Cloud over key Tibetan meet

Since 1999, when the Karmapa and his sister fled to Dharamshala, the government has hosted him and allowed him to set up his congregation. Since then he has grown in prominence and is now considered as a possible successor to the Dalai Lama’s political clout over the Tibetan refugee population around the world.
Confirming the impasse, the government’s former advisor on Tibetan Affairs Amitabh Mathur, who has been a key interlocutor said the matter has now been put on hold. “Karmapa is in a retreat now; it is not known when he would like to visit India. There are no restrictions on his travel, however” Mr. Mathur told The Hindu . The confusion over the Karmapa’s return is now casting a shadow over other issues in the community like the November conference of Tibetan religious leaders, which was postponed ostensibly after the death of a senior monk, Kathok Getse Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma School, in an accident in Nepal. While officials of the Central Tibetan Administration as well as government officials deny that the absence of the Karmapa had any role in the cancellation of the conference, most accept that it will be difficult to reschedule the conference without including him.
Keen to attend
In an interview to Radio Free Asia in July this year, the Karmapa had underlined the importance of holding the conference as well as of his presence there. “I have no doubt or question that my return to India is absolutely certain. In November of this year, there will be an important meeting of the heads of the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions in Dharamsala, India. Therefore, I must attend,” he had said. The cancellation of the conference has come as a major surprise given the stakes involved in bringing together various streams of Tibetan Buddhism and their leaders in particular. Around 150 Tibetan leaders and religious figures had been invited to the conference. The Dalai Lama was due to address the gathering on the last day of the conference organised by the CTA in Dharamshala. A discussion on a successor to the Dalai Lama was also expected to be held.
Beijing’s concerns
When asked about a date for the conference, officials said the conference has now been “indefinitely postponed” which led to speculation that New Delhi had bowed to Beijing’s sensitivities on the issue. Mr. Mathur said China was playing an influential role in the Buddhist circle in Nepal and Sri Lanka. “We have to take note of this growing Chinese engagement in our neighbourhood. They will do what’s in their interest. What we need to do is to expand and intensify our own engagement,” he said. When asked, MEA sources however, denied that the Chinese government had ever raised concerns over the 13th Tibetan leader’s conference.

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