A Sakya Tale

The Mahasiddha’s Prophesy

Imagine, if you will…

The year is 1849, and the Sakya temple known as Mugchug resounds with the sonorous tones of a great assembly of high Sakya lamas engaged in a special ritual practice. The Sakya Throneholder Tashi Rinchen, head of the entire Sakya tradition, is in attendance. In fact, the entire ritual practice has been requested by this Sakya Tri (Throneholder).

Sakya Temple

Sakya Temple

In the Sakya tradtion, the position of Throneholder passes from father to son. There are two main houses or “phodrang” from which a Sakya Tri may arise, Dolma phodrang and Phuntsog phodrang. These houses alternate such that when a Throneholder passes away and his sons are still in their minority, a child of the previous Tri will take the throne, allowing the young potential-throneholders to mature and receive the training appropriate to a leader of the Sakya tradition. In this way, the Sakyas ensure the continuity of their tradition’s leadership.

As of this evening in 1849, however, Dolma Phodrang Thegchen Tashi Rinchen, Lord of the Sakyas, Thirty-Fifth Throneholder and supreme leader of the tradition, has no son.

Mahasiddha Pema Dudul

Mahasiddha Pema Dudul

As the Dolma house line carries the most precious and esoteric teachings in the Sakya tradition (1), the situation is considered extremely grave.

Tashi Rinchen himself has requested Mahasiddha Padma Dudul, a very great Sakya master and incidentally both a retired Throneholder himself and also Tashi Rinchen’s father, to perform a ritual to ensure the swift birth of a male child. This is why the high lamas and tulkus have gathered this night. (2)

During a break in the ritual, eager to discover any results, Tashi Rinchen turns to Mahasiddha Pema Dudul and asks him, “Who will come to take rebirth as my son?”

With joy, the great Mahasiddha replies….

“These days times are so degenerate no-one else is coming, but now Grandpa Shugden himself will definitely come as your son!”

Mahasiddha Pema Dudul’s grandfather was Sachen Kunga Lodro, a great leader of the Sakya tradition and the 31st Sakya Throneholder, who was believed to have been an incarnation of Dorje Shugden. Kunga Lodro wrote a wrathful torma offering to Dorje Shugden’s five lineages called Swirl of Perfect Sense Offerings and carried on the tradition of his own father, the 30th Throneholder Dagchen Sonam Rinchen, praising Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector.

Sakya Dagchen Sonam Rinchen, Dorje Shugden practitioner and 30th Supreme Sakya Throneholder

From this we can understand that when Mahasiddha Pema Dudul says:

“These days times are so degenerate no-one else is coming, but now Grandpa Shugden himself will definitely come as your son!”

He is indicating that his grandfather, the great Kunga Lodro, an emanation of Dorje Shugden, will take rebirth as the son of Throneholder Tashi Rinchen to uphold the Sakya tradition for the benefit of living beings.

Hearing that Kunga Lodro had agreed to be reborn as his son, Tashi Rinchen was extremely pleased, repeating it over and over. To commemorate the kindness of Kunga Lodro/Dorje Shugden coming from the pure lands to uphold the lineage, he established a tradition at Sakya of burning many butter lamps and “proclaiming a vast offering cloud of melodies” with horns and trumpets from the roof of the temple.

Less than a year later, the great Sakya Kunga Nyingpo was born. He was believed to be the rebirth of the thirty-first Sakya Trizin Kunga Lodro and an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and Dorje Shugden.

Kunga Nyingpo went on to ascend the Sakya Throne in 1883 and become the 37th Sakya Trizin.

Sakya Lineage

Sakya Lineage

Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871–1936), the 39th Sakya Trizin, was a strong practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Researching his family history, he even proved that his holy father, the 37th Sakya Trizin Kunga Nyingpo (1850–1899), was an emanation of Dorje Shugden.

In 1871 Kunga Nyingpo had his own son, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen. Dragshul Trinley Rinchen grew up to become the 39th Holder of the Sakya Throne.

