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One of the leaders of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism quit being a monk to marry his childhood girlfriend. Thaye Dorje, who claims to be the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa Lama, married on March 25 Rinchen Yangzom in a private ceremony in New Delhi, India.

The 36-year-old women is his childhood sweetheart the past 19 years, Shanghaiist reported. Thaye Dorje, 33, announced his marriage to his followers on Thursday.

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Positive Impact of Marriage

He told his followers that marrying would have a positive impact on him and the lineage. It also followed the wishes of his parents. While he is no longer a monk, Thaye Dorje said he would continue as the lineage lama and as the Karmapa. It would include offering blessings to his students around the world and teachings which means he would push through with trips to Sweden, Spain and France in July and August.

The news is expected to shock the Buddhist world which is why Ogyen Trinley Dorje, a monk who left Tibet and moved to India in 1999 and also claims to be the Karmapa Lama, issued a statement. He told his follower at the Karma Kagyu school, who recognize him instead of Thaye Dorje as the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa Lama, to be sympathetic and understanding “so as not to disturb anyone else’s mind.” He made the statement in anticipation of his and Thaye Dorje’s followers trading barbed words over Thaye Dorje’s marriage.

Who is Mrs. Thaye?

Rinchen Yangzom was born in Bhutan and studied in India and Europe. Thaye Dorje was born in Tibet where his father was a high lama and his mother a descendant of Tibetan nobles, according to NDTV. However, the Dalai Lama recognizes Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the Karmapa Lama, not Thaye Dorje.

There is another dispute to a senior Tibetan Buddhist title besides the Karmapa Lama. It is the Panchen Lama which the Dalai Lama gave to a six-year-old boy who was detained by Chinese authorities in 1995 and has never been seen since then. Beijing instead named another boy, Gyaltsen Nobu, to the role, although many Tibetans consider him a fake Panchem Lama. But authorities said that Gedhhun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai Lama’s choice, is now living a normal life and does not wish to be disturbed.