am writing you about the pending inventory of valuables at Rumtek
Monastery. I came to Rumtek in 1961 at the age of 10 years and was
guided in meditation and studies by the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa
himself who appointed me to the office of Khenpo of the Monastery
in 1976. I also, from an early age, acted as the personal secretary
and assistant to His Holiness the Karmapa. In 1981 I was appointed
as Head-Khenpo of the Monastery, again by His Holiness the 16th
Karmapa himself on the 16th of February that year.
I'm acquainted with the sacred objects of Rumtek Monastery and I,
because of my education as a Khenpo, know the history of these objects,
and, the late 16th Karmapa, on many occasions, told me of those
objects and their history.
court-ordered inventory took place at Rumtek in the recent past.
The Karmapa Trust nominated Dronyer Thubten Gyaltsen and myself
as its representatives to attend the inventory on behalf of the
the lawyers of defendants 1, 2 and 3 objected and the court, instead,
ordered that one or more Trustees of the Karmapa Charitable Trust
should attend. There were three Trustees living at this time, the
late Sikkim Kazi T. S. Gyaltsen, the late Mr. Gyan Jyoti of Nepal
and H.H. Shamar Rinpoche. Shamarpa was our preferred choice, because
he was a high lama, had lived at Rumtek many years and was well
acquainted with the relics there, including the Black Crown. The
other two gentlemen were both elderly laymen. In fact, H.H. Shamar
Rinpoche is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyü Lineage and
he would therefore be the highest authority, even so, the Sikkim
authorities claimed he couldn't be granted a permit for Sikkim ,
but did not provide a reason.
the Joint Action Committee of Sikkim, an organization of laypeople
without any authority to interfere in Rumtek's affairs, but which
has nonetheless tried for years to sabotage the inventory, requested
the Court to stop the inventory. We find these events suspicious,
we find no proper reason to stop the inventory as a detailed and
proper inventory would contribute to establish what the facts are.
I and the other attendants of the late 16th Karmapa worry that some
sacred objects are missing, in particular, we worry about the Vajra
Crown as the individuals who have a a close connection with defendants
1 and 2 have made false claims as to the sacred objects, in particular
the Vajra Crown.
Rinpoche's secretary and long term special associate Ms. Lea Terhune
wrote in her 2003 book Karmapa: The Politics of Reincarnation
, published by Wisdom Publications, on page 260: “There were
two crowns at Tsurphu when the Sixteenth Karmapa fled in 1959, the
original dating from the fourteenth century and a copy made a hundred
years or so ago. Only one crown was brought out of Tibet by the
Karmapa and is now at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim . The other is
presumed to have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.”
claim that, in Tsurphu Monastery, there was a copy of the Vajra-Crown
made approximately a hundred years ago is a blatant lie. If such
a copy of the Vajra-Crown had been made it would have been recorded
in the historical records. Nowhere can one find a record of that.
Furthermore, H.H. the late 16th Karmapa did never mention this during
the 21 years I spent with him. Also, the now 81 year old Dronyer
Tubten Gyaltsen, who was in charge of storing the Crown and the
other sacred objects also knows that. I therefore suggest that you
approach him regarding this.
Your book, Mr. Brown, also makes similar claims, on page 34 of The
Dance of 17 Lives:
It was Yung-Lo who also bestowed on the Karmapa a material
version of the ethereal Vajra Crown, or Black Hat. Since the
1st Karmapa attained enlightenment and had – according
to legend – been presented with the Vajra Crown, it
has remained inseparable from all his successive incarnations
as a reflection of their transcendental wisdom. The crown
was said to be invisible to all but the most pure in spirit.
But through the devoted eyes of Yung-Lo it could clearly be
seen. The Emperor commanded that a material symbol of this
celestial vision be made, to benefit all beings, and presented
Dezhin Shegpa with a crown woven in black brocade and studded
with precious jewels. In the seventeenth century, the 10th
Karmapa's pupil, the Emperor of Jang, presented him with a
replica of the Black Hat that had been presented by Yung-Lo.
From then on, the original Crown was kept at Tsurphu, and
the Karmapa carried the replica when he travelled. It is not
known which crown the 16th Karmapa brought with him when he
fled from Tibet into Sikkim in 1959.
falsely claim that the King of Jang had a replica made of the black
Vajra Crown. This is not at all the case, the King of Jang had a
blue crown made studded with a few smaller jewels not at all with
the large and many jewels the Black Crown is studded with. Also,
according to the late 16th Karmapa and his old attendants Dronyer
Thubten Gyaltsen, Lekshe Drayan and others, who are still at Rumtek,
the shape of the Jang Crown is a bit different. It is curious to
note that Mick Brown's version of a second crown is very different
from Lea Terhune's version of a second crown. Again, one can conclude,
with certainty, that these claims are therefore false.
would suggest that you look into the authentic historical records,
as, in my view, the facts must be established on that basis. I will
list some of those records: “The Blue Annals” by Shonnu Pal, “A
Feast for Scholars” by Pawo Tsugla Trengwa, “The Garland of Moon
Water Crystal” by the 8th Situpa, Chokyi Jungney and Belo Tsewany
Kunkhyab, “The Wishfullfilling Tree” by Ngedon Tengye, “The Biography
of the 15th Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje” by Beru Khyentse and other
historical records. All these writings establish that the Vajra-Crown
was offered to the 5th Karmapa, Deshin Shegpa, by the Chinese Emperor
Yung Lo who saw that Crown adorning the head of the Karmapa. But
as it isn't visible to those who lack spiritual achievement, the
Emperor decided to have a replica made so that others would also
have the good fortune to see the Crown. That replica made by Emperor
Yung Lo was brought to India from Tsurphu Monastery in 1959. And,
the late 16th Karmapa, on many occasions, said that this is the
Crown offered by Emperor Yung Lo. For example in 1975, the late
16th Karmapa gave the late Queen Mother of Bhutan H.R.H. Puntsog
Chodron, the opportunity to pay her respect to the sacred objects
brought from Tibet . These objects were kept in 8 boxes painted
with the 8 auspicious emblems, each box is approximately 75 cm high
and 55 cm wide, and, 3 metal boxes, each approximately 1,85 m high,
1 m wide. Then there's the Mahakala-thangka wrapped in cloth, the
self-portrait by the Indian master Atisha and some other sacred
is common knowledge that the objects from Tibet were kept in those
boxes. I was present on that occasion where H.H. the 16th Karmapa
showed each of the sacred objects to Her Royal Highness. He told
her when showing the Vajra-Crown that it was the Crown offered to
his predecessor the 5th Karmapa Deshin Shegpa by the Emperor Yunglo.
On many other occasions where I was present the late 16th Karmapa
said the same when he showed the Crown to Indian and Western devotees.
I also have, when asked about the Vajra-Crown and its history, given
the same information.
in 1980, the then tutor of H.H. the Dalai Lama, the late Trijang
Rinpoche, visited Rumtek. He also asked to see the sacred objects
and H.H. the late Karmapa showed them to him and said the same about
respect to the false claims, made in various publications as I've
indicated above, this worries me and others from Rumtek Monastery.
The spreading of such rumours, in my view, may indicate that the
Vajra Crown and other sacred objects have been stolen from the Monastery.
I suggest, Mr. Brown, that you take a second look at this situation,
to correct the misinformation in your book.