17 June, 2021

Buddha Isn't Laughing

The Dalai Lama is dragged into the power struggle at Rumtek

Buddha Isn't Laughing

THE Dalai Lama would never have wanted to be involved in a court case. But that's exactly what happened early this October. Personal rivalry and power politics in one of Sikkim's main monasteries dragged the Buddhist spiritual leader into a messy situation. He was accused, in a petition filed with Delhi's chief metropolitan magistrate, of conspiring with six others to separate Sikkim from India and align it with the Tibetan autonomous region of China. At the root of the controversy is the power struggle at Rumtek, the 250-year-old monastery located 24 km off state capital Gangtok.

Rumtek, headquarters of the Kagyupa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, has been without a Karmapa—head of the monastery—since 1981 after the death of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. Under the sect's tradition, the incumbent Karmapa normally nominates his successor and leaves behind his identity in a cryptic form in a hidden letter. This serves as a clue for the Karmapa's followers to locate the reincarnation of the head of the monastery. The 16th Karmapa, when he died in...

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