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Monday, 10 January, 2000, 17:22 GMT
Division in the flock

The Karmapa Lama's sudden appearance has surprised many

By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

The flight from Tibet of the Karmapa Lama has created disarray and division among monks and followers of the Kagyupa sect of Himalayan Buddhism, of which he is the head.

The Kagyupa sect has over a million followers all over the world, mostly from Tibet but also from Bhutan and the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

While the majority of the Tibetan people both inside and outside Tibet backed the Dalai Lama's choice of Ugyen Thinley Dorjee as the next Karmapa Lama, a small number of monks of the Kagyupa sect in exile rejected it.

Dalai Lama The Karmapa is backed by the Dalai Lama

Instead they put forward another boy as the Karmapa, a development that led to pitched battles between the two rival groups in Delhi and in Sikkim, the main seat of the Kagupas in exile.

Factional fight

The arrival of Ugyen Thinley Dorjee in India has meant that the two rival groups are once again on the warpath.

The leader of the faction that refuses to recognise him as the Karmapa, Shamar Rimpoche, told the BBC that he was a Chinese stooge, whose escape story is not to be believed.

Shamar Rimpoche said India should deport the teenager back to Tibet.

That, he said, would help India avoid any complications with the Chinese and prevent the Kagyupa sect, one of the major orders of Himalayan Buddhism, from being taken over by the Chinese.

Followers are deeply divided

But Tai Situ Rimpoche, the leader of the group that advocates the installation of Dorjee as the 17th Karmapa, has welcomed his escape.

He said that it has sent out a clear message to the world that all is certainly not well in Tibet.

A website in the United States run by supporters of the faction led by Tai Situ Rimpoche says that the Karmapa left behind a letter in the Tsurphu monastery for his followers.

Copied onto the group's website, the letter says that Chinese domination of Tibet was unacceptable.

India's apprehension

The state government of Sikkim says it has increased the deployment of police at Rumtek monastery, apprehending clashes between the two opposing factions.

Although the Dalai Lama has recognised the teenager as the next Karmapa, India regards many of his supporters with some suspicions.

It has refused to allow Tai Situ Rimpoche permission to enter the country and has not yet made clear if the Karmapa has the right to remain in India indefinitely.

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Who is the Karmapa Lama?
10 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Diplomatic jitters over Lama's visit
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Tibetan Lama meets spiritual leader
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Lama's flight embarrasses Beijing
11 Mar 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Tibetans keep their faith

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