In his autobiography, this lama explained that his father Kunga Nyingpo was Avalokiteshvara. In order to prove this, he recounted the story about Mahasiddha Pema Dudul and Trinley Rinchen detailed above and then wrote

The Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden Tsel definitively is Avalokiteshvara. The Nyingma Tantra Rinchen Nadun says “The one known as Dolgyal is not mistaken on the path to liberation, he is by nature the Great Compassionate One,” which establishes this by scripture.

The Great Je Sakyapa Kunga Nyingpo is well-known as an incarnation of the Arya Lotus in Hand (Avalokiteshvara). The Arya Lotus in Hand definitively is none other than the Lord of Mandalas, but provisionally by assuming the manner of a tenth level bodhisattva he simultaneously sports billions of superior, middling and inferior emanations to accomplish immeasurable benefit for beings, such as setting them on paths to the higher realms and liberation. (4)

Thus in order to show that his father was Avalokiteshvara, he set out to show that his father was well-known to have been an emanation of Dorje Shugden, and then demonstrated with a quotation from Nyingma tantra that Dorje Shugden and Avalokiteshvara are the same person.

As further demonstrated in his Autobiography, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen was a practitioner of Dorje Shugden as well, and was considered to be “a very great Sakya master, one of the most outstanding masters in our recent time.” (3)

The 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871–1936), head of the Sakya lineage, was a strong practitioner of Dorje Shugden. He is known for spreading the practice of Dorje Shugden within the Sakya tradition.

So when we consider the relationship of the Sakya Tradition to the Practice of Dorje Shugden we see that, contrary to the claims of some present-day Sakya Lamas, for more than three hundred years Dorje Shugden has been viewed in Sakya as an Enlightened protector.

Not among the provincial practitioners or those without education, but by the Throneholders of the lineage, and the holders of the Sakya’s most precious Tantric transmissions, Lamdre Lineage holders like Morchen Dorjechang who wrote praises to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being.

When the leader of an entire Buddhist tradition says “Dorje Shugden is definitively Avalokiteshvara,” it seems to me to be difficult to make the claim, as some have tried to do in the debates over this issue, that the great Sakya masters never viewed Dorje Shugden as anything other than a spirit. In fact it seems that there has been an unbroken tradition of the practice of Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector from the early 1700′s right through modern times.

It is easy to understand that most lamas don’t write about their Dharma protector practices, which have traditionally been in the nature of secrecy. It isn’t unreasonable, therefore, to assume that there were many masters other than the ones enumerated here that held Dorje Shugden as their protector and as a fully enlightened being.

Since this material is so readily available, it seems odd that the Dalai Lama, who has attempted to ban this practice as “spirit worship,” doesn’t seem to be aware of it. He doesn’t list the views of these great masters when recounting the results of his research, at any rate.

What could the reason for this oversight possibly be?

 

Addendum – Importance of Dorje Shugden in the Sakya tradition

Since the great Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism was founded, the lineage of practice has been passed down through forty-two successive spiritual heads, known as Sakya Trizins. From this list of prestigious masters, six of these heads or throne holders of the tradition stand out for their practice and proliferation of Dorje Shugden. This is a practice that they even spread amongst their innumerable disciples. These throne holders constructed shrines and protector houses to Dorje Shugden, composed prayers to him and taught their students how to engage in the practice. This list includes:

  1. His Holiness the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741 CE)
  2. His Holiness the 31st Sakya Trizin Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783 CE)
  3. His Holiness the 33rd Sakya Trizin Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853 CE)
  4. His Holiness the 35th Sakya Trizin Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865 CE)
  5. His Holiness the 37th Sakya Trizin Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899 CE)
  6. His Holiness the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871–1936 CE)

The spiritual responsibility of the throne holder is to receive teachings covering the entire Sakya lineage, which consists of the common and esoteric transmissions of the Lam Dre, the Thirteen Golden Dharmas, the Hevajra tantric practices, and many others. These masters are then to proliferate these teachings. If is for this reason that they are considered to be highly learned and accomplished masters. It is through these six throne holders that the entire breadth of the Sakya lineage has descended to this day.

