Police in Himachal Pradesh, India formally charged the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, along with some of his aides, with crimes related to a putatively illegal stash of foreign currency which was discovered nearly a year ago. I had perhaps naïvely thought this story had quietly gone away. A number of questions arise: is the Karmapa going to be arrested? Since these are serious charges, is there any question of his being sentenced to prison time? It seems virtually impossible that things would get to that stage (if somehow every other avenue failed, I imagine the president of India could pardon the Karmapa to avoid the public relations disaster of trying to imprison such a high-profile foreign guest). But it is possible that today’s developments signal a stepped-up harassment of the Karmapa by hostile elements in the Indian government. Exactly what their motivation for doing that is has always been unclear to me. It could be related to the Shamarpa/Tai Situ controversy, but I have never had the impression that the Shamarpa has that much influence in the Indian government. It could be that elements in Indian government are actively trying to make sure the Karmapa never has any political ambitions that would cause friction between India and China; or, they do want him to have political ambitions, but they want to be able to control him.
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