With deep faith I prostrate to you, Vajradhara Dorje Shugden.
Although you have already attained the Buddha-ground
and engage in the twenty-seven deeds of a Buddha,
you appear in various forms to help the Buddhadharma and sentient beings.
You have manifested in different aspects as Indian and Tibetan Masters,
such as Manjushri, Mahasiddha Biwawa, Sakya Pandita, Butön Rinchen Drub, Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsän, Panchen Sönam Dragpa, and many others.
Dorje Shugden practice has a long history, but since Tagpo Rinpoche, Kyabje Pabongkha Dorje Chang’s Guru, has planted it firmly into Tibet’s spiritual soil, this enlightened Protector’s inner and outer guidance has become very precious to an estimated four million people in Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, China, India, Bhutan, Taiwan and increasingly in the west.
Mahasiddha Biwawa studied at Nalanda, the great Buddhist university near Bodhgaya . At night he practiced Heruka’s Tantra and Vajrayogini herself would come to partake of his tsog offerings, surrounded by dakinis. Which led his fellow monks to believe that he was having wild parties in his room. They called him Biwawa, bad man, and expelled him.
As a traveling Yogi he showed his powers at various occasions in order to bring people to religion. He could stop the Ganges river, he could stop the sun in the sky.
A king who hated Buddhists tried to have him drowned, buried alive and finally burned – to no avail (interesting how history has a tendency to repeat itself…this has recently been ritually done to Dorje Shugden, with the same result…). That king was so amazed that he and all his people became Mahasiddha Biwawa’s disciples.
Sakya Pandita was the next form assumed in this lineage. He still showed miracle powers if needed and useful, for example to turn the emperor of China ’s mind to Dharma. But he would become renowned just as much for his mastery of both Sutra and Tantra, study and meditation.
Buton Rinchen Drub was very compassionate even as a small child and could speak to Manjushri as if to another person. Yet he would emphasize even more than his predecessor the importance of the purity of one’s practice, relying on virtue and clarity, not miracles, because people tended to become less innocent and more self-centered.
Buton Rinchen Drub was a great master of the Kalacakra Tantra. The sadhana composed by him is still in use today and recommended by His Holiness. He teachings were an important influence on Je Tsongkhapa.
The trend of emphasizing humility and keeping one’s samaya commitments pure continued with Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen (Duldzin literally means ‘holder of vows’). He was very close to Je Tsongkhapa and his first Gelugpa disciple, with Khedrupje and Gyaltsapje coming from the Sakya tradition.
Although both master and student were Manjushri-emanations, they worked in their relative aspects to show an example of humble practice. In this way they helped Lord Manjushri’s instructions, which Tsongkhapa received through direct communion, to reach many people.
Duldzin Drakpa did everything to help in creating good conditions for these teachings to spread. It was him who undertook the building of Gaden Monastery. He also built his own temple for Kunrik practice near Gaden and took care of the Monastery when Lama Tsongkhapa was away. After Je Lama’s passing he was offered the Gaden throne but preferred to remain in the background to clear obstacles and prepare the way for the flow of Dharma.
His main practices were Guhyasamaja, Kunrik and Yamantaka; his main Protector was Kalarupa.
Panchen Sonam Drakpa was the only Lama ever to be abbot of all three great Gelug Monasteries in one life. In addition he held the position of the fifteenth Gaden Tripa. His written works are greatly important teaching material to this day. A book with a collection of his works has just been published in English.
He reinvigorated and renewed the tradition of debate, the powerful tool to develop piercing clarity of mind. Some of his prayers are still being recited daily by thousands of monks, like this one:
So that the tradition of Je Tsongkhapa
the king of the Dharma, may flourish
may all obstacles be pacified
and may all favourable conditions abound
These four lines are a wonderfully concise description of the blessed works of a Dharma Protector, and whether we know it or not, it is extremely unlikely for most of us to meet, much less practice Dharma if not for these Protectors’ unconditional compassion and miraculous help, because the degree of our self-obsession and materialism is overpowering our perception to the extent of total spiritual blindness.
Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s main practices were Chakrasamvara/Vajrayogini and Yamantaka. His main Protector was the 4-armed Mahakala.
He took rebirth as Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen who lived at the same time as the fifth Dalai Lama. They both were students of Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen, the first Panchen Lama. He went for many meditation retreats in caves where in one of his holy visions he was shown that he would later manifest as Dorje Shugden.
