In early January, following the 2001 Kagyu Monlam, His
Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje visited Sarnath, India, where Lord
Buddha first turned the wheel of dharma. The Karmapa was the guest at
Vajravidya Institute, the shedra of his senior tutor Khenchen
Thrangu Rinpoche. The Karmapa's activities in Sarnath included visits
to temples and holy sites, prayers, audiences with devotees, and meetings
with prominent teachers. (Read an itinerary
of part of his visit to Vajravidya.)
Outstanding among these activities was an auspicious meeting of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness Karmapa while the Dalai Lama was also in Sarnath. On January 8, the two offered prayers at the Dhamekha stupa before visiting the Mahabodhi Temple (Mulaganda Koti Vihar), both situated on the grounds at Deer Park in Sarnath. The meeting was considered additionally auspicious because both the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa were in Sarnath during the same time period, without having coordinated their schedules to coincide. About a thousand monks as well as lay foreign nationals were in attendance.
The Karmapa traveled to Bodhgaya on January 24 where he had planned to receive the Kalachakra Initiation from the Dalai Lama. Unfortunately, due to ill health, the Dalai Lama postponed the demanding four-day empowerment until the following winter (2003). On January 25, under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, His Holiness Karmapa and Gaden Tri Rinpoche led a puja dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tens of thousands of monks, nuns, and laypeople from around the world were gathered at the site of the Buddha's enlightenment for the Kalachakra, an important Vajrayana rite.
In its April 29, 2002 issue, Time Asia magazine named His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje one of its Asian heroes, an honor the magazine conferred on "individuals whose valiance inspires us." His Holiness Karmapa was designated a hero from Tibet, whose "daring escape from China keeps hope alive for Tibetans." (Read the story on Time Asia's site.)
On May 16, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness Karmapa attended the opening of the annual ten-day Shoton (yogurt) Festival at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala. His Holiness Karmapa returned to TIPA for the closing day of this traditional Tibetan opera festival on May 24.
His Holiness Karmapa concluded his studies of abhidharma with his senior tutor, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, in May. In June, His Holiness was joined at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University, his temporary residence in Sidbhari, India, by His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche for further studies and transmissions. The Karmapa also received teachings from Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche that month.
On June 5 the Karmapa joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj to commemorate the 360-year anniversary of the founding of the Tibetan government by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1642. The celebrations began with an early morning prayer service, followed by a four-hour performance by Tibetan artists and school children highlighting Tibet's cultural heritage. Other distinguished guests included the chairman of the Kashag, Professor Samdhong Rinpoche; ministers and other senior officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile; and thousands of Tibetans, tourists, and the local community.
His Holiness Karmapa celebrated his seventeenth birthday (by the Gregorian calendar) on June 26. Celebrations were held at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University; at Dharma Chakra Centre in Rumtek, Sikkim, His Holiness's international seat-in-exile; and at Kagyu monasteries throughout the world.
At Gyuto, the celebration was notable for the presence of the chairman of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, who offered remarks on the life of the Karmapa and prayed for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness Karmapa to "a free Tibet." The event was also attended by His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche, His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, numerous high-ranking Tibetan exile-government officials, monks, nuns, lay disciples, and other guests. The day's program featured offerings and prayers for His Holiness Karmapa's long life, cultural performances, and a birthday lunch.
In a formal ceremony on July 24, before hundreds of monks, His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje received his novice monastic ordination (Getsul Vows) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, assisted by His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche. The occasion was followed by several days of celebration at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University.
On September 17, His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje served as the guest of honor and featured speaker at the Maha Bodhi Society of India's annual celebration marking the birth anniversary of their founder, the great Buddhist revivalist Anagarika Dharmapala. The event took place at the Sri Dharmarajika Chetiya Vihara, the Maha Bodhi Society's headquarters in Calcutta. In addition to a speech by His Holiness Karmapa, the event included a special exposition of the sacred relics of Gautama Buddha.
His Holiness Karmapa was the unanimous choice to serve as the chief guest at the 2002 celebration, serving in the same role filled by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2001.
Anagarika Dharmapala (1865-1933) was a Shri Lankan who established the Maha Bodhi Society, a pioneer international Buddhist organization, in 1891. His great devotion and deeds are credited with reviving Buddhism in the land of its birth after 800 years in large part by re-establishing the Maha Bodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, building new temples there and in Sarnath, and rehabilitating major sites connected with the life of the Buddha.
On his arrival in Calcutta on September 16, His Holiness Karmapa held a news conference. Two of the many reports
covering the event are chronicled on The Telegraph and the Times of India sites. In addition to attending the events at the Maha Bodhi Society, the Karmapa held audiences with monks and followers who travelled from Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre and Sikkimese students attending college in Calcutta.
On his return from Calcutta to his temporary residence near Dharamsala, His Holiness again spoke with reporters during a stop in Chandigarh on September 20. In an article published in
the Chandigarh Tribune the Karmapa talks about
the situation in Tibet and his desire to return to Rumtek.
In November, His Holiness Karmapa was in Delhi for a brief visit during which he met with Kalu Yangsi Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, Khenpo Donyo Rinpoche, and Lama Chodrak to discuss final preparations for the twentieth anniversary of the Kagyu Monlam in 2002, and a special commemorative book for the occasion. During his time in Delhi the Karmapa also enjoyed a visit to India's National Museum which recently opened new galleries of Buddhist and Tantric art.
His Holiness continued his studies with Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University in December, and his classes in debate. His Holiness is also studying Hindi and English.