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16th Karmapa gave me my name

February 18, 2011

Karma Paljor,IBN-CNN
<Karma Paljor is a news anchor with Indian TV IBN-CNN>

February 5, 2011

He gave me my name. The 16th Karmapa has long gone, but he has always
been my spiritual guide. I can recall almost all of our visits to his
monastery in Rumtek, Sikkim. And I can never forget his warm smile and
laughter from my first memory of the Karmapa as a 5-year-old child.

He used to have an aviary, where many rescued and donated birds were
kept. My father - who belonged to the animal husbandry department in the
government - used to volunteer in looking after the birds and cattle of
the monastery. Once on my visit to the monastery, I was amused to see a
tiny little bird resting on Kamapa's hand. A monk later told me that all
dead and dying birds are brought to him for special prayers... "They die
in peace in his hand," the monk had told me. I never saw Karmapa perform
miracles or magic, and he used to laugh at people who asked him to
predict their future. Yet, there was magic all around him. He always
told people to practice dharma, the dharma of kindness and giving.

Once I was told that my grand uncle, who once bought a lottery ticket in
his younger days, prayed to His Holiness and kept the ticket next to his
picture so that he won the lottery. But he never won, so the lottery
went to the bin, alongwith a much abused picture of the Karmapa. His
next audience with His Holiness followed soon, and I was told that a
very amused Karmapa kept asking my uncle if he felt let down by him.

On a bright sunny day (Dec 20th 1981) we said goodbye to the 16th
Karmapa, in Rumtek. It was also a day when we saw a rare rainbow around
the sun, just as his funeral pyre was lit. It was shot by some American

It took a long time for the monks to locate the next reincarnation. Good
news came in the form of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, born to a nomadic family
in Eastern Tibet. After a thorough selection process, he was enthroned
at the Tolung Tsurphu Monastery in Central Tibet on September 27, 1992.

At the age of fourteen, and after a few years of training, the 17th
Karma escaped Tibet and arrived in India on January 5, 2000. The love
and devotion I feel for my spiritual guru has made me follow his every
step with my enthusiasm, with a hope that he will return to Rumtek
monastery once again. There he will be with his people, people who truly
love him.

The recent turn of events around the Karmapa have disturbed me and the
people around me no end. As a journalist I am supposed to have a
balanced outlook, a pragmatic approach to 'news'. But faith shakes you
sometimes, and makes your response an emotional one. I questioned every
story, every leak from the so called, "intelligence sources". But news
is news. I have fought with my editors, questioned my reporters... But
again, news is news.

The News

Ogyen Trinley Dorje was fourteen years old when he reached India. And
the police claims, especially those made by Himachal DGP Minhas, of the
Karmapa's alleged Chinese links seems straight out of a spy thriller.
The Chinese must have a fantastic indoctrination system to make a
14-year-old believe in their plans and then send him to India to create
unrest. If you have watched Angelina Jolie's, Salt, then you will know
what exactly I am talking about.

The Karmapa has been in India for 10 years now, and his every move has
been documented. Even the details of his meetings with foreigners are
noted down for future reference. If he indeed had links with the
Chinese, then I have a question to ask the police. Why did they take
such a long time to find this out? They are clearly incompetent. If he
indeed is a spy, then all his followers, all the people who support him
from Ladakh to Sikkim to Arunachal, must be jailed for treason.

The careless leaks have only damaged and dented the deep trust and
angered the peace loving Buddhists living in the sensitive border area
with China. Please visit Sikkim, the one gateway to China and witness
the anger and sadness within every individual. Every unsubstantiated
allegation is only taking the people further away. They ask, "Would the
government of India have raided a temple or a mosque?"

"No one cares about the sensitivities of the hill people, they are an
unattractive vote bank!" The most clinching evidence the police claims
is the 11 lakh Chinese Yuan, "fresh and serially numbered". They say the
money was passed on possibly by the Chinese to buy property. The
Chinese, who the DGP thinks so advanced to be able to indoctrinate a
14-year-old into their spy network, would certainly have a better plan
than passing on 11 lakh in Chinese Yuan to their secret agent, knowing
very well that this is not an accepted currency in India.

Would they really have been so careless? Do other religious institutions
not receive donations in serially numbered notes?

It is a well known fact that the Karmapa's monastery had sought
government permission to receive foreign exchange from FCRA as foreign
donations. During this time they also declared offerings in foreign
currency they were holding.

The alleged land deals which are being reported are also shrouded in
mystery, there is very little information on where all this land is
spread. But it is a well known fact that the Kagupa monastery sought
land from the Himachal Pradesh Government to build a monastery. There
are documents to prove this. There was even a joint security inspection
by the police and the Tibetan government in exile.

The trouble is with the too many allegations that are flying around,
most of which are unsubstantiated. I just hope sense prevails, and the
Karmapa can finally return to his home in Sikkim.

The Facts:

The headquarters of the Karma Kagu office has compiled a list of answers
to the allegations that have been made. The official website of His
Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje is maintained by the
Kagyu Office.

