Press Statement from His Holiness
the 17 year old Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje April 27, 2001, Gyuto Ramoche
Tantric University, Sidbhari, Distt. Kangra, HP, India
On December 28, 1999, under the cover
of a dark night, my senior attendant and I escaped from my monastery in
Tibet and fled to India to seek refuge. The decision to leave my homeland,
monastery, monks, parents, family, and the Tibetan people was entirely
my own: no one told me to go and no one asked me to come. I left my country
to impart the Buddha's teachings in general and,
in particular, to receive the excellent empowerment, transmissions, and
instructions of my own Karma Kagyu tradition. These I could only receive
from the main disciples of the previous Karmapa, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap
Rinpoche, who were predicted to be my teachers and who reside in India
There have been various reports in
the press about my escape, and so I will simply and briefly tell the truth
about my journey. In great secrecy, my companions and I made our plans,
using various stories to cover our true activities. For example, when the
preparations were complete, I announced that I was entering a traditional,
strict retreat and would not come out for some days. This story worked
and prevented us from being pursued right away.
On December 28, around 10:30 at night,
my attendant and I slowly climbed down from my room and jumped onto the
roof of the Protector Mahakala's shrine room. From this o building, we
leapt to the ground where a jeep was waiting nearby with Lama Tsultrim
and a driver. We left immediately. The story had been given out that Lama
Tsultrim and his companions were going on a journey. As if preparing for
this, they had driven in and out of the monastery several times during
the day, and, therefore, everyone knew about this trip and we could easily
leave. Usually, the monastery was strictly guarded, but no twenty- four-hour
guards were posted and we also left through a side road.
After a while, Lama Tsewang and another
driver joined us at a designated place. We decided to head directly towards
western Tibet since few travellers used this road and the check posts were
not so strictly guarded. Driving day and night, we stopped only to change
drivers. By taking back roads through the hills and valleys, we avoided
check posts and two army camps. Through the power of my prayers to the
Buddha and through his compassion, we were not discovered and arrived in
Mustang, Nepal, on the morning of December 30, 1999. Continuing the journey
on foot and horseback, we crossed over several passes and finally reached
Manang as I had planned. This part was extremely difficult and exhausting
due to the poor and often dangerous condition of the paths and the freezing
cold weather. During this time, I was tired and not very well physically,
yet despite the difficulties, I was completely determined to reach my goal.
Once in Manang, a close friend of Lama
Tsewang Tashi helped us hire a helicopter. We landed in a place of Nepal
known as Nagarkot and then went by car to Rauxal. From there, we travelled
by train to Lucknow and continued with a rented car to Delhi, arriving
at last in Dharamsala early on the morning of January 5, 2000. I went straight
to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the very embodiment of compassion,
and he received me with his great love and affection. My joy knew no bounds.
Ever since my arrival, the Dalai Lama
has given his continual and generous assistance. Following his wishes,
the Office of Religion and Culture from the Tibetan Government in Exile
has made arrangements for my temporary stay at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University.
Situ Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and other major Kagyu lamas in addition
to reincarnate lamas and followers from all the other traditions of Tibetan
Buddhism, have come to visit and kindly shown their concern for my well
being. This was a source of great happiness for me.
Pursuing my aim in fleeing
Tibet, I am now receiving from Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche all
the empowerment and transmissions of the Kagyu lineage that are possible
under these present circumstances. Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche and other Kagyu
masters are teaching me the treatises of the Buddhist philosophical tradition.
In this way, I am preparing for my life's work: to teach and study Buddhism
and to encourage compassion and wisdom within the hearts of all beings.
In 1959, my previous incarnation, HH
the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was also forced to flee Tibet and
come to India as a refugee. He settled in Sikkim and, with the assistance
of the Central Government and the State Government of Sikkim, he was able
to build the Dharmachakra Center, Rumtek Monastery, which became the basis
for his world-wide activity. It was venerated and famous everywhere as
the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Therefore, HH, the Dalai Lama,
the Tibetan Government in Exile, Tibetan people from all over the world,
and the Buddhist community of India, in addition to almost all Kagyu lamas
and members of their Dharma centres consider it extremely important that
I go to my main seat in Rumtek. They have made repeated requests that I
be able to do so. From my point of view, going to Rumtek Monastery would
be like returning home to continue the activity of my predecessor. This
is why I consider it so important.
I am fully confident that I will be
able to go there since Sikkim is a state of India. I am also confident
that just as my predecessor did, I will be able to travel abroad to meet
my numerous disciples and fulfil their spiritual needs. With this end in
mind, I have submitted an application to the proper authorities.
I am especially grateful to His Holiness
the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile, and the people and Government
of India, all of whom have shown great kindness and generosity in providing
for my stay in India. With great appreciation and respect, I offer them
In the past, the Gyalwa Karmapas did
not engage in political activity and I can do nothing but follow in their
footsteps. Concerning the future path of Tibet and the Tibetan people,
I endorse and fully support everything that His Holiness the 14th
Dalai Lama stands for. Embodying universal love, compassion, and non-violence,
he is the supreme leader of Tibet and the champion of world peace and human
Recently, HH the Dalai Lama and my
disciples in Sikkim and the rest of India, in addition to disciples and
centers abroad, made earnest and repeated requests to the Prime Minister,
the Home Minister, and the Foreign Minister to grant refugee status to
myself and those with me. After due consideration, the Indian Government
decided to grant us refugee status.
With this new status, I was able to
go on pilgrimage for five weeks, visiting major sites of Buddhism in the
sacred land of India. In these places, I gave blessings and initiations
according to the wishes of numerous disciples who came from near and far.
Karmapa ended the press statement
with these lines spoken in what he called his english with "rough pronounciation".
"Today, many people
from the media in the East and West have come here for this press meeting.
I consider it a precious occasion and give my thanks to each and every
one of you. I thought it was important that the world know the true story
and my true purpose in coming here. This was not possible until now, however,
due to circumstances beyond my control. I hope that after this press meeting
today, you will sincerely help everyone to know the truth."
-His Holiness The 17th Karmapa