(extracted from research of Ursula Bernis)
DORJE SHUGDEN AFTER THE TIME OF THE 5TH DALAI LAMA
• Two hundred years later after the time of the 5th Dalai Lama
During this time there seems to have been no record of much conflict surrounding Dorje Shugden. Its practice was not very public. It is difficult to say how wide spread it was during that time. One reason, which remains valid till today, is that Dorje Shugden is also considered a special protector of the most secret practices contained in the Ganden Oral Tradition (Ganden Nyen Gyü or Genden Kagyü), “a system of tantric practices first conceived and taught be the great Je Rinpoche, Tsongkapa [1357-1419]…also known more fully, as the Ganden Oral Tradition of Mahamudra or, concisely, as the Gelukpa Mahamudra.” Enlightened Beings, Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition, by Janice D. Willis, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1995, Introduction, p. xiv. Since Gelugpas strictly practice sutra and keeping monks’ and lay people’s vows, i.e. vinaya, on the outside, that is, publically, and tantra on the inside, privately, the esoteric side of Gelugpa practices are not as publicly known or discussed as they are in other Buddhist traditions. Hence, Dorje Shugden also was not discussed openly until brought into the public arena. Until Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1941) taught widely, no Gelugpa who relied on Dorje Shugden had become as famous.
• Turn of the Century
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama (1876-1933) attempted to reform his country in many different respects, from the military to political and social practices. For background to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, see Portrait of a Dalai Lama, by Sir Charles Bell. He strengthened the institution of Dalai Lama to an unprecedented extent. Even the Fifth Dalai Lama had his regent deal with affairs of state for long periods of time, while the Thirteenth took complete control of the political side of the Ganden Potang government. As one of the reform measures, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama had all the oracles tested and dismissed the frauds. The Water-Bird and Other Years, a History of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and After, K. Dhondup, Rangwang Publishers, Delhi 1986, p. 62 According to oral sources, he is said to have banned all oracles for a certain period of time. Tibet had a complicated system of protective deities and local spirits that came through oracles in trance. See Oracles and Demons of Tibet, for example; also Portrait of a Dalai Lama, p. 43-6 Their power and ability to assist was believed to range widely with some being Buddhist protectors and forces under their control as well as other worldly spirits from ancient and pre-historic times. During the Thirteenth’ moratorium, even the State Oracle was silenced because Nechung, a protector subdued by Padmasambhava and established as a Tibetan national protector by the Fifth Dalai Lama, According to Ngari Khentul Rinpoche, in an interview, February 4th, 1998; Thurman: Worlds of Transformation, Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, Tibet House New York, Publishers, New York, 1999, p. 399, where states that Pehar was brought from Samye to the Ganden Potang Government; see also The Guardian Deities of Tibet, by Labrang Kalsang, transl. by Pema Thinley, Little Lhasa Publications, Dharamsala, 1996. It includes the “government approved” protectors — the author headed the government team instructed to find any textual references critical of Dorje Shugden, who is obviously not included in the book. In keeping with appropriation of early Tibetan history of the Ganden Potang government, Nechung is presented as the protector closest to the Tibetan government even before the Fifth Dalai Lama’s time. He also presents Nechung as one of the Red and Black Dharma protectors traditionally held to be Chamsing and Palden Lhamo, according to many oral sources. In exile Chamsing was substituted with Nechung as the Red Protector of the two. (p. 79-80) It was at this time that [Fifth Dalai Lama] that the Nächung (gNas-chung) Oracle was attached to the famous monastery of Drepung (hbras-spungs) and recognised as the State Oracle of Tibet. It was regarded as the highest authority and its advice was sought whenever there was a difficulty in finding the reincarnation or Tulku (sprul-sku) of a high Lama (as in the case of the Dalai Lama and of Tomo Geshe Rimpoche), or whenever a political decision of great importance was to be made.” p. 181, The Way of the White Clouds, Shambala Boston, 1970. