Rebuttal of Commonly Cited False Accusations Against Dorje Shugden


One of the reasons most quoted in support of the Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden is the 1997 murder of the principal of the Buddhist School of Dialectics, Geshe Lobsang Gyatso, along with two of his students. No one has been arrested to date, yet this incident was seized upon by the CTA as the opportunity to defame and criminalize Dorje Shugden practitioners. Is there any substance to the CTA’s allegations?


The Answer is extracted from the article: “How the Dalai Lama is destroying a religion, lie by lie” which was written in response to false statements made by Robert Thurman in an article posted in the Huffington Post.


Lies In Robert’s Thurman’s Huffington Post Article

Thurman Lie #1: Dorje Shugden was behind the murder of Geshe Lobsang Gyatso and his associates

The incident that Thurman referred to was the grisly triple murder of Geshe Lobsang Gyatso and two of his assistants on a February night in 1997, in Dharamsala. The Geshe was known to be a harsh critic of anything that did not agree with the Dalai Lama, and made a lot of enemies over the years as the Geshe’s assistant would concede in 2005. The Geshe was however, loyal to the Dalai Lama and his demise did serve the Dalai Lama clique as it provided an excuse for the Dharamsala establishment to reinforce a political gambit it had launched the year before.

Immediately, the murder was pinned on Shugden worshippers without any evidence. The only ‘evidence’ was purportedly a letter from the Secretary of the Dorje Shugden Society in Dharamsala to Geshe Lobsang Gyatso sent a few months prior to the incident, supposedly threatening to kill the Geshe. In a deliberate attempt to mislead the public and sway sentiments against the Shugden community, the letter written in Tibetan was waved by a minister of the Tibetan government in exile (now known as the Central Tibetan Administration, CTA) before the public, claiming it to be the smoking gun that linked the murders to Shugden worshippers.

It was only on closer inspection and when the letter was translated that it became clear the so-called death threat was no more than a firm letter by the Shugden society challenging Geshe Lobsang Gyatso, who had been a fierce critic of Dorje Shugden, to a discussion on the merits and reasons of the religious ban which in fact lacked any theological basis. Helmut Gassner, an established Western Buddhist monk and scholar who had been an interpreter for the Dalai Lama for 17 years said of the incriminating letter:

I could not resist stopping the video [of the government minister waving the letter] to copy the Tibetan text and translate it. It contained no death threat at all, simply an impertinent letter containing a challenge to debate the issue so as to settle the difference. By now I was convinced that something foul was going on. Otherwise, why would Tashi Wangdu [the Tibetan minister] go to such lengths as to show a fake death threat on TV?
- Helmut Gassner

Nevertheless, the false evidence was enough for the CTA to push for the arrest of various leaders of the Shugden religious community in Delhi and illegally imprison them. Despite interrogations by the Indian authorities lasting weeks, not a shred of evidence was produced. Finally, an Indian court in Dharamsala formally quashed all accusations that linked the Dorje Shugden Society to the murders, on the grounds that there was no evidence to support such accusations.

Of all the ‘clear proof’ that circles around the Dalai Lama and CTA claimed they had, they were never presented when called upon. Instead, malicious gossip circulated saying that the murderers had escaped into Tibet where they were being sheltered by the Chinese government, the sworn enemies of the Tibetan people.

The Dorje Shugden Society chronicled their harrowing accounts after being falsely accused by the CTA for the crime, which began with an army of forty Indian police, instigated by the CTA, descending upon five targeted leaders of the Dorje Shugden Society, arresting them in the dark of the night of February 9, 1997 (four days after the triple murder) without any court order, as they were celebrating Tibetan New Year. This episode and a number of other suspicious incidences around that time foretold that a serious campaign was underway to terminate an age-old Buddhist practice that has been at the heart of the Gelugpa tradition.

Thurman and the Dalai Lama go a long way back

Robert Thurman, who has long claimed to be a close friend of the Dalai Lama (despite being the first Western Buddhist monk to disrobe), made an outrageous statement to Newsweek in April 1997 saying,

I think there’s no doubt that Shugden was behind the killings

It has to be asked, on what basis was Thurman making his claim when events that were being played out evidenced the opposite to be the case? And why did Thurman further lay blame on an entire community of innocent monks and laypeople who worshipped Dorje Shugden, if not to seize the moment for some opportunistic sycophancy?

Assuming that the murderers of the Geshe and his associates were Shugden worshippers, Thurman’s statement tarnishing a specific religion is equivalent to saying that Jesus Christ is behind the killings committed by criminals who happen to be of the Christian faith. Thurman did not mean to imply that the murderers may be Shugden practitioners, he said “Shugden was behind the killings”, the precise strand of venom that the Dalai Lama clique needed the world community to swallow.

