Since 1992, the Karma Kagyu Lineage has been embroiled in a fierce controversy.
The conflict arose after a young monk, Urgyen Trinley, was falsely proclaimed the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage by Tai Situ Rinpoche. Traditionally, the Karmapas are unique among all incarnate Buddhist lamas in that they leave specific instructions detailing their future rebirth. After the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje died in 1981, the entire Kagyu world anxiously awaited word of his reincarnation.
His demands were totally disregarded,
particularly after H.H. the Dalai Lama, against all historic tradition,
involved himself in the matter and gave his recognition of the candidate.
The Chinese Communist Government also gave its full backing to Tai Situ
Rinpoche's candidate and "officially" proclaimed the boy to
be a "living buddha". China's recognition of Urgyen Trinley
represented a sudden about face in its policy of not recognizing the reincarnation
of any Buddhist lama. Based on the alleged forged letter, the young nomad
boy, Urgyen Trinley was enthroned in
To this day, few members of the
media have explored the complex issue of Tibetan politics, which led to
this turbulent and often violent controversy. As a result of receiving
H.H. the Dalai Lama's stamp of authenticity, much of the Buddhist world
has been led to believe that Urgyen Trinley is the sole and legitimate
Karmapa. In fact, the Dalai Lamas have never held any right over the confirmation,
let alone recognition, of a Karmapa at any time throughout history. Indeed,
the Karmapa line precedes that of the Dalai Lamas by over three hundred
years and their lineages are and always have been entirely separate.
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