There are currently two separately enthroned 17th Gyalwang Karmapas: Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje. The Karmapa is the spiritual leader of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The divisiveness started in the early and mid 1990s, with semi-public accusations of impropriety from those closely involved, and continued for several years thereafter. The recognition of the 17th Karmapa created a split within the Karma Kagyu lineage. Tai Situ Rinpoche recognized Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa, and Shamar Rinpoche disagreed and chose Trinley Thaye Dorje as the rightful claimant to the title of the 17th Karmapa. As the years passed, separate sets of organizations and highly recognized lamas, or teachers, supported one Karmapa or the other.
In 2018, Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje met for the first time to begin creating a personal relationship with one another and to encourage their spiritual communities to heal the divisions and join in efforts to help preserve the Karma Kagyu tradition. In 2020, Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje jointly announced they would work together to find the next incarnation of the Shamar Rinpoche, historically considered second in importance to the Karma Kagyu lineage after the Gyalwang Karmapa, similar to the Panchen Lama's role as second in importance in the Gelugpa school after the Dalai Lama.
Historic disputes regarding the 17th Karmapa controversy are the focus of numerous accounts, reports, journalism articles, and are also the subject of several books that typically support one or the other candidate. Despite an intriguing history, the high lamas involved are meeting with each other on good terms and issuing statements that they are confident there will be an amicable solution.
Conflicts with previous Karmapa recognitionsEdit
This is not the first controversy around a Karmapa incarnation. The recognition of the Karmapa incarnations are of central importance in the Karma Kagyu lineage. The 8th, 10th, and 12th incarnations, as well as the widely renowned 16th Karmapa, experienced minor conflicts during their recognitions, each of which was ultimately resolved.
Re-emergence of Recognition of Shamar RinpocheEdit
The 14th Shamar Rinpoche, nephew of the 16th Karmapa, traveled alongside him during his escape to Bhutan from Tibet. In 1964 the eight year old was granted permission by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government to be officially recognized. With the 172-year ban on recognizing Sharmapa reincarnations lifted, Shamar Rinpoche reclaimed his place as senior student and deputy of Karmapa. The ban began after the 10th Sharmapa was accused by members of the Karma Kagyu lineage of being a traitor and of instigating the Sino-Nepalese War between Tibet and Nepal. The ban effected Shamar Rinpoche's lineage and supporting administration, but his enthronement in 1964 at the Rumtek Monastery allowed him back into his historical position as the second ranking lama of the Karma Kagyu lineage, following the 16th Karmapa.
Incarnations like the 12th Sharmapa, son of the 15th Karmapa, enjoyed more leniency—but not official recognition—from the government thanks to the close personal relationship of the Karmapa and the 13th Dalai Lama.
Collaboration to recognize a Karmapa incarnationEdit
The Karmapas traditionally predict their conscious rebirths, and prepare their predictions for their closest students so as to be located after birth. Although not strictly defined, the usual process to locate, recognize and enthrone a Karmapa incarnation was facilitated quietly by those previously close students and collaboratively and behind closed doors. Multiple judgements ensured harmony and continuity of the lineage. Among the collaborative participants, the Shamar Rinpoches have played an important role in confirming the identity of the Karmapas for several centuries. The Tai Situ Rinpoches and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoches have played similar roles, as the circumstances dictated.
Role of the Sharmapa RinpochesEdit
The Shamar Rinpoches have had a hand in recognizing seven of the Karmapas and were often successors and teachers of the Karmapas—the relationship between the two has been characterized as being like father and son or as brothers. The 5th Dalai Lama, for instance, affirmed the Karmapa and Sharmapa incarnations as having equal status, and in early texts the Shamarpa referred to as the "Red Hat Karmapa". Upon his enthronement in 1964 the 14th Sharmapa was named by 16th Karmapa as his spiritual heir and was the senior-most lama of the lineage during the controversy, but not the lead regent for identifying the reincarnation. That role was given to Jamgon Kongtrul, until his tragic death in a car accident in 1992.
Role of Tai Situ Rinpoches and Gyaltsap RinpochesEdit
The Tai Situ Rinpoches and Gyaltsap Rinpoches have also had a close historical relationship with the Karmapas. The Tai Situ Rinpoches have identified—either independently or in conjunction with the Shamar or Gyaltsap rinpoches—four of the Karmapa incarnations, and similarly the Gyaltsap rinpoches have helped identify five incarnations (both include recognition of Ogyen Trinley Dorje).
Chokgyur Lingpa's Prophecy of 17th Karmapa and Tai Situ RinpocheEdit
A prophesy was made by the 19th century Nyingma master, Chokgyur Lingpa, based a vision he had whereby Guru Rinpoche manifests as past and future Karmapas, and the minds of the 17th Karmapa and Tai Situ Rinpoche are "inseparably one" as they sit together under a "verdant tree on a Rocky mountain".
While disputing the interpretation of the prophesy, the Sharmapa, while supporting his selection of Trinley Thaye Dorje maintained it could be reinterpreted to correspond to the 16th Karmapa and the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche.
The 14th Dalai LamaEdit
In Tibet, historically the 14th Dalai Lama's Gelug school had a strong political and spiritual leadership role, which was tempered by the autonomy of the three other schools of Tibetan Buddhism - the Kagyu school, the Nyingma school and the Sakya school. The Nyingma school has always been non-political.
The 13th Dalai Lama sought to modernize the political state, and the young 14th Dalai Lama interacted with the Communist political system after 1949, then attempted peace talks while accompanied by the Panchen Lama and others in 1955. After China's invasion turned brutal in 1959 and his incarnation was threatened, he went into exile and repudiated all agreements with China. In 1963, the Tibetan government in exile introduced democratic reforms, and in 2011 the Dalai Lama resigned from his political position to continue as a spiritual leader.
During this period in 1992, after Ogyen Trinley Dorje was located and recognized, the search committee then led by Tai Situ Rinpoche requested the Dalai Lama to bestow the Buktham Rinpoche seal, or the Buktham Letter, on the recognized 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The seal was made official on 30 June 1992. Supporters of Ogyen Trinley Dorje maintain that the 14th Dalai Lama has the spiritual authority to recognize an incarnation of the Karmapa.
The Karmapa lineage is the oldest tulku lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, predating the Dalai Lama lineage by more than two centuries. Followers of the Karma Kagyu lineage historically have considered themselves independent of the Dalai Lama's authority and see the Karmapas as spiritually equal to the historical Buddha.
Supporters of Trinley Thaye Dorje claim any previous involvement of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government was merely a final stamp of approval following an individual monastery's (or lama's administration) independent decision.
Chinese attempts to control incarnationsEdit
Within the Antireligious campaigns in China is an ongoing directive to halt the recognition of high tulkus and control the naming of Dalai Lamas, Panchen Lamas, Karmapas, and Sharmapas, in order to gain spiritual and temporal control of Tibet and of Tibetan Buddhism.
Official Beijing decrees were initiated in 1991, then revised as the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 to outlaw the recognition of tulkus and lamas without China's state approvals. An ineffective lottery system was reported following the ban of the Sharmapas.
Corruption of the Tibetan tulku systemEdit
In the centuries following the inception of the system used to identify reincarnate lamas (beginning in the 13th century with the second Karmapa) the process became increasingly corrupted and politicized by those living outside of monastic ordination systems, as the process also led indirectly to sources of ordinary wealth and power in Tibet. Highly recognized teachers like the Dalai Lama and Shamar Rinpoche have bemoaned the practice as belonging to feudal times and advocated revamping the system in way that divorces the reincarnate teacher from administrative politics and allows them to distinguish themselves.
Karmapa controversy historyEdit
Soon after the parinirvana of the 16th Karmapa in 1981, a disagreement began brewing when head students of the Karmapa recounted apposing stories on what direction, and at whose feet, relics landed from the 16th Karmapa's funeral pyre. Years passed with no obvious clues of where to find the next incarnation, and the controversy came to the forefront when Shamar Rinpoche broke from the group of regents, claiming Tai Situ Rinpoche was not following protocol.
