Tibetan Buddhist Leader Charged Over $1.35 Million Hoard

Tibetan Buddhist Leader Karmapa Lama Had Secret $1.35 Million Hoard
Tibetan Buddhist Leader Karmapa Lama Had Secret $1.35 Million Hoard

Buddhism is all about renunciation: To achieve nirvana, the Buddha teaches, one must crush desire. But one exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader allegedly had $1.35 million in cash stashed at his monastery in northern India. What was he planning to spend it on?

The money, in two dozen currencies, was found last January during a police raid, according to the Associated Press. Aides to the 26 year-old Karmapa Lama -- Tibetan Buddhism's third most important figure, and a potential leadership successor to the Dalai Lama -- said it came from thousands of donations from followers in different countries. Indian authorities weren't buying that explanation, and on Wednesday, they charged the Karmapa with conspiracy and knowledge of undeclared money. Three of his followers face additional cheating and forgery of document raps.

The Karmapa Lama could serve two years in jail, if convicted; his followers face potential sentences of up to a decade. The district court where the charges were filed will soon decide whether the case should come to trial, the BBC reports.

"What resulted was due to negligence on the part of the staff members of the Karmapa," an aide told the AP. "It is also a case of ignorance of the Indian law. Now that the case is on, law should take its own course." His Holiness the Dalai Lama has called for a "thorough investigation."

According to the BBC, the Karmapa told investigators that the money was earmarked to buy land for a monastery. He has previously said that he doesn't take part in the financial management of his religious order, which is one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.