By: Kay Beswick
Background: H.H. the Dalai Lama instructed the Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery (Shartse Khenpo) to make a trip to the USA to seek audience with Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s current incarnation (Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche). The aim of the visit was to request Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche to return to Gaden for a visit and to attend the December 2013 teachings by the Dalai Lama in Sera Monastery. Initially Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche declined to meet with the abbot but in his compassion, he eventually allowed the audience. The Shartse Khenpo thus met with Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche in Trijang Rinpoche’s centre in Vermont, USA.
Ganden Shartse Khenpo (Abbot) Jangchup Choden’s Statement:
Dear Melisa Sands and Kay Beswick,
I hope you are in great health. I send you wishes for prosperity and happiness.
Please note I am sending this clarification reply to you on your baseless reports published on September 26, 2013 Abbots Urgently Sent to the USA and November 2, 2013 UPDATE: Abbots Urgently Sent to the USA.
I think this is right time to clear the misleading information to enlighten public. Please don’t mislead public by writing baseless reports. At least try to spend little more time to find authentic information before reporting it to public.
Thanks for adding up final paragraph on November 23 report. I am happy to read that paragraph of your report on me as great blessings from you.
- I and my colleagues at Gaden were concerned about the gap between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche. That motivated us to take this initiative to bridge the gap but alas.
- I was never ordered or appointed by Kuger Yigtsang or anyone to request Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche to return to participate any program, anywhere. I personally and as an abbot of Gaden Monastery took initiatives to meet Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche to talk to him. In great kindness Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche gave me plenty of time to talk and be with him. Please note, Kuger Yigtsang never delegated or appointed me to reach Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche.
- On meeting Trijang Rinpoche I requested him to re-consider his stand on Shugden issue for various important reasons. Though he didn’t say yes or no to my request, but he didn’t told me “Gaden monastery has ‘forgotten’ about him”.
- How and why some people left Gaden Monastery and Gaden Shartse in 2008 is well-known fact. No one can change the truth by twisting the story after five years. It is very simple. Some people chose to abandon the monastery for personal interest and benefit and the monastery failed to stop them from doing that.
- Since, I travelled to meet Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche to Vermont, USA on personal initiative and as abbot of Gaden with messages from Gaden Shartse Monastery and Gaden Lachi, why should I relay any reply to those messages to Kuger Yigtsang. This is just an insane comment from the reporter. I have no knowledge about what email Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche want to send to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and CTA in Dharamsala.
- What is curious about letter being written on the letterhead of Gaden Lachi and Gaden Shartse Monastery? As a senior abbot of Gaden, I represent Gaden Lachi and as abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery I represent Gaden Shartse Monastery. Messages of these two organizations definitely comes on their letterhead. Why should it come on the stationary of the Kuger Yigtsang? His Holiness the Dalai Lama don’t need to request Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche to return to some where. His Holiness has achieved unimaginably great achievements through his own efforts. If some one returns or not, won’t make any difference to him. Please don’t try to mislead people by writing baseless comments.
- We felt it is really important to revive relationship between Kyabje Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The holy relationship between these two historic figures are buildup for many lifetimes and we believe it is not good to let it break now. Therefore, I and my colleagues felt it is good to try to have presence of Kyabje Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche in upcoming teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Sera Monastery. Thus we planned it solely in our own initiative. To His Holiness the Dalai Lama, if Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche attends these upcoming teachings in Sera or not won’t make any difference at all. Most important issue for me and my colleagues are to restore relationship between two holy man. But it is really a great disappointment to see some people doing everything possible to stop or topple our efforts.
Gaden Shartse Khenpo (Topanga, California, USA)
The statement is a clear indication that the Abbot failed to follow Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche’s instruction to him; that is, for the Abbot to accurately relay Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche’s response to the Dalai Lama and the CTA. Focusing instead on refuting DorjeShugden.com’s reports, the Abbot neglected to mention that Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche had strongly requested for the Dalai Lama and CTA to focus on uniting the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet. That the Dorje Shugden ban is creating factions amongst the Tibetans, and that such schism should be stopped immediately. The Abbot did not mention at all that Trijang Rinpoche was very direct and strong on this point about uniting the Tibetan people.
Shartse’s Abbot stated that he visited Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche on his own accord, to mend the gap between H.H. the Dalai Lama and Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche. However, the Abbot himself stated (in his sixth point) that it makes no difference to the Dalai Lama whether or not Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche returns to India. Why then did the Shartse Abbot feel it was his responsibility to “bridge the gap” between the two beings, when the Dalai Lama himself is not concerned by it? It is remarkable that the Abbot perceives there is a rift between the two lamas, considering the Dalai Lama is believed by Tibetans to be Chenrezig and Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche is believed to be Heruka. Both being Buddhas, it would indeed be an extraordinary (and in fact, impossible) situation for two enlightened beings, having realized equanimity and attained bodhicitta, to be engaged in a rift.
