Dorje Shugden in Sacred Paintings from Old Tibet

One of the beautiful and precious thangkas of Dorje Shugden that can be found on Himalayan Art Resources. Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/
68898. Click to enlarge.

The opinion piece below was sent to dorjeshugden.com for publication. We accept submissions from the public, please send in your articles to [email protected].

 


 

By: Shashi Kei

Thangkas are Tibetan scroll paintings that usually depict Buddhist deities or images of worship. In old Tibet, they were especially popular amongst lamas, monks and Buddhist practitioners who had a more nomadic lifestyle. It was common for monks to travel to give or receive teachings, and therefore it was important that their instruments of practice and worship were light, portable and could be easily packed up and taken with them.

Thangkas are treated as sacred art and as important teaching instruments and meditational tools. Historically, the tradition catered towards the needs of illiterate practitioners who would otherwise lack access to the scriptures, and therefore the lamas needed some way of illustrating the teachings in visual form. As a result, Buddhist practitioners over the ages have turned to thangkas as inspiration for their practice and relied on the symbolisms of the paintings of deities and diagrams as visual pathways to aid their journey to enlightenment. 

The process of creating thangkas is itself a highly honored vocation. It was customary for thangka painters in the past to undergo studies of religious texts to comprehend the significance of the imagery they were painting. Hence for some, thangka painting has traditionally been considered a practice in its own right.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/1120. Click to enlarge.

The word “thangka” itself is derived from the Tibetan word ‘thang yig’ which means ‘written record’ and it was common for lamas and monks to commission thangkas to be painted depicting the main deities they worship or those which are more significant to them. Students would also commission biographical thangkas in honor of their teachers, as a sort of visual record of their teacher’s lives, main practices or even the enlightened being that they have come to view their teachers as. In that way, thangkas have become important records of a lama’s life and practice; for thangkas in monasteries, they are an indication of the deities whose practice the monasteries have embraced.

The origins and historical significance of thangkas may be inconsequential to the casual observer but the simple fact of the matter is, painting a thangka requires a considerable amount of effort and time. Therefore, given how much gravitas is directed towards the tradition of thangka painting, a patron is not going to commission a thangka of an insignificant or minor deity.

Similarly, because thangkas are intended to be an object of worship, patrons will not commission a thangka of a harmful deity, or include a harmful deity on the same thangka as an enlightened being that they are going to make offerings to.

In this way, the existence of these very old Dorje Shugden thangkas below is a direct counter to the disinformation that has been spread by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA; Tibetan leadership in Dharamsala) in relations to the Dorje Shugden controversy.

In imposing a ban on the 400-year old practice of Dorje Shugden, the 14th Dalai Lama and his exile government have claimed that:

  1. Dorje Shugden is only a minor practice that is nothing more than spirit worship engaged in by a small and extreme splinter Gelugpa subsect;
  2. That the practice has been opposed since the 17th century due to its sectarian nature, and it is extremely intolerant of other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, meaning to say that Dorje Shugden is not embraced by any other Tibetan Buddhist sect and that its practitioners seek the destruction of all Tibetan schools of Buddhism;
  3. That it was right for the Dalai Lama and the CTA to have prohibited the practice because Nechung, the State Protector of Tibet and Palden Lhamo, one of the Dalai Lama’s main Dharma Protectors are opposed to the practice of Dorje Shugden.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/4113. Click to enlarge.

However, it appears that there is quite a range of established and authentic evidence that Dorje Shugden was widely practiced by lamas of various traditions and that it is neither a sectarian nor a minor practice, and it never has been. ‘Established’ because these proofs are in the form of antique thangkas that were commissioned centuries before the Dorje Shugden controversy, after which it became de rigueur for the CTA to alter Tibetan Buddhist history to support their negative narrative on Dorje Shugden. The thangkas exist totally unadulterated by politics and the CTA’s interference. ‘Authentic’ because these thangkas have been independently certified by museum curators and industry experts who are nonpartisan to the Shugden conflict nor have the slightest interest in taking sides in the argument of whether it was justified for the CTA to have banned Dorje Shugden. The approach taken by these curators and experts was a purely academic one, and even when there was no impact on their financial situation whether they authenticated or discredited these thangkas, they still chose to certify them anyhow.

Many of the images of these old thangkas are documented in www.himalayanart.org, a website owned by Himalayan Art Resources Inc. in New York. The website declares that its mission is “…to create a comprehensive education and research database and virtual museum of Himalayan art” and it exhibits art from museums, universities and private collections with corresponding details of the art, its provenance and any other related information such as the deities featured. In other words, the site provides information on the art and thangkas based on established and historical sources.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org
/items/19057. Click to enlarge.

For instance, the thangka of ‘Five Foremost Deities – Mo Lha’ (right) features Guru Rinpoche at the center of the top row, with the 32nd Sakya Trizin Wangdu Nyingpo to his right. Also featured are various Nyingma deities and protectors, along with Dorje Shugden at the bottom right. Guru Rinpoche is a popular practice within the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions whereas Wangdu Nyingpo (1763-1806) was the 32nd head of the Sakya lineage. In Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Rinpoche is regarded as an emanation of the Buddha Amitabha and considered to be the originator of the Nyingma lineage, whereas Wangdu Nyingpo was a highly-regarded patriarch of the Sakya lineage. The Sakya patriarchs are commonly believed to be emanations of Manjushri. As for the Five Foremost Deities, they are worshipped as deities who bestow health, wealth and good fortune, and the Great Fifth Dalai Lama is known to have written a ritual text for propitiating the Five Foremost Deities, as did the 31st Sakya Trizin, Kunga Lodro.

The existence of this thangka competently refutes two false charges against Dorje Shugden:

  1. The charge that Dorje Shugden is a malevolent spirit. It would be completely irrational for anyone to include the image of a supposedly demonic and harmful force into a thangka clearly intended to be used in the invocation and worship of deities that bestow good fortune and wellbeing. The inclusion of Dorje Shugden into a cluster of figures who are regarded as enlightened minds (Guru Rinpoche and Wangdu Nyingpo) and deities who bestow good fortune says that even at the base level, Dorje Shugden was very much regarded as a beneficent deity;
  2. The charge that Dorje Shugden is an aggressively exclusionary and factional practice. The existence of this thangka with Dorje Shugden portrayed together with key figures of the Sakya and Nyingma lineages is proof that before the CTA politicized the practice in 1996, Sakya and Nyingma practitioners did not find it incongruous to also propitiate Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden was not perceived negatively or as a menace by the other lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. This is not surprising, given that it is well-documented in the Nyingma Rinchen Nadun tantra that Dorje Shugden is by nature “the Great Compassionate One”. In other words, the Nyingmas regarded Dorje Shugden as Avalokiteshvara himself, just as the Sakyas did. Clearly then, the CTA’s allegations of Dorje Shugden seeking the destruction of other Buddhist lineages is a modern and politically-motivated fabrication, and a baseless charge designed to create enmity between Shugden believers and practitioners of other lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

Another fine example is the following thangka that completely refutes the CTA’s claim that Palden Lhamo and Nechung object to the practice of Dorje Shugden. Very much contrary to claims that theirs is a modern and democratic administration, the CTA resorted to superstitions and scare-tactics when it abused its Kashag (Cabinet) to declare in May 1996 that “…One of the findings of his investigations is that depending on the spirit, Dolgyal, otherwise known as Dorje Shugden or Gyalchen Shugden, conflicts with Tibet’s two protector-deities (Nechung and Palden Lhamo) as well as the protector-deity of the Gelugpa tradition, Pledge-holding Dharmaraja (Damchen Choegyal)” [http://tibet.net/important-issues/dolgyal-shugden/].

