Karmapa ready for discourse, gets backing of Buddhist teacher

Sify News, March 4, 2011

Dharamsala, India -- As the 17th Karmapa gets ready to hold spiritual discourses in the pilgrim town of Sarnath - for the first time after controversy over the recovery of foreign currency in his monastery - renowned Buddhist teacher and author Mingyur Rinpoche has also come out in his support.

Rinpoche, author of the bestselling book "The Joy of Living", has thanked the Indian government for a clean chit to the Tibetan religious leader, spokesperson for the Karmapa's office Deki Chungyalpa said.

Rinpoche heads the Tergar Monastery in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, which the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was visiting for a few days before reaching Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.

"We are very grateful that His Holiness' name has been cleared," Rinpoche was quoted as saying in Bodh Gaya.

Rinpoche thanked the Tibetan government-in-exile, the Dalai Lama, for his blessings and people all around the world for their support to the Karmapa. "We appreciate everyone's support," he was quoted as saying.

"I feel very sad and upset about the allegation that he is a Chinese spy," Rinpoche said. "This allegation has hurt the disciples of His Holiness. He is an enlightened being, but for us it's been very hurtful and upsetting."

The Karmapa too expressed his gratitude to the Indian government for facilitating his visit to Sarnath, an important Buddhist pilgrim place.

"As a follower of Buddha's teachings, I feel that such opportunities to visit these sites give great meaning to my life," the official website of the Karmapa, www.kaguuoffice.org, quoted him as saying.

This is the first visit of the Karmapa out of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh after controversy arose over the recovery of huge unaccounted money from the Gyuto Tantric University and monastery, where he has been residing with his followers for the last few years.

The Karmapa will celebrate Losar -- the Tibetan lunar new year -- in Thrangu Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Sarnath, Saturday. He will participate in spring teachings March 9-12 at Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath.

The Karmapa's website has been requesting his followers to follow certain prayers.

"With the tremendous outpouring of messages of support from people around the world wishing to contribute positively to the current situation, His Holiness the Karmapa has advised the international Dharma centres, students and supporters around the world that the prayers would be good," said a post on the site.

Police recovered currency of 26 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs.5.3 million Indian currency, from the monastery Jan 28.

Seven people, including the Karmapa's aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama, are still in police custody.

Top officials of the Karmapa had said Feb 17 that the central government, while signalling a clean chit to the Tibetan leader in the controversy over unaccounted foreign currency, wanted him to register his trust and also apprise monastery functionaries on Indian laws.

According to a senior monastery functionary, a delegation from the Karmapa establishment had met senior home ministry officials in Delhi, including Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, and they seemed quite convinced that the Karmapa had no role in dealing with financial affairs.

The Karmapa had fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived at the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala. In the Tibetan religious hierarchy, he is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.