India Denies 17th Karmapa’s Visit to Europe

Via John Pappas
on Apr 4, 2010
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The 17th Karmapa’s scheduled trip to Europe was recently cancelled when India refused to provide permission to travel or reason for the refusal.  The Karmapa was slated to visit Germany Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, France, England, Belgium, Spain, Scotland and the Netherlands.  The following letter was released by the Coordinator of the Karmapa’s proposed European visit, Ringu Tulku on his website.

Dear Dharma Friends,

I am sad to announce that the proposed visit of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje was not approved by the Government of India. The visit was scheduled to take place from 27th May to 2nd July in nine countries of Europe.

The Kagyu Office, the Administration of Gyalwang Karmapa was informed of the decision by the Tibetan Government in Exile on 3rd April 2010. The process has begun to find out why this visit was not possible and what positive conditions are needed to make the visit possible in near future.

I know a huge number of followers and friends in Europe were eagerly waiting for the visit of Gyalwang Karmapa and I know that all of you are sad and disappointed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the organizers, volunteers and donors for working so hard to prepare for the visit in last many months. Your cooperation and support were beyond any expectations.

I hope and pray together with you that the visit will happen in very near future and that all of us would be able to receive his teachings in Europe.

Ringu Tulku

A group of Buddhist nuns that were slated to join the 17th Karmapa also commented on the events saying…

Unfortunately, it is really true. His Holiness will not be going to Europe this June (and so of course neither will we). Yet despite all the hopes that had been raised, and the joyful anticipation that is now suddenly dashed, His Holiness is here, receiving people with his usual tranquil presence and and that undercurrent of intensely powerful joy that is one of his trademark qualities. Watching His Holiness direct the fullness of his attention to each person coming before him, you would never think that he had actually heard this devastating news.

In terms of the possibility of truly remaining joyful under adverse conditions, in terms of the possibility to train our minds to maintain equanimity and stay focused on what we can do for others, and in terms of not grasping onto anything as real and inherently existent, watching His Holiness’ response to this setback is a very powerful and very inspiring teaching.

In the meantime, His Holiness’ staff is in the process of trying to ascertain the reasons for the denial of travel permission, and as that becomes clear, we may gain a fuller understanding of what went wrong and how it might be corrected next time. His Holiness needs this permission to travel from his temporary residence here in northern India, due to his particular status as a refugee and as a prominent leader of the Tibetan people, and it is granted only at the discretion of the Indian governmental agency in charge of such matters. We will share what we can as it becomes clearer.

While I hope that this is cleared up (or at least good reason provided by the Indian government) it is not the first time the Karmapa has been denied permission to travel abroad.  As report by the Buddhist Channel in 2008 when the Indian government did not allow the Tibetan leader to visit areas near the China border ahead of the Beijing Olympics.  The sights to be visited in 2008 included various monasteries in Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh as well as Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir.  The Indian government never provided any reason for the cancellation.

The following was an interview by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche about the scheduled visit and the Karmapa’s interest in engaging with the youth of Europe.


About John Pappas

John Pappas is a struggling Zen practitioner with a slight Vajrayana palate (but he won't admit it) stumbling between the relative and absolute through the Buddhist Purgatory otherwise known as the Great Plains of South Dakota. Emerging writer, librarian and aspiring hungry ghost, John spews his skewed perception of the dharma all over his personal blog, Subtle Dharma Mouth Punch as well as on the ephemeral Elephant Journal and occasionally (while having no artistic ability to speak of) on Dharma/Arte. John also loves tacos, homebrew, yoginis and obscure Cthulhu references. You can follow him on twitter under the handle @zendustzendirt


17 Responses to “India Denies 17th Karmapa’s Visit to Europe”

  1. francoish says:

    I'm wondering how to best react to the news. What should we do? What is the best way to accumulate the merit we seem to be lacking?
    Do we need to start a Free Karmapa campaign? His Holiness arrived in Dharamsala on Jan.5th 2000. After 10 years in India, I would say it's time for him to enjoy real freedom!

  2. John Morrison says:

    I'm not sure why this would be an issue? Unless the trip as a whole involved stops in some of those touchy, disputed border areas and Indian didn't want to arouse the ire of China? Disappointing though….glad he got cleared to come to the U.S. in 2008 at the least.