An antique thangka of Palden Lhamo with Dorje Shugden at bottom right, Nechung at bottom centre and Dorje Setrap at bottom left. Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/
items/55015. Click to enlarge.

This false accusation has been repeated on a number of occasions with the inference that should the Tibetan people continue to allow the practice of Dorje Shugden to take place, it would greatly upset the gods. The resulting negative karma of displeasing the gods would, in turn, be the cause for great misfortune to befall the Tibetan people.

And yet, in spite of the CTA’s assertion that Palden Lhamo would be upset at the continuance of Shugden practice, there exists antique thangkas that depict Palden Lhamo (also known as Shri Devi), Nechung and Dorje Shugden in perfect harmony. This thangka (left) was located in Sichuan and is now housed in the Sichuan Provincial Museum. Sichuan is located at the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau and in the Sino-Tibetan conflict, it is regarded as a Dalai Lama stronghold.

Why did the patron and artist include Dorje Shugden in the thangka, and not depict one of the hundreds of other Dharma Protectors in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon? The existence of this thangka is a clear indication that even in a region well-known for devout followers of the Dalai Lama, there were people who had faith in both Palden Lhamo and Dorje Shugden. Were they all mistaken for believing this? If so, what became of the thousands of historical practitioners who relied on both Palden Lhamo and Dorje Shugden? Did all of them accumulate masses of negative karma for relying on mistaken deities? To believe the CTA’s allegations about Dorje Shugden and Palden Lhamo’s relationship, is to condemn these thousands of practitioners to negative rebirths.

Therefore no matter how negatively the CTA has portrayed Dorje Shugden, they cannot go back in time to effectively rewrite history. If one were to believe in the CTA’s present-day narrative of Dorje Shugden, then enlightened beings such as Palden Lhamo (regarded as wrathful Saraswati) and Dorje Shugden (regarded as wrathful Manjushri) must have had a falling-out like children in a schoolyard fight, with Nechung siding with Palden Lhamo and Setrap siding with Dorje Shugden. Or at least this is what the CTA wants you to believe, that enlightened beings such as Palden Lhamo, Setrap, Dorje Shugden and Nechung are still very much governed by samsaric traits, and invested in petty tit-for-tat squabbles. Subscribing to the CTA’s account means that the pursuit of Buddhahood is a futile exercise since Buddhas like Palden Lhamo are apparently still governed by afflictive, base emotions such as likes versus dislikes, and accord versus animosity.

So, who are we to trust, a politically-motivated CTA in need of a scapegoat to take attention away from the Tibetan leadership’s 60 years of abysmal performance, or centuries of lamas of various Tibetan Buddhist traditions evinced by their commission of thangkas placing Dorje Shugden alongside highly-attained practitioners, enlightened deities and well-trusted Dharma Protectors? If the CTA’s version of Dorje Shugden is to be accepted, then we must correspondingly accept that centuries of high practitioners in the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug traditions blundered so badly.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/48253. Click to enlarge.

Could it have been that they all were so egregiously tricked into worshipping a demon, that they paid to have thangkas painted of a negative being? And that none of the myriad Buddhas and Dharma Protectors were able to stop this menace from corrupting the Dharma? On HimalayanArt.org itself, there are at least 40 of these ancient thangkas from different lineages, different time periods and different locations that portray Dorje Shugden in a manner that contradicts the CTA’s portrayal of the deity. Instead they represent additional proof that historically, the highest lamas of different Tibetan Buddhist traditions propitiated Dorje Shugden amongst other enlightened deities and wrote prayers and supplications to this form of wrathful Manjushri that the CTA has sought to malign since 1996. In the face of such concrete and overwhelming evidence, it is hard to imagine how there can be any truth in anything the CTA says.

 


 

More Thangkas

 

[1] Lama Tsongkhapa

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1800 – 1899
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Lord Tsongkapa, Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School, emanating from the heart of the bodhisattva Maitreya.

“From the heart of the Lord of the hundred gods of Tushita, on the peak of a cloud, bright white like a mound of fresh yogurt, Lord of Dharma, Omniscient Lobzang Dragpa, together with sons; please come here.” (Gelugpa liturgical verse).

In the appearance of a monastic scholar with a yellow pandita hat and the orange patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk he performs with both hands the mudra of Dharma teaching at the heart while holding the stems of two lotus flowers blossoming at both ears supporting on the right a wisdom sword and at the left a book. With the two legs folded in vajra posture he sits upon a moon disc and lotus seat surrounded by an ornate gold nimbus of wishing jewels and a rainbow sphere. At the front, to the right and left of a begging bowl, sit the two close disciples of Je Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen (1364-1432) and Kedrup Geleg Pal Zangpo (1385-1438). Both wear monastic robes and yellow hats each holding a book in the left hand while the right hands assume postures of explication of the teachings. Emanating from the heart of the bodhisattva Maitreya, dwelling in the Tushita heaven above, all three are seated atop a great white bank of billowing clouds.

At the bottom left side is the protector deity ‘Outer’ Yama Dharmaraja standing atop a buffalo. At the bottom right side is Dorje Shugden riding atop a white snow lion.

Jeff Watt & Karma Gellek 2-2017

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/2191. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[2] Lama Tsongkhapa

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: John & Karina Stewart

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/48253. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[3] Lama Tsongkhapa

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Size: 71.12×48.26cm (28x19in)
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Rubin Museum of Art

Interpretation / Description

Lama Tsongkapa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School, with the two principal students, Gyaltsab on the left and Khedrup on the right.

In the appearance of a monastic scholar with a yellow pandita hat and the orange patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk he performs with both hands the gesture of Dharma teaching at the heart while holding the stems of two lotus flowers blossoming at both ears supporting on the right a wisdom sword and at the left a book. With the two legs folded in vajra posture he sits upon a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat surrounded by a blue nimbus. At the front, to the right and left, sit the two close disciples of Je Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen (1364-1432) and Kedrup Geleg Pal Zangpo (1385-1438). Both wear monastic robes and yellow hats.

