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Posts Tagged ‘Dharamsala’

Indian Police Charge a Tibetan Spiritual Leader with Financial Conspiracy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 9, 2011


The waiting room in the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in northern India is unremarkable, save for the small signs pasted on the wall: “Kindly do not make any offerings in foreign currency.” Many of the pilgrims who have come to pay homage to the Karmapa—the third-most senior cleric in Tibetan Buddhist cosmology who is believed to be the 17th incarnation of a 900-year-old holy spirit—are Chinese travelers, who stuff thick bundles of Indian rupees into envelopes. There is not a Chinese yuan in sight.

The signs are a consequence of a kerfuffle earlier this year that erupted in Dharamsala, the Indian hill station where the Tibetan exile community has coalesced. On Dec. 8, Indian police announced that they had officially charged the Karmapa with conspiracy nearly a year after the authorities found more than $1 million in various foreign currency at the monastery where he lives. The charge sheet was filed at a district court in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where Dharamsala is located, even though earlier this year the Union Home Ministry in New Delhi indicated the Karmapa, whose full name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje, had been absolved of wrongdoing. The senior Tibetan monk’s aides say that the money, much of it Chinese yuan, was from his devotees and that he is not involved in any of his order’s financial dealings. Since then, the waiting-room signs have gone up, they say, to avoid further controversy.

After fleeing Tibet in 1999 in a dramatic voyage that echoed the snow-bound escape of the Dalai Lama four decades before, the Karmapa has resided in India. But his flight to freedom has not brought him full liberty. After he arrived as a 14-year-old in Dharamsala, whispers circulated among excitable members of the Indian media circles that the Karmapa might be a Chinese spy. How else could he have escaped Beijing’s watchful eye, they wondered—even though he and his supporters dismiss such allegations. Then as India’s relations with China have warmed and the surviving Tibetan community in northern India views this geopolitical development with wariness, the Karmapa’s movements have been carefully circumscribed by the Indian government. He cannot travel freely in India without prior government approval. Until 2008, the Karmapa was not even allowed documents to go overseas. Read the rest of this entry »

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