Don’t Enroll Your Children in Shugden Monasteries

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The above is an excerpt from the 14th Dalai Lama’s speech about “Dolgyal”, given to the people of the Himalayan region, Bhutan and Gangtok on 13 January 2011 in Varanasi, India.

Since February 2014, the waves of protests against the Dalai Lama for his ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden, complete with drum beats and rhythmic chanting of “False Dalai Lama”, have angered the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), who retaliated with the publication of a “hit list” of Dorje Shugden protestors, complete with names, photos and (in some cases) addresses.

The CTA have since been quick to proclaim that there was no ban against Dorje Shugden’s practice and published a series of accounts on their official website to that effect, even quoting prominent Buddhist scholars such as Robert Thurman to support their position. Others have questioned the validity of calling the influential Tibetan leader, believed to be an incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, a liar.

However, in the video above, one will witness firsthand the Dalai Lama firmly discouraging parents from sending their children to Dorje Shugden monasteries. The Dalai Lama clearly states that Dorje Shugden practitioners are against the Dalai Lama (although it is in fact the Dalai Lama who created this standoff against Shugden practitioners) and implies that Dorje Shugden monks use fraud and deceit to recruit new monks.

The Dalai Lama also threatened the parents in attendance, telling them that if their children were enrolled in Dorje Shugden monasteries, they would not be able to meet Gyalwa Rinpoche (the Dalai Lama) in the future, nor attend his teachings or pujas (prayer services). This may not appear to be a serious threat, or even a threat at all, but an understanding of the Tibetan psyche would reveal that this is perhaps the most serious form of censure possible, as Tibetans regard the Dalai Lama as Buddha-incarnate.

The official website of the CTA features an article by Robert Thurman, in which he states:

The worship of their chosen deity was not “banned” by the Dalai Lama, since he has no authority to “ban” what Tibetan Buddhists practice. “Banning” and “excommunicating” are not Tibetan Buddhist procedures.

However, the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines excommunication as:

A form of censure by which a member of a religious body is excluded from the congregation of believers and from the rites of the church.

Thus, by examining the contents of the Dalai Lama’s speech in the video above, along with many other countless statements available on the Internet, it is clear that the Dalai Lama, in his position of authority as the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet, is effectively excommunicating Dorje Shugden practitioners from the Tibetan Buddhist congregation. Contrary to what Robert Thurman claims, “banning” and “excommunicating” ARE now Tibetan Buddhist procedures.

The Dalai Lama also implies that the opportunity to meet his august self is supreme and priceless, and certainly worth more than the opportunities that Dorje Shugden monasteries can provide to young monks in terms of “education and better facilities”. Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has conveniently overlooked the existence of highly qualified lamas who practice Dorje Shugden including H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche, H.E. Yongyal Rinpoche, and H.H. Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, who is none other than the incarnation of the Dalai Lama’s own teacher. The Dalai Lama’s sweeping statement is therefore a direct put down of Dorje Shugden Lamas and monasteries, clearly indicating his discrimination, prejudice and bias.

The Dalai Lama warns Tibetans in exile not to send their children to Dorje Shugden Monasteries lest they become outcasts of their community

The persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners has continued unabated till today. Most recently, the Tibetan Parliament in exile unanimously passed a five-point resolution 1 against the worship of Dorje Shugden in March 2014. Some of these resolutions include:

  • proclaiming that any individual or organisation propitiating Dorje Shugden would not be affiliated to any Tibetan religious school;
  • condemning actions of Dorje Shugden followers as a political tool to create discord within the Tibetan community under the influence and deception of monetary gains, and to denigrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama with baseless allegations; and
  • recognising that the followers of Dorje Shugden have caused grave harm to the faith and polity of Tibet under the Chinese government’s ploy and in violation of the law of Karma – as criminals in history

The Parliament also stated in the resolution that the issue has nothing to do with religious freedom (despite the fact that Dorje Shugden practitioners continue to suffer discrimination and denigration, even being labelled as enemies of the state without the opportunity of a fair trial).

New children enrolled in Shar Gaden Monastery in 2014. Despite the Dalai Lama’s efforts, a section of the Tibetan community continues to have strong faith in Dorje Shugden, sending their children to Shugden Monasteries

All is not lost however. Despite the polemics and countless attempts discouraging support for Dorje Shugden practitioners, enrolment continues at Dorje Shugden monasteries. Shar Gaden Monastery welcomed 43 new monks in February 2014, increasing their numbers to approximately 800 monks while Serpom Monastery has approximately 600 members. Perhaps this is an indication of Dalai Lama’s waning influence in the Tibetan communities, whether in Tibet or in exile.