Perhaps the Shartse Abbot felt some need to conceal the true nature of his visit, thus concocting this story. After all, his assertion regarding the purpose of his visit fully contradicts our sources who report that he actually visited Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche to relay messages from the Dalai Lama, Samdhong Rinpoche, the Prime Minister Lobsang Sangye, and the monks of Ganden Shartse, Ganden Jangtse, and Ganden Lachi. All of them requested for Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche to visit Sera Monastery, where the Dalai Lama would be giving teachings so that His Holiness can pass to Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche all of the teachings he received from the previous incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche. What is ironic is that if the Dalai Lama were really to pass back all of the teachings he had received from the previous Trijang Rinpoche, it should also include Dorje Shugden’s practice which the Dalai Lama had received from his guru.
During the audience in Vermont, Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche told the Shartse Abbot directly that he is very disappointed with Samdhong Rinpoche, who was one of the previous Trijang Rinpoche’s students, because he now suppresses Dorje Shugden practitioners. Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche did not want to hear any messages from Samdhong Rinpoche or Prime Minister Lobsang Sangye. Instead, Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche asked the Shartse Abbot to start with the Dalai Lama’s message. Rinpoche manifested obvious displeasure with the CTA whose previous and current heads are Samdhong Rinpoche and Lobsang Sangye respectively. He was clearly upset with the CTA’s policy of suppressing and marginalization of Shugden practitioners for many years.
The Dalai Lama’s message to Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche is that the Dalai Lama is going to give an exception to Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche (as a Dorje Shugden practitioner) and wants Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche to go back to India to receive the teachings. The Dalai Lama also said he wishes to hand to Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche the responsibility of providing spiritual guidance to the Tibetan people in India.
It is interesting that the Dalai Lama would consider such a move, when Trijang Rinpoche practises Dorje Shugden and has never shown signs of giving it up. Since Trijang Rinpoche is engaging in so-called demon worship, it would seem illogical that the Dalai Lama would want to pass spiritual guidance of the Tibetan people over to Trijang Rinpoche.
In response to this, Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche asked Shartse’s Abbot to please tell the Dalai Lama that when Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche was a monk 15 years ago, he had requested for an exception as he wanted to stay in Ganden Monastery and continue Dorje Shugden practice, but the Dalai Lama said NO. Now that he is no longer a monk, he does not need any exceptions; that is, he is free to practice and live wherever he wants. Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche also requested Shartse’s Abbot to tell the Dalai Lama not to think about exceptions for him, but to think about the Tibetan people in India, and do what is best for the Tibetan people and to make them united.
After all, why should an exception be made just for him and not for the larger population who would have relied on Dorje Shugden, had it not been for the ban and the resulting discrimination against those who practice the Protector?
What interests us at DorjeShugden.com is the number of exceptions that have been made for Trijang Rinpoche. When the Dalai Lama made his first exception to Trijang Rinpoche, he allowed Trijang Rinpoche to continue to practise Dorje Shugden. Ironically, this exception gave the anti-Dorje Shugden crowd a reason to harass and threaten Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche until he felt he had no other option but to leave India for Switzerland (and later, the USA). Now, it would appear the Dalai Lama has had a change of heart, giving Trijang Rinpoche yet another exception. That is, it is okay for him to practice Dorje Shugden and it is also okay for him to receive teachings from the Dalai Lama. One cannot help but wonder at what point the Dalai Lama, as the former secular and spiritual leader of Tibet, will come to a conclusion about the ban and who it applies to.
During his meeting with the Shartse Abbot, Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche also added that if and when he visits India, he will ONLY visit Shar Ganden. When this happens, DorjeShugden.com has been made aware that many monks will leave Ganden Shartse and Jangtse to join Shar Ganden, because his visit will show that he officially supports the monastery along with the practice of Dorje Shugden. Many of the monks from Ganden Shartse, Jangtse, Drepung and Sera will be waiting to receive Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche, confident in the knowledge that he has not left their lineage.
The Abbot requested Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche to give teachings at Ganden Shartse, Ganden Jangtse and Ganden Lachi. At the time this request was made to Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche, he had not given up Dorje Shugden (and shows no signs at all of giving it up). That the Abbot would request for teachings from someone who is a so-called demon worshipper, and has supposedly broken their vows is an interesting prospect. If we follow the logic that the Dalai Lama’s supporters have been promoting (that practicing a demon means you are no longer a Buddhist), then Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche does not even have his refuge vows. Therefore is he really in the position to teach the path to enlightenment to thousands of Sangha members? On our part, we know that he is regardless of whatever he practices, but the Shartse Abbot’s request just serves to highlight the rampant hypocrisy that is practiced within the Tibetan administration when it comes to the application of this ban.