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama states, “Since the time of the Victorious Gedun Gyatso, the second Dalai Lama, Nechung has been one of the two state protectors referred to as the Red and Black protectors, who have had special connection with Tibet’s Ganden Potang government.” From a talk about gods and protectors at Mundgod, India, June 25, 1980. Although the Ganden Potang government was established by the Fifth Dalai Lama, and not the second, this shows that Nechung became a government protector through the Dalai Lama. had given false prophesies through the oracle in trance. For example, a victory against the British promised by Nechung in 1888 did not occur. Tibetans suffered a devastating defeat. See The Water-Bird and Other Years, p. 19-29; and another British military invasion in 1904, p. 20. See also Portrait of a Dalai Lama, p. 437. Later, Nechung is also believed to have prescribed the wrong medicine which caused the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s death. p. 440 At no time did the Thirteenth Dalai Lama close Trode Khangsar “…he [the Thirteenth Dalai Lama] did not ban Gyalchen’s [i.e. Dorje Shugden] performance from Lhasa Trode Khangsar…” Fourteenth Dalai Lama, July 13th, 1978 in Lhasa, a residence of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen the Fifth Dalai Lama had authorized to be turned into a special protector temple for Dorje Shugden. The biography of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama does not mention any ban of Dorje Shugden or his oracle. On the contrary, it mentions advice given by Dorje Shugden through the oracle at Tromo Dungkar Gonpa which the Thirteenth Dalai Lama appreciated and followed. ‘phags.pa ‘jig.rten dbang.phyug gi rnam.sprul rim.byon gyi ‘khrungs.rabs deb.ther nor.bu’i ‘phreng.ba.bzhugs.so, compiled by Phurchog Yongzin Thubten Jampa Tsultim Tenzin, Dharamsala, 1984, pp. 621, 630 and 648. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama was ultimately unsuccessful in banning oracles. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama states that “many deity-mediums were banned” during the reign of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (July 13th, 1978) while Dharamsala officials have repeatedly claimed that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama prohibited the propitiation of Dorje Shugden, implying that it was only he, when, according to many other oral sources all oracles were officially banned for a time, although propitiation continued secretly, according to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
• 1918 – Great Gelugpa Masters and Dorje Shugden
By this time, Pabongka Dechen Nyingbo had become extremely famous as the greatest lam.rim teacher of his times with tens of thousands of disciples at all the great Gelugpa monasteries throughout Tibet. “Phabongka was famous for his view that lamas should not become involved in politics, …” demonstrated by the fact that he reportedly declined to take over as Regent of Tibet when asked by Radeng Rinpoche before Taktra Rinpoche accepted the regency. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951, p. 362; also Pabongka Rinpoche is not mentioned — as he no doubt would have had he been as important a political figure as he was as a religious one — by two people who had been in Tibet at the time and were writing from their own observation and first hand oral accounts: Hugh Richardson and his Collected Writings on Tibetan History and Culture and Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa in his Tibet A Political History, Potala Publications, New York, 1984 Pabongka Rinpoche was known to rely on Dorje Shugden. Up until this time, the practice existed quietly and was not as widely known as it is today. With Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1941), Tomo Geshe Rinpoche (1866-1936), and later Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981), the three greatest Gelugpa masters of our times, and with an estimated eighty percent of Tibet belonging to the Gelugpa tradition, a great number of people became spiritually connected (through dam.tshig) with these masters and through them with Dorje Shugden.