“From the heart of the Lord of the hundred gods of Tushita, on the peak of a cloud, bright white like a mound of fresh yogurt, Lord of Dharma, Omniscient Lobzang Dragpa, together with sons; please come here.” (Gelugpa liturgical verse).

At the top centre is the blue primordial Buddha Vajradhara with Shakyamuni Buddha on his right and blue Medicine Guru Buddha on the left. Again at the right and left are ‘Very Secret’ Hayagriva, red, with three faces and six hands and blue Vajrapani in his wrathful appearance.

At the left side is Yama Dharmaraja, blue in colour, standing atop a buffalo. At the right is Vaishravana, guardian king of the north, riding a lion.

At the bottom of the composition from the viewers left to right are the special protectors of Sera Monastery: Dorje Ta’og, unidentified, Dorje Shugden and Karma Shar Chatri Chenchig.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/65802. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[4] Lama Tsongkhapa

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1800 – 1899
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Lama Tsongkapa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School, with the two principal students, Gyaltsab on the left and Khedrup on the right.

In the appearance of a monastic scholar with a yellow pandita hat and the orange patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk he performs with both hands the gesture of Dharma teaching at the heart while holding the stems of two white flowers blossoming at both ears supporting on the right a wisdom sword and at the left a book. With the two legs folded in vajra posture he sits upon a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat above a lion supported throne. At the front, to the right and left, sit the two close disciples of Je Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen (1364-1432) and Kedrup Geleg Pal Zangpo (1385-1438). Both wear orange and red monastic robes and yellow hats.

“From the heart of the Lord of the hundred gods of Tushita, on the peak of a cloud, bright white like a mound of fresh yogurt, Lord of Dharma, Omniscient Lobzang Dragpa, together with sons; please come here.” (Gelugpa liturgical verse).

At the top centre is Maitreya, the future Buddha, with Atisha seated on the proper right side and Tsongkapa on the left. In the left and right corners are wrathful Krodha Vajrapani and Vignantaka, both blue in colour, holding a vajra scepter.

At the bottom left side is ‘Outer’ Yama Dharmaraja, blue in colour, standing atop a buffalo. At the right side is Dorje Shugden, the controversial Gelug protector deity, riding a lion, wearing monastic clothes and surrounded by flames. Seated in front is a donor figure in a kneeling posture holding a mandala offering plate.

Jeff Watt 2-2016

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/24083. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[5] Buddha Shakyamuni

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha accompanied by teachers, deities and protectors.

At the top centre is an unidentified teacher wearing monastic attire and a yellow pandita hat. At the lower left is the 13th Dalai Lama. On the lower right side is Lord Atisha. At the upper left side is Lerab Lingpa. White Vina Sarasvati is seated below. At the upper right side is Secret Accomplishment Hayagriva. Below that is red Kurukulla in a dancing posture.

At the middle left side is Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo and below that is Vajrayogini with the face looking forward following the special Pabongka oral tradition.

Lower in the composition on the left side is Tsongkhapa. On the right side is Padmasambhava. Along the bottom of the foreground is Dorje Shugden riding a snow lion and a figure similar in appearance to Tsiu Marpo. A donor figure sits in the corner holding upraised a mandala plate.

Jeff Watt & Karma Gellek 2-2017

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/2200. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[6] Buddha Shakyamuni

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/4113. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[7] Amitayus

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Amitayus Buddha, White Tara and Ushnishavijaya. Collectively they are known as the Three Long Life Deities. The painting depicts at the top right and left the two 20th century teachers Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo (1878-1941) and the 14th Dalai Lama (b.1935). The two images appear as if they were created using well known black and white photographs of the time. It is possible that the artist is Amdo Jampa Tseten (1911-202) who was encouraged by Gendun Chophel (1903-1951) to do photo realistic portraits.

At the top centre is Tsongkapa with the two principal students Gyaltsab and Khedrub. To the left is the 14th Dalai Lama seated on a throne. At the far left is Maitreya in Tushita Heaven.

At the top right is the Gelug teacher Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo seated on a throne. At the far right is Amitabha Buddha seated in Sukhavati.

At the bottom centre is Shadbhuja Mahakala with six arms. On the left side is the buffalo faced Yama Dharmaraja and Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo riding a mule. On the right side is Vaishravana Riding a Lion and Dorje Shugden atop a blue lion.

Jeff Watt 5-2013

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/30987. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[8] Amitabha

Origin Location: Tibet
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Shelley & Donald Rubin

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/1120. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[9] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Field Museum of Natural History

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Shugden (English: the Vajra Possessing Strength): a minor Buddhist worldly protector originating in Tibet in the 17th century. In Dorje Shugden’s previous birth he is believed to have been the Gelugpa Lama Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-1656) of Drepung Monastery, a contemporary and a rival to the Lama that was to become the Great Fifth Dalai Lama.

Whitish in colour with one face and two hands he holds in the right a curved sword with a vajra handle. In the left hand is a human heart. He is slightly fierce with three staring eyes and a gaping mouth with the canine teeth exposed. Richly attired in monastic robes, silk brocades, and a golden yellow riding hat of Chinese origin, he is completely surrounded by flames. The mount is a mythical Tibetan snow lion, white with a green-blue mane, fierce in appearance with a snarling face – gazing up at Dorje Shugden as an expression of respect.

At the top centre is Je Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. At the right and left are the two principal students of Tsongkapa, Gyaltsab and Kedrubje. At the bottom of the composition are three Tibetan worldly protectors with Dorje Setrab on the viewer’s left, Tsi’u Marpo in the middle and then a white figure riding a white horse on the right.

This form of Dorje Shugden, of which there can be a number of different appearances, is the form typically found in Gelugpa art of the 20th century. In the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism there is a form of Dorje Shugden called Tanag Chen (Shugden [riding] a Black Horse).

During the early decades of the last century Dorje Shugden became a subject of considerable controversy among the principal four Tibetan traditions of Buddhism, and namely the Gelug. The controversy still continues today. Within the Sakya Tradition there is no initiation or ‘life-entrusting‘ (Tibetan: srog gtad) ritual for Shugden as found in the Gelug Tradition. For the Sakyapa all forms of the practice fell into disfavour in the early part of the 20th century and are essentially non-existent outside of Tibet. Small temples in regional areas of Tibet historically connected with the indigenous local deity may still proffer offerings for the purpose of protection and removing obstacles.

Jeff Watt 2-2010

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/54349. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[10] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Shugden (English: the Vajra Possessing Strength): a minor Buddhist worldly protector originating in Tibet in the 17th century. In Dorje Shugden’s previous birth he is believed to have been the Gelugpa Lama Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-1656) of Drepung Monastery, a contemporary and a rival to the Lama that was to become the Great Fifth Dalai Lama.

