H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje
H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje was born in Tibet on May 6th, 1983. He is the first son of the 3rd Mipam Rinpoche, a great Nyingma Lama, and Dechen Wangmo, the daughter of a noble Tibetan family. At the age of one and a half, the boy began telling people that he was the Karmapa. In 1994, he and his family managed to escape from Tibet to Nepal, going on to India. The young Karmapa arrived in New Delhi in March of the same year. During the welcome ceremony for the 11-year-old boy, H.H. Shamar Rinpoche formally recognized him as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. The 17th Karmapa was given the name of Trinley (Buddha activity) Thaye (limitless) Dorje (unchanging).
In 1997, Karmapa Thaye Dorje was officially invited to Bhutan for the cremation ceremony of Topga Rinpoche, where he was received with full honors. A three hour drive from the Bhutanese border to the capital, Thimpu, took seven hours as thousands of well-wishers greeted him along the road. On October 17th 1997, three thousand people came for his blessing and the whole royal family, including the king and four queens, received him as the 17th Karmapa.
In October 1999, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa embarked on his first international teaching tour and gave initiations to several thousand people in Singapore and Taiwan. The beginning of the new millennium was marked by his first historic visit to the West. In Dusseldorf, Germany, the 17th Karmapa was enthusiastically received by 6,000 students from several hundred Diamond Way Buddhist centers located in over 30 countries.
In the summer of 2003, the 17th Karmapa held his first official program in the United States, giving a series of empowerments and teachings, including a 2-day program in San Francisco, in which he gave initiations on Karma Pakshi and Medicine Buddha.
In December 2003, after completing his formal education, the 17th Karmapa was declared “Great Tantric Master" (skt. Vajracharya). Karmapa Thaye Dorje currently resides in Kalimpong, India, where he continues his spiritual training and Western education. He has recently spent more time traveling and giving teachings in the West, spending several months visiting Diamond Way centers and teaching at courses in Europe and Russia in the summer of 2009.