Rebuilding Tsurphu (1992-1999)

In early 1980, when the communist Chinese government opened the Tibet-Nepal border for older Tibetans to visit family and relatives, His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa instructed Venerable Drupon Dechen Rinpoche to go back to Tibet to reconstruct the original seat, Tsurphu Monastery. Reconstruction of Tsurphu was extremely difficult because Tibetan people were very poor and any support they could provide was very limited. However, through the tireless effort of Drupon Dechen Rinpoche and the devotion and dedication of the Tibetan people, many aspects this large complex was rebuilt. After many years of hard work and dedication they completed the partial rebuilding of the main shrine and some of the other parts of the development.
Throughout Tibet and China, many monasteries were destroyed during 1959 and the Cultural Revolution. Tsurphu was no exception, suffering very heavily. This beautiful seat was completely destroyed and was left in total ruin in 1966. No inhabitants were able to remain there; after the destruction you could see from a distance only the the remnants of a mostly collapsed and ruined wall.

Upon the return of the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the reconstruction was brought to a completely different level. Most of the original Tsurphu Monastery complex was restored and a new shedra, or monastic college, addition was built. Many devoted students and followers of the Kagyu lineage visited His Holiness Karmapa at Tsurphu and donated their services for the effort of rebuilding the original seat at Tsurphu Monastery.



Enthronement (September 27, 1992)

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.


First Public Ceremony - September 29, 1992

On September 29, 1992, His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje performed his first public ceremony, bestowing the empowerment of Standing Red Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara). The empowerment was received by over 20,000 of his fortunate devotees. He was assisted by H.E. Tai Situ and H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche, and read the core of the ceremony himself in a voice clear and steady. It was a moving moment for any who had known the previous Karmapa. The Seventeenth Karmapa had begun his great compassionate activity, and it was acknowledged not only by the people present but also by a contingent of eagles which circled in a clockwise direction above the monastery, and by a horizontal rainbow that appeared in a virtually cloudless sky during the empowerment.

Over 20,000 followers received the Karmapa's first empowerment

From the time of the First Karmapa (through this empowerment of Avalokiteshvara), the line of the Karmapas remains pure and unbroken. The lord of the dharma, the glorious First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, was of the nature of all the Buddhas of the three times. There have been countless bodily manifestations of him: bodhisattvas such Avalokiteshvara; accomplished masters such as Saraha; learned pundits such as Sri Vira (Ashvagosha) and Nagabodhi; kings, such as Indrabodhi; and in Tibet, Gyalwa Choyang, Putowa Rinchen Sel, Kharak Gomchung, and others.
In the treasure predictions of Ratna Lingpa it is said: "Upholding the activity of Avalokiteshvara, the mantric yogi with awesome behavior, endowed with the name Human Saint Karmapa will transverse the whole land. He will tame beings and protect them with skillful means and compassion."
Thus he has been praised as being an emanation of Avalokiteshvara in the various treasure predictions of all the undisputed great revealers, the renowned representatives of Padmakara, who have appeared up through the fifteenth, sixty-year cycle such as Dorje Lingpa, Karma Lingpa, and others.
Ogyen Rinpoche, with his vajra speech, has said: "When seeing his face for but the fraction of an instant, the karmic obscurations of seven rebirths will surely be dispelled."
In these ways it has clearly been demonstrated in the prophecies that he is not different from the Noble Compassionate One.