Ashok Chand Burman is probably best known as the man who steered Dabur India on its course to ever-greater success, making it the fourth-largest FMCG Company in India.
Chairman emeritus of Dabur India, he was not only an extraordinarily talented entrepreneur with the ability to take shrewd and far-sighted business decisions but also a deeply spiritual man and ardent devotee of His Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, as well as of his present incarnation, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje.
Ashok Burman first met the 16th Karmapa in 1956, while the latter was on a pilgrimage in India. Their first encounter took place on a train to Lucknow. Upon meeting Gyalwa Karmapa, Ashok Burman felt spontaneous faith and devotion towards him, and when he asked him to explain the reason for these feelings Karmapa replied that there was a long-standing spiritual connection between them which went all the way back to the time of the 9th Karmapa.
Ashok Burman was soon to become one of Karmapa’s greatest devotees and benefactors. After the Chinese invasion Gyalwa Karmapa escaped from Tibet via Bhutan and arrived in Sikkim, where the 11th Chögyal (King) of Sikkim offered him a large piece of land. It was on this land that the Karmapa set up his seat in exile, Rumtek Monastery, where Ashok Burman was a frequent visitor.
In 1961, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa established the Karmapa Charitable Trust (KCT) as the legal body which was to manage his affairs after his passing. He himself appointed seven trustees into the KCT, three of them Tibetans, two Sikkimese, one Nepalese and one Indian – the latter none other than Ashok Burman.
The spiritual relationship between the 16th Karmapa and his devotee continued to deepen until the passing of His Holiness in 1981, and once the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje had been found and recognized by Kunsig Shamar Rinpoche, Mr. Ashok Burman renewed his bond with the spiritual master. He came to see His Holiness the 17th Karmapa on several occasions.
One of these encounters between the two men is particularly noteworthy: on December 1, 2003, Kunsig Shamar Rinpoche, second-ranking lama in the Karma Kagyu School after Karmapa himself, bestowed the title of Vidyadhara to the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, empowering him as the legitimate holder of the Karma Kagyu lineage. The ceremony took place at Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (K.I.B.I.) in New Delhi, and Mr. Ashok Burman, his wife and other members of his family attended the event as guests of honour, and after the ceremony held a reception at their home for Gyalwa Karmapa, Shamar Rinpoche and their entourage.