Maroon in colour with one face and two hands he holds in the right a sword and a long hook. In the left hand is a human heart held up to the mouth. He is very fierce with three staring eyes and a gaping mouth with the canine teeth exposed. On the chest he wears a decorative mirror marked with the Tibetan syllable ‘HRIH’. Richly attired in monastic robes and a golden yellow riding hat of Chinese origin, he is completely surrounded by orange and red flames. The mount is a mythical Tibetan snow lion, white with a green mane, fierce in appearance with a snarling face – gazing back.

At the top centre is an unidentified Gelug teacher wearing a yellow pandita hat and monastic robes. At the top left is White Chakrasamvara according to the system of Lama Umapa and Je Tsongkapa. At the top right is Brahmanarupa Mahakala.

Jeff Watt 4-2013

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/30961. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[11] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Mongolia
Date Range: 1960 –
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/53111. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[12] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/58063. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[13] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1960 –
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/55018. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[14] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Central Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Size: 61×46.50cm (24.02×18.31in)
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Publication: Tibetan Painting, The Jucker Collection

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/89176. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[15] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1960 –
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

At the bottom centre is Yamshu Marpo the minister of Dorje Shugden. Yamshu Marpo is also the spirit brought forth during the Dorje Shugden oracle rituals.

Jeff Watt 2-2016

One of the beautiful and precious thangkas of Dorje Shugden that can be found on Himalayan Art Resources. Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/
68898. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[16] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Garuda Virtual Museum

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/81480. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[17] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Shugden (English: the Vajra Possessing Strength): worldly protector of the Gelugpa School.

Dark red in colour with one face and two hands he holds in the right a curved sword with a vajra handle. In the left hand is a human heart with a mongoose perched on the left forearm and a vajra hook leaning against the shoulder. He is very fierce with three red glaring eyes and a gaping mouth with the canine teeth exposed. Richly attired in monastic robes, silk brocades, and a yellow riding hat of Chinese origin, he is completely surrounded by orange flames. The mount is a mythical Tibetan snow lion, white with a green-blue mane, fierce in appearance with a snarling face – gazing up at Dorje Shugden as an expression of respect.

At the top centre is the primordial buddha Vajradhara, blue, with one face and two hands holding a vajra and bell. At the left is a Gelugpa lama wearing monastic robes and a yellow pandita hat. At the right is Green Tara with one face and two hands, holding a lotus in the left. At the bottom centre are three skullcups arranged with offerings of nectar, the five senses and blood.

Dorje Shugden is an avowed protector. In his former birth he is believed to have been the Gelugpa Lama Trakpa Gyaltsen of Drepung Monastery and a contemporary of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama.

Jeff Watt 6-1998

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/90554. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[18] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/36407. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[19] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Museum der Kulturen, Basel

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Shugden Riding a Lion. At the top centre is Je Tsongkapa the founder of the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. At the left is white Vajrasattva. On the right is Sitatapatra holding a parasol. At the bottom centre is the Tsen spirit converted to the aid of Buddhism, Tsi’u Marpo, currently the principal protector of Samye Monastery in Tibet.

Jeff Watt 12-2010

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/3314591. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[20] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Sakya and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Shugden mounted on a Black Horse. This form of Shugden follows the basic Sakya description except for the spear in the right hand and the lack of a skullcup in the left hand.

“In the middle of a whirling palace of black wind from … is the Great King with a body red-black in colour, one face two arms. The right [hand] holds a club aloft to the sky and the left a skullcup filled with blood and a human heart. On the head a Chinese hat is placed, riding a black horse, surrounded by inconceivable emanations…” (Sakya Kangso. Dagchen Kunga Lodro, 1729-1783).

Jeff Watt 9-2011

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/60614. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[21] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/31714. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[22] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1800 – 1899
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Size: 68.58×49.53cm (27×19.50in)
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection: Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue #: acc.# F1996.1.1

Interpretation / Description
Dorje Shugden (English: the Vajra Possessing Strength): surrounded by a retinue of four emanations – a minor worldly protector.

Wrathful in appearance, maroon in colour, the Great King of Mind, with one face and two hands, has three eyes, a mustache and beard. Crowning the head a monk’s riding hat broad rimmed and yellow is decorated with a red ribbon. The right hand in a wrathful gesture holds upraised a stick marked with a jewel – ready to strike. The left holds to the heart a lasso with the ends flying to the side. Attired in the orange and yellow patchwork robes of a monk and blue brocade boots he sits in a relaxed posture above a sun disc and pink lotus blossom seat atop a human skin and snow lion supported throne. Inside a skeleton palace, placed on a dais constructed of bone against a backrest of corpse pillars and an arch of gold decorated with looped intestine, licks of orange and red flame curl upward. The roof is adorned with impaled corpses. The rafters are decorated with hanging skins, animal and human, looped entrails further adorn. Above the roof, four dragons appearing from behind the clouds send streaks of yellow lightning spewing from great gaping jaws and taloned claws.

Surrounded by four retinue figures, at the middle left is the Great Increasing King (Tibetan: gye pi gyal chen), yellow in colour, with one face and two hands holding a jewel in the right and a bowl in the left. Attired in regal garb, he rides a brown horse. Directly below is the Great Peaceful King (Tibetan: shi wi gyal chen), white in colour, peaceful, holding aloft an arrow in the right hand and a lasso in the left. Dressed in royal attire, he rides a white elephant.

At the middle right is the Great Powerful King (Tibetan: wang gi gyal chen), dark red, holding a hook and lasso. Royal in appearance with a crown and robes, he rides atop a green dragon. Directly below is the Great Wrathful King (Tibetan: drag po’i gyal chen), maroon in colour, fierce in appearance, holding upraised a curved sword in the right hand and a human heart extended to the side in the left. Surrounded by orange and red flames he rides atop a Garuda clutching a snake in the talons and beak.

Beneath the retinue deities within a walled enclosure of stretched dried skin adorned with skulls and looped intestine is a red pond with swirls and waves of blood interspersed with floating insects and reptilian forms. Hovering above the turbulent vitriol is a table of wrathful offerings. The centre skullcup holds the proffered substances of the five senses and to the right and left are blood and nectar. Beyond the enclosure, at the sides, tall trees host the flocks of black birds, messengers of the deity.

At the top centre a lama figure wears orange monastic robes with a red pandita hat lying flat atop the head. The right hand is held to the heart in a gesture of blessing and the left in the lap, seated on a cushion and lotus seat. At the left is Vajrayogini, a principal tutelary deity of the Mother Tantras, red, holding a curved knife and skullcup. At the right side is the protector Shadbhuja Mahakala, wrathful, black, with one face and six hands.

