Tibetan Parliament discriminates against Jonangpa sect

One of the nine hunger strikers of the followers of the Jonang sect. They are outside the CTA’s (Tibetan Parliament) office in Dharamsala demanding for the discrimination against their sect to end. The CTA or Tibetan Government-in-Exile are well known for their corrupt and unjust ways of handling their people. The same discrimination is targeted against Dorje Shugden followers. The Jonang sect was banned in Tibet by the 5th Dalai Lama for over 400 years until recently. Now they want representatives in the Tibetan Parliament which is not allowed to them.

By Kay Beswick

 

In a stunning turn of events, 27 members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (otherwise commonly known as the Central Tibetan Administration or CTA) based in Dharamsala have rejected Jonangpa demands for their sect to be represented in Parliament. Only 17 of the 44 members of Parliament voted in favour of including Jonangpa representatives in the Tibetan Parliament. Further to this, four members of Tibetan Parliament were especially targeted for their outspoken opposition of this motion were the Representative of the Sakya MP Gazi Tse Ringpo, Representative of the Kagyu MP Karma Choephel, Parliament member representing U-Tsang Karma Yeshe and Representative of Dotoe Tsultrim Tenzin.

In September 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama officially recognized the Jonangpa school as one of the major sects of Buddhism in Tibet after 400 years of persecution. The Dalai Lama also recognized the current and now deceased Khalkha Jetsun Dampa of Mongolia as the head of the Jonangpa sect. Therefore, being one of the main schools of Buddhism, it is logical that the Jonangpas would expect to have at least one representative of their faith in the Tibetan Parliament. This was rejected. Being yet another group having to face the CTA’s discrimination along with Shugden followers, the Jonangpa representatives are therefore staging a protest in front of Tibetan Parliament’s building in Dharamsala and threatening a hunger strike. What an embarrassment to the CTA again. This shows how the CTA mismanages and mishandles all religious and secular affairs. Representing the Sakya sect is MP Gazi Tse Ringpo was manhandled and had many demands in paper stuffed into his pockets as he was loud in his opposition of Jonangpas in Parliament. This led to a scuffle on September 19, 2015 bringing more unwanted attention to the unfair practices of the Tibetan leadership. More discrimination exposed by the CTA in Dharamasala except this one started to become violent.


Although the number of Jonang practitioners is small, their tradition has been recognized as one of the major schools of Buddhism. Being recognized as such, they should have equal representation in the Parliament if Dharamsala were truly a democratic administration (as they claim). However, the mechanisms of the CTA are always unfair, undemocratic and corrupt. For them to reject the Jonangpas’ demand for a seat in Parliament clearly shows their undemocratic method of doing things only for self-gain. It also highlights the sectarian nature of the Tibetan administration and their political processes, where the monks chosen to represent the Sakyas and Kagyus in Parliament rejected the Jonangpa’s request to be represented.

There is no reason other than self-gain. Otherwise, why would representatives of the Kagyu and Sakya traditions, as well as two other representatives, be singled out for rejecting the Jonangpa request for a representative? Especially after the Dalai Lama himself had already recognized them as a legitimate Tibetan Buddhist sect, why did these members of parliament oppose the Jonangpa request for equal representation?

The Dalai Lama’s recognition of the Jonangpas as a major school of Tibetan Buddhism is significant because of the actions of his predecessor. During the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, the Jonangpas were forcibly converted to the Gelug school of Buddhism. As a result they were nearly wiped out, and they withdrew to small pockets of practice in certain parts of Tibet that became their strongholds. They were considered an extinct sect of Buddhism until recently, in the 19th century, when they resurfaced and practiced in secret still. This culminated in them being recognized as an official sect of Buddhism by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011 finally four hundred years later.

Sikyong (Prime Minister) Lobsang Sangay (centre) and Speaker Penpa Tsering (right) try to appease the crowd but to no avail. After the Prime Minister and Speaker finished addressing the protestors, nine Jonang monks promptly began their hunger strike.

What we would like the readers to remember is that the 14th Dalai Lama has said repeatedly that he is the same mind-stream as the 5th Dalai Lama. Well, the 5th Dalai Lama tried to destroy the Jonangpa school so why is the 14th Dalai Lama recognizing Jonang as a school of Buddhism, when the 5th Dalai Lama destroyed their tradition, closed them down, disbanded them and forcibly converted them? We are not saying we agree to the Jonangpas being unrepresented but doesn’t this incident highlight the inconsistencies in the Dalai Lama’s policies?

