A New Incarnation

Raghu Rai/Magnum for TIME.

Karmapa is seen at his residence in Dharamsala during an interview with TIME, April 29, 2001.

In his homeland of Tibet, he was special from birth, though his family wasn't aware of it. But at the tender age of seven, Ugyen Trinley Dorje was proclaimed the 17th incarnation of the Karmapa, the leader of Tibet's oldest Buddhist sect, and young Dorje began a life of utter uniqueness. Spiritually, as the central figure for an entire sect, he was raised in a monastery surrounded by devout followers decades older than himself. Politically, he would eventually confront the choice of becoming either a Tibetan quisling, doing Beijing's bidding, or an independent thorn in China's side like the Dalai Lama,...

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