News and Views on Tibet

Two claimants to Karmapa title to jointly search for reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje and Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje in France in 2018. Photo- Tsurpu Labrang.

By Tenzin Dharpo


DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 10: The two main claimants to the title of the foremost religious head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorjee, will join hands to recognise the reincarnation of a ranking lama Shamar Rinpoche to bring unity and cement the future of the lineage.


“It is extremely important that Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation be recognized without any mistake or confusion, without any “our side” or “their side.” Having a unanimous recognition is absolutely crucial for Buddhism in general and our lineage in particular, and with this in mind, Gyalwa Thaye Dorje and I intend to cooperate in the search and recognition,” Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee said Sunday at the 37th Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya through live video feed.


He added that the issue warrants a “wider perspective” as well as “long term view” for the betterment of the particular school of Tibetan Buddhism. He said, “I see the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche as a crucial point for bringing unity to the Kamtsang, and am putting effort into it. If the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche is disputed, in the future, all the Kamtsang high lamas will be disputed and the Kamtsang will be completely split.


“The attachment and hatred will be the same as in a feud that lasts for generations. If we fall under its power, all the majesty and power of over nine hundred years of history will be destroyed.”


The move is seen as another step by the two lamas to mend division and promote unity within the lineage that over the last few decades saw internal rift and discord between main rival camps. In late 2018, the two met in France and later released a joint statement where they said they talked about ways “to heal the divisions that have unfortunately developed within our precious Karma Kagyu lineage in recent years. We view it as our duty and responsibility to do whatever we can to bring the lineage together.”


The Karmapa controversy stems primarily due to the emergence of opposing claimants to the title of the age-old Karma Kagyu lineage. The Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje who escaped Tibet in the year 2000 was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 17th Karmapa and enjoys backing from key ranking figures in the lineage such as Tai Situpa.


Rumtek monastery, also called Dharmachakra centre in Sikkim, considered as the main seat of Karma Kagyu lineage in exile is also the focal point of this sectarian tension between the two organizations, Tsurphu Labrang (supporting Ogyen Trinley Dorje) and Karmapa Charitable trust (supporting Thaye Dorje).



14 Responses

  1. It is very difficult to say the right thing. As I understand from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s speeches, the purpose of reincarnation is to continue the good deeds of the previous Lama or a holy man. Good deeds means good for the whole society without discrimination, good for the whole institution. When a holy man has done such a work, then I wish that he may come in this world again to continue the works of his previous life.

  2. How fortune that both Karmapa Orgyen Thinley Dorje AND Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje are both open-minded, congenial and forward-thinking regarding the lineage. Both Karmapas’ mind-streams could have been part of the 17 enthroned Karmapas lineage in some way. Tibetans, of all people, know how complicated recognizing reincarnations can become

  3. Hallo Mr Jampa,
    It seems like your knowledge of Dharma is zero comma zero. Iam sorry to say that but it is. So better you keep quite and try to get first blessing from your Guru’s incase if you have one inorder to purify your negative karma which you have in this life. It’s pity you don’t anything about Gyalwa Sharmpas golden ring of Kagyu Lineage. You can’t challenge Buddha like Gyalwa Sharmpas. Gyalwa Sharmapas are enlightened beings (Buddhas) and are golden ring of the kagyu lineage. Please don’t pile up the negative karmas in your life time. It is very sinful for you. Better you take an apportunity of to practice Dharma in your life time. That’s best for you. You can’t take anything when you are dying. Only thing that you can take after your death is the deeds of Dharma that you have done it in your life. I hope understand that. So keep it in your mind.

  4. Until this historic meeting and joint statement regarding the Yangsi of the Shamarpa Lama by the two current heads of the Karma Kagyu heads there has been great suffering and confusion among the millions of followers of the late HH the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa around the world. By his Presence and Buddha Activity, the great 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was a natural and the last Dharma Raja of Tibetan Buddhism in the 20th Century.