Initial search committeeEdit
- The 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul - lead regent, third-ranking spiritual leader
- The 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche - second-ranking spiritual leader
- The 12th Tai Situpa - fourth-ranking spiritual leader
- The 12th Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche - fifth-ranking spiritual leader
This regency was officially dissolved by 1984, but the four Rinpoches still referred to themselves as "regents" when the prediction letter was interpreted in 1992. As the collaborative group, they had the authority to recognize the next Karmapa. As years went by, the pressure to find the next incarnation of the Karmapa mounted.
Discovery of prediction LetterEdit
One central issue in the recognition of the 17th Karmapa is a prediction letter Tai Situ claimed was written by the 16th Karmapa. It indicated the parents, location and year of the 17th Karmapa's rebirth.
In January 1981, nine months before the 16th Karmapa's parinirvana, the 12th Tai Situpa maintains that the Karmapa gave him an amulet with a yellow brocade cover, telling him, "This is your protection amulet. In the future, it will confer great benefit." Although Tai Situpa wore the locket on a gold chain for about a year after the Karmapa's death, he moved it to a side pocket, not realizing its significance or that it contained a message. Tai Situpa states that he followed an intuition to open the amulet and found in late 1990 the third prediction letter, inside an envelope marked "Open in the Metal Horse Year".
The Letter Reads:
Oh Marvel! Self-realization is continual bliss.
The dharmadhatu has neither center nor periphery.
To the north of here, in the east [of the Land] of Snow ,
Lies the country where Divine thunder spontaneously blazes .
In a beautiful place of nomads [marked] by the sign of "that which fulfills all desires" ,
The method is Döndrup and the wisdom is Lolaga .
[Born] the year of the one used for the earth 
With the miraculous and far-reaching sound of the white one ,
He is the one known as the Karmapa.
Sustained by the lord Dönyö Drubpa ,
Impartial, he fathoms all directions.
Neither close to some, nor distant from others, he is the protector of all beings:
The sun of the Buddha's Dharma that benefits others blazes continually.
In translating the letter, Lama Kunsang, Lama Pemo, and Marie Aubele state: "The numbered lines can be interpreted as follows:
- 1.) "Ogyen Trinley Dorje was born in Kham, a region of Eastern Tibet
- 2.) "The Last Testament uses the term "Nam Chak," "Heavenly Iron"; the place of birth of the Karmapa is called "Lhathok," "Divine Thunder."
- 3.) "That which fulfills all desires "refers to the "cow that fulfills all desires," a term found in Buddhist texts; the name of the nomadic community where the child was born is "Bagor," and "Ba" means "cow."
- 4.) "Here, the sixteenth Karmapa indicates very clearly the names of his future parents. In Buddhist texts, method and wisdom refer to the masculine and feminine principles, respectively.
- 5.) "The ox is habitually used to work the land: the year of the birth of the Karmapa was that of the Wood Ox .
- 6.) "This refers to the sound of the conch that, soon after the birth of the Karmapa, resounded miraculously in the sky.
- 7.) "Dönyö Drubpa (Skt. Amoghasiddhi) is one of the five dhyanibuddhas, who represents the family of activity, karma. Dönyö refers to the twelfth Tai Situpa, whose name is Pema Dönyö Nyinje, indicating that he will become the root lama of the seventeenth Karmapa."
Shamar Rinpoche questioned the letter's authenticityEdit
Shamar Rinpoche questioned the authenticity of Tai Situ's prediction letter presented in 1992. He requested a forensic examination to prove or disprove its age and authorship. Shamar Rinpoche stated the inner letter appeared to be older than its outer envelope, and claimed the handwriting and grammar did not match that of the 16th Karmapa.  Tai Situ rejected the idea of a scientific evaluation.
Recognizing the current KarmapaEdit
An academic expert in the field, Geoffrey Samuel, testified in court that while the recognition of Ogyen Trinley "appears to have been accepted by a majority of Karma Kagyu monasteries and lamas, there remains a substantial minority of monasteries and lamas who have not accepted Ogyen Trinley as Karmapa. In particular, these include the Shamar Rinpoche, who historically has been the person most directly involved in the process of recognition." It is difficult to produce an objective description of the events.
Among the major tulkus of the Karma Kagyu lineage, which includes the 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, the 9th Thrangu Rinpoche, the 7th Mingyur Rinpoche, and the 9th Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, they hold Ogyen Trinley Dorje to be the 17th Karmapa, while the majority of lamas and Karma Kagyu sangha also agree. Trinley Thaye Dorje has been recognized by Shamar Rinpoche, Lama Jigme Rinpoche, Topga Yulgyal Rinpoche, Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the Venerable Khenchen Rinpoche Drupon Trinley Paljor, and the Fourth Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche.
The government of the People's Republic of China officially recognized Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa in 1992. The People's Republic of China has continued to recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the Karmapa even after he departed Tibet and arrived in India in January 2000.
The Beru Khyentse Rinpoche holds a distinct minority view, saying he believes both Karmapas are legitimate. He states "it is possible that there can be two Karmapas in order to benefit sentient beings because the Karmapa can manifest in many different forms" and writes that the 14th Karmapa highlighted that "in many universes a hundred million Karmapas have manifested. The Karmapa is also the Buddha's emanation, thus until all the thousand Buddhas have come and their doctrine is not diminishing, my activity of the Karmapa emanations will not end."
Court battle over Rumtek Monastery in 1998Edit
Control of Rumtek Monastery, which was the seat of the 16th Karmapa in exile, has been the subject of a legal contest filed in 1998 "by the Karmapa Charitable Trust, [and the plaintiffs] Shri T.S. Gyaltshen, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, and Shri Gyan Jyoti Kansakar against the State of Sikkim, The Secretary of Ecclessiastical Affairs and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche. The plaintiffs seek to evict the monks and other occupants of Dhama Chakra Centre, Rumtek and to possess and administer the monastery for their own purposes."
Previously in 1982, Shamar Rinpoche and his cousin Topga Yugyal gained control of the estate at Rumtek monastery a month after the 16th Karmapa's passing. Three monasteries in Bhutan were sold, and control was gained over the Karmapa Charitable Trust, organized in 1961 by the 16th Karmapa. Disagreements over the Sharmapa's and Topga's financial dealings began in 1988.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje's followers maintain that the trust was solely established for the sake of seeing to the welfare of the Karmapa's followers, providing funds for the maintenance of the monastery, and for the monks' medical fees. The administration of the monastery was the responsibility of the Tsurphu Labrang, which was organized as a legal entity for a related case: The Indian Supreme Court was considering a motion made to join Tsurphu Labrang with the defendants in order to speed the process, but the motion was denied. The case by plaintiffs Shamar Rinpoche et al. remains on the docket of the District Court.
Ogyen Trinely Escapes Tibet in 1999Edit
In late 1999, 14-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje decided that the restrictions placed on him by the PRC government at Tsurphu limited his ability to teach his disciples and receive teachings from lineage masters. He escaped over the Himalayas in the middle of winter, evading Chinese authorities and making his way through Nepal and on to Dharamsala, India, arriving on January 5, 2000.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje meeting with Shamar Rinpoche in 2007Edit
According to both the official Shamarpa website and an official Ogyen Trinley Dorje website, Ogyen Trinley Dorje met with the Shamarpa in the Oberoi International Hotel in New Delhi on 9 January 2007. Ogyen Trinley Dorje had mentioned his desire to meet the Shamarpa, and requested Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche arrange a personal meeting with him.
The Shamarpa had declined the first invitation in 2005, which was received by telephone call from Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, because to have accepted it "at that time would invite unwarranted suspicions from the India government upon himself." According to Dawa Tsering, spokesperson for the administration of Shamar Rinpoche, "He (Urgyen Trinley Dorje) was confident that this meeting would bring peace in the Kagyu School in general and thus help in flourishing Buddha Dharma. This meeting has created a basis to re-unite all in the Dharma Sangha. Therefore, such an initiative should be appreciated by all."