At the bottom right the King of the North and a god of wealth, Vaishravana, yellow in colour, holds a victory banner and a mongoose. In a relaxed posture he sits atop a snow lion, moon disc and pink lotus seat. At the bottom left is Sakya Gongma Ngagwang Kunga Tashi Thutob Tendzin of the Khon family. The right hand is extended to the side in a wrathful gesture and the left cradles a long-life vase in the lap. Attired in rich orange vestments he wears the Sakya religious hat, a pandita hat with the lappets draped across the top. Nestled in a meditation cloak on a cushioned seat against a blue backrest, above his head is the buddha of longevity Amitayus. In front a monk attendant stands before a table of ritual objects. Below that is the lay figure of Thabke Tashi, the patron and commissioner of the painting. Attired in orange brocade robes, holding a large vase with both hands, he sits above a cushioned seat. Two small figures wearing hats are located to the side next to a table overflowing with wishing jewels, red coral, gold, and precious objects. Arranged purposefully in front along the length of the foreground are large bolts of fabric topped with precious gifts. Above that, before the gatehouse to the palace, are seven bowls filled with rare delicacies. (The back of the painting has a lengthy inscription, praise to the Sakya Gongma [individual names not identifiable] and a long request of action and protection by Tabke Tashi. The intention is to avert harm and overcome obstacles).

Worldly protectors are typically indigenous Tibetan deities, mountain gods, daemons, spirits or ghosts that have been subjugated and sworn to loyally protect a monastery, geographic region or all of Buddhism in general. This form of Dorje Shugden is rare and was not typically worshiped in the town of Sakya. That specific form was Shugden Tanag Chen (Shugden [riding] a Black Horse). During the early decades of the last century Dorje Shugden became a subject of considerable controversy among the four Tibetan schools, namely the Gelugpa. The controversy still continues today. Also, within the Sakya School there is no initiation or ‘life-entrusting’ (Tibetan: srog gtad) ritual for Shugden as found in the Gelug School. That form of the deity (Shugden) typically appears riding a snow lion, holding a sword in the upraised right hand and a heart clutched to the breast in the left. For the Sakyapa all forms of the practice fell into disfavour over 6 decades ago and are essentially non-existent outside of Tibet. Small temples in regional areas of Tibet historically connected with the indigenous local deity may still proffer offerings for the purpose of protection and removing obstacles.

Jeff Watt 1-2000

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/393. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[23] Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Mongolia
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/50725. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[24] Karma Shugden (Trakze)

Origin Location: Tibet
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/36406. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[25] Karma Shugden (Trakze)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/55511. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[26] Ratna Shugden (Gyenze)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/36405. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[27] Ratna Shugden (Gyenze)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/55510. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[28] Heruka Cakrasamvara

Lineages: Buddhist
Collection: Hahn Cultural Foundation

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/98859. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[29] Heruka Cakrasamvara

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1960 -
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/58854. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[30] Mahakala Panjarnata (Mahakala of the Doors)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1700 – 1799
Lineages: Sakya and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Mahakala, Vajra Panjarnata (Tibetan: dor je gur gyi gon po. English: the Great Black One, Lord of the Vajra Pavilion [or Canopy]): from the Vajra Panjara Tantra.

Fiercely wrathful, black in colour with one face, large round eyes, flaming yellow hair and two hands he holds a curved knife in the right and a skullcup in the left – both held to the heart. Resting across the forearms is a ‘gandhi’ stick from which all other forms of Mahakala emanate. Adorned with a crown of five dry skulls, bone ornaments and a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads he wears a lower garment of tiger skin. Atop a corpse, circular disc of the sun and multi-coloured lotus he stands surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

At the top centre is Akshobhya Buddha. On the left is Shri Hevajra and on the right Bhutadamara Vajrapani. At the middle left is Brahmanarupa Mahakala and on the right Shri Devi Dudsolma. At the bottom left is Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo and on the right Dorje Shugden Tanag (Riding a Black Horse).

The translation of the description of Panjara Mahakala below is from the Rinchen Zangpo Tradition. It is identical to the description of the Vajrapanjara Tantra Mahakala except for the inclusion of the ‘gandhi’ stick.

“The Great Vajra Mahakala, blazing, with one face, two hands, in the right a curved knife and left a skullcup filled with blood, held above and below the heart. Held across the middle of the two arms is the ‘Gandhi of Emanation;’ with three eyes, bared fangs, yellow hair flowing upward, a crown of five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty fresh, blood-dripping. [He is] adorned with six bone ornaments and snakes, with a lower garment of tiger skin, flowing with pennants and streamers of various silks; dwarfish and thick, in a posture standing above a corpse.” (Konchog Lhundrub, 1497-1557).

The general features that describe and define Panjarnata are the single face and two arms. The pair of hands hold a curved knife in the right and a skull cup in the left. Both hands are held to the heart with the right hand slightly above the skull cup. Panjara may or may not also have a ‘gandhi’ stick across the forearms. His body is short and squat with the legs bowed. He is also described as being a dwarf with short thick arms and legs. He typically stands atop a human corpse having an orange or yellow colour. All of the other characteristics of Panjarnata are identical with the general characteristics of the Mahakala class of deities.

Panjaranatha Mahakala arises from the Panjara (Pavilion, or canopy) Tantra for which he is the protector and guardian. This Tantra belongs to the Hevajra Cycle of Tantras and classified as Non-dual Anuttarayoga. The method of painting is ‘nag thang,’ black scroll – gold outline on a black background with a lack of superfluous ornamentation and landscape.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/60679. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[31] Mahakala Panjarnata (Mahakala of the Doors)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1800 – 1899
Lineages: Sakya, Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/11564. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[32] Six-armed Mahakala

Date Range: 1700 – 1799
Lineages: Sakya
Size: 73.66×53.98cm (29×21.25in)
Material: Fine Gold Line, Black Background on Cotton
Collection: Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue #: acc.# P1996.11.1

Interpretation / Description

Shadbhuja Mahakala (Tibetan: nag po chen po chag drug pa. English: the Great Black One with Six Hands), wrathful emanation of Avalokiteshvara.

With one face and six hands, the first pair of hands hold a curved knife and skullcup held to the heart, the second pair a human skull garland, trident and an upraised elephant skin, the lower pair hold a damaru drum and lasso. Adorned with a crown, bone and jewel ornaments and a necklace of fifty heads he stands with the right leg bent and left extended atop the body of an elephant headed figure, above a sun disc and lotus seat, completely surrounded by the fires of pristine awareness.

At the top centre are two lamas performing the ‘Dharma Teaching’ mudra (gesture), wearing monastic robes and red pandita hats. At the left is the mahasiddha Shavaripa, holding a skullcup. At the right corner is Begtse Chen, red in colour, with the consort and son immediately below – the ‘Goddess of Life’ riding a bear and the ‘Lord of Life’ riding a wolf. At the left corner is the wealth deity ‘Wish-fulfilling’ White Mahakala, with one face and six hands, in a standing posture. Below is Mahakala ‘Gonpo Legden’ holding an upraised stick in the right hand and a skull in the left. At the right is Panjara Mahakala holding a curved knife and skullcup, supporting a stick across the forearms, in an unusual stance with the right leg bent

Below those are black Jinamitra, red Takkiraja and Kshetrapala riding a bear. At the middle right is Trakshe, ‘The Lord of Daemons,’ riding a black horse, and below is Shri Devi (Tib.: pal den lha mo) riding a mule; all have one face and two hands. These five belong to the inner retinue of Shadbhuja Mahakala.