Due to the current political situation, with the Tibetan leadership telling everyone that the practice is bad, people might dismiss these six throne holders as being mistaken about the true nature of Dorje Shugden and their history of promoting the practice. But to come to this conclusion, one would need to assume that these throne holders were just ordinary men who are flawed, ignorant and make mistakes. If we think that, then they are rendered unreliable for spiritual growth. What is the point of going to get teachings from them if what they teach can be wrong?

To make such a dire accusation has far-reaching implications on the lives of everyday practitioners as they may lose confidence in what could well be a ‘flawed’ Sakya lineage. Since the throne holders were wrong, ordinary practitioners may feel it is pointless to continue practicing as the lineage is broken and has no blessings. Following this line of thinking, the Sakya lineage is invalidated because the entire lineage flows through these great throne holders.

According to the Tibetan leadership, Dorje Shugden is a spirit and by worshiping him one is no longer Buddhist. By engaging in his worship you lose the connection to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha because you break the refuge commitment of not worshiping an unenlightened being. This creates the cause for an unfortunate rebirth in the three lower realms. Following this logic, the six throne holders should have taken rebirth in those realms, but that is impossible as they have reincarnated back successively into the same family. The 37th throne holder, Kunga Nyingpo, is said to be the reincarnation of the 31st throneholder, Sachen Kunga Lodro, both of whom are even considered emanations of Dorje Shugden themselves. Some like Sachen Kunga Lodro have also composed lengthy prayers to Dorje Shugden which are still in use today.

It was due to their spiritual attainments that these Sakya throne holders were able to distinguish the nature of formless beings like Dorje Shugden. They did this using logical analysis or using their supernatural clairvoyant abilities. Most probably they used both methods and arrived at the same conclusion – Dorje Shugden is definitely an enlightened being and his practice is beneficial. This is why the throne holders composed extensive prayers to him.

From learning about these great throne holders, their abilities and achievements, great faith arises not only in the throne holders themselves, but also in the practices they taught, such as the practice of the Dharma protector Dorje Shugden.

Click here to download the entire Sakya Dorje Shugden kangsol


  1. Drogmi.org, Biography of the Present Sakya Trizin. I assume this refers mainly to the Lamdre tradition, the heart of the Tantric transmission of the Sakyas, which has been passed down through the masters of the Dolma phodrang.
  2. Khri chen Drag shul ‘Phrin las rin chen. Rdo rje ‘chang drag shul ‘phrin las rin chen gyi rtogs brjod (The Autobiography of Khri-chen Drag-shul-phrin-las-rin-chen of Sakya). Dehra Dun: Sakya Centre: 1974, pp. 29-31.
  3. Gonsar Rinpoche, 1996, Public Talk
  4. Khri chen Drag shul ‘Phrin las rin chen. Rdo rje ‘chang drag shul ‘phrin las rin chen gyi rtogs brjod (The Autobiography of Khri-chen Drag-shul-phrin-las-rin-chen of Sakya). Dehra Dun: Sakya Centre: 1974, pp. 29-31.

Source: http://truthaboutshugden.wordpress.com/

 

Addendum

Zasep Tulku Rinpoche’s autobiography ‘A Tulku’s Journey from Tibet to Canada’, published in 2016, provides historical evidence and irrefutable proof that the Central Tibetan Administration is falsifying the facts when it comes to the practice of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.

The autobiography of Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, a high lama of the Gelug lineage, provides accurate historical accounts of the Dorje Shugden practice. Click to enlarge.

The back cover of the book, click to enlarge.

 


 

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Historical accounts show that prior to the politicization of the Dorje Shugden practice by the Central Tibetan Administration, this popular deity was relied upon by Dharma practitioners to help in their spiritual practice. Contrary to detractors’ claims about Dorje Shugden being ‘anti-Dharma’, this Dharma Protector practice was traditionally deemed to be suitable to be practiced alongside the Highest Yoga Tantras.

 


 

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Zasep Rinpoche and his family were able to escape to safety prior to the events of 1959 through the clairvoyance and prophetic advice of Dorje Shugden through one of his oracles, Lama Gelong Chojor Gyamtso.

