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Mike Wooldridge in Dharamsala
"India has been put on the spot"
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Mike Wooldridge reports
"The Karmapa Lama's departure was almost cloak and dagger"
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Sunday, 9 January, 2000, 15:38 GMT
Karmapa Lama goes into hiding

Karmapa Lama The Karmapa Lama left before dawn for an unknown destination

The young Buddhist leader who escaped to India from Chinese-ruled Tibet has left the headquarters of the exiled Dalai Lama in the north Indian town of Dharamsala.

In a pre-dawn departure, the Karmapa Lama got into a black car surrounded by three jeeps carrying his sister who is a nun, and two followers who had fled with him on his eight-day journey across the Himalayas.

Guard There has been tight security since the Karmapa Lama arrived in Dharamsala
He was driven away without revealing his destination.

He appeared composed and unemotional as he left.

The 14 year-old Karmapa Lama had stayed at the Dalai Lama's official guesthouse since his arrival in India on Wednesday.

There was no official announcement about where he was heading. Local police said he had gone to nearby Gyuto monastery in Sidavari, 25km (15 miles) southeast of Dharamsala.

However, a source close to the leaders of the Karmapa's Kagyu sect said the Buddhist leader had moved into the Dalai Lama's official residence.

The Karmapa's Kagyupa sect, known as the "Black Hats," was once Tibet's most politically powerful, but was supplanted by the Gelugpa school of the Dalai Lama 350 years ago.

Media pressure

The BBC South Asia correspondent says the growing media attention may have contributed to the decision to move the boy.

Karmapa Lama The Karmapa Lama may take up residence in Sikkim

There is speculation that he may eventually take up residence at a monastery in the Sikkim border province, where his predecessor settled after fleeing Tibet.

The black hat which is a symbol of his authority, and which his followers believe is woven from the hair of female deities, is in Sikkim.

But our correspondent says this could add to the complications for the Indian government, because China has never recognised Sikkim as a part of India.


The Karmapa Lama appeared relaxed when he met the Dalai Lama on Saturday, despite his gruelling trek.

Click here to see map of the Karmapa's route

Monks lined up to present brightly-coloured Tibetan shawls and other gifts, while the Dalai Lama's guard and police from the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh looked on.

Tashi Wangdi, Minister for Religion and Culture of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said the meeting between the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa Lama was private and lasted almost half-an-hour.

Dalai Lama The Dalai Lama received the Karmapa on Saturday

The only outsider to have met the Karmapa so far is a mid-ranking official from India's foreign ministry, officials in the exiled government said.

The Karmapa Lama, the third most powerful person in Tibetan Buddhism, is the only person among the religion's senior figures accepted by both China and the Dalai Lama.

Correspondents say his escape, which has gone almost unreported in China's press, is certain to be an embarrassment to Beijing.

The Karmapa Lama escaped his Chinese guards at the 800-year-old Tsurphu monastery in central Tibet by saying he intended to go on a retreat.

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Tibetan Lama meets spiritual leader
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Who is the Karmapa Lama?
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Lama's flight embarrasses Beijing
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Tibetan Lama flees to India
18 Jun 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Panchen Lama returns to Tibet
11 Mar 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Tibetans keep their faith
10 Mar 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Dalai Lama seeks dialogue on Tibet

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