Ogyen Trinley Dorje

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Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Karmapa lama.JPG
TitleHis Holiness
17th KarmapaCo-claimant along with Thaye Dorje
Born (1985-06-26) 26 June 1985 (age 33)
SchoolKarma Kagyu
Senior posting
PredecessorRangjung Rigpe Dorje
ReincarnationKarmapaCo-claimant along with Thaye Dorje

Ogyen Trinley Dorje (Tibetan: ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗེ།, Wylie: O-rgyan 'Phrin-las Rdo-rje, Chinese: 鄔金欽列多傑; born 26 June 1985), also written Urgyen Trinley Dorje (Wylie: U-rgyan 'Phrin-las Rdo-rje; is a claimant to the title of 17th Karmapa Lama.

The Karmapa is head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.


Born in Lhatok Township, Chamdo County, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, to primarily nomadic parents,[1] Ogyen Trinley Dorje is said to have identified himself to family members as the Karmapa early in childhood. (The identification of the 17th Karmapa is disputed. See Karmapa controversy.) Known as Apo Gaga, he was seven years old before he was recognized by a search party headed by the Tai Situpa, following instructions Situpa claims were left to him by the previous Karmapa in a prophetic letter hidden in a locket. Ogyen Trinley Dorje was installed at Tsurphu Monastery (Wylie: Mtshur-phu), the traditional seat of the Karmapa in Tibet, recognized by both the 14th Dalai Lama and the official sanction of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, who declared him to be a "living Buddha", the first time the China's communist government has officially confirmed a tulku. Already a year later the Chinese announced during the UN-Human Rights Conference in Vienna, that they would train him in Tsurphu for his future task as successor of the Dalai Lama.[2]

At the age of 14, he escaped to India through Nepal,[3] arriving at the Tibetan exile quarters at McLeod Ganj on 5 January 2000. Ogyen Trinley Dorje had felt that he was unable to obtain in China the specialized instruction he needed to complete his studies and to realize his full spiritual authority. He resides at Gyuto Monastery in Sidhbari, near Dharamshala.

From 15 May 15 to 2 June 2008, he made his first trip to the West, visiting several cities in the United States (notably New York City, Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle)[4] and was formally enthroned in the North American seat of the Karmapas at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery in Woodstock, New York.[5] All across the country, he gave multiple teachings on compassion and the environment, gave the reading transmission for a new form of ngöndro, and bestowed several empowerments, including those of Avalokiteśvara and Padmasambhava. He also spoke about the special challenges of the rapid pace of modern society, and the virtues of the Internet as a tool for the study and practice of Buddhism.

In July 2008 he requested permission to visit monasteries in Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh and in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. The Government of India initially refused to allow these visits without giving a reason. It was speculated that the reason might have been that these areas are close to the border with China and that the 2008 Summer Olympics were approaching even though the Karmapa had made it clear that he does not promote Tibetan independence and has no political stance on China.[6] India eventually allowed his tour, which began in Ladakh, followed by Lahaul and Spiti, including the famous Tabo Monastery.[7]

Ogyen Trinley Dorje at age 14

Requests to visit USA and Europe in 2010 were denied by the Indian government.

On 9 July 2011, Dorje arrived back in the United States for his second visit. From 9 to 17 July, he participated in the Kalachakra initiation bestowed by the 14th Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C., then traveled by train to his seat at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and also visited both his center in New Jersey and Hunter College in New York City, returning to India on 4 August. During his visit, he taught extensively on compassion, gave Refuge, and bestowed the empowerments of both the Four-Armed and Thousand-Armed forms of Avalokiteśvara. He also granted an interview with Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times, which was published on 28 July 2011.[8]

As of October 2018, Ogyen Trinley Dorje was residing in the United States[3] and had been outside of India continuously since May 2017. In 2018, in order to facilitate travel abroad, he became a citizen of the Caribbean nation of Dominica [4] through a provision allowing citizenship through investment.[5]

Buddhist vegetarianism[edit]

"Gyalwa Karmapa" (Ogyen Trinley Dorje), by painter Claude-Max Lochu, exhibition for the project of Temple for Peace in France, 2008

On 3 January 2007, Ogyen Trinley Dorje mandated a purely vegetarian diet in all his monasteries and centers and strongly urged vegetarianism among all his students, saying that generally, in his view, it was very important in the Mahayana not to eat meat and that, even in Vajrayana, it is preferable for students and practitioners not to eat meat.[9]

Buddhist environmentalist[edit]

Commenting on the Buddhist tradition of life release, where animals destined for slaughter are bought, blessed and natively released, Orgyen Trinley Dorje indicated that the meaning of this concept was broad and that practitioners should use their intelligence to expand the tradition.[10] Similarly, when addressing the 2007 Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, he indicated that planting a single tree can be more beneficial than performing life release for many beings; recommending that monasteries should plant one to two thousand trees. In addition he urged monks to practise restraint when sponsors offer technology upgrades.[11]

