So far, the claim has been uncontested. In the early 1960’s, the Karmapa sent Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche to Ipoh as his personal representative. The photo here, I believe, is from that first visit. If some some of you know the story behind it or have other pictures from Rinpoche’s long stay at the Ipoh Cave, please post them here or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The visit to Malaysia happened like this, in Tulku Urgyen’s own words:
Now I will tell you about my first trip to Malaysia. The English monk Lodrö Thaye had been to Malaysia and while in Ipoh three Chinese fellows – the monk Reverend Tong, Wahai and Asan – discussed with Lodrö Thaye, “We have heard about these Tibetan lamas and we would like to get an important one to come here to Ipoh. Who would be best?”
Lodrö Thaye replied, “The biggest is the Dalai Lama, below him they say it is the Karmapa.”
They then agreed that Lodrö Thaye should ask the Karmapa to send a lama to Ipoh.
In those days, Lodrö Thaye was friends with a lama at Tengpoche and asked him to go visit Malaysia. Being a Nepalese citizen, travel documents were no problem. It was all settled, they both agreed, the passport was ready but then Lodrö Thaye thought, “I was actually supposed to ask the Karmapa to send someone, so I better ask him.” I didn’t have much contact with Lodrö Thaye at this time, but before he went to see the Karmapa he come up to Nagi Gompa, to ask my advice.
First Lodrö Thaye told me, “I have three suggestions to put for to His Holiness: Sabchu Rinpoche from Swayambhu, Tengpoche Tulku and you. Would you be willing to go?”
“If the Karmapa says I have to go then I will. I’m not going to go against his word,” I said. “Otherwise, I have never been abroad and have no particular desire to do so.”
“Well then, I’ll relate that to the Karmapa,” said Lodrö Thaye.
He left for Rumtek, where he had lived before. But being talkative and moving around too much the local authorities began to suspect that he was a British spy and would not let him back in to Sikkim. In his place, George MacDonald, whom we simply called Sahib, went on ahead to ask which of the three lamas the Karmapa would recommend sending to Malaysia.
Karmapa said, “Sabchu is too old, he won’t work out. Tengpoche Tulku I don’t know personally, but I do know Tulku Urgyen – he should go.” That’s what Sahib and Lodrö Thaye came back and told me.
Sahib said, “Will you do it or not?”
“I am not going against the Karmapa’s word, so I’ll go,” I replied.
Our little gang of four robed people, were the first of our type to visit Malaysia. We got donations from the faithful Chinese Buddhists. They would hand over one envelope to the four of us to share among ourselves, except when I gave an empowerment and the donation would belong to me. The trip lasted three months and I was able to accumulate a decent amount of funds to bring back with me.
During the trip Lodrö Thaye asked, “How big of a monastery are you going to build?”
“Let’s wait and see,” I said, “I’ll build in accordance with whatever I get.”
At that time we didn’t have any plan to build Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, I was only intending to improve Nagi Gompa. Things were going well until after two and a half months, Lodrö Thaye had a plan, he had obviously carved in stone, of going to England and he insisted on seeing me on a plane back to Nepal before he would leave. In short, he cut my trip to Malaysia short. The Malaysians wanted me to stay, but to no avail. Lodrö Thaye is a willful gentleman and he got his way.
Back in Nepal, while I was conferring with Ram Lal about what to do with the funds, a letter arrived from my two sons, Chokyi Nyima and Chokling, that the 16th Karmapa had commanded them that we build a large monastery in Boudha.
-- Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, (not included in Blazing Splendor)