Directly below the central figure is Chaturmukha Mahakala (Tib.: gon po shal shi pa. Eng.: Four-faced Great Black One) the wrathful form of Brahmarupa, with four faces and four hands, surrounded by a retinue of four naked dakinis. At the bottom centre is a dancing Brahmarupa with one face and two hands.

At the bottom left is Damchen Garwa’i Nagpo holding a hammer in the right hand and riding a brown goat. Next is Kartaridhara Mahakala. At the bottom right is the ‘Gyalpo Sum’ (Three Kings) of the Sakya School. The upper figure is Tsi’u Marpo the protector of ‘Samye Chokor Ling.’ Beneath him is Dorje Setrap and slightly to the left is Dorje Shugden wearing a gold monastic riding hat, holding a vajra in the right hand and a gold vase in the left; riding a black horse. All are mounted on horseback.

The subject of the painting is the protector Shadbhuja Mahakala along with various forms of Mahakala. The Gyalpo Sum and Damchen Nagpo are worldly deities. The iconography indicates that the painting belongs to the Sakya School, however the irregularities in the forms would more precisely suggest a sub-school such as Tsar or Bulug (Shalu).

The painting style is called ‘black scroll’ (nag thang). The background is black and the deities are drawn as an outline, often in gold, with more or less colour and detail added at the discretion of the artist. This style of painting is generally reserved for wrathful deities.

Jeff Watt 5-98

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/252. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[33] Mo Lha

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1700 – 1799
Lineages: Sakya and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/19057. Click to enlarge.

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/19057. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[34] Magzor Gyalmo (Shri Devi)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Rubin Museum of Art

Interpretation / Description

Shri Devi, Dudmo Remati belonging to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi, surrounded by protector deities of the Sera Monastery of the Gelugpa Tradition.

At the top centre is Amitayus, the buddha of long-life with an Indian mahasiddha and Tibetan teacher seated at the sides. On the viewer’s left is Lama Tsongkapa and Padmasambhava on the right. Descending on the left is Vajrakila, Shri Devi Dudsolma, Tshangpa, a red worldly protector riding a horse and blue Damchen Garwa Nagpo immediately to the side.

On the right side is Kurukulla, Lakshmi (Pal Lhamo), Dorje Yudonma and Dorje Shugden. At the bottom centre is Chaturmukha Mahakala.

Jeff Watt 10-2007

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/65793. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[35] Magzor Gyalmo (Shri Devi)

Origin Location: China
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/55015. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[36] Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen

Interpretation / Description

This is an old thangka of Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen, with a figure of Dorje Shugden in the lower right corner in the form of Dorje Shugden Tanag. Dorje Shugden Tanag is a form of Dorje Shugden that is widely practised within the Sakya tradition. This form of Dorje Shugden, instead of riding on a snowlion and holding a sword in his right hand, he rides on a black horse and in his right hand he wields a club or sometimes a spear.

Click to enlarge

 


 

[37] The 32nd Sakya Trizin Wangdu Nyingpo

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1800 – 1899
Lineages: Sakya
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Wangdu Nyingpo, Thuchen (c.1763-c.1806): Patriarch of the Khon Family, the 32nd Sakya Trizin, the second Padmasambhava of this Age and a renowned Terton (finder of Revealed Treasure), surrounded by tutelary deities and the figures of previous lives.

Gazing with wide open eyes and a slight smile Wangdu Nyingpo extends the right arm and holds a gold vajra scepter. In the left hand a vajra handled bell is held up to the heart. In the typical appearance of a Sakya Tridzin he wears his hair long with a copy of the Hevajra Tantra text adorning the crown. White earrings of bone are common for depictions of Wangdu Nyingpo and he wears a lower garment of white cloth. A red sash holds in place a sorcers horn and a three sided peg associated with the deity Vajrakila.

“To the Buddhas of the three times as the second Oddiyana. Protector with all gathered power over the animate and inanimate. Subduer of wrong doers, possessing the essence of the path entwined as the great bliss of the four joys together with wisdom, compassion and power. I pray, pacify obstacles of daemons and bhutas, and bestow the blessing of attainments – making aspirations spontaneous.” (Dragshul Trinle Rinchen, 1871-1935).

Depicted at the top of the painting are the principal meditational deities special to Wangdu Nyingpo. At the top left are Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini and Hevajra. At the top right are Vajrakila, Hayagriva and Vajrapani. At the middle left is Shmashana Adhipati, the two dancing skeletons, and on the right is Dorje Shugden Tanag, riding a black horse. At the bottom centre is Panjarnata Mahakala with Brahmarupa Mahakala on the left and Shri Devi Dudsolma on the right. The gold background of the composition is filled with small depictions of the Buddha of long life Amitayus.

Jeff Watt 10-2002

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/77218. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[38] Nyingma Lama and Dorje Shugden

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Collection: Private

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/55509. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[39] Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka)

Origin Location: Tibet
Date Range: 1900 – 1959
Lineages: Gelug and Buddhist
Material: Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection: Private

Interpretation / Description

Vajrabhairava, Ekavira (solitary). At the top centre is Tsongkapa.

At the middle left of the composition is a yogi figure and cemetery scene. At the middle right is the protector deity Dorje Shugden.

At the bottom centre is Shadbhuja Mahakala. On the left side is ‘Outer’ Yama Dharmaraja. On the right side is Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo.

Jeff Watt 2-2016

Source: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/13106. Click to enlarge.

 


 

[40] Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka)

Interpretation / Description

An old thangka of Vajrabhairava with Dorje Shugden.

Click to enlarge

 


 

[41] Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka)

Interpretation / Description

Another thangka of Vajrabhairava, within the retinue of protectors, Dorje Shugden is one of them.

Click to enlarge

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23 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Well written article with good points, precise evidence and very well thought out explanations. Insightful. Eye-opening. Dorje Shugden has been ‘active’ for hundreds of years in all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan government regime in Dharamsala North India cannot wipe this evidence out.

    The more I read from this website, the more confidence I have in Dorje Shugden.

    Xumishan Grottes Big Buddha

  2. Thank you Admin for sharing these beautiful old thangka images with us. The CTA cannot be saying Dorje Shugden is sectarian anymore! These thangkas were produced way before the ban was imposed. Besides, it is a practice of 400 years history, how come 400 years ago no one complained about Dorje Shugden being sectarian and was an evil spirit?

    No one will paint an evil spirit and worship it along with other enlightened deities. Having Dorje Shugden painted together with other protectors such as Palden Lhamo, Setrap; and Buddhas such as Amitabha, Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa, etc., it must mean he is not an ordinary being. He was also seen painted with high lamas of different traditions. A high lama would not be propitiating a local deity or spirit, that is for sure.