And if what the 14th Dalai Lama says is true, then the 5th Dalai Lama is claimed to have tried to stop Dorje Shugden practice. Just like the Jonangpas, the 5th Dalai Lama nearly stopped the practice but unlike the Jonangpas, Dorje Shugden practice continued until today and became strong. However, our point is this – if the 14th Dalai Lama can reinstate Jonang as a school of Buddhism after his previous incarnation tried to extinguish them, then he can do the same with Dorje Shugden practice. Fair is fair. And in that case, then Dorje Shugden practitioners should also not be ostracized and denied their representation within the Parliament if there were truly democracy within the Tibetan exile community.

But religious issues aside, Jonangpa as a recognized sect of Tibetan Buddhism should have fair representation in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. Whether their religious views and philosophical tenets are valid or not valid, is not the question. The question here is religious freedom and the freedom to practice whatever religion you like, without being discriminated against in a political or social environment, as per the Tibetan constitution:

Charter of the Tibetans in Exile

Article 10. All religious denominations are equal before the law. Every Tibetan shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These religious rights include the freedom to manifest one’s beliefs, to receive initiation into religious traditions, and to practice with matters relating to religious commitment, such as preaching or worship of any religion, either alone or in community with others.

The Charter says that all Tibetans have the freedom of choice to pick any religion they want. Our question is how can they pick what religion they want if a certain religion is banned? Or if that religion is always spoken ill of? If Dorje Shugden practice is always spoken ill of, then how is that religious freedom when it makes people fear being identified as a practitioner? Whether Dorje Shugden’s practice is valid or not, it is followed by millions so therefore just like the Jonangpas, adherents of the Dorje Shugden faith must be represented within Parliament and not barred.

Monks following the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism protest in front of the Tibetan Parliament demanding their representation in the Parliament. This was taken on September 15, 2015.

True freedom means having all the choices available to the Tibetans, without repercussions for what they choose. Religious freedom is not having your religion or choice of faith being constantly spoken against as Dorje Shugden’s practice is by the CTA on their websites as well as the Dalai Lama’s website. In the Dalai Lama’s website there is a whole section discouraging Dorje Shugden practice. That is not religious freedom; the Dalai Lama should not discourage any religious practice verbally or on his website as this contradicts religious freedom. Dorje Shugden practitioners should be represented in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile regardless of their faith.

Therefore like the Jonangpa school has been reestablished, the Dorje Shugden form of Buddhism should also be reestablished. The Tibetan government and Tibetan leadership, with immediate effect, should stop condemning this form of religious practice and give religious freedom.

It is the very least Dorje Shugden practitioners deserve after nearly two decades of suffering religious discrimination and intolerance, without reacting violently. The Tibetan government claims that Dorje Shugden people are violent but in the case of the Jonangpas, they were caught on video getting violent with Tibetan members of parliament. Why is it when Jonangpas are violent, they get what they want and their demands are fulfilled and yet, with Dorje Shugden practitioners, they have never attacked anyone (let alone a member of parliament!) and yet they do not get what they want? Dorje Shugden people have written letters to the Tibetan parliament, Dalai Lama and Samdhong Rinpoche numerous times with no reply. So the peaceful demonstrations continue worldwide.

Jonang monks protesting in front of the Tibetan Parliament (Dharamsala) on September 15, 2015 for their right to representation

If the CTA and Tibetan leadership were truly democratic, they would extend the same treatment and equality to all members of Tibetan society, and give them equal representation in Parliament. After all, the Bönpos are not even Tibetan Buddhist and yet they receive fair representation in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and are accepted as equals. Yet prior to 1987, they were stigmatized and marginalized. You can easily Google and research on how the Bönpos were marginalized and stigmatized prior to 1987 by the Dalai Lama, the CTA and Tibetans overall. When the Dalai Lama wanted unity, to serve the CTA’s purpose, he finally made a statement to stop the stigma against Bönpos. As a result, the stigma and hatred against the Bönpos stopped nearly overnight. Bönpos suffered for centuries from religious persecution from the Tibetan leadership as they were not Buddhist; after a statement from the Dalai Lama, this persecution stopped immediately. It should be the same now for the Dorje Shugden practitioners worldwide.

Prior to 2011, the Jonangpas faced the same marginalization until the Dalai Lama recognized them as separate. Dorje Shugden practitioners therefore demand and request the same equal representation, standing and respect as all other members of Tibetan society, in the same way the Bönpos and Jonangpas have received. The Dalai Lama should say the same for the Shugdenpas who, despite nearly 20 years of ill-treatment from Tibetans as a result of our faith, continue to oppose the ban peacefully, legally and with respect.

