Al-Jazeera Reports: The Dalai Lama – The Devil Within

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The above video clip is a news report by Al Jazeera, a globally recognized and trusted media network. In recent years, Al Jazeera has developed a reputation for daring coverage and their refusal to shy away from addressing sometimes controversial, oftentimes difficult issues.

The network is also well received for its policy that is characteristically free from political persuasions and restrictions. At a time when many news networks have developed a reputation for bias, Al Jazeera has managed to remain free from such stigma. Since the time of their inception, it has been their objective to provide information that is complete, balanced, unbiased and absent of coloring by Western narratives that have long shaped ‘conventional’ wisdom, and social and political consciousness.

As a result of Al Jazeera’s commitment to unbiased reporting, it is today one of the most popular news networks for the way it fulfills another of its missions, “to give a voice to the voiceless”.

That this celebrated network regarded the Dorje Shugden issue as important enough to cover, attests to the severity of events that have not only rocked the Tibetan community but also pierced the very heart of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a story of how the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) committed what may be one of the most serious breaches of human rights in modern history, right under the noses of nation-states who regard it, ironically, to be a victim of China’s oppression.

In an issue as emotionally-charged as the Sino-Tibetan conflict, it is important to remember that Al Jazeera is a Middle Eastern-owned and operated network that has no stake or vested interest in the quarrel between the Dalai Lama and China. We can therefore safely assume that there is no political agenda in this reporting.

At the center of the storm undermining the Tibetan cause is none other than His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Although the Tibetan leader is revered worldwide for his public proclamations of peace, love, tolerance and harmony, this penetrating Al Jazeera report provides a vastly contrasting image to the public.

In 1996, the Dalai Lama suddenly proclaimed that he was banning the 400-year-old practice of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden, an emanation of the Buddha Manjushri. It was a proclamation that ran completely incongruous with the fact that the same Dalai Lama had also declared the Tibetan nation-in-exile to be a democratic state, underwritten by a Constitution that guarantees various freedoms including that of religious practice.

A sign in Sera Monastery, South India. Because of the ban and the resulting heavy-handed discrimination against Shugden practitioners, Sera Mey Monastery later split, with hundreds of monks leaving to Serpom Monastery.

The Dalai Lama’s instruction resulted in widespread condemnation of Dorje Shugden practitioners, and institutionalized discrimination of the practice’s devotees. In fact, the CTA’s actions that followed the Dalai Lama’s declaration proved that in reality, the Tibetan leadership is not a democracy but merely an executrix of the Dalai Lama’s wishes.

The CTA began issuing Cabinet and Parliamentary resolutions that made it permissible to abuse Shugden followers, inferring that it was the duty of every good Tibetan to oppose those who continue to practice Dorje Shugden. At stake, they said, was the precious life of the Dalai Lama. Successive resolutions by the Tibetan Cabinet and Parliament drove the conflict deeper and fueled the animosity between those who chose to obey the CTA’s forced rule and those who decided to remain true to their religion.

In essence, the CTA had institutionalized a constitutionally-wrong purge of people based on their religion, much like the unholy inquisitions in countries like medieval Spain. Tibetan vigilante groups formed to root out Shugden practitioners and eradicate them as, according to the CTA’s May 1996 resolution,

…a matter of highest importance to the cause of Tibet…and the personal security of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,

On the streets, mobs of Tibetans gathered to riot against Dorje Shugden worshippers, attacking Shugden-practicing monasteries until they were stopped by the Indian police who were called in to quell and contain the violence.

Elsewhere, individual Tibetans made a show of their resentment of this new ‘enemy’. Some did so believing in the Tibetan leadership’s propaganda against the religion, while others acted out of fear of repercussions for non-cooperation with the CTA. In some cases, the CTA even threatened fines against people who refused to join the riots against Shugden practitioners.

All over the Tibetan settlements in India, it quickly became taboo to serve, sell or buy from, to educate, to work with and to provide livelihood for Shugden believers or anyone known to associate with these religious adherents. It was, and still is, strictly prohibited to render medical care to anyone even remotely connected to this Protector-deity. Not even hospitals and clinics operated by supposedly benevolent monasteries, who are obliged to observe the Hippocratic Oath if not the injunction of the Lord Buddha himself, dared to defy the Dalai Lama’s command.

A sign in the medical clinic of Drepung Loseling Monastic University denying entry and service to Shugden practitioners. Is such a sign befitting of a clinic situated inside a monastery which is supposed to uphold the tenets of Shakyamuni Buddha, chief of which is compassion?

Monasteries that had been repositories of wisdom and kindness for over six centuries broke with tradition when ordained monks were forced to commit the cardinal sin of breaking their tantric vows to keep the practice. The consequence of refusing to swear out from the practice (as it was soon called) was expulsion from their temples, effectively rendering them homeless. Everywhere the Tibetan government could exert its influence became the scene of old friendships and family ties breaking, each year more destructive than the last as the CTA launched campaign after unrelenting campaign against Dorje Shugden followers. Anger and hatred towards Shugden people also exploded everywhere in the world wherever the Dalai Lama’s portrait hung, and developed its own life-force independent of Dharamsala.

It was difficult for many to accept the Al Jazeera exposé because the Dalai Lama has been an icon of peace, love, friendship and tolerance for decades, traversing the world to preach his message of conciliation. But neither could they ignore the evidence presented in the report or say that people have misread the Dalai Lama’s meaning. The Dalai Lama’s message has always been clear – abandon the Shugden religious practice or face the consequences. For a refugee community so heavily dependent socially, economically and spiritually on their leader, this is something they apparently could not afford to lose.

