Letter From Lama Norlha Rinpoche To Indian Government Regarding His Holiness Karmapa
(February 7, 2011)
I write you as one of many Tibetans who owe their lives to the kindness of the Indian Government that welcomed us and gave us refuge when we lost our country. Our spiritual histories have been intertwined for two thousand years, and it was my privilege to make India my second home for more than fourteen years after my own homeland was invaded.
My concern about the severe scrutiny currently directed toward His Holiness the Karmapa is that it may have its roots in forces that the official Indian Government may be unaware of, since the allegations have been made at the state level. The inordinately harsh response of the Himachal Pradesh police in arresting monastery representatives seeking to purchase land for religious purposes, and then invading the monastery itself to seize funds is suspicious and unprecedented—it suggests some ulterior motive is at work.
Since 2001, His Holiness the Karmapa has presided over the great annual Monlam Festival at Bodhgaya, birthplace of the Lord Buddha. To these great festivals have come every year thousands of devotees from dozens of countries. His teachings on compassion and virtue are webcast all over the world with translations into eight different languages.
Naturally, all those devoted to a great spiritual teacher yearn to help and honor him, and often this takes the form of contributions of money, land, and property to the teacher. I myself have given many contributions to His Holiness the Karmapa, and so have many of my students in North and South America. Followers of the Buddha from all over the world make contributions to His Holiness, so it is no surprise that large amounts of money have made their way to his monastery. Any contributions he has received, any money he holds, has solely been for the benefit of the monks, nuns, and laypeople of the Buddhist faith.
His Holiness Karmapa and His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, both exemplary Buddhist monks and pure spiritual teachers, cannot travel freely within India or throughout the world. What have they done to justify this constraint? Tibetans who have made their homes in India since 1959 - whether monks, nuns or lay people, are allowed to travel freely. Why are His Holiness the Karmapa and His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche not allowed the same privilege? I pray that one day these two great teachers will find this freedom. With great respect for the expertise of the Indian officials who gather intelligence, I humbly request that urgent attention be given to unmasking the forces that for their own reasons are trying to keep His Holiness Karmapa from freely exercising his religious obligations. As the Karmapa, it is his sacred duty to travel to Buddhist centers and give teachings—it seems unnatural to inhibit his basic function, or that of any other spiritual leader in India, of any religion.
His Holiness the Karmapa is devoting his whole life to the teachings of the Buddha and the preservation of the Kagyu Lineage of uninterrupted instruction reaching back to ancient times. His teachings aim to benefit India and the whole world; he has no interest in politics or power. It is my hope that the authorities in India consider carefully how deeply beneficial the Karmapa’s teachings have been to the religious life of India and the world. India is the great homeland of religion, and this great teacher should be made to feel completely at home there, and not made to feel suspect or unwelcome.
Lama Norlha Rinpoche
Abbot, Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery