Monday, February 7, 2011

Cloud of suspicion hangs over Tibetan Karmapa

A cloud of suspicion hangs over the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorje, after he was questioned again by Indian investigating agencies over unaccounted money totaling over a million US dollars.

A string of Indian central government agencies attempt to get to the bottom of the recovery of unaccounted funds from 25 different countries in possession of 17th Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorje. Nonetheless many Tibetans are standing by their leader, the Karmapa. He is the third most important Tibetan spiritual leader, after the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. Buddhist monks and devotees, including foreigners, gathered in a show of support near Dharamshala for a candle light vigil.

Ever since police swooped down on the idyllic town in Himachal Pradesh, which is the center of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile, the over 80,000 Tibetans in India have been troubled by the multi-agency probe.

The 25-year-old Karmapa's name is frequently raised in discussions of a successor to the 75-year-old Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama has come out openly in support of the Karmapa, who is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu School, one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama called the Karmapa a revered leader. He said the foreign currency recovered were donations he received from across the globe. "The Karmapa is one of the important lamas, spiritual leaders. And naturally people from different parts of the world, including many Chinese, even from mainland China, come to seek blessings from him. And as you know, they offer money."

The Karmapa had told the investigating agencies that he had received the money in donations from followers and that it was being used to purchase land for a monastery. Several of his principal aides have been questioned.

What baffled the authorities most was that 1.1 million Chinese yuan and over 600,000 US dollars were part of the seizure from the monastery. The presence of Chinese yuan brought to the fore the Karmapa's alleged links to China. Some are suspecting a plan of the Karmapa Lama to buy land and establish China-friendly institutions across the Himalayan region.

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