Fact 1: The Karmapa Office of Administration has been seeking to deposit
its donations in foreign currency for years. Under the Indian law,
foreign currency can only be deposited in a bank by a trust or other
registered institutions that have received government permission to do
so, known as FCRA permission. The Karmapa Office of Administration
created a trust called the Saraswati Charitable Trust, which repeatedly
applied for permission but was never granted the same to deposit foreign
currency. It thus created another trust, Karmae Garchen Trust, whose
application for FCRA permission to deposit foreign currency was
submitted last year and is still pending. With no legitimate means of
depositing or exchanging this foreign currency, the money was left to
pile up over time, awaiting the day when it could be legitimately

Fact 2: The Chinese Yuan represents less than 10 per cent of the total
amount of foreign currency seized. The Chinese Yuan is the national
currency used in Tibet and across mainland China. Tibetans from Tibet
generally leave donations in Chinese Yuan. So do Buddhists from mainland
China. The Yuan seized by police include Chinese Yuan notes ranging from
1 Yuan notes to larger bills, reflecting that they come from multiple
individual sources.

Fact 3: The Chinese Yuan was only one of over 20 different currencies
found. The presence of donations in Yuans as well as other currencies
reflects His Holiness' status as a world spiritual leader with a diverse
international following that includes Tibetans and Buddhists from
mainland China, whose national currency is the Yuan. It is customary for
groups to pool their money and make collective donations. In Chinese
culture, it is especially common to offer new notes when making
donations to high abbots and senior spiritual leaders.

Fact 4: Written records of all cash donations are maintained. Donations
made by devotees are placed by his attendants in a donation box. At
regular intervals, the box is opened and the cashier and a group of
other office staff sort and count the donations. The cashier carefully
notes the total in each denomination, and painstaking records are kept
of the amounts. The cashier opts to store the foreign currency openly in
a dormitory room he shares with other monks, rather than in the office,
which receives a larger footfall.

Fact 5: Millions of international disciples regularly leave unsolicited
donations in the currencies of their home country when they come to see
His Holiness the Karmapa. HH the Karmapa is the revered leader of the
Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the object of devotion and
trust of millions of followers from all over the world. During December
2010 alone, His Holiness granted personal audience to thousands of
devotees from 44 distinct nationalities, including American, British,
German, Japanese, and Chinese. It is customary to leave donations of
gifts such as fruit, incense or cash, as symbols of devotion to His
Holiness the Karmapa, and as a means of supporting his many charitable

Fact 6:HH's role is to lead the sect spiritually and he has no role in
the day-to-day management of the sect. The Karmapa reincarnation lineage
has a 900-year-old history of engaging in a vast range of spiritual
activities, from teaching 'dharma' to rigorous meditation to composing
philosophical texts. HH is completely and utterly uninvolved in the
handling and management of cash. The Tsurphu Labrang, known now as the
Karmapa Office of Administration, has existed for hundreds of years to
allow the Karmapas to devote their time and energy to their role as
spiritual leaders. It manages all the worldly affairs of the Karmapa,
including handling the donations and administering the finances. In this
way, the Karmapa has been left free to fulfill his solemn duties as a
spiritual guide to countless followers and leader of a large Buddhist

Fact 7: The Indian government was fully informed of the plans to buy
land in Dharamsala to build a monastery for HH the Karmapa. HH has been
hosted in a temporary residence in Dharamsala by another Tibetan
Buddhist sect since his arrival in India in 2000. The Karmae Garchen
Trust was seeking to purchase the land in its own name for the purpose
of building a permanent residence and monastery for His Holiness, whose
current living quarters measure 15'x15'. When the Karmae Garchen Trust
identified suitable land near His Holiness' current temporary residence
in Dharamsala, it informed the office of the District Collector of
Dharamsala and sought their approval to proceed with the purchase.

Fact 8: The Indian government had granted preliminary approval of the
land purchase. Under the Land Reform Act, any non-Himachali and
non-agriculturist requires sanction by the state government before
purchasing land. The Karmae Garchen Trust sought and was granted
preliminary approval by the relevant state government offices. The
application was accompanied by a strong letter of support from the
Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They obtained both - an essentiality
certificate and a no-objection certificate - from the Town and Country
Planning Department of the Himachal Pradesh government, indicating state
government approval to proceed with the plans to purchase the land.

Fact 9: The INR 1 crore (approx. $ 215,000) seized in the car of an
Indian hotelier belonged to the seller of the land, rather than the
Trust. The two men were arrested in a car with the money. The two men
were agents working for the land seller, who had been given a partial
payment due for the land. These agents had accepted payment in Delhi and
signed a receipt from Rabgay Chusong, the monk who handles the financial
matters for the Karmapa Office of Administration. Currently, only Rabgay
is in custody and will be in remand until the February 5, after which we
will post bail.

The seller demanded payment in cash for the land, which is legal and
commonly practiced for various other capital assets as well in India.
Since the Karmae Garchen Trust did not have such cash on hand, cash
donations in Indian rupees were gathered from donations made during the
Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya, and delivered to Delhi by the Karmapa Office
of Administration.
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