According to the message of International Karma Kagyu Buddhist Organization published on www.karmapa-issue.org: "To underscore his willingness to be supportive, Shamar Rinpoche even provided the necessary help for Ugyen Trinlay Dorje to obtain Indian government's approval for his recent visit to the U.S., though at the same time maintaining the stance that Thrinlay Thaye Dorje is the traditional Karmapa."
Dalai Lama and Shamar Rinpoche meet in 2010Edit
The Dalai Lama and Shamar Rinpoche met on the 13th of August, 2010 at the Dalai Lama's residence to discuss ways of ending the controversy. Shamarpa wrote, "Although this matter is not easily resolved, since it is connected to the politics of China and India as well, with His Holiness Dalai Lama's blessing and support I am confident that there will be an amicable solution, which will be beneficial for the Karma Kagyü lineage, as well as for Tibetan Buddhism in general."
India accuses Ogyen Trinley Dorje of being a Chinese spy in 2011 and Narendra Modi's governmentEdit
In February 2011, Ogyen Trinley Dorje was accused of being a Chinese spy by government officials of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, allegations to which the Karmapa has denied. India's intelligence report is said to be lacking sufficient evidence. Money in the amount of $1 million cash was found in his monastery, part of it in Chinese yuan later found to be legitimate donations.
Narendra Modi's government coming to power has changed dynamics towards Karmapa case. In March 2011, the Indian central government released some of the travel restrictions on Ogyen Trinley Dorje, allowing him to travel out of Dharamsala where his movements were restricted since 2000. In 2013, Karmapa launched Indian national security advisor Ajit Dovel's book. In 2015, Amitabh Mathur, Indian govt's Tibet liaison officer till sept 2018, recognized the contributions of Karmapas in spreading Vajyarani to the West, and spoke favourably the 17th Karmapa candidate Ogyen Trinley. In May 2015, Karmapa travelled to UK from India, and has since not returned to India.By then, Modi government has already lifted all travel restrictions placed by the previous government, except to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. In April 2018, Karmapa Ogyen Trinley's mentor Tai Situ Rinpoche was invited by Narendra Modi for Buddha Jayanti celebrations while Dalai Lama was not invited.He since gained travel documents from Dominica. Calls for the lifting of India's remaining travel restrictions so the Karmapa can travel to his seat at Rumtek Monastery have multiplied in 2020, as restrictions have been lifted on his travel to Sikkim.
Trinley Thaye Dorje weds in 2017Edit
On 29 March 2017, Trinley Thaye Dorje announced his plans to marry his friend, 36-year-old Rinchen Yangzom, born in Bhutan. The announcement also mentioned he would no longer be performing ordination ceremonies, which are limited to certain vow holders.
India's press reported a loss in official support of his claim to the title of 17th Galwang Karmapa as a result of his disrobing to marry, Reports stated monks at Rumtek monastery, already on a hunger strike in support of Ogyen Trinley Dorje to have access to Sikkim, began marching protests after hearing the news of the marriage.
Trinley Thaye Dorje is not the first Karmapa to marry and have children. The 10th Karmapa fathered several sons and daughters. One of his sons, Norbu Zangpo, was recognized as the Sixth Tsurpu Gyeltsabt. Also, the 15th Karmapa composed a text on how to properly return one's vows. As a Tertön, he had numerous consorts. The 15th Karmapa's children included Khyentsé Özer, who was recognised as the Second Jamgon Kongtrul, and Jamyang Rinpoché, an unrecognised Shamarpa.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje announces break from dharma activities in 2018Edit
In March 2018 Ogyen Trinley Dorje published a video on his official Youtube channel. It was translated by official translator David Karma Choephel. In the video he sets the course for a temporary break from his activities. He proclaims his personal doubt of being as skilled as the previous Karmapas and asks the community to reconcile the division of the Karma Kagyu Lineage
Two Karmapas meet in 2018Edit
In early October 2018, Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje met for a few days at a rural location in France. On October 11, they issued a joint statement:
We are both very pleased to have had this opportunity to meet and get to know each other in a peaceful and relaxed environment. We both had this wish for many years, and we are gratified that this wish has now been fulfilled.
The purpose of our meeting was primarily to spend time together so that we could establish a personal relationship. We were able to talk together freely and to learn about each other for the first time. We were thus able to begin what we expect will develop into a strong connection.
While we were together we also talked about ways that we could work to heal the divisions that have unfortunately developed within our precious Karma Kagyu lineage in recent years. We view it as our duty and responsibility to do whatever we can to bring the lineage together.
This undertaking is critically important for the future of the Karma Kagyu lineage as well as for the future of Tibetan Buddhism and the benefit of all sentient beings. We therefore ask everyone within the Karma Kagyu community to join us in our efforts to strengthen and preserve our lineage. We view it as our collective responsibility to restore harmony to our tradition which is a lineage of wisdom and compassion.
- Rinpoche, Thrangu (24 May 2000). "THE KARMAPA CONTROVERSY". Retrieved 24 July 2020.
- Lehnert, Tomek (1998). Rogues in Robes: An Inside Chronicle of a Recent Chinese-Tibetan Intrigue in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Diamond Way Buddhism. Blue Dolphin Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 9781577330264.
- Nydahl, Lama Ole (2011). Riding the Tiger, Twenty Years on the Road: The Risks and Joys of Bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West (3rd ed.). Blue Dolphin Publishing. pp. 135–137. ISBN 978-0931892677.
- Gaphel, Tenzin (12 June 2014). "Shamar Rinpoche passes away in Germany". The Tibet Express.
- Tibet Sun Newsroom, First meeting of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje, (11 October 2018), https://www.tibetsun.com/news/2018/10/11/first-meeting-of-karmapa-ogyen-trinley-dorje-and-trinley-thaye-dorje
- Kagyu Office France, "Communiqué conjoint de Sa Sainteté Ogyèn Trinlé Dorjé et Sa Sainteté Trinlé Thayé Dorjé", 11 October 2018 [posted 12 Octobre 2018], http://www.kagyuoffice-fr.org/17e_karmapa/
- Joint Statement of HH Thaye Dorje and HH Ogyen Trinley Dorje, 11 October 2018, https://www.karmapa.org/joint-statement-of-his-holiness-trinley-thaye-dorje-and-his-holiness-ogyen-trinley-dorje/
- Atwood, Haleigh (11 October 2018). "Two claimants to "Karmapa" title release joint statement calling for unity". Lion's Roar. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
- Lefferts, Gabriel (11 October 2018). "Karmapas Unite". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
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- Emily Dimao Newton, "Karmapas Work Together to Identify Reincarnated Lama", Tricycle, 18 February 2020, https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/karmapas-work-together/
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Following his meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the 13th of August, 2010 Shamar Rinpoche stated: “I met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at in Dharamsala at His Holiness’ residence. We had a discussion for approximately one and a half hours and had a very important and detailed exchange of views regarding the ongoing Karmapa controversy and its possible solution. Although this matter is not easily resolved, since it is connected to the politics of China and India as well, with His Holiness Dalai Lama’s blessing and support I am confident that there will be an amicable solution, which will be beneficial for the Karma Kagyü lineage, as well as for Tibetan Buddhism in general.”
- Rinpoche, Thrangu. "THE KARMAPA CONTROVERSY". Retrieved 29 July 2020.
- Wong, Sylvia (2010). The Karmapa Prophecies. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 978-81-208-3480-4.
- Bausch, Gerd (2018). Radiant Compassion, The Life of the 16th Gyalway Karmapa, Volume 1. Edition Karuna. p. 41. ISBN 978-3982042916.
- Kunzang, Eric Pema; Binder-Schmidt, Marcia (2005). Blazing Splendor, The Memoirs of the Dzogchen Yogi Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Hong Kong: Rangjung Yeshe Publications. pp. 152–154.
- Dornma, Yeshe (1992). The Kunzig Shamarpas of Tibet, The Red Crown Lama of Tibet. Yeshe Dornma Narrates. p. 47. ASIN B0000CP1YA.