The Abbot’s visit to Vermont comes at an opportune time. Unannounced to the world, this hurried visit may reflect the Dalai Lama’s office (Kukey Yigtsang) feeling threatened that Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche can freely visit Shar Gaden, Tibet, India, Nepal, China and in fact anywhere in the world. Being a US citizen, the Tibetans cannot prevent Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche from entering India. In addition, Shar Gaden being ostracized from the Tibetan community means that it falls outside of the direct control of the Tibetan settlements. Hence, Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche would not need to rely on their approval, and apply for a permit to enter.
Other very high lamas have also visited Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche recently and the CTA definitely is aware of that. Cars suspected to belong to the CTA have been spotted driving around TBI. As a result, considering the death threats that led him to flee India, security has been tightened around Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche. Could it be that the Dalai Lama has heard about these meetings with the high lamas, and the CTA is preparing their defence? It is entirely possible that the Shartse’s Abbot visit was a reaction from the CTA who are trying to stem the growth of Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche’s work, before he becomes so popular that the Tibetans start listening to him, and not to the Dalai Lama. That the Kukey Yigtsang and CTA would feel threatened is a very plausible scenario, considering this is not the first time in history they have felt threatened by the popularity of another lama…need we remind the readers of an incident involving the 5th Dalai Lama’s attendants, and one Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen?
The information that DorjeShugden.com has received from our sources reliably state that the Shartse Abbot’s announcement on his Facebook account were untrue. The statement was later published on the CTA’s website, relaying multiple untruths about what actually transpired between himself and Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche. In his statement, the Abbot mentioned the reason behind his visit and who actually sent him to see Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche.
It is interesting that the Shartse’s Abbot would tell such blatant untruths so openly, and that his statement would appear on the CTA’s website meaning they endorse his message (and therefore also his deception). For him to make such a statement would suggest he received the approval of some higher authority (i.e. the Kukey Yigtsang) to speak on their behalf. This must mean the Kukey Yigtsang must have been notified of DorjeShugden.com’s report, in order to authorise the Abbot to make a statement that involves their names.
The credibility of the CTA needs to be called into question, given their track record of hypocrisy and inability to accept any form of feedback, even when it comes from a young student asking an innocent question about the state of Tibet’s freedom movement. Do the CTA really think so lowly of the Tibetan people to go along with the Abbot’s statement, simply because he said so? There are rumours that Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche will be issuing an official statement that will be sent to the Dalai Lama’s office and other organizations to refute the Shartse Abbot’s false assertions. For now, it’s a “he-said-they-said” situation. However, a closer examination of the credibility of the two parties issuing statements would lead to the logical conclusion that someone like the Kukey Yigtsang and the Abbot who have a history of dubious undertakings cannot be trusted. This is compared to the word of someone like Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche who has remained steadfast, despite all odds, in his commitment to the practices given to him by his teachers. In other words, when Trijang Rinpoche says he will do or practice something, he sticks by it. The same cannot be said of the Kukey Yigtsang and CTA who go where the wind blows.
In making his statement public, the Abbot has caused a great deal of upset amongst the Shar Ganden monks who are very unhappy with the falsities being spread. He is the abbot of the great Gaden Shartse Monastery of 900 monks. He was meeting the greatest lineage guru of the Gelugpa lineage Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche. However, out of his own agenda, and with the manipulation of the CTA behind him, he chose to twist the story of his audience with Trjiang Choktrul Rinpoche. This only further serves to erode the Abbot’s reputation amongst the monastic community, when he is already infamous for personal fundraising instead of raising funds for the monastery.
One cannot help but wonder what the CTA hope to achieve by spying on Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche. Being on US soil, they do not have any power over Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche; they have no legal basis to spy on him, or to object to his activities. Second, if their motivation is to intimidate Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche and his students, they have no right to – it is harassment, and Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche can practise anything he wants without being watched.
The timing of the Abbot’s visit, his subsequent rushed statement on Facebook and Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche’s response cannot be coincidence. It would suggest that somewhere in the CTA, someone has realised that the Abbot’s visit, and the exposure of the real agenda of the meeting have backfired on them, and now the CTA are scrambling to manage the problem. Otherwise, what else can the CTA have done for them to reach so far in order to hide the truth and spy on one of the greatest Gelugpa lamas of all time?
For further information, please click here:
- Abbots Urgently Sent to the USA (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/abbots-urgently-sent-to-the-usa/)
- UPDATE: Abbots Urgently Sent to the USA (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/update-abbots-urgently-sent-to-the-usa/)
- The Shartse Abbot’s statement on the Central Tibetan Administration’s website (http://tibet.net/2013/11/11/abbot-of-gaden-shartses-clarification/)
- Trijang Buddhist Institute (https://www.tbiusa.org/)