Karmapa claimant marries childhood friend

Karmapa claimant marries childhood friend
The row over the title of Karmapa – the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism – has taken a turn with one of the two claimants relinquishing monkhood and marrying his childhood friend. Thaye Dorje, who claims to be the 17th Karmapa, married his childhood friend Rinchen Yangzom in a private ceremony in Delhi last Saturday. Thaye, who is now 33-year-old, however, did not give up his claim to be the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

“My role and activities as Karmapa will continue as before – with the single exception of conducting ordinations,” he said. Thaye entrusted another senior lama of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to conduct ordinations. “As Karmapa, I will continue to protect and preserve our beloved lineage, and strengthen the monastic sangha through initiatives such as the new Karmapa Center of Education,” Thaye added in a statement posted on his website. Thaye’s wife Rinchen Yangzom was born in Thimphu and studied in India and Europe. Though the two had been friends since childhood, Thaye, who was born in Tibet and grew up in India, proposed to Yangzom according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition early this year.

Thaye’s rival is Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, who fled from China to India in 2000 and has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama – the supreme leader of all sects of Tibetan Buddhists. The dispute divided the Kagyupa sect into two factions, each owing allegiance either to Ogyen or Thaye. The two factions are also engaged in a legal battle over the control of the Rumtek Monastery, which is very close to the India-China Line of Actual Control in Sikkim.

A source in the Tibetan government in-exile based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, said that Thaye’s marriage with Yangzom might further strengthen his rival Ogyen’s claim to the title of Karmapa.

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