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His father was Mipham Rinpoche, a re-incarnation of an important lama of the Nyingmapa school and Dechen Wangmo, the daughter of a noble family descended from King Gesar of Ling. At the age of 1½ the boy started telling people that he was the Karmapa. In March 1994, he and his family escaped from Tibet to Nepal and then to India, where during a welcoming ceremony Shamar Rinpoche formally recognized him as the 17th Karmapa.
However, the identity of the 17th Karmapa is highly disputed. Another claimant, Urgyen Trinley Dorje, has support from important lamas from the Kagyu lineage as well as from the Dalai Lama. Both young men have been both crowned as the 17th Karmapa by their respective supporters and perform their usual ceremonial duties. They have not yet met.
Recently, Thaye Dorje was declared a Vajraacharya; a great Tantric master. This puts him one step forward to being crowned the true Karmapa. The other claimant, Urgyen Trinley Dorje is currently still studying.
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