The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa with the eight year old Shamarpa left Tibet to settle in Sikkim. Finally when permission was sought, for the official recognition of the Kunzig Shamarpa, it was granted by H.H. the 14th Dalai-Lama. The enthronement took place in 1964 at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim.
- Van Schaik, Sam (2011). Tibet: A History. Yale University Press. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-300-15404-7.
The Shamar tulku’s role in the Gurkha invasion is disputed by some in the Karma Kagyu school, who argue that he traveled to Nepal on a pilgrimage and then acted as a peacemaker.
- Douglas, Nik; White, Meryl (1976). Karmapa: The Black Hat Lama of Tibet. Luzac & Company LTD. pp. 150–151. ISBN 0718901878.
While he was in Nepal fighting broke out between that country and Tibet. In Lhasa an influential Gelugpa Minister, Tagtsag Tenpai Gonpo, became aware of apolitical opportunity and claimed that Shamar Tulku was instigating the fighting with Nepal. He seized the great Yang Chen monastery of the Shamarpa and an order was passed by the government declaring that all the monasteries of Shamar Tulku must become Gelugpa and that he should never reincarnate again. His ceremonial Red Hat was buried under the floor of the temple of Shamarpa in Lhasa and the building was turned into a court house. In fact Shamar tulku was trying to make peace with the Nepalese and had visited Nepal only for reasons of pilgrimage. He offered a great bell to the Swayambhu Stupa in Kathmandu (it is still to be seen) and then passed away in Nepal at the age of fifty. He had many important disciples. (1742-1792)
- Brown, Mick (2010). The Dance of 17 Lives, The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa. Bloomsbury. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0747571612.
The 10th Shamarpa was a brilliant scholar; fluent in Chinese, Nepali and Hindi, he traveled extensively throughout the Himalayan region, cultivating close relations with the Nepalese royal family. It was these connections that were to lead, ultimately to his downfall. There are conflicting accounts of what actually occurred.
There is another interpretation of this story, however. Some Kagyu historians hold that rather than being a traitor to his country, the 10th Shamarpa was actually the victim of a plot by the ruling Gelugpa political establishment. Fearing the Shamar’s influence, and seeing the opportunity to rid themselves of a long-standing political rival, the Gelugpa took advantage of his presence in Nepal at the time of the Gurkha invasion to brand him as a traitor. According to this version, the Shamar did not take his own life with poison, but died of jaundice.
- Karma Trinlay Rinpoche. "The 14th Shamarpa Mipham Chokyi Lodro In Loving Memory" (PDF).
In 1964, Rinpoche was officially enthroned as the Shamarpa. The 16th Karmapa elevated him publicly to the highest position after himself within the Karma Kagyu order and appointed him as his main heir and as the next lineage holder. The 16th Karmapa addressed at this occasion a prayer of long life to the Shamarpa in which he wrote:
The most exalted, the lord of the lands of snow is Avalokiteśvara.
The coalescence of his essence is the glorious Karmapa.
Inseparable from his three mysteries, in the manner of the three lords,
Is his manifestation, the great emanation; the majestic sun,
Whom I invest now sovereign of the practice lineage's order.
By the power of scattering auspicious flowers of excellent virtue
Combined with the true words of the ṛiṣhi's truthfulness
May he successfully and everlastingly be the sovereign of the order.
- Brown, Mick (2010). The Dance of 17 Lives, The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa. Bloomsbury. p. 223. ISBN 978-0747571612.
We talked about politics, Khenpo Choedrak extemporizing at some length about the historical struggles between the Kagyu and the Gelugpa, and emphasizing the authority of his cousin, the Shamarpa, in the Kagyu hierarchy. When the 16th Karmapa enthroned Shamar in 1964, Choedrak said, he announced that Shamar would be the next lineage holder, and to commemorate the event he had written a prayer of auspiciousness for the Shamarpa. 'It says, "I empower you as the absolute owner of the doctrine of this lineage of mahasiddhas."' This, Choedrak said, was proof of the 16th's wish for Shamar to lead the order. 'I grew up with the Karmapa. He made other announcements to the same effect many times. This is one of my reasons for following Shamar Rinpoche.'
- Lehnert, Tomek (2019). Rogues in Robes, The Karmapa Intrigue in Tibetan Buddhism: An Inside Chronicle (2nd ed.). Diamond Way Press. p. 56. ISBN 9781072495475.
The incarnations of Karmapa and his close disciples each maintained such an entourage whose members jealously guarded their place in the hierarchy of the lineage. When Shamarpa and his household were banned from the public scene, the groups surrounding other eminent Kagyu lamas moved, together with their Rinpoches, one notch higher in the pecking order. Sharmapa's sudden return brought an end to that cozy state of affairs. As he reclaimed his place at senior student to Karmapa, the retinue of Situ Rinpoche was forced one place down in the power system.
- Seegers, Manfred. "The Extraordinary Life of the 14th Shamar Rinpoche". Buddhism Today, Summer/Summer 2017 No. 39. p. 37.
In 1964 he was enthroned as Shamarpa in Rumtek and was reinstated in his positions as the deputy of the Karmapa, which had held in many previous centuries.
- Brown, Mick (2010). The Dance of 17 Lives, The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-0747571612.
I had the impression, I said, that growing up together in Rumtek, the four heart sons were like brothers. Shamar shot me a look, as if to say, where had I got that idea? 'No, no, not like that! In Karma Kagyu history there was always a hierarchy. Karmapa is the spiritual leader. Shamarpa is the second, Tai Situpa is the third, Gyaltsab is the fourth, Pawo Rinpoche is the fifth, and Dawo Rinpoche is the sixth. This system was known as the six spiritual leaders. So we continued that.'
- Dornma, Yeshe (1992). The Kunzig Shamarpas of Tibet, The Red Crown Lama of Tibet. Yeshe Dornma Narrates. p. 43. ASIN B0000CP1YA.
The prediction, in part, came true, when the Shamarpa as Jamyang Rinpoche became the 15th Karmapa's son. Jamyang Rinpoche led a retired but fruitful life. Since a bodhisattva by whatever name is still a bodhisattva, he, in the guise of a "yogi, taught and guided those who had the good fortune to know him; and his blessings radiated beyond to all who were receptive of them. As one, who was fully enlightened, he left his foot-prints indelibly on a rock, as a gentle reminder That some things in life are beyond human scrutiny.
- Lehnert, Tomek (2019). Rogues in Robes, The Karmapa Intrigue in Tibetan Buddhism: An Inside Chronicle (2nd ed.). Diamond Way Press. p. 50. ISBN 9781072495475.
The dynamic personality of Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, managed to uphold, against all odds, Tibet's sovereignty. Insistent on keeping China at bay, the 13th Dalai extended a cooperating hand to the Kagyus and the other lineages, and, after centuries of exclusion, the 15th Karmapa was welcomed in Lhasa as a partner and a friend. For the sake of national unity, the harsh laws targeting rival schools were relaxed. Shamar tulku also benefited from the new political climate. Even though the infamous ban against his rebirth was not lifted, he was being tolerated at Karmapa's side during the 13th Dalai Lama's tenure. However, not everyone approved of such leniency. The ultraconservative factions representing Lhasa's three gigantic Gelug monasteries saw little wisdom in treating the other lineages as equals and consistently undermined the Dalai Lama's efforts to secure a common Tibetan front.
- Samuel, Geoffery (1993). Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 271. ISBN 1-56098-231-4.
At least one senior Kagyudpa lama, the Shamarpa incarnation, continued to have recognized rebirths despite a ban from Lhasa in the late eighteenth century.
- Damcho, Lhundup (2016). Karmapa: 900 Years. KTD Publications. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-934608-28-9.
The process was adapted to the varying circumstances, and appears to be have been highly collaborative. Often one or more people initially search for and identify the Karmapa. Another may confirm that identification in the form of official recognition and yet a third party might conduct the formal enthronement. This can make it difficult to name any one person as having “recognized” a given Karmapa. It also demonstrates the importance of multiple judgments to ensure not only that the right candidate is chosen but also that the harmony needed for the lineage to continue benefiting beings is preserved.