Click on the image to read Phayul’s report on this incident. (Source: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=36515)

Followers of Jonang tradition demonstrate at an earlier protest (on March 28, 2015) in front of the Tibetan Parliament, demanding that their sect be given representation in the Parliament.

Jonangpas protesting in March 2015 for their right to representation in Parliament.

Lay Jonang practitioners protesting in September 2015, demanding their right to be represented in the Tibetan Parliament.

Ngawang Dorje, advisor of the Jonang Association, speaks outside the Tibetan Parliament as the 15th parliament began its 10th session on September 15, 2015

Jonangpas listen to Ngawang Dorje, the adviser of the Jonang Association, as he addresses their protest congregation on September 15, 2015

Please support this website by making a donation.
Your contribution goes towards supporting
our work to spread Dorje Shugden across the world.
Share this article
17 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. One thing for sure, the unfair treatment to the Dorje Shugden people is also directed at other groups within Tibetan society for one reason or another. It shows the Tibetan leaders are corrupt and self serving. No one wonder after so long, there is no sign of getting their country back from the atrocious Chinese. CTA will continue to degenerate further.

  2. Why does a bunch of refugees need a exile ‘government’? Isn’t that disrespectful to India where they have lived for 50 years?

    The exiled Tibetan govt didn’t accomplish anything for themselves and the world as a whole so far. Now they discriminate in their own country. They are like the Burmese Rohingya people. Burmese discriminate against them due to their religion just like Tibetan Exile govt discriminate against Jonangpa people. They are not democratic. How can Dalai Lama allow this?

  3. I agree with Jigme too. What is the function of the exile government? To take money and protect themselves?

    The CTA has fake democracy and practise fake compassion. It’s a shame on them for having Dalai Lama as a ambassador of world peace.

    The real democracy is letting people practise their own religions without setting any rules to marginalize them, what’s wrong of granting this freedom if the CTA is telling the world they are a democratic government?

  4. Jonangpas were banned by the 5th Dalai Lama and the teachings they had that were useful were absorbed into the Gelug lineage. The question is why would a emanation of Avalokitesvara such as 5th Dalai Lama ban and destroy a sect? Then four hundred years down the road the 5th Dalai Lama now is reincarnated as the 14th Dalai Lama and reinstates the Jonangpas as a authentic sect of Buddhism again? Even Kalka Jetsun Dampa has been reinstated as the head of the sect. So was the 5th Dalai Lama mistaken for banning them or the 14th Dalai Lama mistaken for reinstating them? If the 5th and 14th Dalai Lamas are incarnations of each and a emanation of Avalokitesvara, how can Avalokitesvara make a mistake?

    If either the 5th Dalai Lama or 14th Dalai Lama made a mistake we have to conclude logically so, they probably made a mistake by banning the Dorje Shugden practice too. So can the Dalai Lamas make mistakes or not?

  5. The Tibetan Government should have protected their people, especially the minority, preserving their traditions and lineage. This is the fundamental rights of the people, moreover, Buddhist should be tolerable, kind and more acceptable of others right?

  6. Why does the Dalai Lama allow this type of discrimination within his own community?

    Minorities should not be left at the wayside but given equal treatment.

    Why do they treat the Jonanpas and Shugden people so badly. This must end.

  7. I support very much the Jonangpas for their representation in the CTA.

    So it is very clear to many people who are watching this that there is no representation of the Dorje Shgden practitioners in the CTA at all, all have been purged much earlier. This does not only extend to the parliament, also all the govermental services offered by CTA.

  8. To Eli Buchen, I fully agree with you.

  9. Obviously this is the workings of a corrupt government or exiled government. No sane government who depends on hand outs as do the CTA will put themselves in the spot light by segregating their own people into factions and fan the flames as the saying goes. I bet CTA actually think they did no wrong. But if they did something right they would have their country back right?

    Good by to Shangri La

  10. What exactly is the reason for the Tibetan government to reject the idea of having a Jonangpa as a representative in the Parliament ? The reasons were not clearly stated at all. Just some wishy washy “democratic decision” that they made. The government ought to appease it’s people by stating clear and logical reasons and not create more differences and discrimination. Another poor move ! Sigh ! and they want to have autonomous authority from China over the Tibet lands and its people. How ? If they cannot even handle such a small sect in their community how can they handle the whole of Tibet ?

