Bodh Gaya is once again in the news. Not, as in 1993, for the 'liberation' of the Mahabodhi temple -- the sanctum sanctorum of Buddhists -- from 'Hindu domination' but for an intra-Tibetan Buddhist dispute over the enthronement of a Lama.
Though the date of the ceremony has not been fixed the intelligence authorities are keeping a close eye on the events as the Dalai Lama's ten-day long visit to the hallowed site of Gautam Buddha's enlightenment began on Friday, December 18.
Though Tibetans in the area have ruled out any disturbances in this regard, as highlighted by a section of the media recently, they conceded that some differences of opinion exist over the enthronement issue. "Some people are unnecessarily trying to drag the name of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into this controversy when the fact is that he is the undisputed leader of all the four sects of six million Tibetan Buddhists," Kunsang Lama told rediff.com
The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gellu Pa sect. The other three Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism sects are Sakya Pa, Nygma Pa and Kagyu Pa. It is the last which is at the centre of a controversy these days.
According to Kamung Lama the headquarters of this sect is in Sikkim and its head is called Karma Pa. The first 15 Karma Pa of this sect were born in Tibet and lived and died there. The 16th one, Ranging Rigpa Dorje, settled in Sikkim after the annexation of Tibet by China. He established his headquarters there in 1960.
He passed away in 1981. According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, after the demise of a Lama or Karma Pa his soul takes rebirth and it is for the priests to recognise the successor. Dorje had four disciples who were considered his spiritual sons. They were Shamar Rinpoche, Tai Sibi Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche. Rinpoche means precious jewels.
It took ten long years for the spiritual leaders of this sect to recognise their Karma Pa. In this case they simultaneously recognised two young boys to be the reincarnation of Dorje. The differences began there. One was recognised in Lhasa (Tibet) and the other in India. While the name of the one living in Tibet is Orgyen Thinluy Dorje the one in India is Thaye Dorje. During the ten-year gap the four spiritual sons of the 16th Karma Pa continued to officiate as the religious heads.
Says Sonam Lama, "we believe in both the Karma Pa. One Lama can have many manifestations. We can have three or four Karma Pa without any scope for dispute." At present both these young Karma Pa are teenagers. In 1992, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, one of the four spiritual sons of the 16th Karma Pa, died. Traditionally, it is the duty of the 17th Karma Pa to recognise the incarnation of any Lama in the Kagyu sect. A dispute arose now that both the 17th Karma Pa have the duty of finding the reincarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.
While Lodoe, who lives in Nepal, is recognised by the Karma Pa of Lhasa as the reincarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, the Indian Karma Pa found the latter's soul in Jamgon Kongtrul Dakpa. And some Tibetan Buddhists, according to Sonam Lama, believe in both of them as the Karma Pa.
But then what is the position of the Dalai Lama whose secretariat, according to the aforementioned newspaper reports, feared that the incarnation of Dakpa would create trouble? "I cannot say whether His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognises both the Karma Pa, but he recognises both reincarnations," said Kungsang Lama who hails from the Tibetan camp in eastern Madhya Pradesh. He and the other Lama from Madhya Pradesh denied that they were here for the enthronement ceremony.
"No, we have not fixed the date for the enthronement. But we come here every winter. We are here to attend the week-long religious discourse of the Dalai Lama and to participate in the Nyingma Monlam and the Kagyud Monlam (Monlam means religious ceremony)," they told this correspondent in the famous Karma Pa temple which was inaugurated by then President Ramaswamy Venkataraman in December 1988.
According to noted Buddhist scholar and retired professor of ancient studies, Dr P C Roy, there is hardly any basic dispute among the various Tibetan sects as all of them are Mahayana Buddhists. However, in this particular case there may be some controversy over the lineage.
The Tibetans here are for the most part peace-loving folk and refuse to be drawn into any controversy. Even during the famous Mahabodhi temple incident the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders remained indifferent. That movement was actually spearheaded by neo-Buddhists and Ambedkarites from Nagpur and was led by Nagarjun Surai Sasai, a Buddhist monk of Japanese origin.
There, however, can be no smoke without fire. Though the Kagyu Pa sect of the Mahayana Buddhists deny there would be any controversy over the enthronement of the successor of Jamgon Kangtrul Rinponche, intelligence sources believe otherwise. But the newspaper report and quick action by the Union home ministry may have prompted them to change track at the last moment.
One thing is clear -- both factions hotly deny that their respective Lama is a 'fake' and that they have any link whatsoever with the Chinese. "This is simply nonsense and unbelieveable. We solidly rally behind the Dalai Lama. He has come to this Karma Pa temple 15 times," they say.
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