    What does the CTA have to say about Dorje Shugden being an evil spirit now and causing them to lose their country? The reason they lost their country was that their corrupted government was not capable. During the Qing dynasty, they had to kowtow to the Qing government to get their protection. So if the Tibetan leadership is capable of running a country, why would they need protection from the Qing government? The Tibetan leadership in the past was incapable, now they are also incapable. Just accept the fact and be protected by the Chinese again, life will be much better.

  3. All Tibetans in India are working hard and borrowing money to get visas to get to USA, Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan to live. They know their leadership in Dharamsala is a failure and Dalai Lama can die anytime. Once Dalai Lama is dead, the Tibetans will have no status in India any longer. They are very afraid of this. The Tibetans who cannot get themselves overseas are getting Indian citizenship. They know they will never get Tibet back because their leadership FAILED MISERABLY.

    Sad for the Tibetan government in exile and a shame that their people are escaping to other countries or getting Indian citizenship. It shows they have failed. They will NEVER get Tibet back. Yet they can make trouble about Dorje Shugden. What a loser regime government. What a real regime they are. They deserv to not get their country back and be scattered because of their loser attitude and regime and control. Too bad.

    Dzongsar kyentse tattoo

  4. Another piece of evidence that counter all lies by the CTA (Tibetan leadership) in Dharamsala. Dorje Shugden has never been sectarian and these thangkas have proven it to be so. Dorje Shugden is not a harmful spirit because he has been the sacred icon of worship for as long as he existed. Dorje Shugden worship has been around for ages and people have been getting benefits for centuries.

    The CTA is nothing but a useless group of losers who knows nothing than to blame a Buddha for their failure. This is really the biggest joke in the human history. Only failures like the CTA will think of such stupid excuse to be excused from their job. Pathetic!

    Sorry mum leopard

  5. 🙏 Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Thank you for sharing these ancient old thangkas that is a solid proof to debunk what CTA has claimed about Dorje Shugden being a small, insignificant and sectarian practice.

    Obviously, they did not do their homework when putting a ban on the practice. All of these information are available to anyone online and yet they still have the audacity to say that. Tibetans believed them blindly and did not investigate further before accepting the ban.

    One of the reasons they give for banning the practice is Palden Lhamo and Nechung will be upset if we practice Dorje Shugden and misery will befall all Tibetans because of that. This is ridiculous. Palden Lhamo being an enlightened being will not have negative mundane emotions like us and she certainly will not give misery to the Tibetans to revenge on them for practicing Dorje Shugden.

    Palden Lhamo B (detail)

  7. Great post with all these sacred and ancient Thangkas! Thank you so much for all the explanation given.

    It is so obvious that the Tibetan Leadership, the CTA or Central Tibetan Administration has a very bad and negative intention by banning this powerful practice and creating so much trouble for their very own Tibetan people who are practicing Dorje Shugden for 400 years and yet they are punished for it.

    I hope that everyone learns about the powerful practice of Dorje Shugden and will benefit from it.

    The CTA will get his right lesson because karma comes back! They are only known to be involved in scandals and money embezzlement!

    I will download these stunning Thangkas! Thank you again!

  8. Thank you for sharing with us so many beautiful old thangkas. They are so well painted. The CTA always claims Dorje Shugden is practiced by a small group of Gelugpa, but apparently it is not.

    What the author wrote makes a lot of sense. Dorje Shugden was practiced in different lineages, that we can be very sure now by looking at the thangkas. Dorje Shugden was painted in Sakya and Nyingma thangka. No one will paint a demon on a thangka as then worship it.

    With this evidence, everyone now knows CTA is making up the story, what do the CTA have to say now? Dorje Shugden did not cause the Tibetans to lose their country. If a deity can be so powerful, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay should pray to Dorje Shugden and request him to help.

  9. Very good point.As usual truth will prevail & in the long run many facts will throw out CTA’s claims of how Dorje Shugden is minority practice & He is demon.Logically why the attained lamas want to put a ‘demon’ into thangka & visualise them in their prayers.Wouldnt that be ‘stupid’.This goes to show that Dorje Shugden is indeed Enlightened,a Buddha hence He is part of the sacred painting.CTA will no longer have anymore lies to tell when ppl start to read & understand more about Dorje Shugden & the fact that shows that He is a buddha.By saying Dorje Shugden is bad they are also saying that the lineage Lamas are wrong then what will happen to all the lineages.Then all the Lamas from before who practice Dorje Shugden down to us are also wrong then why do ppl still need to practice since everything wrong.Very stupid CTA sound no logic no facts.

  10. Knowing the significance of the Thangka, being such a holy object for practitioners to visualise and understand the Buddhas and deities, and also being so very important for Tibetans both lay and monastic being nomadic, the Thangka is definitely a very important holy item.

    As most art are labour of talent, much consideration will be given before they are commissioned.

    Having understood about Thangkas, I must also add that famous saying that a Picture paints a thousand words.

    It is greatly appreciated to have the opportunity to view such beautiful old thangkas and the picture is very clear that whatever CTA says about Dorje Shugden being a demon and of small significance in worship are whole pack of lies.

    These Thangkas produced before the Ban are authentic illustration that Dorje Shugden is highly revered and the propitiation of this enlightened Protector is widely practised.

    These Thangkas are also prove of the lies from CTA.

  11. The Dalai Lama has painted a picture of himself as the dictator of the Tibetans rather than as the spiritual head. Whatever he says the puppets in CTA do his bidding. And they call themselves a democratic government. The Dalai Lama even said that his teacher Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was wrong with the practice of Dorje Shugden and the ban on Dorje Shugden was enforced by the Dalai Lama, which was then faithfully implemented by the CTA puppets. Now with all these thangka and this article, will the CTA try to influence Himalayan Art Resources Inc. to remove them and keep them in storage? Or maybe the CTA may try to buy the thangkas and then have them destroyed? Anything is possible as the CTA are rich.

  12. Seeing these beautiful old antique thangkas, couldn’t be said Dorje Shugden is a demon or spirit. If it so, why the practice still carry on until today? Shouldn’t it be banned long time before the CTA declare in 1996? Besides, thangkas are very holy items for faithful practitioners in olden years like in Tibet where lay ppl like monks traveling around in order to spread Dharma. Things they take along are very important should be light, therefore thangka is being originated.
    It’s really wonderful that Himalaya Art Resources had so much evidence and good collections of Dorje Shugden thangkas as proven Dorje Shugden is not a minor practice and been salvaged for centuries.
    Will CTA be right if they kept proclaiming wrong accusation?

  13. Dorje Shugden arose as a Dharma Protector about 400 years ago is especially to protect Nagarjuna’s Middle View, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa. Therefore you can see Lama Tsongkhapa painting with Dorje Shugden on it. And thangkas are intended to be an object of worship, However CTA said Dorje shugden is demon. Do you think the high lamas will worship to a Thangka has the demon on it which can not bring any benefit. Therefore for CTA said Dorje shugden is demon was baseless. When will the CTA will stop lying to the world.