  11. I sympathise very much with the Jonang followers and hope their ordeal will be over soon. To have to resort to a hunger strike shows how determined they are to achieve their goal of having a representative in the Tibetan Parliament. The Jonang sect had been banned for over 400 years but the fact that it is still existing is an indication that the followers are resilient and have strong belief in their tradition. The Jonangpa sect is one of the New Schools in Tibetan Buddhism whose lineage holder is Taranatha.

  12. Rangzen, umaylam , Jonangpa, Shugdenpa all is bhoedpa n all are deserve equal right to our leader . In the democracy this is guarantee to us also by our Indian government . Our Tibetan leadership should stop embarrass to us n embarrass to them self in front of the whole world n behave like the proper democratic now. . We are behave like US n Swiss but we are not have their economy or politic mind . Better to we have like Tibetan n to make our Dalai Lama name good again

  13. What is new? The Jonangpa’s suffering is just a replica of Shugdenpa’s suffering, but because they are lesser in numbers, we seldom heard about their plight. But we should not be surprised, as this is typical of Tibetan leadership’s act of tyranny. There is no democracy at all, if they do not like you, they could easily wipe out your whole lineage and nobody dared to interfere. Fortunate the discrimination against Shugdenpas happen in our modern times, therefore there are means to spread the tyranny of the leadership to many more people to create awareness. This type of oppression will not succeed in modern times.

  14. CTA is well known for banning those who do not follow their policy. They do it without shame and hesitation. This is one of the many reasons why they fail as a leadership because they deal important matters like a child building his sandcastle.

    A leadership like this is paving a path to the government’s failure, to the destruction of its people. Those who select this government must see beyond blind faith and stand up for their own rights. Your fate is not decided by a group of selfish people, you can make a change!

  15. Yet another example of how the CTA portray themselves to be democratic, as clearly stated in their constitution but continue to act like the barbarian state that they really are, un-democratic, greedy and selfish. If their god-king himself has accepted the holy Jonangpa sect, from which by the way the Gelug practice of Kalachakra originates, why does the CTA deny them fair representation within their government along side all the other major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism? This just goes to show how backwards and greedy they are to maintain their power. There are just too many examples of how the CTA have been misusing religion to keep their own power. There should be a clear separation of the church and state, as per democratic ideology. Only then can we live in a society based on true and equal values.

  16. The Tibetan in exile community is now a lawless land. The bullies can, and will, on the high place that they are in, cause fear and harm on peaceful citizen; e.g. the Jonang lineage and the Dorje Shugden practitioners. Human rights and equal rights are unheard of. These bullies have endless supplies of fund doing their dirty bidding because they all hide under the guise of Dalai Lama. Perhaps, if the funding stops, the dogs will have to find their bones elsewhere, or better still, they will learn to find themselves a new master.

  17. ok, now you’ve got me there. First, the 5th Dalai Lama annexed the Jonang. The the 14th Dalai Lama reinstated them as a separate but legitimate school of Tibetan Buddhism. Now, he’s putting them aside again, even though he has not formally ‘annexed’ them again. They are just there for ‘show and tell’.

    Is that the Dalai Lama’s way of keeping all of us on our toes? He’s probably throwing us off balance and see what we do with this piece of information. Maybe that’s his way of playing Mahasiddha and we are not attained enough to see the motivation, cause and result of this.

    I’m getting tired just following his antics and unfortunately, it is getting to my ignorant self and am getting confused and disheartened. All I’m seeing is actions creating conflicts and suffering for Tibetans of all walks of life and across the board. The only people who are wallowing in it are the CTA.

    The level of play, if spiritual is too high for the common folks and so is not making the Dalai Lama look good at all. After all. he is deemed the emanation Chenrezig, the enlightened compassion of all the Buddhas. And, on a worldly platform, he is the Nobel Peace Prize holder. He is a monk, simple or otherwise and the world perceive him as this compassionate, kind and loving head of the Tibetans.

    Please, I pray, that the Dalai Lama will lessen the suffering of beings, and lift the ban. The Tibetans in exile are the real ones suffering bucket loads. May Chenrezig lessen the suffering of those with huge negative karma and lead them to the true Dharma path.

Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Please enter a valid email address

Please enter your message

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.

Dorje Shugden and Dalai Lama – Spreading Dharma Together | Terms of Use | Disclaimer

© DorjeShugden.com 2017 | All Rights Reserved
Total views:2,679,210