Enthronment of the 17th Karmapa

In July of 1992, His Holiness received his formal name in a traditional ceremony before the most precious Buddha image in Tibet, at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche conducted the elaborate ceremony, presenting His Holiness with a variety of blessed items sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and others. His Holiness was given the traditional name of the Seventeenth Karmapa, revealed to the Great Treasure Holder (“Terchen”) Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa by Guru Rinpoche in the 19th Century C.E.: Pal Khyabdak Ogyen Gyalway Nyugu Drodül Trinley Dorje Tsal Chokle Nampar Gyalway De.

On 27th September 1992, His Holiness XVIIth Karmapa was enthroned at Tolung Tsurphu, the main seat of all the Gyalwang Karmapas since the 12th century. Before the ceremony began, His Holiness was present with an official certificate from the Beijing government accepting the recognition of His Holiness as a reincarnate lama. With that simple gesture, the heart of Tibet’s cultural history was officially restored.

Dusum Khyenpa, the First Karmapa, had started the Tulku Tradition in Tibet in the 12th century, and it endured for 800 years. It came to an abrupt quiescence after the entry of the Chinese army into Tibet in 1959. With the acquiescence of the government of China, the XVIIth Karmapa had revived the tulku tradition. This was indeed a wonderful and miraculous occurence.

As the religious ceremony commenced, the Karmapa was seated on the throne and His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche presented Ogyen Trinley Dorje with the confirmation letter, written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a copy of the Dakhaishalcham and the prediction of the Nechung Oracle, which had—at the request of an ecclesiastical representative of the Government of Sikkim—also ratified the selection of the Karmapa. In the traditional ceremony called “Ngasol,” His Eminence Tai Situpa consecrated the seven year old Karmapa with the eight precious ingredients, the eight auspicious symbols and the seven possessions of universal monarchs. Speech offerings followed, from eminent masters such as Khenpo Juno Dawa, Adi Rinpoche, Khenpo Lodro and others. This part of the ceremony concluded with an offering of an enomous mandala, by Gyaltsab Rinpoche, followed by the offering of an image of the Buddha symbolizing the body, a long-life sutra text for speech and a stupa symbolizing the mind.

Representatives of monasteries from all over the world, composed of more than 300 Tulkus and representatives of Dharma centers and governments, spanning four continents then made their offerings.

The shrine room where the ceremony took place that day was completely full and tens of thousands of Tibetans congregated outside, having arrived the previous week and set up tents everywhere around the monastery grounds. The following day, His Holiness individually blessed many of those present; over 30,000 people were eventually fortunate enough to receive his blessing.

Two days later, at the tender age of 7 years, so recently plucked from his nomad home in Lhotak, His Holiness began his service as the 17th Karmapa by blessing the audience with the most beneficent and compassionate activity of the Lord of Compassion. The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa performed his first empowerment, the initiation of the standing red-Chenrezig. It is said that flock of eagles circled in a clockwise direction and a horizontal rainbow appeared in the middle of the sky right above the monastery.

His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa had fulfilled the prediction of the Sixteenth, returning to the seat of the Karmapas.