Pramod Giri, HT, 15 Jul 2016, SILIGURI: Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, Opposition parties and religious organisations all want the 17th Karmapa to visit the state.
The Dalai Lama has already endorsed him. But the Centre has banned his entry into the state. The issue is snowballing into a major controversy nationally as leaders across parties and Buddhist monks in Sikkim have come together to tell the Centre to allow Orgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, to visit the state.
Though he is allowed to travel across the country, the Centre has banned his entry into Sikkim where he has the largest number of supporters.
In the past, there have been armed and bloody clashes inside and outside the monastery among monks loyal to different Karmapas. There are three claimants to the Karmapa’s post. Apprehending an outbreak of violence, the Centre has banned the entry of Dorje into Rumtek.
He has a large number of supporters not only in Sikkim but also West Bengal and he had also visited places like Siliguri, Mirik and Darjeeling.
According to the Kagyu sect of Buddhism, Karmapa, the head of the sect, is regarded as living Buddha. Rumtek (monastery) Dharma Chakra Centre in Sikkim is the seat of the Karmapa. The seat is lying vacant since the death of 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpey Dorjee on November 5, 1981.
Political parties, Buddhist monks and a large number of his supporters want the 17th Karmapa to come to Sikkim and occupy his seat at Rumtek.
Dorje recognised as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa by the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and arrived at Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh in January 2000. The 17th Karmapa has always remained a controversial figure as there have been at least three claimants for the post. The Buddhist monks are also divided and are supporting different claimants, the largest being the supporters of Dorje who stays at Dharmasala, Himachal Pradesh.
On July 10, Denjong Lhadey, the association of all Buddhist monks in Sikkim, took out a huge rally in Gangtok demanding Dorje’s early entry into Sikkim.
Among the participants in the rally were Nar Bahadur Bhandari, former state chief minister, Sonam Lama, the Sangha legislator, Tsheten Tashi Lepcha, the Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC) convenor, and Bharat Basnett, president of Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee along with monk heads from various monasteries of Sikkim.
Sonam Lama, the Sangha MLA representing Opposition SKM and leading the movement for Karmapa’s entry into Sikkim said, “It is due to the lackadaisical attitude of the state government that the 17th Karmapa is not able to come to Sikkim.”
Lama, who led a team of Buddhist monks to stage a two-day-long dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, said, “If the Centre cannot allow the 17th Karmapa to enter Rumtek, he should be allowed to come either to Fodong or Ralang monastery. The Rumtek’s matter is sub-judice.” Bhandari blamed the state government for adopting dual standards with regard to the Karmapa issue.
Chamling recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested him to expedite the process of Karmapa’s entry into Sikkim
.