The CTA imposed a card system so that Shugden practitioners could be identified and marginalized in the same way Jews were forced to identify themselves with armbands during Hitler’s war on Europe. If the ban on Dorje Shugden is just ‘advice’ as the Tibetan leadership like to claim, would such cards be necessary? Why the need to identify Dorje Shugden practitioners from non-practitioners, if it was just advice?

While the Al Jazeera report was able to provide an account of Shugden worshippers’ woes under the CTA’s direction, it is more difficult to document the supramundane costs of the CTA-sponsored attacks on Dorje Shugden. In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Protector is one of three crucial components in spiritual practice, the other two being the guru and the yidam (meditational deity). And in so far as Dharma Protectors are concerned, Dorje Shugden is highly respected and deemed to be of great importance due to the karmic affinity between himself and the people of our time.

So, contrary to allegations levelled against him by the Tibetan leadership, for over 400 years Dorje Shugden has been worshipped and relied on as a crucial component of spiritual practice by the majority of Tibetan Buddhists at one time or another. His practice has been strongly advocated by the highest and most respected masters and scholars. Even the line of Dalai Lamas regarded the deity in the highest terms:

In fact, the 14th Dalai Lama trusted Dorje Shugden explicitly. During the political turmoil of 1959, the Dalai Lama followed Dorje Shugden’s advice, given while in trance of an oracle. The advice led to the Dalai Lama’s safe escape to India, away from the clutches of a then hostile China. Dorje Shugden even provided the exact route of escape. This incident has been well documented by the very people who accompanied His Holiness on his perilous journey into exile.

The Tibetan leadership is fond of labelling the ban against Dorje Shugden as just advice, but such a large body of evidence has been compiled over the years that the attack against Shugden practitioners cannot be due to sheer coincidence, and can only be the result of a coordinated ban. It is this information that we present to you here in this website, along with the Al Jazeera video. The fact so much evidence exists, and has been so easily compiled is a sad indictment of the Tibetan leadership, their disrespect for the ideals of democracy, and their maltreatment and abuse of Shugden practitioners for the past 20 years.

A shop in a South Indian Tibetan settlement refusing service to Dorje Shugden practitioners. Such signs have been commonplace since 1996, when the ban on Dorje Shugden was instituted. Overnight, Shugden practitioners found themselves barred from shops and restaurants just like this one.

A shop in Sera Monastery, South India. The red sign at the bottom of the MoneyGram poster announces that Dorje Shugden practitioners are not welcome there.

Gaden Jangtse Monastery, Mundgod, South India, again barring Dorje Shugden practitioners and saying they are not welcomed on the grounds.

Clearly it is no exaggeration to say that these anti-Shugden signs are everywhere in the Tibetan settlements. Here, one such sign is pictured on a water tank in Sera Mey Monastery, South India

Outside a monastery in Sarnath, North India, there is a clear sign that states Dorje Shugden practitioners are not welcome even within the premises of the teaching program. Regardless of whether they actually receive teachings or not, their physical presence there is not allowed at all.

 

More Information

 

On the Dorje Shugden ban

 

Definitive proof of the Shugden religious ban

 

About Dorje Shugden

 

The Tibetan Leadership’s Stance on Dorje Shugden

The CTA’s official website has a dedicated page to spread disinformation on Dorje Shugden and incessantly attack his practitioners. This is not normal practice for a democratic government, which should be upholding religious freedom amongst its citizens. Imagine the uproar if the American or Canadian governments – or indeed, any democratic state – were to have the same section on their official websites accessible to the public.

The CTA Cabinet statement of May 1996 that blames the practice of Dorje Shugden as being the cause of Tibet’s problems and advocates the opposing of the religion as a national priority. (Source: http://tibet.net/important-issues/dolgyal-shugden/)

The CTA Parliamentary Resolution in 1996 also condemned the practice of Dorje Shugden. In passing such a resolution, the Tibetan leadership officially institutionalized the abuse and segregation of Dorje Shugden practitioners.

All CTA departments and organizations were instructed to not indulge in the propitiation of Dorje Shugden. Effectively, this means that members of a certain religion (in this case, Shugden) cannot be employed by the government or any of its associations. Again, the practice of Dorje Shugden is blamed for the failures of the Tibetan cause. If the Tibetan leadership were truly democratic, why would it matter what someone’s personal religious faith is, as long as it does not impact their ability to do their job and discharge their duties? The fact the Tibetan leadership makes employment choices based on a person’s religious beliefs is not democratic at all. (Source: http://tibet.net/important-issues/dolgyal-shugden/#panel-pJV76q5op4P)

Institutionalized persecutions of Dorje Shugden followers continued into 2014, 18 years after it began in 1996.

A 2014 CTA Parliamentary resolution frames Shugden practitioners in a manner that will provoke the Tibetan people, and labels all Dorje Shugden worshippers as ‘criminals’. As Dorje Shugden worshippers hail from all over the world, is the Tibetan leadership also labelling non-Tibetans as ‘criminals’? In their eagerness to condemn Shugden worshippers, the Tibetan leadership therefore infringes upon the sovereignty of countries around the world by insulting their citizens when there is no basis for such a label. (Source: http://tibet.net/important-issues/dolgyal-shugden/#panel-pJV76q5op4P)

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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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