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Karmapa's Flight
By Gregg - 28 Feb, 2000

Page 4 of 4

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The Kagyu order is often referred to as the Black Hat sect. It has its origins in 12th century Tibet. As the story goes, the 1st Karmapa spent many years meditating in a cave. Ten thousand fairies came to congratulate him and each offered a strand of hair. These strands were woven into a black hat. It is said that unless held in the hand or kept in a box the Black Hat will fly away.

The hat is somewhere under lock and key in the Rumtek complex.

The government controlled press in China reported that the Karmapa was on a trip to India "to get musical instruments and other possessions". The Sharmapa¡ªan elder leader of the Kagyu sect¡ªhas alleged that the boy is a Chinese stooge sent by Beijing to retrieve the Black Hat and to undermine spport for the Dalai Lama. One prominent Sharmapa follower in Rumtek said, "If the boy comes here, takes the black hat and other belongings of the 16th Karmapa and returns to Tibet, China would have proved its claim on Sikkim."

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On our approach to the Rumtek Monastery we'd passed under a large banner welcoming Ugyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. But how welcome is he in these hallowed halls? Weeks later another elder in the Kagyu sect promised violence if the boy were to arrive at Rumtek. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama stood firmly behind his endorsement.

After viewing the 16th Karmapa's residence, we entered the main hall of the monastery. Monks were busily preparing for the "chaam" dances¡ªdraping mammoth statues of demons with sacred adornments. Tibetan horns, drums and cymbals lay about at the ready. Cushioned prayer seats lined either side of a main row, rising in steps hierarchically to a main throne at the helm.

This throne has gone unoccupied for the past nineteen years¡ªsince the 16th Karmapa's death. It would remain unoccupied through yet another Tibetan New Year. In it was placed a large framed portrait of fourteen year old Ugyen Trinley Dorje.



 



 

 
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