 


 

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Oracles of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden were known for the accuracy of their prophecies due to Dorje Shugden being a fully enlightened deity with perfect clairvoyance. As stated clearly by Zasep Rinpoche in his autobiography ‘A Tulku’s Journey from Tibet to Canada’, Dorje Shugden warned the Tibetans of the impending loss of their homeland but his advice was mostly ignored by the Tibetan government.

The Tibetan government chose to consult the worldly state protector Nechung, and Nechung advised that the Dalai Lama should remain in Tibet where he would be safe. This was mistaken advice, as historical events would later show. Fortunately for Tibetan Buddhists all around the world, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang had great faith in Dorje Shugden and consulted the protector for advice on the Dalai Lama’s safety. Dorje Shugden via the Panglung Oracle urgently adviced the Dalai Lama to leave for India immediately and gave the exact escape route. In saving the Dalai Lama from certain harm, Dorje Shugden prevented the destruction of Tibetan Buddhism and preserved the future of the Tibetan culture and people.

Zasep Rinpoche’s account of events concur with monastic records that it was indeed Dorje Shugden who saved the Dalai Lama instead of Nechung, contrary to the claims of the Tibetan leadership.

 


 

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Dorje Shugden’s practice was first established within the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Sakya Throneholders regarded this Dharma Protector as an enlightened being and Dorje Shugden, together with Dorje Setrab and Tsiu Marpo formed the triune of Sakya Protectors known as Gyalpo Sum. Today, Sakya practitioners claim that Dorje Shugden was never widely practiced by their lineage but history proves otherwise. The undeniable fact is that before the CTA’s religious ban, Dorje Shugden was practiced first by the Sakyas and was later transmitted to the Gelug school where it was practiced by the majority of the Gelugpas.

 


 

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Contrary to the CTA’s claims that Dorje Shugden’s practice is sectarian, Zasep Rinpoche’s autobiography shows how practitioners of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism lived and practiced together in harmony, especially during the early years of exile in India. It was only when the CTA launched a virulent smear campaign against Dorje Shugden that the general public began to label Dorje Shugden a sectarian practice. In truth, Dorje Shugden’s practice is no more sectarian than the practices of other Dharma Protectors such as Mahakala Bernagchen, Achi Chokyi Drolma or Dorje Legpa, who protect the Karma Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma schools respectively.

 


 

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By the 1980s, the Tibetan government had failed to fulfil multiple promises to return the Tibetan people to their homeland. A scapegoat was needed and they made one out of an ancient Buddhist practice, pinning the loss of Tibet and the failure of the Tibetan cause on Dorje Shugden. In his autobiography, Zasep Rinpoche is of the same opinion, stating that “…the [Dorje Shugden] controversy was orchestrated by the Tibetan Central Administration…”

The Tibetan leadership effectively sanctioned witch-hunts on Dorje Shugden practitioners and persecuted them using government instruments, declaring that simply by being a Shugden worshipper, one was effectively an enemy of the Tibetan nation.

As a result of the hatred against Dorje Shugden practitioners instigated by the Tibetan leadership, virtually all Shugden Buddhists had to fear for their lives, or at least for their safety.

 


 

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Dorje Shugden’s beneficial practice has continued to thrive due to the courage and commitment of high lamas such as Zasep Tulku Rinpoche.

 


 

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For centuries, Dorje Shugden has been practiced alongside the highest practices of the Gelug and Sakya lineages. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche’s list of transmission is an indication that the highest scholars viewed the Protector as an enlightened being compatible with their yidam practices.

 
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7 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Wow… These are really detail article. Is so detail and like another one I just read on “An Introduction To Dorje Shugden”. They are really great informative info. It was not easy to get it in to my head… trying my really best to remember what I read… hahaha… my my… There is still much more to learn… Thank you for starting this website “where ever you are or whoever you are”.

