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The fallacy of Karmapa's Chinese links

February 18, 2011

Guest blog: Thinley Topgyal,
Thinley Topgyal is a Delhi based lawyer
IBN-CNN Thursday , February 03, 2011

The assumption that the Karmapa will create a China-friendly chain of
monasteries in the Himalayas by using Himachal Pradesh as a staging
point for anti-India campaigns is a fallacy.

The monasteries which dot the Himalayan region from Arunachal to Sikkim,
West Bengal, Uttaranchal to Himachal Pradesh & Ladakh belong to
different sects of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. There is no
homogeneity as each of the four schools have their own spiritual leader
and are not dependent on each other. However, all schools by and large
owe allegiance to the Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual and temporal
head of Tibet.

To take the analysis a little further: Arunachal, our eastern most
border state has a large Buddhist following belonging mostly to the
Geluk sect (known widely as the "Yellow Hat Sect"). The Geluk sect is
headed by the Ganden Tri Rinpoche who is elected to this position. (The
Dalai Lama is a member of the Geluk sect but is not the Head of the
Geluk sect).

Arunachalis have time and again protested China's claim to their land as
part of China's territory and protested the Chinese claims vociferously,
even as the mandarins in South Block have made meek diplomatic noises
but have not told the Chinese to lay off in no uncertain terms.

The next important state, Sikkim, has been a part of India since 1975.
The Karmapa lineage's relations with the Sikkimese people date back to
the time of the 12th Karmapa, Changchub Dorji (1703-1732) when the two
Karma Kagyu monasteries of Ralang in South Sikkim and Phodang in North
Sikkim were established. The Old Rumtek monastery was established
thereafter. The Karmapa has overwhelming support here but the people
have been peacefully and patiently waiting for over 10 years for the
Karmapa's return to Rumtek. Scores of representations have been made to
all manner of constitutional authorities.

Finally, on 26th September, 2010 a spontaneous, peaceful rally was
attended by tens of thousands in the capital city of Gangtok.
Accompanied by mantra-chanting monks, the rally reverberated with
lilting and soulful tune of ritual musical instruments and the robust
sound of the kettledrums. Perhaps the sound has still not reached the
ears of our fate deciders in New Delhi. Yet, no anti-India slogans have
been raised and Sikkim continues to be one of the most peaceful states
in India.

In the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, there are monasteries
belonging to the Drukpa Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya, and the Karma Kagyu
schools. While Darjeeling may be seeking statehood separate from the
State of West Bengal, they are not seeking separation from India.

While other monasteries in Uttarachanchal, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh
may profess the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition, they are not exactly
hotbeds of anti-India elements. They are a peace-loving, compassionate
lot, proud to be part of this vast nation called India.

To those in the security establishment who perceive a larger conspiracy
and a China-sponsored hand in the Karmapa's activities, as a proud
Indian, who belongs to the border State of Sikkim, I would say: please
apply your minds to protecting India in other ways. We are not gullible
enough to promote or appreciate your fantasies borne out of paranoia.
Indians in the Himalayan region are not treacherous beings and to see
them as willing allies in an effort to destabilize India is simply
preposterous. The Karmapa is not running the local office of the Chinese
security establishment.

The Karmapa lineage is 900 years old this year. The 17th Karmapa, Ugyen
Trinlay Dorji, is a shining beacon and hope for the present age. Let us
not trash his character and destroy our own moral fibre. If we do that,
we are no better than the people who attempted to destroy the Tibetan
nation and her people and committed untold misery.

The sooner our security agencies recognize the fallacy in the assumption
that the Karmapa is an agent of our adversary, the better for our country.
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