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