  1. The five-point resolution:
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10 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. I look at it that there is nothing new or surprised me that Dalai Lama has given instruction not to send any new generation to the Shudgen monastery. However I feel grateful that so much attempts of discourages, the enrolment to the Shar monastery is still increasing. That shows still a lot of wise people knows what is going on. They know Shugden practice is no harm and instead a pure lineage. They know Shugden is an enlightened being as so many incarnation of highly attained Lama have been coming back such as Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche, Yongyal Rinpoche. We must have faith in our guru and lineage as being a real Buddhism practitioner.

  2. The younger generation has ample access to information on the internet. Hence it would be rather difficult to “curb” their views, especially if they find no basis to the Ban that is so controversial. HHDL would not be able to stop them from enrolling into Shugden monasteries if they are attracted to the pure teachings in these monasteries.

  3. It’s sad to know that innocent children aspiring to be sangha are now being disallowed from attending monasteries that practice Dorje Shugden. Depriving school children of monastic education just because they and their parents believe in Dorje Shugden is not good at all. Not only did the Dalai enforce the ban on the spiritual practice but also monastic education. What a shame. Fortunately for these children there are several monasteries who are more than willing to provide them the necessary monastic education and groom them to be future dharma teachers.

  4. This evidence linking the Dalai Lama and the ban, is there for all of us to see.

    Restrictions and threats to the Dalai Lama make no sense at all. Dorje Shugden cannot harm a pure monk or a monk for that matter. Many people should really check their facts how can anything evil or harmful, harm a monk? A monk who holds his vows. As more students enroll with Shar gaden, I think the lay Tibetans are beginning to put two and two together.

  5. Dalai Lama in the video said student and guru’s relationship is very important. Otherwise it will not only harm the teacher, it will not be good for student as well. But look at Dalai Lama, he abandoned the practice his guru Trijang Rinpoche has given him. Did he not break the relationship with his guru? Is he the right example for us to follow? Since student and guru’s relationship is so important, he should encourage us, the DS practitioners to uphold the practice our guru have given us, not to force us or threaten us to go against our guru’s instructions. How can he destroy our spiritual practice just because he personally don’t like it? We want freedom for Tibet, we also want freedom for religion/belief.

  6. Giving advice to parents out there to not send the next generation to Shudgen’s monastery…. Where is the freedom in choosing what the next generation wants to believe in? And also threatening the parents that they would not be able to meet HH Dalai Lama in the future if anyone enroll their children in those monasteries.. It is indeed a serious matter for the Tibetans who highly regard HH Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a Buddha. They are left with no choice. What happen to the religious freedom? The next generation deserves the right to choose what they want to believe and I’m sure with the advanced technology, everyone can search for themselves and decide what they want. With the pure lineage of Dorje Shudgen and His powerful teachings, the next generation will decide from themselves. However, the good news is that there is still an increasing number of monks joining the monasteries and I’m sure the numbers will rise continuously.

  7. The CTA has a very strong influence in the Tibetan community because traditionally the Dalai Lama is their king whatever Dalai Lama said people do not really comment they just follow because everyone think he is a Buddha of compassion but time has change because of social media the younger generation more aware about what is their rights so is a good news at least people will aware what is right what is wrong.

  8. His holiness is fore warning the people to come out of ignorance and clarify the issue here. Not like Shugden society trying hard to find poor remote people to come and follow them in joining the bigger number. It sucks to see how you guys are working hard against the wishes of all 6 million Tibetan in particular. His holiness the Dalai Lama is working day and night for our country, what are we doing in return to repay our country and people. You are guys are being used by the Chinese government to increase controversy in our own system to disintegrate our unity and oneness. Wake up you fool..

  9. It is very undemocratic to segregate and discourage anyone from enrolling in any monastery or temple they wish. It is personal choice and what speaks to their minds and heart. That is why Church and state should never mix. They should be the only thing that is segregated not people or religion.

    The Dalai Lama is Chenrezig and cannot be harmed. He has said so recently. So, to claim any thing else is demeaning the Dalai Lama and the Buddhas and the Dharma.

    May the ban that is causing so much suffering, both physical and mental to so very many be lifted soon.

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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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