By PRAJNAN BHATTACHARYA
Associated Press Writer
Hundreds of monks and followers gathered Wednesday to welcome the 17-year-old Tibetan high lama called the Karmapa on his arrival in this northern Indian town of Buddhist ruins.
Ugyen Thinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, will stay in Sarnath for a week before he proceeds to join the Dalai Lama at Kalachakra prayers in eastern India, the biggest annual gathering of Tibetans and other Buddhists.
During his stay, Dorje will take teachings from Thangu Rimpoche, who heads a center of Buddhist learning at Sarnath, 420 miles southeast of the Indian capital, New Delhi.
Dressed in traditional robes, Dorje sat on an eight-foot throne in front of a gold and bronze statue of Buddha and blessed his followers and the monks.
The Karmapa is the third-ranking lama in Tibetan Buddhism and the only senior lama to be recognized by both the Chinese government and the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.
He trekked 875 miles to escape Chinese-ruled Tibet in January 2000 and currently lives in Dharmsala, the northern Indian home of the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile.
The Indian government has yet to announce whether the Karmapa will be allowed to take his seat at the Rumtek monastery in northeastern state of Sikkim. The seat has been vacant since the death in 1981 of the 16th Karmapa, who had also fled Tibet.
His arrival for this year’s Kalchakara prayers was delayed by a week after the Indian government hesitated over granting him permission to attend.