• 1922 – Dorje Shugden Informed Tomo Geshe Rinpoche of Foreign Aggression
According to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s autobiography, p. 620 and p. 649 Dorje Shugden came spontaneously through the Tromo Dungkar Gonpa Oracle in trance Usually a special ceremony with offerings and rituals was required to invite a protector to come through an oracle in trance. Only in the presence of very rare, advanced masters or at a time of extreme danger does the spirit take possession of the medium uninvited. in front of Tomo Geshe Rinpoche, whom the Thirteenth Dalai Lama is said to have called a manifestation of Je Tsong Khapa. Reportedly after having met with Tomo Geshe Rinpoche to his attendants when the Thirteenth Dalai Lama stayed in Tomo (Chumbi) on his way back from exile in Darjeeling, India, in 1912. The protector informed Tomo Geshe Rinpoche that there was danger from foreign aggression toward Tibet. Dorje Shugden advised renovating two stupas, the eastern and western one. Upon receiving the message, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama immediately renovated the great golden stupa at Ganden and the Potala in Lhasa. This incident would seem to contradict a statement of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (July 13th, 1978) that “in particular the Gyalchen medium was banned quite strongly” during the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s time. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama praised Tomo Geshe Rinpoche for having helped to avert a possible national crisis. It probably refers to the Chinese, but it is also possible that the predicted danger was from Japan then at the height of its aggressive expansionism. Japanese armies were in Siberia at the time after having defeated the Russians. But an earthquake devastated Tokyo in 1923 and threats from the United States helped hasten the decline of Japanese expansionism.
• 1951 – 1975 – Dalai Lama Introduced to Dorje Shugden Practice
The Dalai Lama was introduced to the practice of Dorje Shugden and continued to make offerings and perform rituals.
“When I went to Tomo, I had to stay at Domo Also spelled “Tomo” or “Tromo.” Dungkar Monastery, where there was a tradition of summoning the wrathful and peaceful aspects of Gyalchen through the medium of a monk. The medium himself wasn’t a particularly good scholar, but when the deity was summoned he seems to have given clear prophesies, which was much appreciated. It had so happened that I had left Lhasa for Tomo rather hurriedly and the mediums of Nechung and Gadong were not among the entourage. In those days, I did not have a close connection with either Nechung or Gadong, such that I would summon them in my private apartment, except that they were invoked during the summer, winter and annual ceremonies. In any case, until then I had been a growing child and it goes without saying that I could not think independently about deity devotion; in fact I could not even think about things in general that much. However, it was on that occasion that neither Nechung nor Gadong were with me, although it was a crucial juncture in negotiations between Tibet and China. Among the officials there were those who wanted me to return to Lhasa and those who wanted me to go to India and so it became very difficult for me to decide.
At this crucial point there was, for one thing, a good monk medium nearby and for another, my strong faith in Je Pabongkapa because of which I felt a close bond with him. Also, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had a strong affection for me and this was a further cause. Anyway, with the coincidence of many causes I finally had to summon Gyalchen in my apartment at Tomo. While summoning him, monks chanted the Hundred of Deities of the Joyous Land (dga’a-ldan lha-gya-ma) to the tune of the Sangphu Monastery. In the course of the actual [trance] performance the medium wore yellow robes, chögö and namjar, and a pandit’s hat in which he looked quite eminent. Facing toward me, he prostrated like a felled tree. When asked for predictions and advice, he answered fairly clearly. Once he said, “I have just come from Tushita after enquiring of Je Rinpoche.” [Je Tsong Khapa believed to be in Tushita with Maitreya Buddha] Everything seemed to be fairly well resolved. Then, while [planning to] return from Tomo to Lhasa my intention to propitiate Gyalchen increased and consequently I summoned the wrathful Shugden in the main hall of Dungkar Monastery and I offered him a new costume. This is how my relationship with Gyalchen developed at the beginning.” From the talk of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on July 13, 1978
After returning from Tomo in 1951, the Dalai Lama continued to consult Dorje Shugden through the Choekhor Yangtse oracle. Offering ceremonies were continued until 1975, when after some inauspicious dream he remembered Nechung’s admonition while in trance to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama of having failed to cultivate Dorje Dragden, the protector of whom Nechung is considered a speech emanation. According to Ngari Khentul Rinpoche The Fourteenth Dalai Lama then mentions that Dorje Dragden (later the aspect of Nechung) has had a long standing relationship with the lineage of the Dalai Lamas and, like the Fifth, traces it all the way back to the ancient imperial leaders of Tibet reviving this political link with the ancient empire as additional legitimation for the institution of Dalai Lama at a time when his stated task is modernization.
