I was saddened to hear of the passing away on August 4th of Mr Karma Topden, following a lengthy illness. I had known him for many years, and he had been a constant source of support and advice during that time.
Karma Topden had a successful and distinguished career, first working for the Chögyal of Sikkim, and then in the Indian Administrative Service, where he rose to Secretary level. In 1988, he became the Member of Parliament for Sikkim, and after he retired, was appointed Indian ambassador to Mongolia.
Of particular relevance here, he also had a long-standing connection with the Karma Kagyu lineage. When he was young, his family were devoted to the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who had established his base at Rumtek outside Gangtok after the upheavals in Tibet. Then, after I myself left Tibet, he gave considerable assistance and support to me personally and to my administration in an advisory capacity. A skilled statesman, he was able to draw on his years of experience to act as an intermediary on my behalf with the Government of India.
I will always remember the great kindness he showed me, his gentleness and compassion, and his sincere concern for my welfare and well-being. I spoke to him the day before he died; his mind was very clear and looking back on his life, he had no regrets.
At this time of mourning, I offer my prayers and my heartfelt condolences to his wife, his three children, his grandchildren, and his many close friends.
17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje,
New York, U.S.A.
August 7th 2018