    Ambitious individuals from within the Karma Kagyu Lineage holders and outside negative political entities and individuals have created unnecessary division and suffering and threatened the noble Karmapa Legacy. This meeting and joint statements by the two young and extraordinary Karmapa Lamas regarding the reincarnation of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche is a game changer. It is both monumental and precious because it has brought the current two Karma Kagyu Heads together as One.

    Like the Panchen Lama institution of Tibet, the Shamarpa Lama institution of Tibetan Buddhism is one of the many bright stars in the Tibetan galaxy. It was through cruel theocracy and politics in Tibet that the Shamarpa Lama institution was banned for generations. On hind sight this same Theocracy was created and executed for nearly 600 years by the past Gelugpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet who lost our country to China.

    Ironically, it was only when we lost our country in 1959 and fled to India as refugees that HH the 14th Dalai Lama reinstalled the Shamarpa Incarnate at the request of HH the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa.

    The Karmapa Lama institution is one of the most important Tibetan Cultural Heritage. It started the Tulku system in Tibetan Buddhism starting with Karma Pakshi. Over the centuries this Tulku system was abused by some Tibetans for personal gain but great blessing to many Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist way of life. Both Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje Karmapa Lamas escaped from occupied Tibet and were born to Tibetan families. Upon hearing and seeing the two current young Karmapa Lamas, it brings great joy and hope for Tibet because there is magic and wisdom in their teachings of the Buddha Dharma and their devotion to the current and great 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

    Upon the advise by our beloved Kundun and a host of high Lamas such as HH Gyalwa Drikungpa Chetsang and HH the Sakya Trizin etc and a few key individuals we are now able to celebrate the union of the “Twin Karmapa” Buddha Activity. At the end of the day it is all about Namo Buddhaya!!

    By the Grace of His Holiness the great 14th Dalai Lama, I pray that the Shamarpa Yangsi mutually recognized by the two current heads of the Karma Kagyu Order will continue to bring healing, joy and tolerance within our fragmented Tibetan Buddhist Communities and Buddhists around the world.

    1. Tashi Delek Achi – I have asked for your help at least three times now. Please can you tell me what the results of your research are? Thank-you…

    2. You know the history of Tibet, then you should clarify the whole thing from all sides.. What is feudalism for example? Was Tibet really a feudal country? Were only the Gadenphodrang and the Gelugpas responsible that we lost our country? What about the six million Tibetans? What about other religious schools? Where war the six millions Tibetans and five relgious schools inclusive Bön in Tibet? We can not always shoulder the whole fault hundred percent only on one person or group. Most important thing for us is to look forward and work for our unity. If we go on critizing each other, that is the thing what the Chinese really like. There are lots of fake stories the Chinese spread on our country and people and many believe in them.

    1. It depends on which history one believes, if it is one written by Ganden Phodrang, then it is better not to have Shamarpa. If it is actual history, then it would be good for Karma Kagyu lineage to have one Shamarpa.

    2. The Shamarpas and Karmapas are seen as inseparable. There are many statements about that. That’s why they are also called the black hat and the red hat Karmapas in history.
      The 16th Karmapa also stated that the most important thing which accomplished in his life was to recognise and reinstall the lineage of the Shamarpas.
      I think that shows how important it is that the Tulku of Shamarpa is recognised without error. We can be very happy that both Karmapas agree on that and work together.

    3. What you think and what history tells are two different interpretations. They are academically segregated by fact and opinion. Hence, better not to mix them up and pretend you know much. You are still following the feudal ideology of the dark period and none scientific way to manipulate readers, but it does not work anymore in the 21st century.

  5. Mind, body speech. Nobody said it had to be in one body. There is something each person brings to the table.
    Are there perhaps aspects learned from indigenous cultures in other places that can be beneficial for the Tibetan people to maintain a cultural identity in the 21st century?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *