Thaye Dorje, the 33-year-old leader of Karma Kagyu, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, has abandoned monkhood to marry his old friend.
While he will now have to renounce some of his duties, he will continue as the 17th Karmapa (leader) of his tribe, announced his office.
Dorje, who became Karmapa in 1994, tied the knot with Bhutan-born Rinchen Yangzom in a private ceremony in Delhi, where his wife currently resides.
“My role and activities as Karmapa will continue as before – with the single exception of conducting ordinations… As Karmapa, I will continue to protect and preserve our beloved lineage,” Dorje was quoted as saying.
“I have a strong feeling, deep within my heart, that my decision to marry will have a positive impact not only for me, but also for the lineage,” he added.
While leaders of Buddhist sects marrying is rare, Dorje is not the first. The 15th Karmapa was also married.
Responsibility for monastic ordinations will pass on to His Eminence 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Karma Mingyur Dragpa Senge #Karmapa
Thaye Dorje was just one-and-a-half years old when he started telling people that he was the Karmapa.
Under Tibetan tradition, monks identify a young boy who shows signs that he is a reincarnation of a late leader. Dorje became Karmapa at the age of 11.
People have congratulated him on social media and hailed him for “sending out a positive message” to the Buddhist world.