Songs of the 16th Karmapa (1940 - 1962)
Some of the details of the Seventeenth Karmapa's life were foretold in the realization songs spontaneously composed by the Sixteenth Karmapa.
The Doha Tradition: Songs of Realization and Inspiration
Songs and poetic compositions expressing realization and wisdom are an ancient tradition within the lineage. Its roots reach back to India, and the meditative practice was continued in Tibet. Virtually all the lineage holders expressed their insight in verse and song, often composed spontaneously in response to a student's question or experience with a master. Tilopa, the founder of the Kagyu lineage, for example, taught his extraordinary realization through songs to hundreds of thousands. The renowned yogi Milarepa is the most famous poet and singer of realization songs in Tibet. The Kagyu Gurtso, a famous collection of realization songs of the Karmapas and other Kagyu lineage holders that was compiled by Mikyo Dorje, the Eighth Karmapa, has been translated into English.
Foresight into a Departure and Return
The songs of His Holiness Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the Sixteenth Karmapa, who was born in Tibet in 1924 and left permanently in 1959, reveal his prophetic foresight about those events. He foresaw his need to flee the ancestral seat of the Karmapas in Tsurphu after the entry into Tibet of the Communist Chinese army. According to the prevailing reading of the dohas, or songs of inspiration, that follow, the 16th Karmapa also foresaw that his reincarnation, the 17th Karmapa, would be enthroned in Tsurphu, and in this way the Karmapas would continue to fulfill their historic duty that had been spotlessly continued from the time of the 1st Karmapa, to maintain the Tsurphu monastery complex. The 16th Karmapa's poems inidicated that the Karmapa would return to Tsurphu to restore the main seat of the Karmapas, but did not specify who this Karmapa in fact was to be.
In approximately 1940, at the age of 17, His Holiness Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the Sixteenth Karmapa, composed a song entitled simply A Song. His Holiness was then at Palpung Monastery in Tibet during the lifetime of the XIth Tai Situ, Padma Wangchok, the prior Tai Situpa. In this song, long before the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Karmapa predicts his flight to India, and supplicates Situ Rinpoche:
The Melodious Hum of the Bee
In 1944, the Karmapa published another song foreseeing the flight from Tibet, expressing his sadness at being forced to leave the glorious seat of the Kagyu at Tsurphu Monastery. In his song, entitled The Song Whose Time Has Come: The Melodious Hum of the Bee, he again predicts his departure from Tibet:
and also proclaims his intention to return to Tsurphu:
Blissful Roar Of Melodius Experience
In 1961-62, upon his arrival in India, he praised Tsurphu Monastery and spoke of returning to that "pure realm," but evidenced no intention to return during his lifetime.
After the 16th Karmapa's passing, it gradually became clear that the Karmapa's reference to his return to Tsurphu was a prediction about the Seventeenth Karmapa.
HH Gyalwa Karmapa
Detailed biographical information about His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is available from the drop down menus above. The materials are divided into:
17th Karmapa (His Holiness's current activities and schedule)
Background (Kagyu history regarding predictions about the 17th Karmapa)
In Tibet (His Holiness's early years, enthronement in Tibet and activity at Tsurphu Monastery)
In India (The Karmapa's escape to India and activities in India)
Reference (Official releases from the Kagyu Office and historical background documents referenced in other sections)
When not traveling, His Holiness holds regular public audiences at his temporary camp at the Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University in Dharamsala, HP, India
Kagyu Office of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa (about the Kagyu Office)
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