• 1978 – Practising Dorje Shugden is a Mistake
Specifically, on July 13, 1978, the Dalai Lama states that his relationship with Dorje Shugden was a mistake, because it did not follow the “path shown by the previous Dalai Lamas,” and “I was cultivating a relationship with a new deity who had no responsibility to the Tibetan government In the “fulfillment/restoration” (kang.so) ritual of Dorje Shugden, composed by Pabongka Rinpoche, one of the concluding verses impels him to fulfill the wishes of the Ganden Potang government. dbang.phyug brgyud.lden dga’.lden pho.brang pa’i / mnga’.thang chab.srid spel.wa gang.su dag / bsam.don zhi.drag bya.ba kang.brtsams kyang / bde.blag sgrub.mdzed srung.mar nga’.gsol.lo (p. 69) Whoever works for the reign and remporal power of the Ganden Palace [government], endowed with the eight sovereign powers, we enthrone you as the protector who grants easy accomplishments of whatever they wish and whatever peaceful or wrathful activities they begin! and no relationship with the lineage of the Dalai Lamas.” He does so in a talk already quoted at his residence in Dharamsala, India, to a group of people comprising the Ven. Lobsang Nyima, the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Since Namgyal Monastery traditionally has performed all the rituals for the Dalai Lama and his rule, it is more closely tied to the government than others. Monks are required to pass special entrance examinations to show that they are capable of handling the heavy burden of memorizing rituals and their lengthy and complex performances, etc. Geshe Loten, monk officials and twenty two senior monks of Namgyal Monastery, five senior monks of Nechung Monastery, two teachers of the Dialectic School, two monk-representatives each from the branches of the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges at Dharamsala, and Rato Kyongla Tulku and Nyagre Kelsang Yeshe, both resident in America, who were admitted by special permission.
The Dalai Lama also tells other Gelugpas (not Sakyas) in small groups and individuals privately not to rely on Dorje Shugden. For example, at the Ashoka Hotel in Delhi he told Gelek Rinpoche, Dagyab Rinpoche, Jamphel Yeshe, and others present not to practice Dorje Shugden. Privately, for example, he told the late Madame Ansermet, a disciple of Geshe Rabten, to stop her Dorje Shugden practice. Daughter of the famous Swiss conductor, she had been instrumental in bringing Buddhism to Europe, building a monastery for Tibetans at Rikon and at Lake Geneva in Switzerland. She also helped organize the Dalai Lama’s first religious teachings in the West, in 1977 at Tharpa Choling, now Rabten Choling, in Mont-Pelerin, Switzerland. Mme. Ansermet, then a Buddhist nun, told me this personally. There are many other such individual accounts told to me on condition of not mentioning names or specifics.
• Late 70′s- Primary Prayer Banned at Bodh Gaya & Removal of Names in Prayers
The Dalai Lama forbids the recitation of the primary prayer, common to all Gelugpa (Lama Chöpa, composed by the First Panchen Lama), in front of the stupa at Bodh Gaya, the Buddha’s place of enlightenment. Names of some outstanding masters of this lineage, such as Pabongka Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche, are removed from common (lineage) prayers and paintings.
• 1980 – Confiscating temple of Dorje Shugden & Geshe Rabten’s Case
A small temple for performing the monthly Dorje Shugden rituals was completed at Sera. The Dalai Lama confiscated it and did not permit it to be used as a place of worship. Later it was turned into a monastery office.
When Geshe Rabten visited Sera in April 1980, he sponsored a Dorje Shugden ritual in a large temple together with Zong Rinpoche. A huge number of monks attended. The Dalai Lama, when informed of this, was reportedly furious and went to visit Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, for the first time in several years, to complain. “Geshe Rabten does not listen to me,” he is reported to have said to Trijang Rinpoche. Geshe Rabten then received a letter from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche informing him that his efforts at Sera had been correct and done for the right reasons but that it would be good to apologize to the Dalai Lama anyway, because the Dalai Lama was also Geshe Rabten’s spiritual master.