In the same breath, Thurman went further to say, “It would not be unfair to call Shugdens the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism,” no doubt as a means to portray Shugden Buddhists as a brutal and dangerous ‘tribe’ at a time when America watched the Taliban regime nervously as it gained power and edged closer to Pakistan, a country on America’s watch list. The damage inflicted on the reputation of Dorje Shugden and his followers was considerable as Thurman was regarded as an American expert on Tibetan Buddhism. (Time Magazine honoured Thurman as one of its 25 most influential Americans in 1997, describing him as a “larger than life scholar-activist destined to convey the Dharma, the precious teachings of Siddhartha, from Asia to America.”).

The American, and indeed the English-speaking world public, took what Thurman said to be accurate as there was little rebuttal from the accused Shugden community in Dharamsala. Being mainly monks and exiled people, Shugden practitioners were ill equipped to defend against the enormity of the propaganda attacks on a world scale, even as they faced physical challenges and threats from the CTA within their own exile community. Nearly all media in the western world blindly took the official version of the Shugden story from the CTA and propagated news that incriminated Shugden worshippers in the murders.

The Dalai Lama clique had scored an important victory with the help of Robert Thurman. The Dalai Lama knew that it was totally undemocratic to ban a religion and suppress a community of people based on their religion, especially when he was seeking support from the West against China, accusing the latter of precisely the atrocity he and his government were committing. Therefore the West had to be manipulated into assent for the vicious suppression the Dalai Lama was inflicting on his own people.

Over the months that followed, Dorje Shugden was forcibly outlawed as, for the first time in modern history, a ‘democratic’ nation legislated the stoppage of a religious practice and systematically marginalised its believers, even to the point of refusing them the right to vote. Shugden monks were expelled from the monasteries – the only homes they had, having renounced all worldly pursuits, and lay worshippers went into hiding from their own government and community. In Dharamsala, clear posters forbidding people of Shugden faith to enter shops, government offices and even public hospitals could be seen. All this time, the world was celebrating the Dalai Lama as a man of peace, preaching compassion, love and tolerance around the globe.

In the Huffington Post article, Thurman stated that the Shugden ‘cult continued its campaign at the behest of… the People’s Republic of China’ another lie designed to tag the Shugden community as agents of the Tibetan people’s enemy, China. It is baseless accusations such as these that split the Tibetan community as a whole in a manner that China could not have achieved, in their effort to stymie the Tibetan Cause. Of course, China leveraged on this chasm that the Dalai Lama and Thurman have presented to them.

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8 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. this propaganda by the CTA and Robert Thurman has caused many Tibetan and monastery being split apart, it also lead to violence against Shugden practitioner because of this.

    i wonder what did he gained from helping the CTA and Dalai Lama by lying about the murders? fame? or there is also monetary benefits for such lies? Being so called a Professor, yet Robert Thurman actions and lies is of a crooks, who blame others for what is not. He do not have evidence to prove that it was Dorje Shugden practitioners was behind the murder, yet many people buys into his lies because of his status!

    No matter how, truth will always prevails, and with the age of technology and internet, also with being in the forefront in brings news and truth to the people of the world, one by one the lies by the CTA, Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman had been proven wrong!

    I hope will continue to bring more truth to all about the persecution and lies by the Pro-Dalai Lama on Shugden practice, and through this may the ban be lifted soon.

  2. Tibetans are really ignorant people. Just by the act of the Tibetan minister waving a letter purportedly to be the evidence to the murder seems bizarre. Shouldn’t there be a proper series of court hearings etc to give both sides justice and fairness? And based on Helmut Gassner’s rebuttal, it seems totally ridiculous to keep bringing this issue of the murder up, to clamp down the DS practice.
    Plus even if the murder is proven to be done by DS practitioners, does that mean all DS practitioners are murderers as well ? Why discriminate on such an unreasonable level ? Totally unacceptable form of conduct !

  3. The DS practitioner are really a victim they cannot speak for themselves even they never intend to do it, they have to suffer for the unfairness on this ban no one can speak up for them i guess with we need to help this tibetan to voice up their suffering and their pain because they are true DS practitioner. As for CTA they are really not a religious practitioner because whatever they do is really no ethic at all.

  4. robert thurman’s actions can best be described as disgusting and reveal an inability to take Dharma to heart. Once the first lie is told countless others necessarily follow. A Faustian drama to be sure. Sad how the enticements of reputation and other political concerns create so much suffering for so many.

  5. It is truly unprofessional of an academic like Bob Thurman to make allegations that are not solidly backed up by facts. Downright irresponsible it is was Robert Thurman to make up things just because he wanted to stay on Dalai Lama’s good side. Lets not forget recently, he has been photographed using a literature written by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

  6. This is just propaganda that is being done by the CTA together with Robert. What good would Robert achieve in doing so? It just allows one to wonder on that point.

    Since we do not have concrete evidence that Robert did in fact get things for CTA to help with the start of the ban, I guess we cannot be pointing fingers now till there is evidence of it.

    But I really wonder, why would anyone want to start something that can lead up so to much violence? So many families are being split up due to this ban, so many people are being hurt because of it.

