Karmapa Thaye Dorje is living proof that love endures. The 33-year-old leader of the Karma Kagyu, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, gave up his monkhood to marry a childhood friend.
His bride, 36-year-old Rinchen Yangzom, lives in New Delhi. Dorje became the 17th Karmapa of the Karma Kaygu in March 1994 when he was 11 years old.
His website said that Dorje and Yangzom had been friends for more than 19 years and that their friendship grew over the years into a "into a special, spiritual bond".
His website quoted Dorje as saying, "I have a strong feeling, deep within my heart, that my decision to marry will have a positive impact not only for me, but also for the lineage. Following the wishes of my parents, and having had time to reflect, I deeply feel that I am being true to both myself and the lineage. Something beautiful, something beneficial will emerge, for all of us."
He also announced that he would continue to function as the Karmapa with the exception of carrying out religious ordinations.
"In this 17th incarnation, for both the future of the lineage, and fulfilling the wishes of my parents, I have chosen a different path. At the same time, my commitment to protect and preserve the monastic sangha, and the lineage, remains paramount in my life, and my continued role as Karmapa," he said.
The announcement said that he proposed to his wife in January in keeping with Buddhist traditions after getting permission from her father.
Dorje was born in Central Tibet, but grew up in India and now lives in New Delhi. AFP reported that his father was also a high lama, and his mother is "the descendent of Tibetan nobility."
Yangzom was born in Bhutan and is the daughter of a businessman father and homemaker mother. While her early education was in Bhutan, she has studied in India and in Europe.
The two met in India.
While leaders of Buddhist sects marrying is not something that happens often, Dorje is not the first. The 15th Karmapa was also married.
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