• Mid 1980′s – Removal of Dorje Shugden Statue from Ganden Monastery
The Dalai Lama orders the removal of a Dorje Shugden statue from the main prayer hall of Ganden Monastery before entering to impart teachings. Two monks who actually removed the statue are still at Ganden Jangtse, Serkong Labrang. It is widely known who they are. On December 29, 1997, I went to see each of them to ask for a detailed account. Both of them are quite old now. Each refused to talk and said he knew nothing. They did not have to say anything, their terrified faces told me a lot. When told that it was bolted to the ground, he reportedly advised to get a chain saw.
• 1994-95 Anti- Dalai Lama Campaign
As a result of the Third Forum in Beijing in 1994, a new anti-Dalai Lama campaign is formulated. With the Panchen Lama fiasco in 1995, the Chinese launch unprecedented attacks even on the religious qualifications of the Dalai Lama. This had never occurred before. The Chinese resolved even to remove his name from history. For the background and historical unfolding of the unprecedented anti-Dalai Lama stand the Chinese government had developed at this time, see Cutting off the Serpent’s Head, Tightening Control in Tibet, 1994-1995, Tibet Information Network and Human Rights Watch, New York, 1996. At this time (1994-5) there is no reported conflict concerning Dorje Shugden among exile Tibetans. However, later Tibetans bring this new, unparalleled harsh Chinese stand against the Dalai Lama into proximity with the Dorje Shugden Society which did not form until May 1996. See below document from the Cholsum Organization, February 1998.
• 1995 – Tsangpa & Tsering Chenga Oracles
Two oracles recently arrived from Tibet, who work for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile government, give “prophesies” about Dorje Shugden connecting him and Buddhists who rely on him with the Chinese. One is the Tsangpa oracle, for many years an officer in the People’s Liberation Army [of China] and the other, an woman oracle of the deity Tsering Chenga, from Eastern Tibet had been a member of a drama troupe of Chinese training.
• May 14, 1995 – Tsangpa Oracle Prophesy I
Prophesy (kha.lung) through the Tsangpa Oracle requested by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama, Prophesies of the Tibetan Government Oracles, published by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, 1996, p. 13.
“It is important that Tibetans should observe their commitments (dam.tsig) which is their obligation. Particularly, the issue of Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is a bad omen. In this direction, we, the formless, are aware that it does not harbor good. This should definitely be stopped (mtshams.’jog) in the region of Tibet. With respect to the issue of the unity of religion and politics [of Tibet] and the Ganden Potang government in particular, Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] cannot demonstrate even a grain of benefit. He can never bring happiness for Tibet [or Tibetan people?].
• June 14, 1995- Tsangpa Oracle Prophesy II
Prophesy (kha.lung) through the Tsangpa Oracle requested by the Cabinet of the exile government: Prophesies of the Tibetan Government Oracles, pp. 14-17.
“An important current issue is that if you continue to go through the motions of government service as if it were punishment instead of serving the Ganden Potang government with total loyalty it is possible that this may pose a serious threat to the well being of Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama]. A grave issue has arisen concerning the administration of the Ganden Potang. One thing that I, the Tsangpa Dhungthoed Chan, have to say about this explicitly is that [Tibetan] worship of deities has now reached a critical stage. It is extremely sad that Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] the Chinese spirit is being worshiped.
Even though [Gyalchen] angers Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama], there are those who worship him [Dorje Shugden] and who revere him in secret. Not only are there such worshipers in Tibet, there is deep reverence for him even among government employees. This is very harmful. That he is of great harm has already been said by Dorje Dragden [Nechung].