He was a famous teacher with many followers from Tibet and outer Mongolia, and abbot of Drepung Osel Ling and Ngakpa Trasang, the tantric school of Drepung . His Yidams and Protector were Chakrasamvara/Vajrayogini and Yamantaka and the 4-armed Mahakala and Setrap Chen. He and the Great Fifth were considered equally eminent Lamas.
It is said that one day Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen defeated the Dalai Lama in debate and the latter’s attendants grew so jealous that they later arranged for Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen to be strangled with a Khata. However, this is just the outer appearance.
The Emergence of Dharmapala Dorje Shugden
While Je Tsongkhapa was giving a Dharma discourse, Nechung appeared to Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen in the form of a white dove, urging him to manifest as a protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings who are so sublime and precious that a special protector is needed to guard and further them in this world.
Nechung repeated his request to Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen’s subsequent incarnations and during the time of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen approached again, asking him if he remembered his promise. Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen replied that since there was no anger in his mindstream, how could he manifest the wrathful energy of a Dharma protector?
Thus the event of strangulation was displayed with bodhicitta motivation, enabling the enlightened being Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen to manifest wrath at the moment of death and to emerge in this way as the transcendent supramundane Dharmapala Gyalchen Dorje Shugden. Since killing a bodhisattva is nonetheless a very grave event, the elements reacted violently, and various strange occurrences took place for some time.
Dorje Shugden has played a major role in bringing the Buddhadharma from Tibet into the world, as we will see, and will continue so on a global scale.
Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo’s View on Nature and Origin of Gyalchen Dorje Shugden
Some see this supreme deity, Emanated Gyalchen, as not different from an ordinary monk spirit or king spirit, a priest or monk who has died and taken a spirit body out of negative karma, and proclaiming this in a loud voice, make fun of not only the deity but of others who rely on him also; there seem to be many as well as a great many who, following their lead, hold very tightly to this mistaken view. They are speaking just out of supposition without really understanding the source.
This very dharma protecting ‘gyelpo’ is reknowned as the unmistaken emanation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was the unmistaken succeding incarnation of Panchen Sônam Dragpa and Je Dültzin (Lord of Vinaya Holders) Dragpa Gyaltsen.
Thus, those great beings were great elder holders of the vinaya who did not transgress even the slightest rule of the Buddha and were great beings who cherished others more than themselves. They were great lords of masters who reigned over the ocean-like treatises of sutra and tantra as well as the ordinary sciences.
That they were great lords of siddhas who perfected the supreme realization of tantra’s two stages is well proven and known to all. For that very being to arise in the body of a wrathful deity is the mere display of a form for a very special purpose through the power of compassion and prayers and for him, rather, to have taken birth, like other ordinary beings, out of evil karma as a sky-walking preta; how would that be possible?
If one says that he was born like that then it would follow that one meets with karma uncommitted by oneself or that deeds done are wasted, etc., so one would be expounding falsity of the law of causality, etc., which would be the worst kind of nihilistic view.
Furthermore, Lord Dültzin Dragpa Gyaltsen was fully established to be the emanation of the omniscient Bütön and Lord Bütön was fully reknowned beyond dispute, based on many valid scriptural and biographical source books, as the succeeding incarnation of the lineage including Manjusri, the mahasiddha Birwapa, and Sakya Pandita.
Therefore, to think that the succeeding incarnation of those great pandits and siddhas, who were as reknowned throughout India and Tibet as the sun and the moon, could take birth in the low evil body of an actual preta and to propound such is a misconception slandering those great beings and the cause of an unbearable unfortunate rebirth. So everyone should be careful in such matters.
Furthermore, the story of how Nechung, the Emanated Dharma King, Great Dorje Dragden, again and again urged Panchen Sônam Dragpa to arise in the form of a protector uncommon to the Gelugpa by not abandoning his promise and mind generation of previous incarnations is in his biography.
Again, it is suitable to worship because, as is said in many valid sutras and commentaries, even animals who are emanations of the Tathagatas such as ‘Ru Ru’, the golden stag, are a supreme field of worship; this is similar.
Thus, this very great Dharmapala is established without doubt to be peaceful and wrathful Manjusri himself arisen in the form of a terrifying wrathful one (dregpa) in order to protect one’s teachings. Therefore, wherever there is stainless teaching and practice of the Geden he guards and protects without dependence upon his being relied upon or worshipped.