Close Aide of Dalai Lama Denies Chinese Whispers in Monastery Land

The ‘project’ mentioned in the communication, between Jangchup Choeden, who is the Chairman of Gelugpa Monastic Disciplinary Council and a close aide of the Dalai Lama, seems to suggest ‘offerings in monasteries in Tibet’ but does not elaborate further.

Published: 01st May 2016 06:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2016 06:18 AM   |  A+A-

Jangchup

NEW DELHI: The ‘project’ mentioned in the communication, between Jangchup Choeden, who is the Chairman of Gelugpa Monastic Disciplinary Council and a close aide of the Dalai Lama, seems to suggest ‘offerings in monasteries in Tibet’ but does not elaborate further. The monasteries are involved in a sectarian struggle, involving China. Jangchup’s  communication further states, “Yesterday I wrote emails to all other sects of Tibetan Buddhism to welcome them to join this important project.”

   >>Related: Hush! Tibet Government in Exile Plays Footsie With China

Jangchup told The Sunday Standard that he is not aware of any such communication. He denied warming up to China by the Dalai Lama, saying that no member of his team has spoken to Chinese officials. He said he is part of a project for a celebration across Tibet, India and elsewhere.

“On one hand they have been inviting anti-Beijing activists to speak at Dharamshala, but on the other initiate secret talks with the Chinese, which is a serious matter,” sources said.

Sect Conflict Stirs up Power Politics

Karmapas are heads of Buddism sects. Sources say, a conflict has prevailed between the sects supported by the Dalai Lama, China and others. Tibetan politics inevitably got murky when in August 2015, Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, also known as TTD, was invited by a Drukpa monastery in Ladakh. However, some leaders of Geluk sects opposed it, saying he will not be welcome unless Dharamshala, the seat of the Dalai Lama and Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, gives permission. Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s recognition drew vociferous protests from Shamar Rinpoche, the acting head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, who had declared a rival, Trinley Thaye Dorje, as the Karmapa. A majority of All-Ladakh Gompa (Monastery) Association (LGA) objected, and the association office was locked.  An office-bearer said the LGA office remains closed till date because of the friction between Geluks and Drukpas, and all the political games are orchestrated from Dharamshala. The Geluks exercise influence over monasteries and sects. The number of Drupka monasteries and followers in Ladakh are significantly higher. Drukpa monks are opposed to China.

China Feels Threatened by Drukpa

In 2014, according to sources, the Chinese government supported a forced takeover of eight Drukpa monasteries by Karma Kagyu followers in Mount Kailash. A source close to Drukpa leadership said they have not been able to reclaim them so far. All the Drupka monks were exiled by the Karma Kagyu monks who claimed the support of Ogyen Trinley Dorje. 

“Karma Kagyu monks, who forcibly took over the monastery had claimed that it was being done so on the orders of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. However, our spiritual leader said it might not have been ordered by the Karmapa but by some top leaders with Chinese connections. This takeover is not possible without tacit Chinese support. But, there is no doubt that there is a clear plan to convert Drukpa monasteries to Karma Kagyu,” he said further, adding that historic pictures of Drukpa lamas have been removed from the monasteries forcibly. A spiritual leader from Ladakh said there is a consistent effort by Karmapa followers to overshadow the Drukpas in the region and recent developments includ opposition to Thaye Dorje is part of well-knit plan.

THE PLAYERS

What is Karmapa

 It is honorific title for the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Main Karmapas

China and Dalai Lama recognised Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa while a section of Karma Kagyu feels Trinlay Thaye Dorje, wo lives in Sikkim, is the real 17th Karmapa.

Geluks

Geluk school of Tibetan

Buddhism traces its origin back to Buddha Shakyamuni. Dalai Lama himself belongs to the Geluk school.

Drukpa

It is a branch of Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Drukpa lineage has more than a thousand monasteries in Tibet, Bhutan, Ladakh. ‘3 Idiots’ was shot in one of Drukpa schools.

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