- Rinpoche, Shamar (6 June 2006). "Karmapa Controversy". Letter to Robert Thurman. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
I myself, being a Shamarpa, I am the proof of the authority to recognize Karmapa according to the traditions of the Karma Kagyu lineage. If I had produced a letter which I claimed was written by the 16th Karmapa, then my letter would have been examined by the 16th Karmapa's own administrators if they had any doubts. They have the right to evaluate the authenticity of such a letter if there are any doubts. Additionally, if my personal prediction contradicted a letter which they deemed to authentic, they would have the right to veto my recognition of the Karmapa. That power to veto would depend on the Karmapa's administration proving publicly that the letter is authentic and that it contradicts my prediction. Then the final decision would depend on where the more convincing proof lies.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 86. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
In Tibet, though politics had usually played into tulku searches, the Karmapa's strong labrang had never needed to mount an active public outreach program to support a search for a new Karmapa. The previous Karmapa's chief disciples chose his successor quietly amongst themselves. In exile, by contrast, external alliances and legal cases would determine the future of the Karma Kagyu leader.
- K R Lama vs R Hope, L K Shedrup, T Burchell, E Duckworth (High Court of New Zealand 11 November 2004) ("In pre-modern Tibet (before the Chinese takeover in 1949-59), there was no clear and unambiguous constitutional or legal framework which governed the recognition of reincarnate lamas.").Text
- Damcho, Lhundup (2016). Karmapa: 900 Years. KTD Publications. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-934608-28-9.
- K R Lama vs R Hope, L K Shedrup, T Burchell, E Duckworth (High Court of New Zealand 11 November 2004) ("From the late 14th century onwards, the primary responsibility for recognising and enthroning the Karmapa normally belonged to the Shamarpa. The only real exception was in 1506 (Karmapa 8), where there was a dispute over the recognition and the Shamar's role is not mentioned. (in the cases of Karmapas 7 and 13, the Shamarpa had died at around the same time as the Karmapa, so there was no adult Shamarpa available to take responsibility.)").Text
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 86. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
Born in 1952, Shamar is the fourteenth incarnation in a line of tulkus going back to the thirteenth century. The first Shamarpa Drakpa Sengye (1283-1349) was a student of the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339). For the next ten centuries, the Karmapa and Shamarpa worked as a team, one often recognizing the incarnations of the other.
- Roberts, Peter Alan (17 May 2011). Mahamudra and Related Instructions, Core Teachings of the Kagyu Schools. Wisdom Publications. p. 24. ISBN 9780861714445.
The Fourth Karmapa, Rolpai Dorje (1340-83), recognized his principal pupil and successor, Khacho Wangpo (I3S0-140S), as the rebirth of Rangjung Dorje's pupil Drakpa Senge (1283-1349 ), thus instituting the succession of Shamarpa tulkus, who were often successors and teachers to successive Karmapas.
- K R Lama vs R Hope, L K Shedrup, T Burchell, E Duckworth (High Court of New Zealand 11 November 2004).Text
- Dornma, Yeshe (1992). The Kunzig Shamarpas of Tibet, The Red Crown Lama of Tibet. Yeshe Dornma Narrates. p. 43. ASIN B0000CP1YA.
It was in the prediction of the 5th Shamarpa that the Karmapa and the Shamarpa, in their absolute purity of mind are spiritually inseparable; they are separable, however, in identity as two distinct manifestation--"Manifesting sometimes as father and son, sometimes as brother-like relatives."
- Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama. 3 vols. Lhasa: bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, 1989, Vol. 2. P.359, cit. in: Shamar Rinpoche (2012). A Golden Swan in Turbulent Waters: The Life and Times of the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje. Bird of Paradise Press. ISBN 978-0988176201.
There was a reason why the Red Hat Karmapa (Shamarpa) was so highly honored. Up until the Third Shamarpa Chopal Yeshe, the Shamarpa was just a chief disciple of Karmapa. However, ever since Je Chen-nga Thamchad Khyenpa Chokyi Dragpa (the Fourth Shamarpa) ascended the throne of the Phagdru dynasty, there was no longer any difference between the Red Hat and the Black Hat Karmapas. This was the reason why I afforded them both equal status.
- Roberts, Peter Alan (2007). The Biographies of Rechungpa: The Evolution of a Tibetan Hagiography. Routledge. p. 27. ISBN 978-0415596220.
The fourth Karmapa, Rolpay Dorje (Rol-pa’i rDo-rje) recognised the 7 year-old Khachö Wangpo (mKha’-spyod dBang-po (1350–1405) as the rebirth of the first Shamarpa (Zhwa-dmar-pa) (1283–1349), who had been a pupil of the third Karmapa. The title means Red Hat and the lamas had the titles of Shanak (Black Hat) Karmapa and Shamar (Red Hat) Karmapa, though in practice, the Shanak Karmapas are called Karmapas and the Shamar Karmapas are challed Shamarpas. Khachö Wangpo also identified the child who would become the fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa (bDe-bzhin gShegs-pa) (1384–1415).
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 86. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
Their partnership was enshrined in parallel titles, based on the color of the identical ceremonial miters each lama wore: The Black Hat Karmapa (Karmapa) and the Red Hat Karmapa (Shamarpa).
- Damcho, Lhundup (2016). Karmapa: 900 Years. KTD Publications. pp. 94, 97. ISBN 978-1-934608-28-9.
Situ Rinpoche was the reincarnation of the Sixteenth Karmapa’s own root lama, while Shamar Rinpoche was the senior-most in terms of lineage hierarchy.
- Frammolino, Ralph (1 August 2014). "A Shamarpa without Borders". Tricycle. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
They came to honor the 14th Shamar Rinpoche, Mipham Chokyi Lodro (1952–2014), a spiritual force who understood that staying true to his calling as the second-highest ranking lama of the Karma Kagyu order wouldn’t win him any dharmic popularity contests. To many, he was a polarizing figure, an uncompromising traditionalist.Cite magazine requires
- "Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche". Tricycle.
- "5th Kenting Tai Situpa ~ Chokyi Gyalsten Gelek Palzang". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
The 9th Karmapa bestowed upon the head of the 5th Kenting Tai Situpa a Red Vajra Crown of Radiant Gold, which mirrored the Karmapa's own Black Vajra Crown. The Red Crown symbolizes the inseparability of the Karmapa and Kenting Tai Situpa. Through seeing the Red Crown, which is presented in a ceremony even today by the Kenting Tai Situpa, one is instantly and irreversibly set onto the path of enlightenment and receives the blessing of the Bodhisattva Maitreya.
- "His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche". 18 June 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
The first Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Paljor Döndrup (ca.1424-1486), was a scholar of exceptionally wide learning. He became a disciple and general secretary of the Sixth Karmapa, and offered his service fully to the Karmapas. The Sixth Karmapa designated him to be the tutor of his subsequent incarnation as the Seventh Karmapa.
- "THE KARMAPA CONTROVERSY". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
Chogyur Lingpa was a contemporary of the 13th Karmapa. The predictions were really for the 14th through to the 21st reincarnations. On the prediction about the 17th Karmapa, not much was written. Nevertheless, several important points were recorded. The first important point in the record mentions that the Karmapa was together with Tai Situ Rinpoche on a mountain with plenty of rocks and lush trees. Their minds are inseparably joined as one. On the 15th Karmapa, the record states that he achieved great accomplishment in his yoga practice of meditating on the bindus. The fact that the 15th Karmapa had dakinis with him showed that he did engage in the yoga practice mentioned in the prediction. The prediction on the 16th Karmapa was rather special. The record mentions a double storey building. The 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was seated on the ground floor and a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was placed on the first floor. This illustration clearly shows that the 16th Karmapa was a very pure bikkhu. It also shows that the 16th Karmapa had many pure bikkhu disciples. The description that the 17th Karmapa is together with Tai Situ Rinpoche is meant to show there is disagreement in this reincarnation and the mind of the 17th Karmapa and the mind of Tai Situ Rinpoche are inseparable from each other.
