Karma Raja Maha Vihar is an ancient monastery holding many historical values. It is the main seat of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, located at northern side of the great Swayambhu Stupa. In the early 1970’s, the 16th Karmapa stayed here for several months conducting special empowerments, teaching and giving audience to hundreds of disciples. Afterwards, the monastery continued the traditional monastic curriculum and meditation practices under his direction. After the 16th Karmapa passed away, the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche looked after the monastery, later passing in on to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje.
Shri Karma Raja Maha Vihar Monastery is a main seat of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa in Nepal. The current monastery building structure has gone through progressive transitions since its establishment with the contribution of many local and foreign Buddhist donors. In early 70s, previous 16th Karmapa visited and stayed here for several months conducting precious empowerments, teachings and giving audience to several hundreds of disciples. Since than, the monastery had been among the first to preserve the traditional monastic curriculums and meditation practices under the direction of the lineage holder, The 16th Karmapa. After his demise, His Eminence Shamarpa, the second in Karma Kagyu lineage has taken the role of Karmapa.
The Karmapas and Shamarpas
The Gyalwa Karmapa was the first recognized incarnate lama of Tibet. Throughout many centuries the Karmapas have been the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Karmapa’s successive conscious rebirths have kept the transmission alive and powerful to the present day. His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, who left Tibet in 1959 during the takeover of Tibet by the Chinese, ensured the preservation of the Karma Kagyu lineage. He established new monasteries an centers and together with his Western students, brought the profound knowledge about the true nature of mind to the modern world.
His Holiness the present 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, together with other great Masters of the Karma Kagyu School, visits Buddhist centers around the world to transmit the teachings of the unbroken lineage and offer practical methods and advice applicable to everyday life.
Thaye Dorje, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa
The Karmapa is one of the most important holders of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. The first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193), one of the most prominent lamas of his time, indicated prior to his death that he was to take rebirth again in Tibet. The second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1204-1283), was thus the first reborn lama of Tibet.
Since then, the Karmapas continued to reincarnate in Tibet and to guide the Karma Kagyu tradition. The Karmapa incarnates have always proven themselves as authentic Karmapas and were confirmed as being the Karmapa’s reincartation by a realized disciple of the respective previous Karmapa.
Their biographies show their extraordinary qualities in terms of their vast knowledge, their pure conduct and their compassion. They always made great efforts in studying the buddha-dharma, reflecting on it and in their meditation and they always displayed extraordinary abilities in teaching the dharma, helping their disciples to clear their doubts and in composing treatises to support others on their spiritual path.
The Karmapas are therefore considered to be great bodhisattvas who manifest in our world for the welfare of others. In the course of their reincarnations they have always contributed towards an authentic transmission of Buddhism in Tibet. The 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981), was furthermore instrumental in making Buddhism and in particular its Kagyu school accessible to the West.
His Holiness Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1983 in central Tibet, he began telling his parents, the great Nyingma lama Mipham Rinpoche and Dechen Wangmo, that he was the Karmapa almost as soon as he could speak. Traditionally, the Karmapas are said to recognize themselves in each incartation. Following the tradition of many centuries, the child was tested and formally recognized by the highest lama in the Karma Kagyu after the lineage head himself, the 14th Shamar Rinpoche, and given the name Trinley Thaye Dorje, meaning Limitless Unchanging Buddha Activity.
Having escaped from Chinese-controlled Tibet in 1994, His Holiness Karmapa has lived in New Delhi and Kalimpong for many years. He travels extensive ly throughout India, attending significant events such as the Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya each year, teaching and granting empowerments to students. He has also visited many countries in Asia and Europe, as well as Russia, starting with giving empowerments to thousands of students in Taiwan and Singapore in 1999 and continuing actively to this day. His formal education was completed in 2003, at which time he received the title of Vajracharya, or Great Tantric Master.