This guessing game has been on since 2000, when the 15-year-old boy-monk suddenly appeared in Dharamsala after escaping from his monastery in Tsurphu and trekking through Tibet's icy mountains for 15 days. The Chinese made the confusion worse when they claimed that the Karmapa had gone to India to collect his Black Hat and some books. The Karmapa's hat has been locked in a vault at Rumtek, in the monastery built by his 16th reincarnation . Dorjee has not been able to visit the gompa in Sikkim till now.
Holed up on the top floor of the Gyuto Tantri Monastery, near Dharamsala, for seven long years, the Karmapa was allowed by the Indian government to travel abroad for the first time in June 2008. Amid global protests against the Beijing Olympics, as the Karmapa followed the Dalai Lama to the US, observers couldn't help claiming that the Karmapa was being groomed for a future role. The 22-yearold monk himself was quite modest. "I am still young. I have to complete my education before assuming any role," he told TOI-Crest , a day before boarding a flight to the US.
Technically, the Karmapa can't assume the role of the Dalai Lama. They belong to two different schools. But the Karmapas have ruled Tibet in the past. They lost power in a bloody struggle with the 5th Dalai Lama. Is Tibet's past coming full circle in India now? The answer probably lies in the heads of two lamas living in Dharamsala.