Introduction to Dorje Shugden

A Dharma Protector is an emanation of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva whose main functions are to avert the inner and outer obstacles that prevent practitioners from gaining spiritual realizations, and to arrange all the necessary conditions for their practice.

In Tibet, every monastery had its own Dharma Protector, but the tradition did not begin in Tibet; the Mahayanists of ancient India also relied upon Dharma Protectors to eliminate hindrances and to fulfil their spiritual wishes.

Though there are some worldly deities who are friendly towards Buddhism and who try to help practitioners, they are not real Dharma Protectors. Such worldly deities are able to increase the external wealth of practitioners and help them to succeed in their worldly activities, but they do not have the wisdom or the power to protect the development of Dharma within a practitioner’s mind.

It is this inner Dharma – the experiences of great compassion, bodhichitta, the wisdom realizing emptiness, and so forth – that is most important and that needs to be protected; outer conditions are of secondary importance.

Although their motivation is good, worldly deities lack wisdom and so sometimes the external help that they give actually interferes with the attainment of authentic Dharma realizations. If they have no Dharma realizations themselves, how can they be Dharma Protectors?

It is clear therefore that all actual Dharma Protectors must be emanations of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. These Protectors have great power to protect Buddhadharma and its practitioners, but the extent to which we receive help from them depends upon our faith and conviction in them. To receive their full protection, we must rely upon them with continuous, unwavering devotion.

Buddhas have manifested in the form of various Dharma Protectors, such as Mahakala, Kalarupa, Kalindewi, and Dorje Shugden. From the time of Je Tsongkhapa until the first Panchen Lama, Losang Chökyi Gyaltsän, the principal Dharma Protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage was Kalarupa. Later, however, it was felt by many high Lamas that Dorje Shugden had become the principal Dharma Protector of this tradition.

There is no difference in the compassion, wisdom, or power of the various Dharma Protectors, but because of the karma of sentient beings, one particular Dharma Protector will have a greater opportunity to help Dharma practitioners at any one particular time.

We can understand how this is so by considering the example of Buddha Shakyamuni. Previously the beings of this world had the karma to see Buddha Shakyamuni’s Supreme Emanation Body and to receive teachings directly from him.

These days, however, we do not have such karma, and so Buddha appears to us in the form of our Spiritual Guide and helps us by giving teachings and leading us on spiritual paths. Thus, the form that Buddha’s help takes varies according to our changing karma, but its essential nature remains the same.

Among all the Dharma Protectors, four-faced Mahakala, Kalarupa, and Dorje Shugden in particular have the same nature because they are all emanations of Manjushri.

However, the beings of this present time have a stronger karmic link with Dorje Shugden than with the other Dharma Protectors. It was for this reason that Morchen Dorjechang Kunga Lhundrup, a very highly realized Master of the Sakya tradition, told his disciples, “Now is the time to rely upon Dorje Shugden.” He said this on many occasions to encourage his disciples to develop faith in the practice of Dorje Shugden.

We too should heed his advice and take it to heart. He did not say that this is the time to rely upon other Dharma Protectors, but clearly stated that now is the time to rely upon Dorje Shugden. Many high Lamas of the Sakya tradition and many Sakya monasteries have relied sincerely upon Dorje Shugden.

In recent years the person most responsible for propagating the practice of Dorje Shugden was the late Trijang Dorjechang, the root Guru of many Gelugpa practitioners from humble novices to the highest Lamas. He encouraged all his disciples to rely upon Dorje Shugden and gave Dorje Shugdän empowerments many times.

Even in his old age, so as to prevent the practice of Dorje Shugdän from degenerating he wrote an extensive text entitled Symphony Delighting an Ocean of Conquerors, which is a commentary to Tagpo Kelsang Khädrub Rinpoche’s praise of Dorje Shugden called Infinite Aeons.


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  1. The search is over! I have found the BEST webdite ever, of Dorje Shugden. Kudos for the creator of this great site!! Keep up the good work.

  2. I completely agree! :) There are plenty of good websites out there regarding Dorje Shugden, but this has to be one of the most complete, educational and comprehensive website….yet :)

    May there be many more websites to come, educating people on the benefits of the great DS!

  3. Supramundane Dharma Protectors are very necessary for Dharma practitioners to turn to as the protector and guardian of the development and growth of Dharma in their minds. The dharma in the mind-stream is the inner dharma – the experiences of compassion, bodhicitta, the wisdom realizing emptiness – that is most important to protect.

    It is most important to realize that Dharma Protectors have great power to help practitioners only if we have great faith and conviction in them, and rely on them with “continuous, unwavering protection”.

    Buddhas, like Manjushri, have manifested in the form of various Dharma Protectors. Manjushri has manifested as four-faced Mahakala, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden. Thus Dorje Shugden is an emanated form of Manjushri, who is the embodiment of the wisdom of all Buddhas.

    There is no difference in the compassion, wisdom or power of the various enlightened Dharma protectors, but because of the karma of sentient beings, one particular Dharma Protector will have a greater opportunity to help Dharma practitioners at any one particular time.

    From the time of Je Tsongkhapa up to the first Panchen Lama, Losang Chokyi Gyaltsan, the principal Dharma Protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage was Kalarupa. However, as the manner and time of the arising of the uncommon supramundane Dharmapala Dorje Shugden shows, Dorje Shugden is the Dharma Protector of this tradition that we have to rely on now.
    As the Kagyu Master, Morchen Dorjechang Kunga Lhundrup told his disciples, “ Now is the time to rely upon Dorje Shugden”. The beings of today have a stronger karmic link with Dorje Shugden than with other Dharma Protectors. Dorje Shugden arose as an uncommon Dharma Protector to protect Je Tsongkapa’s teachings, especially his teachings on Nargajuna’s Middle View on Emptiness, which had been taught with unexcelled clarity by him. Beings of today (mired in great delusions of the mind and distractions) especially need to receive these teachings and to practice them in order to be totally liberated from samsara and suffering.

  4. The late Trijang Dorjechang, the root guru of many Gelugpa practitioners, including very highly attained Lamas, relied heavily upon Dorje Shugden as a Dharma Protector and encouraged all his disciples to rely upon Him as well. His strong reliance on Dorje Shugden even from an early age, his great faith and conviction in Him and his continuous and unwavering devotion to Him, are all unmistakably seen in his autobiography: “The Illusory Play”. In return, as is shown clearly in the autobiography, this great supramundane Protector gave him his full and unwavering protection and guidance.

    One very significant instance, when Dorje Shugden gave His support and protection, was in the case of the escape of Trijang Dorjechang, HH Dalai Lama and their entourage to India. Here, Dorje Shugden, through his oracle, advised them to immediately leave Tibet for India. He also showed the route they were to take, as well as guaranteed their safety (by their holding His sword at the head of the column of the entourage).

  5. Through the article it clearly show that it would benefit us the most in these times when we practice Dorje Shugden practices and regard him as our Dharma protector.

    What I like about the article is that it gives a very neutral point in view of the ban. Instead, if we should be practicing Dorje Shugden or not, there are factual information to allow readers to know that what is being written is not something that is just being said out of the blue by the author, but instead it has prove that indeed high lamas do practice Dorje Shugden and there are lamas from the Sakya tradition that advises other to practice Dorje Shugden practices.

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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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