    This website can really help people that want to understand more and also for people who are pretty confused out there… GANBATE

  2. As this article ‘A Sakya Tale’ shows, for more than three hundred years, Dorje Shugden has been viewed as an Enlightened protector by the great Sakya masters, including the Throneholders of the lineage as well as the Lamdre Lineage holders (holders of the Sakya’s most precious Tantric transmissions). The latter include the great Master Morchen Dorjechang who had urged all his disciples to do Dorje Shugden’s practice, saying, “ Now is the time to rely upon Dorje Shugden”.

    The Throneholders of this lineage see him unmistakably as Avalokiteshvara. Whether the Sakyas see Dorje Shugden as Avalokiteshvara, or the Gelugpa lineage holders see him as Manjushri, He is, by all counts, a Bodhisattva, working for the benefit of all beings.

  3. The difference in the culture or Tradition of Sakya Lineage is that the Throneholders can marry and they have to produce an heir to continue the line of Sakya clan. When it came to Dolma House there were no sons born. So the grandfather of the Mahasiddha who is also the incarnate of Dorje Shugden would be born and be 31st Thronehbolder. He wrote the 5 tormas to the 5 Lineages. The people involved in Dorje Shugden practices are also high Lamas and Throneholders and not ordinary lay people. What I don’t understand is only the Gelugpas practictioners were penalised by the Tibetan Government but not the Sakyas. And they are on low profile.

  4. What an interesting article indeed, I’ve learnt so much about the culture, or some may refer to it as tradition, of the Sakya Lineage.

    I do notice how the Sakya Throneholders mistakenly see Dorje Shugden as Avalokiteshvara and the Gelugpa Lineage sees him as Manjushri…. but no matter, Dorje Shugden is still an Enlightened being that brings dharma to all sentient beings around, unlimitedly.

    I do recommend others to read or watch the other things on this website because after reading a few articles and watching a few videos my head is already filled with so much amazement.

  5. In this article it does not only show who are the Sakya masters that practices Dorje Shugden, but also tells us that Dorje Shugden has taken rebirth as some of the masters to help hold their lineage.

    Although there is a difference between Sakya Lineage and Gelug Lineage, in terms of viewing which Buddha emanation Dorje Shugden is. But having said in both lineages, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri are both enlightened being. Hence, being the emanation of them, would definitely make Dorje Shugden an enlightened protector instead of a “Dolgyal”.

  6. After reading how the story about the Sakya Trinzin (throneholders), I experience great gratitude for the tireless effort made to ensure the continuity of the tradition and lineage so that many will benefit from the Dharma from one generation to the next.

    The high esteem in which the Sakya Trinzins hold for the practice of Dore Shugden shows that Dorje Shugden is not sectarian but protects and guides all who intends to pursue a spiritual path.

    Besides practicing the worship of Dorje Shugden, the Sakya Trinzins also regard Dorje Shugden as enlightened. This is aligned to the claim of the Gelugpa. I also read that Dorje Shugden images are placed next to Guru RInpoche on the altars of the Nyingmapas. If Dorje Shugden can be placed right next to Guru Rinpoche on the altar, it can be safely said that this Protector is regarded to have similar “status” and attainments.

    Such information, once again, reiterates that Dorje Shugden is the acclaimed uncommon protector of our time.

  7. What an interesting article on the Sakya lineage, the Drolma Podrang. It has been recognised that the 31st and 37th Sayka Tri were incarnation of Dorje Shugden. Even the current 41st Sakya Tri is recognised to be the incarnation of his grandfather the 37th Throne Holder, which means he is also an incarnate of Dorje Shugden. All these are before the controversy brought on by the Dalai Lama and his government.

    To the statement “He doesn’t list the views of these great masters when recounting the results of his researchTo the question of “. Well if the Dalai Lama could even accuse his own personal enlightened Gelug Guru, H.H. Trijang Rinpoche of being a “devil” worshipper, then why would he even take the views of other branches of Buddhism? It just shows blatant ignorance of facts to make Dorje Shugden a “scapegoat” to cover up their failed policies and “free Tibet”. Politics rules over religious freedom and human rights!!!

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Contemplate This

.…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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