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Tibetan spiritual leader, Karmapa, visits Arunachal Pradesh

December 5, 2016

Times of India, November 30, 2016 - More than 20,000 people from across Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh gathered at the High Altitude stadium on Tuesday to catch a glimpse of Tibetan spiritual leader Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the three claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa.

Seated among religious scholars, monks, nuns and high-profile dignitaries at the Yid-Gha-Choezin Gompa, which faces the stadium, Dorje bestowed ‘lifelong empowerment of Buddha Amityas to all sentient beings’ on Tuesday, an official release said here. The Karmapa urged his audience to practise compassion and also spoke on the relationship between earlier Karmapas and the Monpas of Tawang.

Dorje, who is revered by a large section of Tibetan Buddhists as the head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism, visited Tawang for the first time on Monday. The spiritual leader, whose identification as the 17th Karmapa and escape from Tibet to India have both been subject of controversy, was accompanied by adviser to the Union home minister, Amitabh Mathur.

The visit of Dorje is significant as Arunachal is claimed by China as part of its territory. Tawang, home to a sizeable Tibetan Buddhist community, was one of the flashpoints of the India-China war of 1962. The presence of US ambassador to India Richard Verma at the recently concluded Tawang Festival had also provoked a sharp response from China.

The visit also assumes significance as the Centre had previously imposed several restrictions on Dorje’s movements, especially proposed trips to areas of strategic importance like Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.

On Monday, however, the spiritual leader was welcomed by Arunachal chief minister Pema Khandu at the Guwahati airport. They then flew to the Tawang monastery where Dorje advised people to have faith in the teachings of The Buddha and The Dalai Lama. He also urged the Sanghas to be united to prevent ‘outside forces’ from hampering the progress of Buddhism in the region.

Dorje, who serves as spiritual guide to millions of Buddhists around the world, interacted with locals who lined up along the road to the monastery with ‘khada’, incense sticks and flowers to welcome him.

Upon his arrival at Tawang, Dorje visited the Sera-Jae-Jamyang Choekorling monastery and attended certain rituals there. He then went to the Sangyeling monastery from where he made his way to the Tawang Monastery. He took part in rituals there too and watched monks performing the Lhamu Tsokhar and Durda dances.

The Karmapa expressed gratitude for the welcome accorded to him and said he was fortunate to have visited Tawang. He thanked Khandu and Union MoS for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, for planning his visit. Khandu, too, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh for allowing the Karmapa to visit Arunachal. He also thanked Rijiju for clearing the necessary formalities.

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