His Holiness the Karmapa Makes Historic Visit to Arunachal Pradesh
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, recently completed a historic five-day visit to the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, during which he provided teachings and blessings for thousands of monastics and lay Buddhists living in the remote Himalayan region, many of whom travelled long distances for the occasion. Warmly welcomed by local residents and state officials, His Holiness was accompanied by Ministry of Home Affairs advisor Amitabh Mathur and received at Guwahati Airport by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
The Karmapa expressed happiness at the opportunity to restore the long-standing connection between his lineage and the region and thanked the state and central authorities for facilitating his visit to the region. Situated in India’s far northeast, Arunachal Pradesh shares international borders with China, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The state is the subject of territorial disputes between India and China due to its geographic and cultural proximity to Tibet, and visits by high-ranking Tibetan lamas are therefore politically sensitive.
The first Gyalwang Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa (1110–93), visited and founded monasteries in the region, establishing a relationship that would continue with the third and fourth Karmapas. The most recent previous visit to the region by the Karmapa’s lineage was made by the ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje (1556–1603).
The Karmapa’s schedule, from 28 November–2 December, included a tour of West Kameng District, and visits to more than 20 monasteries and other Buddhist sites, including Sera Je Jamyang Choekhorling Monastery, Sangyeling Monastery, Kalaktang Monastery, Gyuto Monastery, and Tawang Monastery, established in the 17th century, the largest Buddhist monastery in India and second-largest in the world after the Potala Palace in Lhasa.
“Although the trip is just for a few days, the Karmapa was happy to have met all those people and visit even the smallest of temples and shrines in the area,” said secretary to the office of the Karmapa, Karma Dorjee Namgyal Khortsa. “[Arunachal Pradesh chief minister] Pema Khandu was a gracious host accompanying us for a day from 6 o’clock in the morning till evening. [Union Minister of State for Home Affairs] Kiren Rijiju, [Ministry of Home Affairs] advisor Amitabh Mathur, and other dignitaries made the visit worthwhile and fruitful.” (Phayul.com)
Kiren Rijiju, who met the Karmapa during his visit, posted messages on Twitter highlighting the success of the visit: “Massive reception to His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje who is on a visit to Arunachal Pradesh to spread love & compassion.” (Phayul.com)
China’s response to the visit was measured, and avoided overt criticism. “China’s position on the east section of the China-India border is clear and consistent. We hope India can abide by relevant consensus and refrain from any action that might complicate the boundary question,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang. “To ensure the peace and stability of the border areas and sound and stable development of the bilateral relationship serves the common interest of the two sides.” (The Times of India)
The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest lineage of the Kagyu, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being Gelug, Nyingma, and Sakya. The institution of the Karmapa is the oldest tulku lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, predating the Dalai Lama lineage by more than two centuries. Due to a dispute within the Karma Kagyu school over the recognition process, the identity of the 17th Karmapa is a matter of some controversy. The majority of Tibetan Buddhists recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the incarnation of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, although an influential minority recognizes Trinley Thaye Dorje. The movements of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, after fleeing Tibet at the age of 14, remain closely watched by the Indian government.
After 400 years the Gyalwang Karmapa Returns to Arunachal Pradesh (Karmapa: Official Website of the 17th Karmapa)
Karmapa’s returns after rousing reception in Indian state bordering China (Phayul.com)
Karmapa's visit to Arunachal Pradesh: China hopes India would not complicate border issue (The Times of India)
Karmapa’s Arunachal visit: China hopes India would not complicate border issue (The Indian Express)
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