CONCERNING HIS HOLINESS
THE GYALWA KARMAPA
AND HIS SACRED VAJRA CROWN
(THE VAJRA MUKUT)
His Holiness the Karmapa is the sixteenth Avatara or Incarnation of a great Tibetan saint, and is the present head of the Kagyudpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
His Vajra Crown is worn by successive incarnations of the original Karmapa. Called Dusum Khenpa, and living in the eleventh century, Dusum Khyenpa was a disciple of the Tibetan saint and philosopher Gampopa. Actually the origin of this sacred crown goes back to very ancient times, almost to pre-history, when the Buddha Avalokiteshwara took on present human form and was born in Central Asia as the son of the king Yung Khorsung. After years of Meditation in the mountains he attained the Maha or Pra Siddhi. All Buddhas or Enlightened ones and Bodhisattvas honoured him and presented him with a crown which was reputed to be woven of the hair of one hundred thousand heavenly beings. The line of incarnations of Avataras continued in India until the time of the poet saint Saraha. Thereafter came the first Tibetan Incarnation, Dusum Khyenpa.
All subsequent avatars of this Bodisattva wear this crown on their Celestial Body, the crown is not visible to the human eye, but appears to the devotees when they see the Karmapa in visions. The crown is therefore said to be self-existent on the head of each successive Karmapa incarnation. Only the pure in heart, possessed of great devotion can see it.
It was during the time of the fifth Karmapa avatara (incarnation) that the Chinese King Tamingchen, having seen the Sacred Crown in a vision decided to make an earthly replica of it, and so produced the present Vajra Mukut. This Vajra Crown worn on the head of the Incarnation can, by its very sight, bring sentient beings to liberation. King Taminchen presented it with the prayer that it should be sanctified and blessed with power to deliver suffering beings from the sorrows of samsara, and to this day this almost indescribable and miraculous quality is said to belong to the Sacred Crown.
Wherever the Gyalwa Karmapa goes he takes with him the Sacred Crown. Its arrival in India, and the darshan, or holy sight of it now being given to Tibetan refugees in their hour of sorrow makes the old custom particularly poignant and beautiful. Now the Vajra Mukut is in India many Indian devotees may be found who will benefit by the great spiritual light it sheds.
The name of the Gonpa where the Gyalwa Karmapa now lives is (in English) the Dharma Chakra Centre, Rumtek, Sikkim (India).