Unclean Offerings Should Be Returned

In 2008, Dhokang Khangtsen with its 600 tulkus, geshes and monks separated from Ganden Shartse monastery and formed Shar Ganden. This fledgling monastery is an enduring legacy of the segregation imposed by the Dorje Shugden ban

There were many sincere Dorje Shugden practitioners that lived within the walls of Ganden Shartse monastery in the past. Many of these practitioners were great Tulkus, Geshes and ordinary hard-working members of the monastic community. Needless to say, many of these practitioners have contributed everything they had towards the sustenance and expansion of Ganden monastery as a whole.

With the Dorje Shugden ban being ruthlessly enforced in the last decade, many of these monks had to flee to safety with literally nothing on their backs while the elders of Ganden Shartse stood idly by and did nothing to help. In fact, the elders of Ganden Shartse sat tight on the assets and coffers of the monastery, which include offerings and sponsorships made by Dorje Shugden practitioners.

For instance, all Geshes make offerings to the monastery as part of their geshe offering ceremony. And when the monastery is in need, the senior monks, tulkus, rinpoches and geshes will raise the necessary funds for building expansion, books, food and so forth. So why doesn’t the monastery return the offerings of Dorje Shugden practitioners after expelling the same Dorje Shugden monks from their walls?

On the one hand, the monastery accepts and retain donations from Dorje Shugden practitioners (the monastery doesn’t even question sponsors about their stance on the Dorje Shugden affair) but on the other hand, Dorje Shugden practitioners are shamed and expelled from the monastic community. There seems to be a contradiction here with the way the Dorje Shugden ban has been and continues to be enforced.

A traditional depiction of the Tulkus of Shar Ganden monastery. From left to right: Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Pende, H.H Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and H.E. Domo Geshe Rinpoche

The Dorje Shugden ban requires total segregation between Dorje Shugden practitioners and the followers of the Dalai Lama. This segregation is heavily (even violently) enforced and no interaction is allowed between both parties as Dorje Shugden practitioners are seen as ‘contaminated’ and ‘unclean’. Shops in Tibetan communities display clear signs stating that Dorje Shugden practitioners will not be served. Schools and public service providers such as libraries deny entry to Dorje Shugden practitioners.

So complete and pervasive is the discrimination against Dorje Shugden practitioners that it is therefore surprising that the offerings and sponsorships from Dorje Shugden practitioners are still accepted, retained and used by the anti-Shugden monastic community. Given the illogical and discriminatory implementation of the ban, one would think that the offerings and sponsorships of Dorje Shugden practitioners would likewise be deemed unclean and unfit to be used by members of Monastery!

The generous sponsor of Ganden, Sera and Drepung, Guru Deva Rinpoche

Take for instance the Mongolian Lama Guru Deva Rinpoche, widely regarded as the emanation of Gyenze and a great Dorje Shugden Lama. He had made the most generous offerings and donations to the Dalai Lama and the great monasteries of Ganden, Sera and Drepung in the earlier days when Tibetans coming into exile experienced hardship and scarcity.

During the height of the Dorje Shugden ban however, a Tibetan mob had tried to destroy Guru Deva Rinpoche’s ladrang in Drepung Gomang. Consequently, Guru Deva Rinpoche was forced to return to Mongolia – his homeland. The offerings and donations remain the property of Ganden, Sera and Drepung, who continued to speak against Guru Deva Rinpoche until his passing in 2009.

H.E. Denma Locho Rinpoche and Jamseng Rinpoche

Another clear example occurred in recent years when Serkong Tritul Rinpoche invited Drepung Loseling’s Denma Locho Rinpoche to Taiwan to teach and transmit some important lineages. Tritul Rinpoche, along with Jamseng Rinpoche, are well known Dorje Shugden lamas while Denma Locho Rinpoche does not practice Dorje Shugden but neither does he discriminate against Dorje Shugden practitioners.

During this visit, a series of pictures were taken of Denma Locho Rinpoche and Jamseng Rinpoche (also known as Dromtug Rinpoche). These pictures were proliferated and became the basis for trouble between Denma Locho Rinpoche and the monastery and office of the Dalai Lama.

After the trip to Taiwan, Ganden Jangtse Gaser Tulku Rinpoche had requested Denma Locho Rinpoche to give a series of teachings at Drepung Loseling’s prayer hall. On the third day of the teaching, Drepung Gomang monks put up posters stating that monks shouldn’t attend the teachings as the great lama was ‘unclean’ due to his association with Tritul Rinpoche and Jamseng Rinpoche.

So concerned were the Ganden Jangtse monastic officials with being politically correct that they had the audacity to decree that any monks attending Denma Locho Rinpoche’s teachings would be expelled. Even the Dalai Lama, whom Denma Locho Rinpoche was personally very close to prior to the Taiwan incident, sidelined and basically ignored Denma Locho Rinpoche whenever he visited Ganden or Drepung monasteries. This is not just a great insult but has severe impact on the lama’s reputation in the monastery.