- Wong, Sylvia (2010). The Karmapa Prophecies. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 64. ISBN 978-81-208-3480-4.
Chokgyur Lingpa had a vision of the 17th Karmapa side by side with a Tai Situ Rinpoche. Both the 16th Karmapa and the previous Tai Situ (the 11th Situ Rinpoche) confirmed that Chokgyur lingpa's vision did happen as described, when the two of them were together near Palpung Monastery years before the Chinese takeover of Tibet. Of course, Chokgyur Lingpa's vision was of the 17th Karmapa, but as Geshe Dawa Gyaltsen has explained, the 16th Karmapa (by enthronement order) is actually the 17th Karmapa (by birth order). Therefore it is completely plausible that he would be the Karmapa seen in the vision.
First, in his response to Khyentse Rinpoche, the 16th Karmapa actually confirmed that Chokgyur Lingpa's vision of the 17th Karmapa had already happened. His response in the very least supports Geshe Dawa Gyaltsen's conclusion that it is not the current 17th Karmapa depicted in the vision. The 16th Karmapa's words that day were heard by the elderly disciples of Khyentse Rinpoche, some of whom are still living today, such as the 70-year-old Adro Rinpoche. They are the witnesses.
- Brown, Mick (2010). The Dance of 17 Lives, The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa. Bloomsbury. pp. 170–171. ISBN 978-0747571612.
A further claim of verification for the choice of the boy from Lhatok as the authentic reincarnation of Karmapa, and for Tai Situ’s role in his discovery, would come in the form of a prophecy by the venerated nineteenth-century terton Chogyur Dechen Lingpa, who was supposedly gifted with a vision in which Guru Rinpoche, or Padmasambhava, appeared, surrounded by twenty-one manifestations of the Karmapa – the fourteen who had been born up to that time, and seven who would follow. Chogyur Dechen Lingpa described this vision to a master painter, who rendered it as a thanka. In this, the 17th Karmapa is shown seated under a leafy tree with Tai Situ. Chogyur Dechen Lingpa’s commentary describes the scene: ‘Under a verdant tree, on a rocky mountain is the seventeenth incarnation with Khentin Tai Situpa [Tai Situ]’. The surroundings in the picture bear no resemblance to the rocky moonscape around Tsurphu, but they do evoke the landscape of the Himalayan foothills around Dharamsala, to where the Karmapa would eventually escape. (While acknowledging the authenticity of Chogyur Dechen Lingpa’s vision, the Shamarpa would dispute the interpretation. Between the 14th and 15th Karmapas, he maintained, another incarnation had been born who had died at a very young age. While this incarnation was not formally acknowledged in the lineage, the 15th could, therefore, be counted as the 16th, the 16th as the 17th and so on. Chogyur Dechen Lingpa’s prophecy, the Shamar argued, could therefore be taken to refer to the close relationship between the previous Karmapa and the previous Tai Situ.)
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Chronology of Events, https://www.dalailama.com/the-dalai-lama/events-and-awards/chronology-of-events
- Damcho, Lhundup (2016). Karmapa: 900 Years. KTD Publications. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-934608-28-9.
Nowadays, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s authority to confirm who the real Karmapa is stems not so much from his political role but rather from his universally respected standing as a spiritual master. It is the Dalai Lama’s advanced level of spiritual development and his impeccable ethical integrity that ensure his ability to ascertain who is and is not the Karmapa, as well as his neutrality in the matter.
- P K Vasudeva, Karmapa’s Controversy Leads to the Dalai Lama’s Headache, India Defence Review, (30 August 2018), http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/karmapas-controversy-leads-to-the-dalai-lamas-headache/
- Levine, Norma (2013). The Miraculous 16th Karmapa, Incredible Encounters with the Black Crown Buddha. Shang Shung Publications. p. 62. ISBN 978-88-7834-133-3.
In East Tibet they have independent small kingdoms; they accept the Dalai Lama as just a Lama. They don’t accept him as king for all of Tibet because they have many separate kingdoms. For example my parents are not Karma Kagyu followers but belong to another lineage, the Drigung Kagyu, but I remember when I was a child they were always praying to the Karmapa. Similarly, all over Tibet, Karmapa is like the Buddha.
- Rinpoche, Shamar (6 June 2006). "Karmapa Controversy". Letter to Robert Thurman. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
According to historical records, the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Karmapas never had any approval or examination from the then government, which at that time actually had authority over a country (as opposed to the current government in exile which doesn't have any legal authority). Among those Karmapas, the Dalai Lamas were never called upon to approve or confirm their recognition.
What I am trying to point out to you, is that even when the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan Government had the power as the ruling government of Tibet to impose their interests on the Karma Kagyu they didn't do it; even after the time of the 10th Karmapa, all later Karmapas were recognized by either a Shamarpa, a Drukchen Rinpoche, a Situpa Rinpoche, or sometimes (as in the case of the 13th Karmapa) a favorite Lama from another school.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 134–135. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
As we have seen, Tibetan history gave the Dalai Lama no religious authority to confirm Karmapas, since the Tibetan leader was not a member of the Karma Kagyu school, but belonged instead to the Gelug order. Outsiders are used to hearing the Tibetan leader referred to as the "spiritual leader of Tibet." But such titles need to be seen in cultural context. In Tibet, both government officials and high lamas sported numerous honorific titles for formal occasions. Tibetans even addressed foreign rulers as "emanations" of various bodhisattvas: Genghis Khan and the Mongol chiefs were Vajrapani, Confucius and the Chinese Qing emperors were Manjushri, Queen Victoria was Palden Lhamo, and the Czars of Russia were Tara. This was clearly diplomacy, not religion.
- Wong, Sylvia (2010). The Karmapa Prophecies. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-81-208-3480-4.
In the opinion of Karmapa's administration and of most Karma Kagyu lamas, a Karmapa does not require the Chinese government, or the TGIE [Tibetan Government in Exile], or another Buddhist school to authorize his identity. Karmapa's administration and his monks assert that the legitimacy of Karmapa's reincarnation is not the TGIE's concern. In the past, even when the Gelug government ruled Tibet, it never had any legal, political, historical, administrative, cultural, or religious grounds to recognize the reincarnation of Karmapa, or any other religious teachers in other schools. The exiled government, on the other hand, would have much to gain if it held the authority to recognize a Karmapa - eventually bringing the recognition of the heads of all four schools under its jurisdiction.
- Brown, Mick (2010). The Dance of 17 Lives, The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa. Bloomsbury. pp. 99–100. ISBN 978-0747571612.
In 1793 he[?] introduced a system of divination known as the Golden Urn, to be used in the event of any disputes over the recognition of the Dalai and Panchen Lamas. In this system, the names of the candidates would be inscribed on ivory tiles and drawn from a Golden Urn. The Tibetans accepted the Golden Urn on the understanding that it would be used along with the other traditional forms of divination, but they attached no great significance to it, and it was used only occasionally. It was to be a further 200 years before the precedent of the Golden Urn would be fully exploited by the communist Chinese in the recognition of the 10th Panchen Lama.
- Shakabpa, Tsepon W.D. (1984). Tibet: A Political History. Potala Publications. p. 172.
After the Gurkha war, the Ch'ien-lung Emperor tried to institute a new system by which the reincarnations of high lamas, such as the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, would be determined by lottery. The Emperor sent a golden urn to Tibet in 1793 to be used for the drawing of lots. The names of the candidates were to be written on slips of paper and then one drawn from the urn to determine the reincarnation. Although there were two candidates for the ninth reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the golden urn system was ignored and the selection made by the Tibetan officials themselves. In the ninth month of the Earth-Snake year (18o8), Lungtok Gyatso, the ninth Dalai Lama, was enthroned in the Potala. Representatives from China, Mongolia, Nepal, and Bhutan attended the exotic and impressive ceremony.
