Sikkim devotees eye welcoming Karmapa in July

17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. (Photo courtesy: Karmapa Foundation)
17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. (Photo courtesy: Karmapa Foundation)

(, Jun18, 2018) – The Buddhist community of the northeastern Indian border state of Sikkim has ended on Jun 16 a 707-day relay hunger strike following an assurance by Union Home Minister Mr Rajnath Singh that the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje would be allowed to visit and move freely in the state except Rumtek, reported the Jun 16. The Kamtsang Kagyu lineage head of Tibetan Buddhism is currently on an extended stay in the USA. His followers are looking for him to visit the state in July.

Mr Singh’s assurance came after a recent decision by the Cabinet Committee on Security to allow the Karmapa to visit Sikkim, except Rumtek. It followed repeated appeals from the people and the Chief Minister of the state.

Rumtek, the principal seat in exile of the Karmapas, is currently a subject of a court case due to a rival claimant to the Karmapa lineage. Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, endorsed by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, enjoys overwhelming acceptance by the Buddhist community of Sikkim.

The current Karmapa fled Chinese ruled Tibet in Dec 1999, citing lack of freedom to pursue his religious study, and arrived at Dharamshala early next year. India only recently permitted him to travel within India, except Sikkim, and thereafter abroad as well. He has all throughout stayed at the Gyuto Monastery, Dharamshala.

With support from the state’s Chief Minister, the Buddhist community of Sikkim has long been demanding that the government of India permit the Karmapa to visit the state. When New Delhi remained unmoved, monk’s started a relay hunger strike.

The decision to end the hunger strike was taken at a meeting of monks at the Bhutia-Lepcha House in the state’s capital Gangtok where it has been going on.

“For now the verbal assurance has been given by the Union Minister, Rajnath Singh. Now we should start prepare to welcome Karmapa in the state. Now finally Karmapa will take his seat which is the dream of many devotees and followers,” Denzong Lhadey, the Coordinator of the hunger strike, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The Kamapa, upon being informed of New Delhi’s go-ahead and assurance, was quoted as having written to Denzong Lhadey, ”Today I was both happy and pleased to receive your letter and invitation to visit the state of Sikkim during Jul 2018. It has indeed been a long time since HH the 16th Karmapa Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, passed into Parinirvana in 1981. Please be assured that it is my heartfelt intention to be with the people of Sikkim as soon as possible. However, as yet, I do not know the exact day of my return to India. I am diligently seeking to discuss this with representatives of the Government of India and expect to complete this discussion within the next few weeks. I will keep you informed as my plan becomes clearer. I will also review with keen interest and carefully consider the schedule after consulting with various monasteries and organisations across Sikkim.”


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