However, there is more to this series of incidents than meets the eye. During the Taiwan trip, Tritul Rinpoche and Jamseng Rinpoche had offered a large sum of money to Denma Locho Rinpoche, who then donated a large portion of this sum to Drepung Loseling. The money that was donated to Loseling (which clearly came from Dorje Shugden practitioners) was accepted and used for the expansion of the monastery, even while they ostracized and criticized this great master for his association with the same Shugden practitioners.

H.E. Lama Gangchen Rinpoche with his close disciple, Lama Michel Rinpoche

H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche is another great Dorje Shugden Lama who sponsored many buildings for Sera Mey monastery’s Tsangpa Khamtsen, including a prayer hall and monk quarters. Due to the ban, he was unceremoniously cut off while the monks continue to inhabit the buildings that he sponsored. In yet another example, Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel, the ex-abbot of Ganden Jangtse is a great Dorje Shugden practitioner who sponsored millions for the massive Jangtse prayer hall that is still in use today. These are just a few notable examples of Dorje Shugden lamas who have made tremendous contributions to their various monasteries.

Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel (left), the ex-abbot of Ganden Jangtse is a great Dorje Shugden practitioner

Therefore, if the monastic community and indeed the Tibetan laity insist on upholding this ridiculous ban that in fact infringes on the human rights of Dorje Shugden practitioners, wouldn’t it only be fair that the monastery return these offerings? They would if they had any sense of integrity.

Integrity and keeping one’s vows and commitments are ideals that are supposed to be held more dear than our eyes, as Lama Tsongkhapa had said and upheld. With the deepest respect, the monastery should then also practice this and return whatever Dorje Shugden practitioners have offered in the past – be they monks or laypeople. At least, they would then be keeping to the letter of the (unfair and illogical) ban on Dorje Shugden instead of only choosing to do so when it is to their advantage. Why strive to appear politically correct yet live, eat, sleep, and practice in entire buildings built by the most devoted of Dorje Shugden practitioners? It boggles the mind.

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  1. First, there are signs posted at Ganden and Drepung that they don’t accept donations from Shugden practitioners.

    Second, why would Shugden practitioners donate to the main monasteries now? And why would they donate expecting it back at some point?

    Third, what was freely given in the past was given to the named organizations. Does anybody donate to an organization expect it back ever, especially realized lamas? Maybe unenlightened people with great attachment and self-cherishing would want a donation back, but realized beings are selfless. Maybe that’s why you don’t see Ganchen Rinpoche asking for donations back but you see an article like this here on this we site asking for donations back.

    Third, Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel isn’t practicing Shugden. That is just plain misinformation and use of a high lamas name for the sake of the agenda of this article and website, just like how this website lists a lot of ex-shugden practitioners as still practicing. Stop misleading for the sake of an agenda. Control your speech.

  2. I think now the issue is not talking about someone asking back the offerings or sponsorships. Of cause all the great masters make sponsors with genuine motivation and never wish for any returns. The issue here is about those anti Dorje Shudgen seen the Dorje Shudgen practitioners as contaminated and unclean. The Dorje Shudgen practitioners have been expelled from monastery. Schools and public service providers such as libraries deny entry to Dorje Shugden practitioners. Shops in Tibetan communities display clear signs stating that Dorje Shugden practitioners will not be served. The Dorje Shudgen practitioners have been rejected or resisted by Tibetan communities since the ban imposed. If this is the case why not they also rejected to inhabit the buildings that sponsored by Dorje Shudgen practitioners since whatever related to Dorje Shudgen is unclean. The point is if they can accept sponsorship from Dorje Shudgen practitioners in the past and continue use the facilities, they should stop all the negative actions towards the Dorje Shudgen practitioners IMMEDIATELY. Please do not practise any more discriminations.

  3. I agree discrimination should be stopped. However, the fact that this article states that the main monasteries still knowingly accept donations from Shugden practitioners, and how this article uses Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel’s name, his contribution to Gaden Jangtse, and falsely states he is a current practitioner of Shugden totally discredits this article. All I am saying is that if you want to make a point, do it with integrity and honesty.

  4. Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel is an ex-abbot of Ganden Jangtse. His sponsorship during his practice of Dorje Shugden is deemed unclean and unfit. Therefore sponsored items shouldn’t be used, no? How can the sponsored items be clean now? This is totally double standard. You take and use the sponsored items from Shugden practitioners and banishing them. There is no gratitude. There is no way to develop compassion.

  5. In Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel’s case, he is not “banished” from Gaden Jangtse, he is highly respected in Gaden Jangtse still, so I think using him as an example for the agenda of this article is dishonest.

    People are seeing this the wrong way. Instead of pointing the finger and saying, “Hey you took some offerings and now you should give them back! Where’s your gratitude and compassion!” This should be seen as a great opportunity to develop true generosity in one’s own mind. One shouldn’t give with the thought of receiving praise/gratitude. It will just be tainted with the 8 worldly concerns and at that point is it really the perfection of generosity at that point? Everybody here should see it as a precious opportunity to practice the teachings of mind training.

    Can people here honestly say that the main monasteries are not spreading the Dharma? Are not these donations still going towards the true purpose? You should rejoice they are being used regardless if Shugden practitioners are seen as unclean, in fact, that is even more powerful for mind training. But no, we rather rant and rave about the perceived faults of others.

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Contemplate This

.…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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