The Karmapa Controversy Revisited

16th Karmapa

Below are a couple interesting excerpts from articles about the Karmapa controversy.

The tale of two Karmapas by Julian Gearing – Dec 24, 2003

Whether the recognition of Urgyen Trinley was a joyous event, as his supporters claim, or a “spiritual coup” carried out by Tai Situ and the Dalai Lama, as critics claim, the recognition has to be understood against the backdrop of old world Tibetan politics. Tibetan society is autocratic and hierarchical, especially in the Buddhist orders. Since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after the Lhasa Uprising in 1959, he had been trying without success to bring unity to the Buddhist schools, bringing together his Gelukpa lineage with the Nyingma, Sakya, Karma Kagyu and other smaller schools, including the animist Bon religion.

The 16th Karmapa had been stubborn in his insistence on maintaining the independence of his school, and maintained a “loyal opposition” to the Dalai Lama’s government. After the murder in the 1970s of one of the Karmapa’s supporters who was the head a group of refugee settlements, the Karmapa took more care with his security and spent more time overseas. He died in the United States in 1981. The Tibetan leader’s efforts to bring him into the fold failed. Then in 2000, Urgyen Trinley arrived on his doorstep.

Tibetan Buddhist factions come to blows: A dispute that has challenged the Dalai Lama’s authority led yesterday to a battle, writes Tim McGirk in New Delhi – March 18th, 1994

It is a tale of monastic intrigue, with accusations of murder, forgery and manipulation by the Chinese government. This medieval drama culminated in a pitched battle at a monastery outside Delhi yesterday, when monks and Tibetans faithful to the Dalai Lama threw bottles and bricks and fought against a coterie of Shamar Rinpoche’s followers, many of them Westerners initially attracted to the Buddhist creed of non-violence.


See also: Karmapa Controversy Video

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