London, August 9 - The Bishop of London is at the centre of an unholy row after he participated in a ceremony with the disputed 17th Karmapa during his visit to London.
Right Reverend Richard Chartres welcomed six other faith leaders to the celebration "of friendship and trust" at St. Ethelburga’s, a London church transformed into a peace centre since it was bombed by the IRA in 1993. But senior Buddhists denounced the presence of Thaye Dorje, the 22-year-old who claims to be the living Buddha.
Bishop Chartres was inundated with angry letters and emails from Buddhists who insist that Thaye Dorje is the "failed candidate" and is not the real incarnation of the Karmapa, the head of the Kagyu Buddhist school. Urgyen Trinley, who is living in exile in India, is recognised by the Dalai Lama and most of the mainstream Tibetan Buddhist community as the genuine Karmapa.
The battle of succession, which has been raging for two , began after the death of the 16th Karmapa in 1981 when the traditional written instructions about where the next incarnation would appear could not be found.
In 1992, one of the four regents appointed to find a successor claimed to have discovered a letter of prophesy, and Urgyen Trinley was identified in Tibet the same year. With the approval of the Dalai Lama and most of the Karmapa’s followers, he was installed near Lhasa in Tibet until he escaped over the mountains and arrived in India in 2001.
But the authenticity of the letter, and the role in the succession of the Dalai Lama, has never been accepted by the senior regent, Shamar, and in 1994 he announced that he had found his own young candidate, Thaye Dorje.
The supporters of the two lamas have since carried on a war of words on the streets, over the Internet and in the courts.
Bishop Chartres’ office said that it "was appropriate" to welcome Thaye Dorje to the celebration "of friendship and trust." "We have no wish, however, to fuel the controversy around his lineage," it said.