No Sting in the Monk’s Tale by Hartosh Singh for Open Magazine caused quite a lot of comments on Facebook. I wrote to Hartosh Singh about my concerns and received his reply.

Dear Hartosh,

Hope you are well. You may remember we met in Sarnath when you were researching this story.

I have to question you on two points:

The bar on Tai Situ was subsequently removed through the intervention of senior members of the NDA Government, but Indian intelligence agencies remain suspicious of his ability to maintain contact with the Chinese. His recent bids to forge close links with Indian Members of Parliament (MPs) along the entire Himalayan belt have also come in for scrutiny.

Where does this information come from?

FYI the Shamarpa (who is the regent who has opted out of the lineage by presenting his own candidate for Karmapa) planted these stories about Tai Situ Rinpoche being a Chinese spy mostly in the Indian Express in the late 90’s. The trouble for the Tai Situ has been on going ever since. Again, where is the evidence of “recent bids to forge close links with Indian MP’s along the entire Himalayan belt?”

At  least you should have asked the Tai Situ to comment on that so he has a chance to make a statement because it is not a well known or accepted fact and if true it would be a major story.

The second thing is the assumption that the Karmapa will don the mantle of the Dalai Lama in the course of time. Again, it is important to clarify this by asking the Karmapa himself if this is his intention or if he has any interest in doing so.

What no journalist seems to understand is that the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa are entirely separate in their lineages. One doesn’t replace the other and never has in the course of history. The Karmapas have no need to don the mantle of another leader. The Karmapas are simply the Karmapas, the activity of the Budddhas. It’s much more vast and global than just the leader of the Tibetans. The Karmapas activity has to do with all of humanity. In the Karmapa’s own words:

“I have the responsibility of being the spiritual leader of a lineage and I don’t need extra responsibility. I cannot do beyond what a human being can do. The name "Karmapa" means the one who takes responsibility for all the buddhas’ activities. This is overwhelming enough. I don’t need more.” The Guardian, December 1, 2010

The Karmapa has also said recently that the Dalai Lama is the sole leader of the Tibetans, meaning he is not going to share this role as the standby. OK, let’s make it even clearer. There can only be one Karmapa. There can only be one Dalai Lama. Their roles are clearly defined and quite separate. There is no crossover. The Dalai Lama is the leader of the Tibetans and until his reincarnation appears after his death, there can be no other leader of the Tibetans.

many thanks for your patience in reading this.
kind wishes and in all, a good article,



Dear Naomi,
Am well, tks for the queries.
1.) In the article I make it clear that this is what the IB believes (and no one from the IB will actually be quoted on this !), which is not to say that it is true. This is an explanation for what was going on, not a justification.
2.) I think the article makes it clear that the lineages are separate (and I have no reason to be unclear on this after the time I spent in Sarnath), which is why it points out that after the Dalai Lama there will be an interregnum till the next reincarnation actually attains the maturity needed to don the mantle. The Tibetan movement cannot live with that vacuum for twenty years. There is no other conceivable figure who could take his place as a symbol for an entire people. That ahs nothing to do with the tradional roles of the Dalai Lama and the Karmappa, I do not mean replacing him in the traditional sense but in the sense of what he today symbolises to the world.
I hope that helps answer the queries you have.