KTD Publications Announces the Release of Dharma King: The Life of the 16th Karmapa in Images

Cover photo by Peter Mannox, Dordogne, France, November 1977


His Holiness Karmapa’s Foreword to Dharma King

For a very long time, I have wanted to do something to commemorate the

16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Although it has taken me

so long to do something that honors his memory, it is a great privilege for

me to be able to produce this book now.

The aim of this publication is not merely to collect historical images,

but to produce certain feelings and emotions. This book should serve as

something impervious to the processes of birth and death, allowing us to

know and to feel that we have never been parted from the 16th Gyalwang

Karmapa – that he is in fact with us still.

For those who did not have the great fortune to meet him themselves,

I hope this book offers a glimpse of what it meant to encounter him

personally. The 16th Gyalwang Karmapa seldom gave Dharma teachings

through words, but taught intensively through physical gestures, and tamed

beings through his mere presence. As a tribute to this special quality of

the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, this book offers these images as a basis for

experiencing his physical presence.

One of his major activities was to liberate all those who saw him, as he did when donning the Black Crown, so there is undoubtedly great value in any visual connection made with him. I make aspiration prayers that all those who see these photos or hold this book in their hands may receive the full benefit of his actual presence.

Great beings are not born great, but in the course of their lifetime from birth to parinirvana, their activities naturally come to reflect their greatness. These photos reveal the gradual unfolding of an astonishing range of activities, all accomplished in one far-too-short life. Among his many life achievements, the 16th Karmapa presided over the Karma Kamtsang lineage during the tumultuous transition from its traditional bases in Tibet into diaspora, where it was no longer supported by the traditional culture and geography of Tibet.

He ensured that his heart sons and the other lamas upholding the Karma Kamtsang all had a sound base in Sikkim after their escape from Tibet, and provided them with leadership, hope and a vision for the future in a land that was new and alien to them. Except through sheer spiritual power and fierce commitment, it is hard to imagine how anyone could bring the lineage through such radical changes intact, much less lead it to flourish. Yet looking at these photos, we can feel clearly the spontaneous joy of his perseverance, which makes his accomplishments seem so effortless.

I am deeply inspired by the 16th Karmapa’s resilience in the face of these obstacles. I take courage in how much he could achieve despite the great adversities he faced.

When we look at these photos, we are gazing back at a golden age that prevailed under the leadership of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa. We may yearn to return to those golden times, when the lineage was whole and united. I myself look on that period with great longing, and am constantly praying that we can enjoy again that time of harmony and wholeness. Just as the images of all the places he visited and the people he met are united here in these pages, my heartfelt aspiration is that we can all join together to work side-by-side to benefit the beings of this new century. I pray that this happen soon; the magnitude of the suffering of beings is too great, and the social and environmental challenges facing the world today are too heavy for us to bear separately, and can only be fully addressed if we are united.

The idea of publishing such a commemorative volume was originally conceived as part of the Karmapa 900 celebrations, but due to the enormity of the task of researching and collecting all the images, it required until now to complete. I would like to express my thanks to all those who helped in creating this book, especially to Damchö for undertaking this project on my behalf, and to Louise Light for all her work in designing the book, as well as to the generous sponsors and to all those who contributed photographs.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

Enjoying the minimal celebration and launch of Dharma King.
Enjoying the Kagyu Monlam celebration and launch of Dharma King.
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The books, ready to be offered.

The Introduction of Dharma King in Woodstock 

On February 14, 2016, from 2-4 in the afternoon, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, in conjunction with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s presentation of Dharma King in Bodhgaya, launched Dharma King: The Life of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa in Images.

Many here at KTD joined the live webcast from Bodhgaya, which, due to the time difference was viewed Saturday the 13th at 10:30 pm to 2:00 am early Sunday morning.

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At KTD, enjoying the presence of the 16th Karmapa in the book.

Again, on Sunday the 14th, about 50 people, including lamas, staff, guests, and local students, joined President Khenpo Tenkyong, Louise Light (designer), and KTD Publications in celebrating the North American launch of Dharma King — viewing the Monlam launch on YouTube, enjoying hot apple cider, pear tart, chocolate torte, and many other good eats. The presence of the 16h Karmapa, with appreciation and gratitude, was felt by all.

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Enjoying the presence of the 16th Karmapa in the book.

We were especially attentive to Tsunma Lhundup Damcho’s introduction to the book, explaining HH Karmapa’s aspirations for making this book, his instructions to her in how to implement the book, and his aspiration that we all work harmoniously together.

KTD President Khenpo Tenkyong (left) and others enjoying the Dharma King.
KTD President Khenpo Tenkyong (first row, left) and others enjoying Dharma King.

The same team that produced the Karmapa 900 Publications produced Dharma King — including Tsunma Lhundup Damchö (photo editing and text), Louise Light (designer), Yeshe Wangmo and Maureen McNicholas (editorial team), and Maureen McNicholas and Peter van Deurzen of KTD Publications.


The Kagyu Monlam Pavilion.
The Kagyu Monlam Pavilion in Bodhgaya, India.

The Introduction of Dharma King in India

Karmapa introducing the Jang Kangyur.
His Holiness Karmapa introduces the Jang Kangyur.

On February 14, 2016 at the 33rd Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, India, there was an all-day ceremony to commemorate the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa. Following the introductory chanting and talks:

  1. Introduction and unveiling of the Jang Kangyur by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang and acknowledgment of all the scholars and sponsors that made this possible.
  1. The Collected Works of the 16th Karmapa was introduced by Khenpo Kalsang Nyima, with acknowledgment of Tashi Tsering for making this possible.
  1. Introduction of Dharma King: The Life of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa in Images by Tsunma Lhundup Damchö; the unveiling by H.E. Jamgön Kongtrul; followed by acknowledgement of Lhundup Damchö for her work making this project possible.
Tsunma Damchö introduces the Dharma King publication.
Tsunma Damchö introduces the Dharma King publication.
H.E. the Fourth Jamgön Kongtrul unveils the book.
H.E. the Fourth Jamgön Kongtrul unveils the book.

The morning’s activities concluded with a thank you by the General Secretary, Karma Chungyalpa, and a Tibetan Opera Performance by TIPA. The afternoon session was the Offering to the Guru, the 16th Karmapa.

Watch it here, on YouTube. The Dharma King announcement is at 2:30.

Karmapa acknowledges Tsunma Lhundup Damcho.
His Holiness Karmapa acknowledges Tsunma Lhundup Damchö.