- Kuzmin, Sergius (2017). "Management as a Tool of Destruction: Reincarnation of "Living Buddhas" in Modern Chinese Legislation". The Tibet Journal. 42 (1): 37.
Attempts to control the tulku institution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have started long ago. According to some data, only from 1991 to 2007 about 1,000 “living Buddhas” were “confirmed” by the government on Tibetan territories divided between the Tibetan Autonomous Region and provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan. Official agencies of the PRC stated that this was done for satisfaction of the followers’ needs of these “living Buddhas” and “based on past and present experience, thorough investigation, opinions from various circles and respect for the ways of living Buddhas’ succession”, which “is bound to have significant impact on standardizing governance on living Buddha reincarnation, protecting people’s religious freedom, maintaining the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism and the building of a harmonious society”.
- Shakabpa, Tsepon Wangchuk Deden (2010). One Hundred Thousand Moons, An Advanced Political History of Tibet. 1. Brill.
While episodically permitting some degree of liberalization, the Chinese Communist government has asserted control over Tibet in a way that has obstructed religious freedom and has disrupted the continuity of so many dimensions of their traditional life. During the Cultural Revolution, the low point of Tibet’s struggle under Chinese rule, most monasteries, temples, and other institutions of Tibetan religion were destroyed. Periodically since that time, it has been possible for Tibetans to rebuild the structures that were destroyed, and at the same time, attenuated forms of the associated institutions have been reestablished as well. Still, the Tibetans that have not gone into exile but who remain in their own land have, since 1959, had to live without the Dalai Lama, the single figure who most animates the Tibetan religious identity.
- Terhune, Lea (2004). Karmapa: The Politics of Reincarnation. Wisdom Publications. p. 14. ISBN 9780861711802.
Less than a year after the Seventeenth Karmapa's enthronement, and years before his defection, the Dalai Lama expressed his doubts about the young lama's situation in an interview in Dharamsala. "My real worry is that now the Chinese will try to manipulate him," he said, adding that he didn't feel the Chinese would allow the Karmapa to leave so easily as the Kagyu lamas hoped. "They will use every means to brainwash him and then occasionally let him go to the outside world to tell people that inside Tibet religion is completely free, that the situation there is very good, that the Dalai Lama is a splittist, and some such things. I think this would not be of much benefit to the Chinese, but it would be very harmful to the Karmapa." The way the Chinese are handling it, he said, "clearly shows their attitude certainly comes not out of respect but out of some political motivation." He warned Tai Situpa about this, he said, and added, "Now Karmapa Rinpoche must be brought outside [to India]." Eight years later, the Karmapa echoed the Dalai Lama's words during his first press conference on that warm April day in Sidhabari. "I heard it said that in a sense the government of China would make use of me. I was certainly treated very well on a tour I made of China. But I suspected there might be a plan to separate the Tibetan people from the Dalai Lama through me," he told journalists.
- Terhune, Lea (2004). Karmapa: The Politics of Reincarnation. Wisdom Publications. p. 232. ISBN 9780861711802.
By 1998 the Chinese government's cooperation with regard to the Seventeenth Karmapa had evaporated. So did the initial optimism of Tai Situpa and Gyaltsap Rinpoche. It was manifestly clear that the Chinese government had no intention of letting the Karmapa leave the People's Republic of China.
- McKay, Alex (2003). The History of Tibet,The Modern Period: 1895-1959, The Encounter with Modernity. 3. p. 237. ISBN 0-415-30844-5.
Ordinarily the rebirth is found by the oracular prediction of some local lama of repute when in a state of trance. Corruption is general and a large proportion of reincarnations are members of noble or wealthy families.
16. The multiplication of reincarnations seems to be a development due to motives very similar to those which in the middle ages filled our abbeys and cathedrals with the bodies and relics of saints. A reincarnation is a valuable asset to any lamasery on account of the offerings which his holiness attracts, and it is a great temptation to a poor lamasery to magnify the merits of one of its learned monks in order to justify a search for his reimbodiment. The longer the series of reincarnations the more holy the saint becomes.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
Outsiders might think that tulkus were always chosen according to set procedures laid down to ensure the accuracy of the result-that the child located would be the genuine reincarnation of the dead master, as in the scene from the movie Kundun. But in Tibetan history, tulku searches were not always conducted in such a pure way. Because reincarnating lamas inherited great wealth and power from their predecessors they became the center of many political disputes.
Tulkus were often recognized based on non-religious factors. Sometimes monastic officials wanted a child from a powerful local noble family to give their cloister more political clout. Other times, they wanted a child from a lower-class family that would have little leverage to influence the child's upbringing. In yet other situations, the desires of the monastic officials took second place to external politics. A local warlord, the Chinese emperor, or even the Dalai Lama's government in Lhasa might try to impose its choice of tulku on a monastery for political reasons.
- Samuel, Geoffery (1993). Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 285. ISBN 1-56098-231-4.
Disputes over the recognition of trulku are not uncommon, and Tibetans are well aware of the possibility of fraud. In the premodern period, wealthy estates were frequently at issue in such cases and for a family to have its child recognized as a major trulku made a dramatic difference to the family's status and resources.
- Tulku Thondup Rinpoche (2011). Incarnation: The History and Mysticism of the Tulku Tradition of Tibet. Shambala Publications. ISBN 978-1-59030-839-4.
The main cause of corruption, however, is not the lack of merit of the tulku tradition in general or the lack of enlightened lamas who are able to recognize them. Rather, it is the greed for material or social gain that drives the parents, relatives, or other interested people to fabricate stories and manipulate the process in favor of their own candidate. In the past, institutions such as monasteries and nunneries mostly maintained strict and vigilant safeguards against such improper influences. But today, in many cases, the institutions themselves are powerless at best.
- Puri, Shri. "Reincarnation feudal, should end now: Dalai Lama amid successor row with China". Retrieved 27 August 2020.
“Institutions need to be owned by the people, not by an individual. Like my own institution, the Dalai Lama's office, I feel it is linked to a feudal system. In 1969, in one my official statements, I had mentioned it should continue... But now I feel, not necessarily. It should go. I feel it should not be concentrated in a few people only (Tibetans)," he said.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 254. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
Surprisingly, considering that Tibetans believe him to be a high tulku himself, Shamar is one of the loudest critics of filling leadership positions in Tibetan Buddhism with reincarnate lamas. "I have criticized Tibetan monastery administration since I was a boy at Rumtek," Shamar told me. "Choosing tulkus has always been political. Now, this is becoming painfully clear to all. Tulkus are just bodhisattvas. They can reincarnate as humans, but also as fish or birds, for example. They do not need to be recognized officially to do their work to help sentient beings. I pray that bodhisattvas will continue to help our world. But we do not need to make them our administrative leaders. This just leads to too many fake tulkus and cheapens both religion and politics. We should slowly work to abandon this system and begin choosing leading lamas on the basis of their merit."
Shamar believes that lamas who serve as leaders of Buddhist schools or powerful monasteries should be elected by their peers, as in the case of the head lama of Bhutan, known as the Je Khenpo, or the Ganden Tripa of the Gelugpas. Both of these positions are filled by older, experienced lamas who serve a term as leader after being selected by a qualified group of other high lamas. "They are not treated like gods, but merely respected as experienced elders," Shamar said.
- Frayer, Lauren. "Who Will Decide On The Dalai Lama's Successor — His Supporters Or Beijing". Retrieved 27 August 2020.
According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, he has control over his reincarnation: "The person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth," according to the Dalai Lama's official website, "and how that reincarnation is to be recognized."
- Terhune, Lea (2004). Karmapa: The Politics of Reincarnation. Wisdom Publications. p. 141. ISBN 9780861711802.
