On the outer periphery of Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, a mere few hundred steps from the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment more than 2,000 years ago, the 14th Dalai Lama prays and meets his followers in a monastery behind an iron security curtain. Inside the temple, Trinley Thaye Dorje, the co-claimant along with Ogyen Trinley Dorje for the title of 17th Karmapa or head of Karma Kagyu school, is preaching to his followers from all over the world on Buddhism. The 17th Karmapa will become the key leader of Tibetan Buddhism in case the 14th Dalai Lama dies without reincarnation. The two religious leaders have no common ground because the Dalai Lama, like China, recognises Ogyen Dorje, who left India for the US in May 2017 and acquired citizenship of Dominica in March this year, as the real Karmapa.
On Sunday morning after he discreetly meets a group of monks that has made its way from Tibet Autonomous Region of China, the frail looking but mentally alert 84-year-old spiritual leader of the Tibetan people talked exclusively to Shishir Gupta on wide-ranging political and spiritual issues.