– by a Staff Reporter
Rumtek: At least four items have been found to be missing so far – and one of them given away to Ugyen Trinley Dorje – from the articles of faith belonging to the Karmapa at the Rumtek Dharma Chakra’s enthronement room. The work inside the main treasure room did not begin till the time of going to press because none of the parties involved could produce the key to the door of the room, bringing in another twist in the controversy.
A bell and a dorje, item No. 14 in the ‘List of Ritual Objects’ in Schedule ‘A’ properties, and described as “Old ‘Korlo ma’ bell, with dorje with piece of turquoises (sic). Dorje is gold plated and a little defect on the spokes” was not found during the inventorisation. The representatives of Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche is reported to have told the Commissioner that the set, used by the 14th Karmapa, and considered to be very holy, has already been given to Ugyen Trinley Dorje, one of the two main claimants to the throne of the Karmapa.
Along with this, other precious items missing are Item No. 11(Silver foot of silver – sic –carved lotus, gold flower and turquoises); Item No. 33 (Mixed metal mirror gilded with gold flower and one torquoises(sic) in the center; and Item No. 34 (Mixed metal mirror, with seven auspicious signs on the back) According to agency reports, Sonam Ongmu, speaking on behalf of the Goshir Camp, confirmed that the bell-and-dorje set has been given to Ugyen Trinley Dorje. There was no information about where the other items have gone. Meanwhile, the process of inventorisation was reduced to a formality as the keys to the main room where the Karmapa treasures are left could not be traced. None of the parties accepted that they have the keys.
V.K. Sharma, the Commissioner appointed by the District Court (North and East), for taking inventory of Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre properties, was left with little option. The camp of Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, who are in occupation of Rumtek at present, had said that that the seal on the lock could be broken, since it had not been put by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, “but had been put on the lock by the members of the monk’s body in 1992’’. They have even agreed to get a locksmith to make a duplicate key for the lock and have it opened for the Commissioner to take the inventory of the main artifacts and ritual objects. However, the Commissioner has said that he would seek the court’s advice on this before breaking the seal. The entire process for inventory is of five days and is to culminate on 13 July as per schedule. Till 11 July, 42 items have been taken up for inventorisation.
Some sacred texts were found to be missing as well, though it could not be concluded that they have been taken away, till the time that the inventorisation is completed. The Commissioner has now just two days to complete the inventorisation, and Item No. 61 itself will take a very long time to scrutiny, as it contains “226 pieces of Chamgos (mask dance uniforms) made up of antique Chinese brocades. Among the 226 pieces, four pairs of Chamgos, made during the reign of Kublia Khan, depict fir pattern. These are in the main prayer hall in cupboards having 1,000 Buddha statues. By the time this is invemtorised, the Commissioner will have no time left for opening the main room. He has so far not sought the intervention or the advice of the court regarding the breaking of the seal, getting a duplicate key made and the room opened. None of the two main parties are reportedly willing to move the court either.
Earlier, on 8 July, the Commissioner had reached Rumtek at around 11.00 am, and has taken his office that Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s followers had, as per court orders, made for him. He had held rounds of discussions and offered prayers at the shrine. Later he had inspected the Monastery in General, reviewing the rooms that hold the sacred treasures. Till lunch, the keys could not be traced, though a few months earlier, Goshir Gyaltsab had said he had handed over the keys to the Tsurphu Lhabrang. The meetings broke for lunch and later, the Commissioner went back to work at around 2.30 pm. The first day’s inventorisation work ended past 4.00 pm, and the Commissioner along with other officials left for Gangtok.
The Commissioner was, however, not available for comments. In general, he has refused to speak with the press and even during his last visit in April, he had said that he would only communicate with the court, to which he is solely responsible. Phunshuk Lama (ADC to Ogyen Trinley Dorje), Tenzing Namgyal (general secretary of Tsurphu Lhabrang Office in Exile) and one advocate representing Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, along with T.S. Gyaltsen, Gyanjyoti Khangsa and an advocate for the Karmapa Charitable Trust representing the plaintiff are involved in the inventory process.
Out of ‘The Weekend Review’ in their ‘Sikkim Update’
page No. 10, and dated 12-18 July, 2002