In this regard there is a popular perception that there is acrimony between Dorje Dragden [Nechung] and Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden]. That can never be true. For the success of Buddhism and the Ganden Potang government, Dorje Dragden continues to extend to me complete support and since I too am to pursue this path completely, [I have to point out] that if the Cabinet and the People’s Deputies [Assembly] do not strictly decide this issue and adhere to it, even though Buddhism may spread and even though the causes for the speedy freedom for Tibet may have begun [to grow], Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is sowing dissension [among Tibetans] by employing Chinese spirits and [furthermore] taking advantage of being a formless entity to vocalize and spread misinformation and thereby supporting China. This is a grave matter. Interesting to note here is that the Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden strongly favor Tibetan independence. Thus, it is difficult to reconcile that they would be working for the Chinese who are so adamantly against Tibetan independence. It is almost as if someone were trying on purpose to divide the Tibetan people along these lines, zeroing in on the deepest karmic weakness of the Ganden Potang government brought forward into the twentieth century. One has only to ask, in whose interest would such a division be?
We recommend rituals toward the well being of Gyalwa Rinpoche [the Dalai Lama]. Nevertheless, it is our serious concern that there needs to be strict adherence to the wishes of His Holiness and internal unity. Whether it be the People’s Deputies or an ordinary Tibetan, it is unacceptable for anyone to engage in partisan politics.
Of the honest guidelines stipulated by [His Holiness] in this regard, the most important is that regarding the worship of deities. If the common Tibetans and the government employees in particular do not heed those guidelines, there will be great loss for all.” When in 1995 someone claims that the seeds of freedom for Tibet are flourishing when the Chinese have vowed to wipe out even the name of the Dalai Lama from history seems a blatant contradiction. In fact, this sounds so absurd that one must conclude something else entirely must be going on here. I think it is that the demonization of the Dalai Lama by the Chinese which started in 1995 is passed right on to Dorje Shugden. Perhaps he is strong enough to carry such a heavy burden. Who is to say which would be a greater loss to the tradition of Buddhism, a Dalai Lama shouldering the blame for the loss of Tibet, no doubt unjustly, or Dorje Shugden and the split banning him has caused within Buddhism? All we know for certain is that the demonization of Dorje Shugden split the Tibetan community. It drive underground many genuine Buddhist practitioners and their practices, leaving in the larger public view mostly those who know how to play their political card correctly.
Another interesting point about this “prophesy” is the claim that acrimony between Nechung and Dorje Shugden is impossible. This is a statement from an ultimate and exclusively religious point of view also held by Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden. Clearly there is a danger to the Ganden Potang government of the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have been working hard to destroy it for the last fifty years. Blaming Dorje Shugden for the actions of the Chinese makes the issue a political one. Dorje Shugden is — even for the government protector through this oracle — a matter of politics. The issue the oracle points out it is about the [deposed] Tibetan government, that is, the institution of the Dalai Lama. It is political, especially when it concerns the Chinese.
In one trance ceremony of Tsering Chenga, the female oracle tells that Dorje Shugden
prevented her from raising the Tibetan flag on the Potala in Lhasa Some of the prophesies of these oracles are published by the exile government’s Department of Religion and Culture, 1996: gzung.bsten bod.skyong lha.srung khag.gi rdo.rje bka’.lung bzhug.so // implying that Dorje Shugden works for the Chinese.
• 1995- Exorcism Rituals Against Dorje Shugden
The Dharamsala government Most government rituals are performed by Namgyal Monastery, special to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government. In the course of the ban, other monasteries were also asked by the government to perform anti-Dorje Shugden rituals, often without the participating monks knowing specifically who had ordered them. performs massive exorcism rituals against Dorje Shugden. For some the Dalai Lama is present. See above reference, the Dalai Lama’s statement of March 21, 1996 It is said that for thirteen days after the Tibetan new year celebrated in spring 1996, the government did rituals against Dorje Shugden.
