Press Release by Karmapa Office of Administration
There have been many media reports recently about the Karmapa name and institution. I did not respond to them because I did not want to add unnecessary public controversy while the investigation was at a critical stage.
However, the time has come to make certain fundamentals clear to those who may still nurse any doubts. Let me at the outset state categorically that:
1. I am not a Chinese spy, agent or plant in India.
2. I am deeply grateful to the Government of India for giving me refuge in this great country and for all the courtesy and hospitality shown to me since my arrival here. I am also very moved by the marks of affection that the Indian people have always showered on me. India is my home now and I would never do anything against the interest of the country or her people.
3. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is my spiritual and temporal leader, and I am committed to the well-being of the Tibetan people.
It would appear from media speculation that some people still wonder why I left Tibet in December, 1999. I have given press interviews on the subject previously. Today, I wish to reiterate that my spiritual education as the 17th Karmapa could not be completed if I had remained in Tibet. I had to receive the oral teachings of the Karmapa Lineage which have been passed down in an unbroken chain from India since the time of Lord Buddha. The origins of my lineage are in Nalanda whose great scholar, Naropa, received the teachings from his teacher, the Mahasiddha Tilopa. Naropa transmitted these teachings to the Tibetan Marpa, who passed them on to his disciple, Milarepa, and thence to Gampopa, from which they passed to Dusum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa. The Karmapa Lineage is thus deeply rooted in India where my illustrious predecessor, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, also found refuge in India, and established Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. All the gurus of my lineage were in India. The Chinese Government would not allow them to visit me in Tibet. I could not live up to the high expectations from my position without their spiritual guidance. If I had stayed in Tibet, I strongly believe I would have had to denounce His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
Tibet is under Communist China’s totalitarian regime. Unlike democratic India, there is no religious freedom there. Many Tibetans, including the illustrious heads of the different sects of Tibetan Buddhism had to flee to India following the Cultural Revolution. Even today, distressing news is coming out of Tibet regarding the current unrest at Kirti Monastery in the Tibetan area of Ngaba in Sichuan province. On March 16th, the self-immolation of a young monk named Phuntsok reveals the underlying tension that has been simmering for decades due to China’s misguided policies addressing the grievances and resentments of the Tibetan people.
Reports say that the ongoing military siege of Kirti Monastery, the arrest of over 300 monks, and the death of two elderly local residents in police beatings have increased fears that if the authorities did not abandon use of force, the situation may deteriorate into full-scale violence costing lives of hundreds of unarmed and innocent Tibetans. I understand there are still some 2,200 monks completely isolated and the monastery is blockaded by the security police; the fate of these monks is still unknown owing to the April 21st official order sealing the Ngaba and Kandze areas to visitors.
Frequent peaceful protests carried out by the Tibetans are symptoms of a broken and wounded people desperately crying out for the restoration of their cultural identity, religious and human rights. Since Kirti Monastery is very important with great historical significance throughout the Ngaba region, I join His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence Kyabche Kirti Rinpoche in their appeal to the Central Chinese Government and the international community to peacefully resolve the current crisis in Ngaba.
Tibet was an independent nation from ancient times. It maintained strong religious, cultural and trade ties with India. The common border was open and peaceful, allowing not only the free movement of trade and people but also the flow of the finest thoughts of human civilization. Hindus and Jains revered Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake as places of holy pilgrimage. Tibetans regarded India as the holy land of Lord Buddha and aspired to make a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya. Buddhism came to Tibet from India. Along with Buddhism came much of the Tibetan language and the Tibetan script which was derived from ancient Indian scripts. We honour Indian saints and sages like Shantaraksita, Padmasambhava, Atisha, and many others who came to Tibet. Scholars and practitioners from renowned institutions of learning like Nalanda and Vikramasila inspired many of our religious schools.
Today, India is our second home. The Tibetan culture and religion has flourished in India’s free and welcoming atmosphere. India has given refuge to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to many Buddhist lineage heads who have set up monasteries around the country. Tibetan Buddhism, culture and the Tibetan way of life thrive in India.
I am deeply conscious that India has not only saved Tibetans and their way of life from extinction but also enabled us to draw inspiration from this holy land of the Buddha and take Buddhism to distant parts of the world where it was unknown previously. I pray that Lord Buddha’s teachings and Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence combined together become a source of peace and harmony for the entire world