Since the outset of the investigations, His Holiness’ office of administration has been co-operating fully with the investigating agencies. We had provided them with full documents and details regarding the case. During this entire process, His Holiness the Karmapa was never at any point called or examined by the investigating agency. His Holiness has no involvement, direct or indirect, in the financial administration or managing the day-to-day affairs of the office or trust.
The cash seized earlier this year came from donations offered by disciples from around the world who come to see His Holiness and pay their respects to him, often leaving behind cash donations. This cash is managed by the Karmapa Office of Administration. That office has been actively seeking permission under the Foreign Currency Regulation Act (FCRA), and their application is still pending before the Government of India.
The Karmapa reincarnation lineage has a 900-year history of engaging in a vast range of spiritual activities, from teaching Dharma to rigorous meditation to composing philosophical texts. The Tsurphu Labrang, known now as the Karmapa Office of Administration, has existed for hundreds of years to allow the Karmapas to devote their time and energy to their role as spiritual leaders. It manages all the worldly affairs of the Karmapa, including handling the donations and administering the finances. In this way, the Karmapa has been left free to fulfill his solemn duties as spiritual guide to millions of followers and leader of a worldwide Buddhist order.
Shortly after reports went out earlier this year that the Indian police had seized cash from the Karmapa’s office, China was quick to deny that the spiritual leader is its spy.
The Karmapa Lama is the third most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Ogyen Trinley Dorje (pictured above) is said to be the first “living Buddha” recognised by the Chinese government, and his 1999 escape to Dharamsala via Nepal was a source of great embarrassment and consternation for authorities here. Yet, because the Chinese government did not publicly rebuke him as hard as they did with the Dalai Lama after his escape, rumours have lingered till this day that he is a spy for China.
This story matters because Ogyen Trinley Dorje is widely seen to be the one who will inherit the Dalai Lama’s mantle of spiritual leadership when he passes on. He is, however, not the sole claimant to the title of the 17th Karmapa. The other claimant, Trinley Thaye Dorje, has not been recognised by the Dalai Lama himself, but has been confirmed by other senior lamas.
In September, the Dalai Lama issued a lengthy statement on the subject of his reincarnation. In it, he announced that he may give up reincarnating and start “emanating” instead. More on that here.