The record of the Dalai Lamas reveals one ambitious power struggle after another, frequently orchestrated by ministers or regents keen to hang onto their authority. Influential monks were often similarly well connected. Certain aristocratic or otherwise important families generated a suspicious abundance of consequential lamas. Tulkus meant power in a theocracy. While most incarnate lamas are revered as sincere, spiritual figures, these holy individuals can also be exploited by ambitious persons in their entourage. Even strong lamas are not immune to manipulation by people in their families or monasteries. Lamas who cite flaws in the tulku system—including the current Dalai Lama—point out that if a halfway intelligent child is plucked from poverty and oblivion and given every advantage and education, he is likely to make something of himself. And if a child is truly extraordinary, he will naturally distinguish himself."
- Curren, Erik, "Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today" 2006 p. 60
- Lehnert, Tomek (1998). Rogues in Robes: An Inside Chronicle of a Recent Chinese-Tibetan Intrigue in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Diamond Way Buddhism. Blue Dolphin Publishing. pp. 157-158. ISBN 9781577330264.
- Martin, Michele (2003). Music in the Sky: The Life, Art, and Teachings of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Snow Lion Publications. p. 293. ISBN 1-55939-195-2.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. xi-xii,119. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 119. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
- Lehnert, Tomek (1998). Rogues in Robes: An Inside Chronicle of a Recent Chinese-Tibetan Intrigue in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Diamond Way Buddhism. Blue Dolphin Publishing. pp. 36–37. ISBN 9781577330264.
- Wong, Sylvia (2010). "The Karmapa Prophecies". Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 161, 194–195. ISBN 978-81-208-3480-4.
- Terhune, Lea (2004). Karmapa: The Politics of Reincarnation. Wisdom Publications. p. 173. ISBN 9780861711802.
Pressure was mounting from people impatient for the new Karmapa to be identified. It had been ten years since the Sixteenth Karmapa had died. Letters began to arrive at Rumtek from various Tibetan organizations in different parts of India, Nepal and Bhutan asking pointed questions.
- Curren, Erik (2006). Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 120. ISBN 978-81-208-3331-9.
In exile, the Karmapa search would become more democratic and open, but also more chaotic. From the death of the sixteenth Karmapa in 1981, pressure mounted on Rumtek to find his successor. By the mideighties, it seemed to the lamas at Rumtek that everybody had an opinion about how to find the Karmapa, and everybody had a right to voice their opinion. People from all over the Himalayas proposed their infants or unborn children as candidates. The committee began by researching the merits of these claims, some of which were implausible to the point of ridicule. One Sikkimese boy was born three years before the sixteenth Karmapa's death, an obvious disqualification.
- Hannah: Buddhism’s Untold Journey (Motion picture). Connected Pictures. 2014. Event occurs at 53:43.
- Shambhala Publications,The Discovery and Recognition of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, (excerpt from History of the Karmapas: The Odyssey of the Tibetan Masters with the Black Crown By Lama Kunsang, Lama Pemo, Marie Aubele; with full translated text of prediction letter), https://www.shambhala.com/the-discovery-and-recognition-of-ogyen-trinley-dorje/
- Nesterenko, Michel (1992). The Karmapa Papers (Report). p. 71.
Fortunately, we had more than 30 letters handwritten by H.H. the 16th Karmapa dating from the 1970's to the 1981, shortly before he passed away. We asked several Tibetans for comparison who confirmed that the letter, at first sight, looked as if written by His Holiness. But this impression seemed to vanish the more they went into the details, especially for people very familiar with H.H. the 16th Karmapa's handwriting.
- Wong, Sylvia (2010). The Karmapa Prophecies. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 3. ISBN 978-81-208-3480-4.
As well, Karmapa's administration, the KCT, also refused to accept the candidate because physical evidence in Situ's prediction letter called its authenticity into question. The letterhead, the handwriting, the spelling and the many grammatical mistakes in the letter were out of line with the appearance of other writings by the 16th Karmapa.
- Roberts, Elizabeth and John B., "Freeing Tibet: 50 Years of Struggle, Resilience, and Hope" 2009 p. 242
- Curren, Erik, "Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today" 2006 p. 130
- Lehnert, Tomek (1998). Rogues in Robes: An Inside Chronicle of a Recent Chinese-Tibetan Intrigue in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Diamond Way Buddhism. Blue Dolphin Publishing. p. 84
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- Probir Pramanik, Tibetan monk’s marriage to friend reignites tussle over claim to the Karmapa title,(20 April 2017), [For the past nine months, monks of the famous Rumtek monastery, 24km from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, have been holding a relay hunger strike in support of Trinley Dorje. Thaye Dorje’s marriage has now prompted them to hold protest marches as well.... “Bringing the 17th Karmapa to Sikkim has become an emotive issue,” pointed out Karma Tempo Gyaltsen, spokesperson of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front and a legal advisor to chief minister Pawan Chamling."... "Patience has begun to run out and monks across Sikkim are hitting the streets. “There is a consensus among a large section of Buddhist followers here over the selection of Ugyen Trinley and the chief minister himself met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to request him to allow the Karmapa to visit Rumtek,” Gyaltsen said....“With Thaye Dorje abandoning monkhood, it is only a matter of time before he (Ugyen Trinley) is allowed to visit and claim his rightful place on the Karmapa throne at Rumtek,” he added."], https://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tibetan-monk-s-marriage-to-friend-reignites-tussle-over-claim-to-the-karmapa-title/story-gum5lAMAOyeXMkMlqmOmPK.html
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SUPPORTING OGYEN TRINLEY DORJE CANDIDACY:
- The Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa, Mick Brown, Bloomsbury 2004, ISBN 0-7475-7161-9.
- His Holiness The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje: A Biography, Ken Holmes, Altea Publishing 1995, ISBN 0-9524555-4-4.
- Karmapa: The Politics of Reincarnation, Lea Terhune, Wisdom Publications 2004, ISBN 0-86171-180-7.
- Music in the Sky: The Life, Art, and Teaching of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Michele Martin. Snow Lion Publications 2003, ISBN 1-55939-195-2.
SUPPORTING TRINLEY THAYE DORJE CANDIDACY:
- The Buddha Cries: Karmapa Conundrum, Anil Maheshwari, UBS Publishers' Distributors Pvt. Ltd 2000, ISBN 978-8174763051.
- Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today, Erik Curren, Motilal Banarsidass 2006, ISBN 9781577330264.
- Hannah: Buddhism's Untold Journey, (Motion Picture), Connected Pictures 2014.
- Karmapa Papers, Michel Nesterenko, (Report) 1992, ASIN B005PB8EAC
- The Karmapa Prophecies, Sylvia Wong, Motilal Banarsidass 2010, ISBN 978-81-208-3480-4.
- Riding the Tiger, Twenty Years on the Road: The Risks and Joys of Bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West, Lama Ole Nydahl, Blue Dolphin Publishing 2011, ISBN 0931892678.
- Rogues in Robes: An Inside Chronicle of a Recent Chinese-Tibetan Intrigue in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Diamond Way Buddhism, Tomek Lehnert, Blue Dolphin Publishing 2000, ISBN 1-57733-026-9.
- Kagyu Office website and page about Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
- Home Page of Karmapa Thaye Dorje
- The site of the Tai Situpa
- Home Page of Shamarpa
- Site of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
Centres and monasteries
- The website of Rumtek Monastery
- Office of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's center and branches in the United States, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
- List of centers associated with Thaye Dorje
Statements, interviews, documentaries, background material
- Interview with Thrangu Rinpoche on the 17th Karmapa recognitions from the point of view of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's supporters
- The Karmapa Issue website - information on the 17th Karmapa recognitions from the point of view of Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje's supporters
- Reference Materials about the Seventeenth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
- Home Page of the Karmapa Documentary Project
- "The Truth About the Karmapa Controversy", by Shamar Rinpoche
- HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje meets HH Sakya Trizin
- Answers to Questions about the new Karmapa
- August 13th, 2010: Shamar Rinpoche met with His Holiness Dalai Lama
- additional background material, press articles, statements, book reviews...
- Asia Times: India, Sikkim, China and a vexing Tibetan lama
- BBC News story: Who is the Karmapa Lama?
- New York Times:China Creates Specter of Dueling Dalai Lamas
- About the Chinese manipulations of the Karma Kagyü school