    I really hope the ban would be lifted very soon. I just think that the Shugden practitioners have already suffered enough…

  7. Oh my, what a desperado! It is quite obvious that Robert Thurman needs the Dalai Lama to maintain his status. Being part of a conspiracy to try to eliminate the practises of an enlightened Protector, he had directly caused so much sufferings to all the practitioners. Due to his influential status in the Western world when he had blatantly lied for the Dalai Lama and CTA, the West believed him and stopped any possible investigation into human/religious rights violation. It is just terrible that the Shugden practitioners had to suffer so much for others’ political and personal ambitions and mistakes. The illegal ban on Dorje Shugden should be lifted already as the people had suffered for over 20 years already.

  8. Dear Dalai Lama,

    Since you started the cruel ban against the 350 year Dorje Shugden practice, how has it benefit your Tibetan society and Buddhism in the world? Things have become worse and most educated Tibetans can see this. They don’t speak out not because they don’t see your ban as wrong, but you instill fear in them and not respect. It is like fear of a dictator. I am sorry to say so. Everyone is divided. There is no harmony. Before your ban there was more harmony and unity.

    By enacting the ban, you split the monasteries, split so many families, split regions in Tibet apart, split your disciples from you, split your own gurus from you, split Tibetan Buddhism apart. You have created so much disharmony.

    It is not democratic what you have done to ban a religion within your community. You always talk of tolerance and acceptance and democracy and yet you do not accept and tolerate something different from your beliefs. When people practice Dorje Shugden you ostracize them, ban them from seeing you, ban them from using Tibetan facilities. You know you have done that. There are videos that capture your speech and prove this point. You even had people expelled from monasteries just because they practice Dorje Shugden. Some of the monks you expelled have been in the monastery for over 40 years. Many older monks shed tears because of this.

    Many young educated Tibetans lost confidence in you as they saw the damage the Dorje Shugden ban created and they lose hope. Many have become free thinkers. They reject what you have done. So many people in the west left Buddhism because of the confusion you created with this ban against Dorje Shugden which is immoral.

    You could of had millions of people who practice Dorje Shugden to support, love and follow you, but you scared them away. They are hurt and very disappointed. They loved you and respected you deeply before the ban. It has been 60 years and you have failed to get Tibet back. Your biggest failure is not getting Tibet back after 57 years in exile. Now you are begging China to allow you to return to Tibet to the disappointment of thousands of people who fought for a free Tibet believing in you. So many self-immolated for a free Tibet and now you want Tibet to be a part of China with no referendum from Tibetans. Just like a dictator, you decide on your own. It was your government and you that lost Tibet in the first place. Your policies and style of doing things do not benefit Tibet and Buddhism. You have been the sole ruler of Tibet your whole life and you still have not gotten our country of Tibet back for us. Our families and us are separated. Yet you create more pain by creating a ban to further divide people. Please have compassion.

    No other Buddhist leader has banned or condemned any religion except for you. It looks very bad. You are a Nobel laureate and this is not fitting of a laureate. You should unite people and not separate them by religious differences.

    You said Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi did not do right to the Rohingya people in Myanmar due to religious differences, but you are doing the same thing to the Shugden Buddhists within your own society. There is a parallel in this. You separate the Shugden Buddhists from the others in Tibetan society.

    You have lost so many people who would have loved and supported you. You have lost so much support around the world. The Shugden Buddhists who love you number in the millions. When you are fast losing support from governments and private people, it will not do you well to lose more.

    After you are passed away in the future, the rift you created between the Dorje Shugden and non-Dorje Shugden people will remain for a while and that will be your legacy. Disharmony. You will be remembered for this. Not as a hero but a disharmony creator.

    Dorje Shugden will spread and further grow, but you will be no more as you are a human. No one wishes you bad and in fact we hope you have a long and healthy life, but we have lost so much hope and have so much despair because of you. All the hundreds of Dorje Shugden lamas, tulkus and geshes are maturing and there are hundreds of Dorje Shugden monasteries in Tibet who will not give up Dorje Shugden. You have made a mistake. These hundreds of teachers and teachers to be will spread Dorje Shugden further in the future.

    The gurus that gave us Dorje Shugden as a spiritual practice and you have called these holy gurus wrong and they are mistaken in giving us Dorje Shugden. How can you insult our gurus whom we respect so much? If they can be wrong, then you can be wrong. Then all gurus can be wrong. So no one needs to listen to any guru? You have created this trend. It is not healthy. Your own gurus practiced Dorje Shugden their whole lives. Your own gurus were exemplary and highly learned.

    Dalai Lama you have created so much pain with this ban against so many people due to religion. You are ageing fast. Are you going to do anything about it or stay stubborn, hard and un-moving. You show a smile and preach peace and harmony wherever you go. But will you do the same to your own people? Please rectify the wrong you have done. Please before it is too late. You can create harmony again or you can pass away in the future with this legacy of peace. May you live long and think carefully and admit what was a mistake in having this unethical ban against Dorje Shugden religion.

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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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