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Top contender to succeed the Dalai Lama receives Dominican citizenship by investment

The 17th Karmapa, one of the top contenders to succeed the Dalai Lama, has received the citizenship of Dominica by investment.

His Holiness Urgyen Trinley Dorje, 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa, flew to Dominica last month to meet with officials and finish the lengthy process, planting a mango tree in the Jungle Bay Resort to symbolise a connection to his native land, according to a press release by the resort.

His Holiness Urgyen Trinley Dorje, 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa. Photo: Wikipedia

His choice to get a new passport comes as a result of having severely restricted movement throughout his life: after being identified as the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa when he was a small child, he was kept in a Tibetan monastery until he was 14, when he escaped through the Himalayas into India in 2000, in what Indian publication The Print called “a move of gigantic Bollywood proportions” since it has been adapted into films and legends.

Once in India, his movement was once again extremely limited by the government. He was not allowed to leave the country until President Narendra Modi lifted some of his conditions to travel abroad in 2014, though not entirely.

The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the most ancient tulku (or reincarnate leader) lineage, predating the Dalai Lama lineage by almost two hundred years.

He has been living in the US since last year, after the National Security Council in India allowed him to travel abroad once more and he has not returned.

The tight grip is a political game of forces between China and India, where he was used by the Chinese as a figure of control in the Tibet, and then in India where suspicion of being a Chinese spy often follows him.

His Dominican passport will give him sought-after freedom, though might eliminate the possibility of visiting India again, as the Indian embassy in the US will not allow him to give up his identity cards, while also not granting him a visa to visit India later this month, reports The Hindu.

He has received the blessing from the Dalai Lama to receive the new citizenship, and Amitabh Mathur, a former adviser to the Centre on Tibetan Affair told The Hindu that “acquiring foreign citizenship is an old issue, it does not make the Karmapa less of a Tibetan. It is only for ease of travel and doesn’t diminish his stature”.

Author: Ana Hernandez

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