  14. Thangkas are intended to serve as a record of, and guide for contemplative experience. For example, we might be instructed by our teacher to imagine ourselves as a specific figure in a specific setting. We could use a thangka as a reference for the details of posture, attitude, colour, clothing. etc., of a figure located in a field, or in a palace, possibly surrounded by many other figures of meditation teachers, our family, etc.. In this way, thangkas are intended to convey iconographic information in a pictorial manner. A text of the same meditation would supply similar details in written descriptive form.

    Hence seeing Dorje Shugden with many other Buddhas in the thangkas shows that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being that being propitiate since 400 years ago. This type of fact would not be fake and it’s not just one or two thangkas but there are so many of them which shows that what CTA claimed as spirit, minority and sectarian is invalid. The lineage masters has kept those thangkas with them for their practice and how could they be wrong after so long and only CTA is right? Doesn’t make sense.

  15. The antique thangkas show you one thing. It is an authentic practice and recognised by all High Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhism sect until Dalai Lama started to demonized Dorje Shugden with see through flaws of claims.

  16. All the accusation on Dorje Shugden are false. Why?

    Simple, ater a long history until now with people practicing Dorje Shugden without problem & only getting positive outcomes.

    What is more to talk about?

  17. Great reserch in this article and prove eviden these ancient thangka of Dorje Shugden has pray by high lamas from different lineage. Is undeline CTA can not simply put down Dorje Shugden practice over 20 years. The truth of history through these thangka why Dorje Shugden practice is important and should not put the ban of him.

  18. It’s an eye opener all to see so many Beautiful and sacred Tangkhas of Dorje Shugden painted by all schools and linages lamas. These have proven that the practice of Dorje Shugden is definitely popular and common among all. These have showed Dorje Shugden is never sectarian and practiced only by Gelug only. How can all claimed that practicing Dorje Shugden was a mistake because all the above people have no idea if Dorje Shugden is a demon. It doesn’t make sense. CTA stop lying to the ignorance that Dorje Shugden is harmful to the practioners and create so much of disharmony among the community. The harmful one is CTA because of the karma that you created to disrespect and splitting the sangha.

  19. It is bewildering that His Holiness the Dalai Lama mentioned that he had known of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s, yet nothing was done to reprimand these Buddhist teachers. After all, such abuses inflict substantial damage to the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole as compared to smaller issues like Dorje Shugden.

    The Central Tibetan Administration was fervent in executing the Dorje Shugden ban, launching a documentary film, books, expelling monks, splitting monasteries and denying access to hospitals, clinics, schools, retail shops and so forth down to even publishing a hit list of Shugden activists in order to encourage violence and lynch mob. Yet, the damage done to Tibetan Buddhism by these lamas seems to be ignored and hushed. Why is the Central Tibetan Administration not doing more to warn the public about these sex offenders like posting a warning list on their website?

    Dalai Lama knew sex abuse by Buddhist teachers; it’s ‘nothing new’
    Agence France-Presse
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dalai Lama said Saturday that he had known of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s and that such allegations were “nothing new.”
    The Tibetan spiritual leader, revered by millions of Buddhists around the world, made the admission during a four-day visit to the Netherlands, where he met on Friday with victims of sexual abuse allegedly committed by Buddhist teachers.
    He was responding to a call from a dozen of the victims who had launched a petition asking to meet him during his trip, part of a tour of Europe.
    “We found refuge in Buddhism with an open mind and heart, until we were raped in its name,” the victims said in their petition.
    “I already did know these things, nothing new,” the Dalai Lama said in response on Dutch public television NOS late Saturday.
    “Twenty-five years ago… someone mentioned about a problem of sexual allegations” at a conference for western Buddhist teachers in Dharamshala, a hill town in northern India, he added.
    The Dalai Lama, 83, lives in exile in Dharamshala.
    People who commit sexual abuse “don’t care about the Buddha’s teaching. So now that everything has been made public, people may concern about their shame,” he said, speaking in English.
    Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, a representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader in Europe, said Friday that the Dalai Lama “has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behavior”.
    Tibetan spiritual leaders are due to meet in Dharamshala in November.
    “At that time they should talk about it,” the Dalai Lama said in his televised comments Saturday. “I think the religious leaders should pay more attention.”
    https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1032920/dalai-lama-knew-sex-abuse-by-buddhist-teachers-its-nothing-new/amp

  20. His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the Tibetan spiritual leader revered by millions of Buddhists around the world should ensure that the Tibetan spiritual leaders do more to denounce sexual misconduct and abuse of Buddhist teachers as there are far-reaching repercussions and negative impact on Tibetan Buddhism.

    While His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been consistent in reminding practitioners about not practising Dorje Shugden in lieu of the social and religious problems associated with it, despite the unsubstantiated claims or justifications, the indolence of the Central Tibetan Administration in taking action to pacify the public disgust against the misconduct of these Buddhist teachers is severely lacking and appalling. The bias in dealing with these issues related to religious matter has again proven the political nature and conspiracy behind the ban on Dorje Shugden.

    ‘Nothing new’: Dalai Lama says he knew about sex abuse by Buddhist teachers
    The Dalai Lama said Sunday he has known about sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s and that such allegations are “nothing new”.
    Agence France-Presse
    The Dalai Lama said Sunday he has known about sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s and that such allegations are “nothing new”.
    The Tibetan spiritual leader, revered by millions of Buddhists around the world, made the admission during a four-day visit to the Netherlands, where he met on Friday with victims of sexual abuse allegedly committed by Buddhist teachers.
    He was responding to a call from a dozen of the victims who had launched a petition asking to meet him during his trip, part of a tour of Europe.
    “We found refuge in Buddhism with an open mind and heart, until we were raped in its name,” the victims said in their petition.
    “I already did know these things, nothing new,” the Dalai Lama said in response on Dutch public television NOS late Saturday.
    “Twenty-five years ago… someone mentioned about a problem of sexual allegations” at a conference for western Buddhist teachers in Dharamshala, a hill town in Himachal Pradesh, he added.
    The Dalai Lama, 83, lives in exile in Dharamshala.
    People who commit sexual abuse “don’t care about the Buddha’s teaching. So now that everything has been made public, people may concern about their shame,” he said, speaking in English.
    Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, a representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader in Europe, said Friday that the Dalai Lama “has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behaviour”.
    Tibetan spiritual leaders are due to meet in Dharamshala in November.
    “At that time they should talk about it,” the Dalai Lama said in his televised comments Saturday. “I think the religious leaders should pay more attention.”
    https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/dalai-lama-i-knew-of-sex-abuse-by-buddhist-teachers-since-1990s/story-238DdgDwzQYU5rDfTSgl8M.html

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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