  3. Well, when India turned down the request to tour Kashmir in 2008 I can see the possible logic but Europe I just don't understand.

  4. buddhist says:

    i m very dissappointed to India Government, i always think india G better than China Government ! India Government ! what happen with you ! but i knew h.e Sharmapa Rinpoche ask India Government reject H.H. Karmapa go other country, so Sharmapa 's Thaye dorje can go other country freely :.l Sharmapa Rinpoche are you buddhist ???

  5. buddhist says:

    Sharmapa Rinpoche ia a politician , he had gooood relation with India Government . YOU "RE TOO MUCH !

  6. aiya says:

    H.H.Karmapa came to India 10 years already , can only go USA once at 2008 . Thaye dorje go all countries freely . …..

  7. John Morrison says:

    That's what I thought. Actually, based on the number of people killed by Maoists the other day – somewhere out of India might be the safest place for him until they can get a handle on the situation (if ever)

  8. John Morrison says:

    Would be ironic if this is the case in fact…the Karmapa is young and has model good looks as well as great intelligence. He would be very compelling on the world stage and maybe spark a more mainstream debate on the Tibet issue. Not that His Holiness is not compelling but the Karmapa is a fresh face that I could see being interviewed by GQ or some such – preaching to those outside the choir in other words…

    I would love to think of an explanation other than yours – but none of the possibilities are really that heartening….

    Glad I caught him in Seattle – would have liked the excuse to head for Paris this summer but I will live.

    Feel for all the sangha in Europe though – the Karmapa is powerful in person – truly – hopefully this can be sorted out and they can experience it directly soon.

  9. bill schwartz says:


    Thaye Dorje could go to the moon and nobody would care because he isn't the Karmapa but the Karmapa lives trapped in India by Tibetans who don't want him to fulfill the legacy of the 16th Karmapa of bringing the lineage to the West.


    Karmapa Chenno!

  10. francoish says:

    I just posted His Holiness official statement on the visit blog here:

  11. Panchenlama says:

    The Constitution of India determines that Buddhism is Hinduism. Not Buddhism. Buddhist Temples in India have also been, by the Indian Constitution, disowned as being Hindu. Consequently, the Indian Govenment – officially Hindu – treats the Karmapa Lama as subservient to the Hindu religious authorities. The Indian government did not justify its violation of human rights, because the Karmapa Lama has the human right to travel abroad on religious duties, which this time, were impeached by the Hindu government of India.

  12. Kelley Lynch says:

    Stop maligning Sharmapa. Apparently the Sharmapa is the reason Thrinlay Dorje was able to visit the United States. What Buddhist sits around trashing one of the heads of the Kagyu lineage and then accuses Sharmapa, whose role is to protect the Kagyu lineage, of being a politician? People should just respect their teacher and stop causing disharmony. Clearly the Sharmapa, who is a Buddha, knows what he is doing and clearly the Indian government understands that there are national security threats here involving China. I think it is incredibly harmful to people who are students of any of these teachers to sit around publicly trashing them. It is anti-Buddhist. The Sharmapa is my teacher and he is a wonderful man who was extraordinarily close to the 16th Karmapa. Situpa should tell his students to cease and desist from engaging in terrorist tactics against Sharmapa.

    Kelley Lynch

  13. William says:

    I am wondering if the Indian government just wants to limit and control the karmapa, to keep him from becoming possibly a future world leader on a similar level to the Dalai Lama, who has made a huge impact, and is of course a guest in India, but not Indian nor of the same religious faith as most Indians?

  14. Don says:

    Actually, lots of folks are thrilled to receive visits from Karmapa Thaye Dorje. He has the support of the government of Bhutan, so he can travel freely. And I hope your Karmapa can travel freely as well.

  15. Don says:

    Well said, Kelley, but I seriously doubt Situpa's students will ever receive such guidance.

  16. Don says:

    Maybe he should escape again. What country would be best?

  17. […] Zombie Nazis – but that is just me. There was further concern when the Karmapa was denied a teaching tour of Europe and the US by the Indian government for reasons, as far as I can tell, were never really […]