Karmapa Controversy

Ogyen Trinley Dorje Repeatedly Told India Willing To Issue Him A Visa

Parul Chandra New Delhi 27 December 2018

Seeking to put a lid on the controversy surrounding the failure of one of the two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje to return more than than a year after he left the country, ostensibly for medical treatment, India has said he has not applied for a visa so far to return.

India has also reiterated its position on not recognising Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. While stating that “there are other contenders for the position” (meaning Ugyen Thaye Dorje who also lives abroad), sources said on Thursday that Trinley Dorje had been told time and again that India was prepared to give him a visa, this was a legal requirement given that the Karmapa while abroad acquired the citizenship of Dominica, a tiny Caribbean island nation.

The controversy over the Karmapa needs to be seen in the bigger context of India and China jostling for control over Tibetan Buddhism. With an ageing Dalai Lama in exile in India, the Karmapa is seen as a possible successor or at least a very influential figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

Rejecting media reports stating that his visa application had been rejected by the Indian government, sources said, “There are very specific motivations by certain quarters to put out this story.” The sources maintained, “ He (Dorje) has not approached us for a visa. He has not presented his passport before us.”

Trinley Dorje and Thaye Dorje are rivals to the title of 17th Karmapa of the Kagyu sect, which is among the four sects ins the Tibetan religious tradition and considered an important branch.

Clearly upset with the 34-year-old Karmapa’s conduct–he lived in India since the age of seventeen when he fled Tibet–sources said while it was not a legal requirement, he should have shared “in good faith” the information regarding his Dominica citizenship with the Indian government.

According to sources, the Karmapa had come to India “of his own volition and had been living as a Tibetan refugee in India and had been given an identity certificate that is provided to Tibetan refugees to travel abroad.” The Karmapa had initially gone abroad for three months but kept extending his visa and eventually acquired Dominica citizenship. Having taken this citizenship, the identity certificate given to him was now invalid as per the rules under which is was issued sources added.

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