The Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has long denied that there is a ban against the practice of the Protector-deity Dorje Shugden. And yet the expulsion of over 900 Buddhist monks from Ganden and Sera Monasteries in the Tibetan settlement in India attest to the opposite. The reason for their expulsion was not due to any wrongdoing or breaches of their monastic codes. Instead they were expelled for their religious beliefs, their integrity and for upholding oaths made to their teachers, which is in essence the heart of the Vajrayana practice. As a result, they provoked the ire of the Dalai Lama who in 1996 set out to ban and criminalize the 400-year-old practice of Dorje Shugden for personal political reasons.
It is incredible that in the 21st century, a single person can yield such unchecked power that allows him to force others to choose to abandon their religious beliefs or face persecution, marginalization, loss of livelihood, and other sorts of punishments. But the Dalai Lama is no ordinary man. He is the most cunning politician alive today and the absolute master of manipulation. Who else can rally the most powerful nations in the world against one’s personal enemy without the use of arms, economic might, promises or coercion? Who else can impose an illegal religious ban right under the noses of the champions of human rights and democracy and at the same time be lauded as a beloved defender of peace, tolerance and compassion? Only the Dalai Lama can, not that he admits that he has infringed on the rights of Shugden Buddhists because to admit so would make him no better than Mao Zedong.
The Dalai Lama and some anti-Dorje Shugden groups claim that there is no ban on the practice and no discrimination against its practitioners. Instead they claim that whilst previously the monks of Ganden Shartse and Sera Mey monasteries did worship Dorje Shugden, they voted to abandon this practice in a democratic process after accepting the Dalai Lama’s advice and conducting their own research into the alleged ‘evil nature’ of this Dharma Protector.
Video: The Infamous Red/Yellow Vote Stick Referendum
The impression that the Dalai Lama gives is that he merely provided his opinion regarding Shugden and it was the monks and laypeople themselves who chose to reject the practice after their own research. The oft-quoted example used to support the Dalai Lama’s claim that the monks voluntarily chose to renounce Dorje Shugden is known as the ‘vote stick referendum’ that took place in 2008. In the so-called voting process, monks who did not wish to share spiritual and material relations with Dorje Shugden followers would pick the yellow-colored vote-stick and those who chose to continue their Dorje Shugden worship were asked to choose the red-colored vote-stick.
On the face of it, the monks were given a choice. But this claim is not true. To begin with, the Dalai Lama imposed the Shugden ban in 1996 and yet right until 2008, most Gelugpa monasteries and monks were still practicing Dorje Shugden, indicating that they did not accept the Dalai Lama’s reasons for discarding the Shugden practice as a core ritual of the Gelugpa sect. It was only in 2008 when the Dalai Lama personally enforced the ban with threats and coercion that the monasteries finally succumbed out of fear.
The simple truth is that the Ganden and Sera monks were not given a real choice; they were coerced and threatened into voting to abandon Dorje Shugden. Monks who wished to practice were not allowed to, as video testimony by Losang Gompo, a senior monk of Ganden Monastery confirms. He describes how the monks were herded at gunpoint to hear the announcement of the Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden:
40 monks and about 30 policemen surrounded the prayer hall. The police force was called in by the Tibetan Women’s Association, Tibetan Freedom Movement, and the Tibetan Youth Congress.
Before the announcement, there were body searches as the monks came into the prayer hall one by one. All the monks had to keep their hands above their heads like this while they came into the prayer hall. During the actual announcement police with rifles walked through the monks.
There were 40 monks surrounding the main prayer hall of Ganden Monastery during the announcement. These monks had iron bars or clubs in their hands to use on anyone who dared to express an opinion against the announcement.
Losang Gompo testified to a very different picture to that painted by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leadership. And as a result of the Dalai Lama’s threats, over 900 Shugden monks were unfairly and unconstitutionally expelled from their monasteries in India.
Intimidation has always been the mainstay and method of the CTA. To add insult to injury, the CTA lied about what actually happened and deceitfully edited videos to show Ganden monks supposedly casting votes in a democratic way when, in fact, they were surrounded by what was essentially a mob and had no real choice.
There is no truth that there is no ban, and in reality the ban is willfully and aggressively pursued by the Dalai Lama. The fact that the Dalai Lama can subject monks and laypeople to an oath-swearing campaign is really an offensive against innocent Shugden Buddhists. And the fact that the Tibetan Constitution provides for freedom of religion bears witness to the Dalai Lama being a dictator.
To the world, the Dalai Lama constantly preaches love, compassion, world peace and the practice of tolerance and humanity, but in truth his actions have brought about heavy and unjust persecution and discrimination against innocent Dorje Shugden practitioners, the splitting of monasteries, and the severing of family ties, friends and communities. Increasingly, evidence of the Dalai Lama’s anti-human rights policies are surfacing and it has become undeniable that the Dalai Lama is behind one of the most outrageous breaches of human rights in history even as he accuses China of the same.