Saturday, 30 November 2013

Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim: Will the Karmapa return?

A poster by the people for the return of the Holiness Karmapa. Photo © Chris Raven

High in the hills of the Indian state of Sikkim lies the heavily guarded Tibetan Buddhist Rumtek monastery, one of the most important seats of the Kagyu tradition outside the Tsurphu monastery in Tibet. Also known as the Dharmachakra Centre, near the capital Gangtok, there is a focal point here for the sectarian tensions that characterize the Karmapa Controversy.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, known as the 17th Karmapa, is the chosen one and the leader of the Kagyu order of Buddhism, a 27 year-old-man, who the monks want to desperately see reside at Rumtek.

Based in Dharamsala at the Gyuto Tantric University, after fleeing from Tibet in late December 1999, the Karmapa has been banned from entering Rumtek and the state of Sikkim by the Indian government due to security concerns, as different factions have fought over who is the real Karmapa, or incarnate lama. At least two others have laid a claim to the title, but the Dalai Lama and China have officially backed Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

Armed guards protect the Rumtek monastery, Sikkim. Photo © Chris Raven.

Tibetan Buddhist monks in the courtyard of the Rumtek monastery, Sikkim. Photo © Chris Raven.

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