only dharma left is superficial teachings, so it is not worth your
to save it." -- The 10th Karmapa
During the next
three days, the new Rumtek administration of Situ and
Gyaltsab pressured the monks who had not fled or been arrested to sign a
document affirming that they accepted Ogyen Trinley as the seventeenth
Karmapa. On August 5, the police returned, again accompanied by
Bhandari's party toughs from the Gangtok market. While the monks
were assembled in the dining hall, the bullies and police entered. A
of the street toughs pulled the cook out of the kitchen and smeared
powder over his face. They told him never to cook for the monks again.
Then they put up a large framed photo of Ogyen Trinley and addressed
The leaders of the
gang of toughs told the monks to perform
prostrations in front of the photo as police looked on. "At gunpoint
we were forced to accept Ogyen Trinley of Tibet as the one and only
Karmapa," said Omze Yeshey. "We had to swear an oath on our
acceptance. We were told that anybody who dared to say otherwise
would face legal consequences." The intruders brought tape recorders to
capture each oath. Then, the gang leaders drove the young monks into
the kitchen and made them pick up the kitchen knives. They had to pose
in menacing positions while the police snapped photographs, apparently
to allege later that they were fighting. The police would create bogus
criminal files for each monk.
Several of the
street toughs carried knives and demanded keys to
the monastery's prayer rooms and shrines. Just as they had refused to
surrender the main temple keys three days before, so now the Rumtek
monks would not yield the keys. This led to another stand-off. for six
nerve-racking hours, the monks stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of
the door to the main shrine room, while Bhandari's bullies took up
positions several feet opposite them, taunting the monks and
threatening to attack. The Sikkim police looked on without trying to
stop the bullies or defuse the situation.
The stand-off was
broken only by the appearance of more police
officers at about five o'clock in the afternoon, this time elite
forces of the Sikkim Armed Police. With Situ and Gyaltsab leading the
way, the soldiers chased the Rumtek monks to the back of the monastery.
The monks locked themselves in a small storeroom. The soldiers and
street toughs together broke down the locked door and began beating the
monks, injuring twenty in the process.
government officials -- Police Inspector General
Tenzing, the fearsome Officer Suren Pradhan, and another policeman
known as Kharel -- made a speech to the monks. They warned that unless
all the keys were handed over, anything could happen. In response.
the monks insisted that a monastery was a private religious institution
protected by India's constitution from state interference. The
officials were not impressed with this argument, and they insisted on
keys. Finally, seeing that it was the only way to avoid further
the monks handed over the keys to the police officers.
then unlocked the main temple door and
announced that from now on, Situ Rinpoche would control Rumtek.
Later. the Sikkim home secretary handed over all the keys to Gyaltsab
Rinpoche in exchange for a signed receipt.
police arrested more monks. "A considerable number
of our monks was illegally detained and locked up in police custody for
several days," said Chultrirnpa Lungtog. Monks who were not arrested
fled the monastery to take refuge in the surrounding forest. After the
week was out, about a hundred monks, or ninety percent of Rumtek's
original monks before Situ started bringing in outsiders in 1992, left
Rumtek rather than accept Ogyen Trinley as the seventeenth Karmapa.
"We were no longer
allowed to enter the monastery, so we had
to find somewhere else to stay," said Omze Yeshey. "This is why we
had to seek refuge in Shamar Rinpoche's residence, where we could
be close to the Dharma Chakra Center. He himself wasn't there. No
preparations or earlier arrangements had been made. In fact it was very
difficult. The house isn't that big, and we were a considerable number
monks. So we had to contend with numerous problems in terms of our
"It is deemed
strange," wrote the Hindustan Times, "that pro-China
Situ Rinpoche, who has never in the past taken up any responsibilities
at Rumtek has suddenly chosen to muster the Sikkim Chief Minister's
support, to execute a coup d'etat, while regent Shamar Rinpoche is
Buddha's Not Smiling, by Erik D. Curren