Winter session 1995/6 of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies
As quoted in a letter by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama to the abbot of Sermey Monastic College, March 30, 1996, “In his address to the winter session of the Tibetan People’s Deputies, His Holiness reiterated the labors of his predecessor [regarding a ban of Dorje Shugden]. He also observed that it will not be a healthy practice to seek a spiritual relationship with His Holiness and then violate it. He has never made such a statement in the past. Given the recent volatile history of Tibetans, there is an unmistakable hint of exasperation if we are to go by the urgency of his talks. This is intolerable.”
• March 1996 – Mangtso, an Independent Publications Stops Publishing
The only successful independent Tibetan newspaper Independent publications are usually sidelined and pressured into closing. All publications, including the Tibetan Review and Tibet Times are government sponsored and/or subsidized. “The launch of Tibet Times was more or less timed to fill in the void left by the sudden closure of Mangtso in 1996.” “The Independent Thrust:” Tibetan Bulletin, Jan.-Feb. 1999 in Dharamsala, Mangtso (Democracy), which had criticized corruption in Dharamsala, stops publishing in response to an accusation by the Assembly with the Dalai Lama present that the paper “plays into the hands of the Chinese.” According to a government official whose name must remain unmentioned. Tibetans regard this as a most serious charge, the equivalent of treason. Mangtso had been the most widely read Tibetan newspaper ever and was financially almost self-sufficient at the time it closed down, according to one of its main editors. The newspaper’s staff received many death threats while in print. The information about death threats and circulation comes from Lhasang Tsering, in a conversation in Dharamsala, Dec. 8, 1997 When the Dalai Lama Even before the critical remark in the meeting with deputies and others present, the Dalai Lama did not give Mangtso any interviews, something resented by some Tibetans in view of the fact that he did to a great variety of Western magazines including Playboy, high fashion magazines like Vogue, which declared him Special Fashion Editor of a 1993 issue, many small local Western papers, and Chinese students. expressed disapproval with the paper, it closed. But at no time did the editors give this as the reason. Tibetans are often pressured into something called “self-censorship” and “self-responsibility” to conveniently relieve the government of any responsibility for questionable activities. Tibetans participate in this to protect the reputation of the Dalai Lama. Self-censorship under pressure in the name of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan unity is a common Tibetan method — perhaps inherited from the Communists — even among the best educated intellectuals like the editors of Mangtso who clearly believe that criticism is part of the democratic process and, hence, something more anti-Chinese than all the demonstrations of single-minded patriotism. See, for example, Jamyang Norbu and Lhasang Tsering in Tibet, the Issue is Independence, edited by Edward Lazar, Parallax Press, Berkeley, 1994. The information circulated in 1996 as far as the Internet insisted that the paper closed down because of insufficient funds.
• March 2-4, 1996
– Address to the Congress of Cholsum
“In his inaugural address to the Congress of the Cholsum (three provinces of Tibet) Organization, The Cholsum Organization has a complicated history not too many Tibetans clearly understand. For reference to Cholsum Organization in Tibet, see Dawa Norbu: Tibet, the Road Ahead. This Cholsum Organization formed in exile under the guidance of Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama’s most politically active brother. Educated Tibetans believe he started it as a frontal organization for his political interests. Nothing has been written about it, as far as I know, so sources other than oral ones are difficult to find. In recent years, another organization was started, the United Cholsum Organization. It has taken the role of policing conflicts such as the Dorje Shugden one and to take control of Tibetans social relations by whipping up emotions, often using the name of the Dalai Lama. the Dalai Lama referred to his recurring sore throat. … this is an indication that he does not wish to speak on this anymore, since no one is paying heed.” Quoted in a letter by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama to the abbot of Sera Mey, March 30th, 1996. In response, Cholsum passed a resolution that its members would stop the practice of Dorje Shugden and the Dalai Lama remarked to members of the Cholsum Congress on March 4th, “It is good that paying attention to my health you have passed a resolution regarding this matter. Danger to health does not exclusively mean an armed attack. This type is extremely rare in Tibetan society. If there is continued indifference to my injunctions, then there would not be any point in my continuing to live silently as a disappointed man,” quoted in the letter by the Dalai Lama’s Private Office.