In his wrathful type, he could be the terrifying star of a Japanese horror film. His three eyes are burning with anger. His fangs protrude from a twisted smile. In his ideal hand he holds a razor-sharp sword and perhaps ready to slice up any person or anything that approaches. Equally terrifying is the snow lion he rides. A ring of fire (or is it boiling blood?) surrounds the lion and the angry 3-eyed monster. Not specifically the stuff sweet dreams are made of.
It is maybe straightforward to comprehend why, based on appearance, Dorje Shugden has been depicted as a bad guy. He has been referred to as a “hungry ghost” or evil worldly spirit and the Dalai Lama, political and spiritual leader of Tibet in exile, has stated Shugden is a “spirit of dark forces” and that he is harming Tibetan independence and his life. Shugden has even been blamed for brutal murder of three monks that have been committed in India’s Dharamsala in February 1997.
But there are people all over the planet who have devoted a lifetime to the practice of Dorje Shugden, who swear that he is a crucial Dharma Protector, a manifestation of Je Tsongkhapa, and an emanation of the peaceful Wisdom Buddha, Manjushri. In other words, Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 founder of the Ganden Oral Lineage) and Dorje Shugden are distinctive aspects of 1 person who share the identical psychological continuum that makes factors any clearer.
In the book Heart Jewel by Buddhist teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, it is written that the snow lion Shugden is riding is a symbol of the four fearlessnesses of a Buddha. The third eye in the center of his forehead symbolizes his omniscient wisdom, which perceives directly and simultaneously all past, present, and future phenomena and his wrathful expression indicates that he destroys ignorance, the real enemy of all living beings, by blessing them with terrific wisdom and also that he destroys the obstacles of pure Dharma practitioners.
This seems to be a vastly different take on the image of Shugden, but quite a few Buddhists have produced similar personal experiences in him, especially Kelsang Gyatso’s students who fall under the New Kadampa Tradition, a tradition that has been quickly developing in the West since 1991.
Shugden practitioners say it is insulting to be accused of worshipping an evil spirit since they also go for refuge to the 3 Jewels “Buddha, Dharma and Sangha” like other Buddhists. They maintain that the teachings they follow are of a pure lineage passed down the line from Buddha Shakyamuni.
Although Shugden practice has been controversial for decades due to the influence of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, however, this January marked a turning point and things appear only to be getting worse for those who practice the prayer of Dorje Shugden.
The Western Shugden Society alleges that the Dalai Lama has forced a ban on Shugden practitioners in India. It says the ban comes in the form of a signed oath to abandon Shugden practice as well as everyone they know who practices it. If what the WSS says is correct, it seems religious “cleansing” is taking place in the East. Cleansing that will inevitably reach Shugden practitioners in the West.