H.H. the 16. Gyalwa Karmapa
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981)
H.H. the 17. Gyalwa Karmapa
Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje
The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyü lineage, one of the four main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Karmapa literally means „embodiment of all the activities of the buddhas“. The first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, lived from 1110-1193. He established the tradition of tulkus, which are enlightened teachers or so-called Rinpoches who are able to control their reincarnation in order to continue their activities for the benefit of all beings without interruption. The current Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the 17th in the lineage of these enlightened masters.
The lineage of the Karmapas
The current 17th Karmapa was born in 1985 into a nomad family in Eastern Tibet. His birth was accompanied by auspicious signs, and his family already believed that he might be a reincarnation of a Rinpoche. Therefore, he was brought to a nearby monastery with the early age of 4 to receive education, but he still continued to spend much time with his family at home. In the late spring of 1992 he instructed his family to move the camp to another valley and to expect the arrival of traveling monks.
Indeed, soon after a group of Karma Kagyü lamas arrived, looking for the reincarnation of the Karmapa with the help of a prediction letter written by the 16th Karmapa. The letter contained detailed information regarding his year and place of birth and the name of his parents, which enabled the monks to recognize the young boy as the reincarnated Karmapa. His Holiness the 14. Dalai Lama soon confirmed the identification.
In June of 1992 he was brought to Tsurphu monastery, which is the main seat of the Karmapas in Tibet, and two month later he was inthroned as the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje in the presence of thousands of Tibetans and Western visitors.
The 17th Karmapa, aged 7, after his inthronization at Tsurphu monastery in 1992
In Tsurphu he immediately started his studies of Buddhist mind science, rituals and sacred art. In addition, he gave audiences on a daily basis to hundreds of visitors. Soon he started to give empowerments and took part in many rituals of the monastery. At the age of 10 he started to recognized reincarnations of different Kagyü lamas.
Because many teachers of the Kagyü tradition lived in exile in India, he was not able to receive the empowerments and transmissions necessary for fulfilling his tasks. Therefore, at the age of 14 he decided to flee to India. On January 5, 2000 he arrived in Dharamsala after a flight of 9 days, where he met H.H. the Dalai Lama.
The 14 year old Karmapa with H.H. the Dalai Lama after his escape to India in January 2000.
In India he continued his traditional studies, but he also started to study modern science and English language. Since his arrival in India he lives at Gyuto monastery in Dharamsala, where he receives thousands of visitors from all over the world. In 2008 he started his long awaited travels to the West in order to continue the dharma activities of his last incarnation.
On The Karmapa Controversy
"In the course of my lineage practice, I constantly prayed to the 16th Karmapa for his help to enable me to know clearly and deeply in my mind who is the real 17th Karmapa. Praying with pure motivation and with the blessings of the 16th Karmapa, I have concluded with absolute certainty that Urgyen Trinley Drodul Dorje from Tibet is the 17th Karmapa. I have reached this conclusion from my own practice and the blessings of the Karmapa."