On Earth Day, on 22 April 2009, Orgyen Trinley Dorje gave 108 instructions on protecting the environment.[12]

At the second conference on environmental protection (3 to 8 October 2009, Gyuto Monastery), he stated that "For too long, people have behaved thoughtlessly and ignored the damage to the environment that they are creating and, if this continued there was a great danger that it would be too late to do anything."[13]

On October 24, 2009, Ogyen Trinley Dorje supported international climate action day at a gathering at McLeod Ganj in northern India.[14]

In recent years, Khoryug, a network of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and centers that work on environmental protection in the Eastern Himalayas, was developed under the auspices of Ogyen Trinley Dorje as part of the World Wildlife Fund's Sacred Earth: Faiths for Conservation program.[15] And, in his April 2015 interview with Yale Environment 360, he said, "The environmental emergency that we face is not just a scientific issue, nor is it just a political issue, it is also a moral issue. And therefore all of us approaching this issue have to pick up our share of the responsibility to find and implement solutions. The scientific aspect of it, of course, is the supply of information — the creation of models and predictions and the introduction of techniques that we can use to remedy this. But our share of this responsibility is to take what scientists teach us to heart, so we actually transform our way of life into one that is sustainable.”[16]


Mipham Chokyi Lodro, 14th Shamarpa (the second-longest recognized tulku lineage in the Karma Kagyu tradition, and who in previous incarnations has held and transmitted the Kagyu lineage between Karmapas), did not recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje and instead proclaimed Trinley Thaye Dorje (Wylie: Mtha'-yas Rdo-rje), whom he purportedly identified a few years earlier than the recognition of Orgyen Thrinley Dorje in a dream as the true Karmapa. Shamarpas camp argue that until the reincarnation line of the Shamarpas was forbidden by the government of the Dalai Lama,[17] the successive Shamarpas were the persons in charge to recognize the Karmapas, whereas the Dalai Lamas played no role in the recognition.[18]

Many of the previous Karmapas have left a letter stating the details of their rebirth (this is an aspect of the special self-recognizing siddhi of the Karmapas) to assist in the recognition of their future incarnation, and thus the Shamarpa's recognition through a dream has come under scrutiny. On the other side Shamarpa questioned the authenticity of the "prophecy letter" which the 16th Karmapa allegedly had written and asked Situ Rinpoche for a forensic test of the letter, which Situ Rinpoche refused.[19] Ogyen Trinley Dorje is supported by the majority of the Kagyu hierarchy,[20] including two lamas who have played a role in finding previous Karmapas: Tai Situpa and Goshir Gyaltsab. A fourth such lama, the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, died early on during the controversy. Ogyen Trinley Dorje was enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery.

Other high Kagyu lamas who support Ogyen Trinley Dorje include the 9th Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche;[citation needed] the 9th Thrangu Rinpoche;[21] the 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and his Nalandabodhi organization;[22] the 12th Surmang Choseng Trungpa; the 7th Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche;[citation needed] the 3rd Tenga Rinpoche;[23] the Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche; Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche; Bokar Tulku Rinpoche;[24] Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche (abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra);[25] Sakyong Mipham and his organization, Shambhala Buddhism;[26] Drupon Rinpoche and Lama Norlha Rinpoche, among others. He is also recognized as Karmapa by both the current 14th Dalai Lama and the government of China.

Also sided with Orgyen Trinley Dorje are tulkus he has identified, such as the 11th Nenang Pawo, and those identified by Tai Situ Rinpoche such as the 3rd Kalu Rinpoche. There are now two recognitions of the 4th Jamgon Kongtrul, one sided with each Karmapa.

2011 police raid on Karmapa offices[edit]

In January 2011, the Himachal Pradesh Police seized money in currencies of 25 countries including China, valued at over 60 million, during raids on the offices of a trust backed by Ogyen Trinley Dorje.[27] They also seized several traveler's cheques and land deal documents, suspecting a hawala scam. Initially, the police suspected that the money was being used to spread Chinese influence in India, and that the Karmapa was a Chinese agent helping the Chinese government control Buddhist monasteries in India.[28] They said even if the Karmapa was able to explain the source of the money recovered, he might be held liable for violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.[29]

The Karmapa denied all the allegations and said that the seized money came via the donations from his followers.[30] A New York Times report on the matter noted that an unnamed rival Karmapa candidate has "close ties to Indian intelligence officials."[31] On 11 February 2011, it was reported that the central Indian government had cleared the Karmapa of all charges, finding that the money in question had been donated by followers.[32]

In December 2011, the Himachal Pradesh Police filed a chargesheet against Ogyen Trinley Dorje, naming him as an accused in the cash and foreign currency seizure case.[33] The Karmapa's office claimed that Dorje was not involved in the financial administration.[34]

Charges dropped[edit]

