Article by Karma Dhondup

Posted on Posted in Historie

A civil suit was filed on July 31, 1998 by the Karmapa Charitable Trust (KCT) 1961, T.S. Gyaltsen, Shamarpa Rinpoche and Gyan Jyoti Kansakar against the state of Sikkim through the chief secretary, the secretary of state’s Ecclesiastical department, Gyaltsab Rinpoche and J.T. Densapa(Performa). The petitioners sought restoration of ‘status quo ante’ as prevailed on August 2, 1993 – the day they were driven out from the monastery after intervention of the state government and deployment of force at Rumtek.

Since then after many twists and turns in the case the District Court judge S.W. Lepcha on 27th February 2002 asked the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) Regional Director Mr. Vinod Kumar Sharma to prepare a “quantitative inventory” and not a “qualitative inventory” of the’Schedule A’ (movable properties) listed in the pleading of the civil suit. In the order passed, the RBI’s regional Director in Kolkata was directed to make the inventory starting from 4th of April and submit the same on 29th April 2002. But the defendants of the case like Gyaltsab Rinpoche was not satisfied with the order passed by the district court on appointment of a commissioner to make the inventory and hence filed an appeal in the High Court of Gangtok, Sikkim on 21st February 2002. The first hearing was held on 11th of March, 2002 but then the court adjourned the matter till 17th May 2002.

This appeal however seems ineffectual since the inventory will be submitted to the district court before its
next hearing. With such significant order passed in the District Court of Gangtok, Sikkim. The defendants seem to be getting nervous and sources claim that they have been frantically trying to stop the inventory from being made. On 15th March 2002, a protest was made by the
supporters of Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Situ Rinpoche at Gangtok. The protest was voiced against the District Court’s order and requested the Chief Minister of Sikkim to bring Urgyen Thinley Dorjee the Chinese nominated Karmapa as soon as possible to Rumtek Monastery. “From the first Karmapa through to the current incumbent, these relics have never been touched by anyone o! ther than his holiness (Karmapa). For anybody other than Urgyen Thinley Dorjee to break the seal on these precious ancient relics violates the Karma Kagyu protocol and would disrupt more than a thousand years of tradition,” said Sonam Ongmu Denzongpa the coordinator of the event on 15th March.

Earlier this year during January, the brother in law of Thrangu Rinpoche, Drunyer Tenzing (Tenzing Namgal) previously from the Rumtek Monastery and presently the General Secretary of Urgyen Thinley visited one of the senior Trustee Mr. T.S. Gyaltsen of the Karmapa Charitable Trust. During this visit Tenzing Namgyal insistently kept saying to T.S.Gyaltsen that the boxes of the Karmapa should not be opened since it was not supposed to be touched by others added to that there was a pistol in one of the boxes, which was presented to the previous Karmapa by the then King of Bhutan. T.S. Gyaltsen replied that,after the late Karmapa passed away the boxes had been opened once by Jamgon Rinpoche with the help of some others to clean the mould and so on. Then the second time,it was opened by Gyaltsab Rinpoche and others, Tenzing Namgyal himself was present, at that time t! hey had invited Sakya Trinzin as well. T.S. Gyaltsen told him that there was no reason why the boxes should not be opened for the inventory to be made. As for the pistol he said that there was no problem, since it was given to the late 16th Karmapa by the late King of Bhutan. First of all both of them are no longer alive and secondly, the pistol was given to the late 16th Karmapa since the late King of Bhutan used to hunt a lot and had given it up for prayers for his Karma as well the animals.

T.S, Gyaltsen mentioned that there was a letter stating the things he said. This along with the event on of 15th March has given more reasons to the Trustees of KCT to believe, that indeed some items have been stolen from the Rumtek Monastery. It has been reported in international media that the total wealth of the Rumtek Monastery is worth 1.2 billion dollars. This figure was reported by reputed media agencies such as Time Magazine as well. International media has been partisan in reporting about the Karmapa Controversy and has adhered to the precept that, Urgyen Thinley is indeed the right Karmapa since the Dalai Lama supports him.

In contrast it has been reported that the followers of the Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dorje are only after the assets of Rumtek and omitted the fact that he was recognized by the Shamarpa the present lineage holder of the Karma Kagyupa School. Local media conversely has had access to the detailed information from both sides and has reported views from both sides.

This is the time to verify the fantastical stories such as 1.2 billion US dollars attributed to Rumtek Monastery and get the legal perspective of the Karmapa Controversy. If indeed this is true or not will now be proved by the court. Even though media may not be allowed during the making of the inventory it is imperative for all concerned to observe the outcome.

Karma Dhondup