Gangtok, Jan. 12: More than 300 monks from North Sikkim called on chief minister Pawan Chamling here today, demanding that his government do its best to ensure that the Karmapa visits Phodong monastery to preside over religious ceremonies.
Earlier on Wednesday, a rumour had been doing the round that the Karmapa was expected in Sikkim for a 10-day tour. However, an inquiry with the Union home ministry revealed that no permission has been granted to the Karmapa to visit the state.
Thinley Lama, who headed the monks’ delegation, said the meeting with the chief minister was extremely fruitful. Chamling had apparently faxed a copy of the memorandum submitted to him by the monks to the Prime Minister. Chamling said he would let the monks know of any development once the PMO responded to the letter.
The chief minister said though the state government had been pleading with Delhi on the issue, it was up to the Centre to allow the Karmapa to visit Sikkim. Chamling also appealed to the monks to refrain from mixing religion with politics.
The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, who has been recognised both by the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, had fled the Tsurphu monastery in Tibet in December 1999 to enter India in January 2000. Since then, the Centre had restricted the Karmapa’s movement within the country and had imposed a ban on his entry into Sikkim.
Currently, the Karmapa resides at the Gyuto monastery in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, while the original seat of the Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu sect, is located at the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim. At present, there are more than one claimant to the seat.
“Sikkim is a part of India and since the Karmapa is already here why is he being restricted from visiting the state'” one of the monks asked. Some members of the All Sikkim Monks’ Association said they were contemplating a dharna in the capital later if their demands went unheard.