Indian police said on Tuesday 24 April 2012 that they had dropped all criminal charges against Ogyen Trinley Dorje.[35]

Criminal proceedings opened[edit]

A judge at the Himachal Pradesh High Court issued an order for authorities to open criminal proceedings over the recovery of around 1 million USD in foreign currency during a raid on his Buddhist monastery. His spokesman stated that "He strongly believes truth will prevail at the end".[36] Karmapa, along with nine other accused, was charged on 7 December 2012 and was asked by the court to appear personally on 6 March 2013. He failed to appear as he was out of Dharamsala. All the accused were as of July 2015 on bail.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reincarnation and enthronement of the 17th Living Buddha Karmapa". China Tibet Information Center. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
  2. ^ "Die Presse", 17 June 1993, page 2: "Am Rande der Konferenz".
  3. ^ "Press Statement from the 17 year old Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje April 27, 2001, Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University, Sidbhari, Distt. Kangra, HP, India" (Press release). Worldbridges Tibet. 27 April 2001. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  4. ^ His Holiness the 17th Karmapa's visit to his North American Seat in the USA
  5. ^ YouTube video
  6. ^ Tibetan spiritual leader not allowed to go near China border
  7. ^ India Okays Karmapa’s Visit to Border Areas
  8. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (2011-07-28). "A Young Lama Prepares to Be a Tibetan Leader". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Talk on Vegetarianism, by Orgyen Trinle Dorje, Karmapa XVII, As Translated Simultaneously by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche 3 January 2007, Full Moon Day, During the 24th annual Great Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India
  10. ^ "Life Release". Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03.
  11. ^ kagyumonlam.org: Kagyu Monlam Chenmo -- Teachings -- More Words on the Environment (2007/12/27)
  12. ^ A Message from the Gyalwang Karmapa: 108 Things You Can Do Archived 2010-10-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Gyuto Monastery in Dharamsala Hosts Conference on Environmental Protection
  14. ^ Karmapa supports international climate action day
  15. ^ "Sacred Earth: Faiths for Conservation". World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  16. ^ "For Buddhist Leader, Religion And the Environment Are One" Interview with H.H. The Karmapa by Roger Rohn, Yale Environment 360, 16 April 2015. [1]
  17. ^ see: Shamarpa#Controversy
  18. ^ Prof. Geoffrey Brian Samuel in: “Affirmation of Geoffrey Brian Samuel,” Lama vs. Hope and Ors, CIV-2004404-001363, High Court of New Zealand Auckland Registry, 11 November 2004.
  19. ^ https://karmapaissue.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/the-letter-of-prediction/
  20. ^ Yardley, Jim (2011-02-08). "Tibetan Lama Faces Scrutiny and Suspicion in India". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-08. After the death of the previous Karmapa, a bitter feud broke out between the high lamas charged with identifying his successor: at least two other people now claim to be the Karmapa, though a majority of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
  21. ^ "The Karmapa Controversy". HomePage of Thrangu Rinpoche. Archived from the original on 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2011-02-08. I have concluded with absolute certainty that Urgyen Trinley Drodul Dorje from Tibet is the 17th Karmapa.
  22. ^ "Lineage Masters". Nalandabodhi: Gateway to the Buddhist Science of Mind. Nalandabodhi. 2009. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  23. ^ Lettre de Tenga Rinpoché à Sharmapa et Topgala Archived 2011-08-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Lettre de Bokar Rinpoché à Sharmapa et Topgala
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ "Shambhala Welcomes His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa to America!". shambhala.org. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Shambhala International (Vajradhatu). 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  27. ^ "Foreign currency seized from monastery". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2011-01-29. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  28. ^ Vineeta Pandey & Ajay Bharadwaj (2011-01-29). "Money-stashing karmapa may be tried". DNA. Retrieved 2011-01-29.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  29. ^ "No clue about the cash:Karmapa". DNAINDIA. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
  30. ^ Ananth Krishnan (2011-01-29). "China denies Karmapa links, Tibetans express anger". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  31. ^ Wong, Edward (2011-02-04). "China: Officials Say Tibetan Lama Is Not a Chinese Spy as India Says". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  32. ^ "India: Tibetan Lama Cleared in Cash Inquiry, Report Says." The New York Times, 11 February 2011.
  33. ^ India police charge Tibet holy man in money probe. San Francisco Chronicle, 8 December 2011.
  34. ^ ‘Karmapa not involved in financial administration of office’. Indian Express, 9 December 2011.
  35. ^ The West Australian
  36. ^ http://news.sky.com/story/1515983/top-tibetan-monk-on-money-laundering-charge
  37. ^ Start Criminal Proceedings against Karmapa: Himachal HC to Govt, in India Today, July 09, 2015, Retrieved 26 November 2018


External links[edit]

Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
Reincarnation of the Karmapa
Co-claimant along with Thaye Dorje

Recognized in 1992