Views on the Conflict
According to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile
According to the Dolgyal Research Committee, instituted by the Tibetan government in exile (TGIE), prominent opponents to the practice have included not only the 5th, 13th and current Dalai Lamas but also the 5th and 8th Panchen Lamas, Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, the 14th and 16th Karmapas among others.
According to Shugden supporters
The claims of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile (TGIE) are denied by the followers of Dorje Shugden. They claim, that for example, in 1921 the 13th Dalai Lama’s biography refers to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Protector (jam mgon bstan srung pa) and explains that the 13th Dalai Lama subsequently restored the Potala and Ganden stupas as an offering to him. According to Shugden adherents, the Fifth Dalai Lama started off in opposition but then changed his mind. Prayer to the protector Dorje Shugden by the Fifth Dalai Lama. As further evidence of their view they state the example of Phelgye Ling monastery that was transformed to a Gelug monastery by the 5th Dalai Lama, who gave the monastery a statue (about 20 cm high) of Dorje Shugden riding on a black horse, which still exists in the monastery in Kathmandu.
According to Trijang Rinpoche:
Furthermore, from the definitive point of view, that these holy beings were already fully enlightened innumerable ages ago, is clear if one examines the accounts of their lives, and if one were to say that a fully enlightened being could take birth as an ordinary gyalpo or tsen spirit, then one would be asserting that degeneration is possible from the state of full enlightenment or that someone could be both fully enlightened and an ordinary preta at the same time. Or else, one would have to say that the accounts of those great beings lives are worthless. A mountain of absurd consequences, previously non-existent distorted ideas, would have to be accepted.
This view is also held by other Gelug Lamas past and present who are or were considered great masters, including: Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche (root Guru of many highly regarded Gelug Lamas of the early 20th century), Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (junior tutor of the 14th Dalai Lama). Among those who practised Shugden in the Gelug school were not only the Dalai Lama but also Geshe Rabten, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe (founder of the FPMT), Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (founder of the NKT) and Tomo Geshe Rinpoche.
It is also said that some of the Panchen Lamas (e.g. the 9th and 10th) practised Shugden, H.H. the previous Panchen Lama and H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche as does the current Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, Gyenkyen Norbu Panchen and Shugden (the current Panchen Lama as recognized by the Dalai Lama and most Tibetans, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, has been a prisoner of the People’s Republic of China for fifteen years; he is the world’s youngest political prisoner). Trijang Rinpoche claims that the view that Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri has also been held by the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Eleventh Dalai Lama. According to Trijang Rinpoche, the Eleventh Dalai Lama “enthroned Gyalchen Dorje Shugden as the principal protector of the Yellow Hat teachings.
Views of non-Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhists
Dorje Shugden has traditionally been regarded as a protector especially of the Gelugpa tradition. The other schools of Tibetan Buddhism have therefore usually not worshipped him or even, in the historical context of (political) rivalry, seen him as a potential threat.
Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, notes that at one time followers of his school did make offerings to Shugden but that, in this context, Shugden was regarded as a worldly deity. He also mentions two Lamas of pre-occupation Tibet, Dorjechang Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Ngor Kangchen Dorjechang, who limited the practice in their monasteries, confirming the existence of the practice within that tradition up to that time.
Palpung Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the most important Lamas in the the Karma Kagyu tradition has said that the practice of Shugden “causes fear.” He adds the practice is considered to create obstacles to spiritual practice.
While traditionally, the relationship between Shugden and the Nyingma is one of enmity, there is some evidence of latter day Nyingma practitioners in Nepal having received and propitiated Dorje Shugden via a patriarchal rather than politico-institutional lineage. Mumford writes based on his anthropological studies in Nepal in the late 1970s:
Tibetans in Kathmandu regard Shugs-ldan as a guardian honored by those who adhere to the Gelug sect, while members of the Nyingma sect think of Shug-ldan as an enemy, sent against them by the rival sect. But in the villages these sectarian differences are not well understood. In Gyasumdo the lamas are Nyingmapa, yet most of them honor Shugs-ldan as a lineage guardian picked up in Tibet in the past by their patriline.
Editor’s Note – Even the Nyingmas’ have practiced Dorje Shudgen before so how can Dorje Shudgen be a spirit and sectarian at that.
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu claims that Shugden can cause devotees to become “nervous, confused and upset. Minling Trichen Rinpoche, the late head of Nyingma tradition, said that “Shugden is a ghost. We Nyingma practitioner do not follow him. We propagate only those protectors that were bound by Padmasambhava. Shugden came after Padmasambhava.
Extracted from ‘Dorje Shugden controversy’ Wikipedia entry.