BY MICHAEL FATHERS
Sixteen-year-old Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the most senior religious leader in Tibet until he fled the country 15 months ago, has spoken for the first time since he joined the Dalai Lama in exile in India. Better known as the 17th incarnation of the Karmapa — and a possible successor to the Dalai Lama — the teenager’s press conference on April 27 lifted the veil on his personality. Two days later, he sat down with TIME’s South Asia bureau chief Michael Fathers and discussed growing up, missing his parents and his love of painting and music. Edited excerpts:
When do you expect to return to Tibet?
Having come to India as a refugee, I don’t plan to return to Tibet until the Dalai Lama returns. I will go back with him.
The government of China says you left your monastery to go to India to reclaim the Karmapa’s symbolic black hat and other religious possessions. They said your reasons were contained in a letter you left behind.
It is true that I left behind a letter. I am perfectly aware what was in it as I wrote it myself. I said in it that I was Read the rest of this article