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18August2017

VOA Interviews His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa on the issue "Head of Kagyu"

VOA Tibetan Language: Interview by Tshering Wangyal (English translation by Lobsang Thargay).

Click here to listen to the interview in Tibetan.

His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpa Lineage, does not agree with the concept of appointing a head of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. During the course of an interview with reporters of Tibetan language radio programme based in Delhi on 16 June 2010 His Holiness said, "One should hold and preserve one's own Lineage. For example, my Lineage is called the Drukpa Lineage and it has an history of over 800 years. If you go further its origin can be traced to the great Indian scholar-saint Naropa or if one gets closer, its origin can be traced to Marpa and Lingchen Repa. The closest one can get to is Drogon Tsangpa Gyare, over 800 years. So, we will follow and preserve our Lineage. We can receive teachings from the Karma Kagyu Lineage or Drigung Lineage. If necessary we can offer teachings of our Lineage to Karma Kagyu or Drigung as was done historically. We can thus live harmoniously as Dharma friends or brothers. When you talk about a head or leader, then if I become the leader, it would imply that Karma Kagyu and Drigung are under me. Similarly, if Karma Kagyu becomes the leader, then it would imply that my Lineage is under them. So such a thing is unnecessary. I have said this to Drigung and though I have not been in direct touch with Karma Kagyu I have expressed my feelings to them indirectly. I remember expressing my views to H.H. the Dalai Lama but His Holiness has not given me any special advice on the issue. Perhaps the Govt. in exile may be facing problem in carrying out its responsibilities. Perhaps it may be a little inconvenient not to have a leader of the School. One has to look at the situation. But from my personal point of view, I feel it would be better not to have such a leader."

Speaking about the reasons for not needing a leader of Kagyu School as such, Gyalwang Drukpa said that historically there has never been a leader of the Kagyu School as such and such a thing would cause disharmony among followers of the Kagyu School. He said, "The case of Gelugpa and Sakya Schools is special. The Nyingma and Kagyu Schools have never had the system of a single leader for the whole School as such. Historically, the most learned Lama or the one with the greatest activities at the time has been regarded with utmost respect and everyone received teachings from him. Hence, the relationship was purely a teacher-disciple relation. It was never a political relationship of subservience. So there never was a leader as such for the whole Kagyu and Nyingma Schools historically. When we came into exile, the exile Govt. had said that someone was needed as the contact point. I was an infant at that time. This is how the issue of a leader or head came about. I have always maintained that the issue of a head or leader is not healthy because it leads to one Lineage claiming to be more equal than others. What we need is unity and harmony as spiritual friends of the same mandala or members of the same family. So raising the issue of a leader will lead to disharmony and spiritual negativity. This is what I have always maintained. There may be many who agree with me and there may be others who would disagree with me. There are people who not only say that a leader is needed but also claim that they are the leaders, and insist that they have been the leader and are the leader. In such a situation, when the vociferous claimants use their vocal power to drown the other voices, nothing can be done to set the situation right."

His Holiness further said that the historical tradition of spiritual father-son relation should be followed and that the issue of a leader which would cause strife and disharmony is unnecessary. His Holiness added that if he is offered the post of leader he would never accept it. His Holiness said, "Recently this issue came up again. I could not personally go to the meeting due to health and work reasons. But five representatives from our Lineage went to the meeting. I told them that what we need is spiritual harmony and not fight. In history we had the tradition of spiritual father-son relationship. It would be very good if we can have such a relationship. There have been times when Drukpa was the spiritual father and Drigung was the spiritual son. Sometimes Karmapa has been the spiritual father and Drukpa has been the spiritual son or vice-versa. Here the father-son relationship is not biological but spiritual. Therefore, the spiritual father-son relationship is an ideal relationship. The issue of leadership is the cause of infighting and disharmony. We are all under the leadership of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Personally speaking, the Drukpa Lineage wishes to follow the direct leadership of H.H. the Dalai Lama and don't see the need for a separate leader. I will never accept the post of Kagyu leadership if it is offered to me. There's no need."

H.H. Gyalwang Drukpa also said that he does not agree with the decision taken at the recent meeting on rotation system of Kagyu leadership among heads of the different Lineages. His Holiness said, "I heard that the post of leader would be held turn by turn. I see no reason for such a thing. For some reason Karmapa has resigned and so it was good because it makes it easier for us. Since the Karma Kagyu head has resigned, Drukpa too will resign and Drigung should resign. This would be a good beginning for harmony among sons of the same spiritual father. So please stop this talk about leadership on rotation basis. This is what I told my representatives to convey to the meeting. But unfortunately, they have not been able to convey my message loud and clear. I should have written a letter but I didn't do so partly due to laziness and partly because I felt my writing a letter would seem pompous. I had explained my views to our Khenpos and I had hoped that they would convey my views. It seems they were not very effective in the meeting. So what I want to say now is that I do not subscribe to concept of a leader of Kagyu School as a whole. I do not accept the decision."