Untouchables in Tibetan Buddhism

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His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama is a symbol of love and compassion all over the world but a few in Tibetan Buddhism community questions this claim. They blame Dalai Lama of taking away their religious freedom. These are worshipers of a controversial deity named Dorje Shugden.

Dorje Shugden is a protector deity in Tibetan Buddhism but the worship of this deity was banned by Dalai Lama in 1996. He said that Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit which hampers the cause of Tibet and also shortens his life.

Ironically, Dalai Lama himself used to propitiate Dorje Shugden till 1975. And most of his teachings come from teachers who used to worship shugden.

Dalai Lama`s words changed the life of these practitioners. Those who continued worshiping this 350 year old deity were termed ‘anti Dalai Lama’ and ‘Chinese spies’. They were ostracized from the Tibetan community. Many cases have come to light where the shugden practitioners were not allowed to enter in hospitals, shops, restaurants, and monasteries.

A young girl Perma (named changed) who came from Tibet to India to study said, she had to leave her college in Shilong because of the discrimination faced by her for being a shugden devotee. I have never faced such discrimination in China [Tibet].

“The government says that all shugden devotees have the same rights as Tibetans. But in reality, we don`t have any rights.” said 73 old Geshe Sopa Thoemey, the acting president of Delhi based Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society.

“We [Monks] used to live like brothers with non-shugden monks before this problem surfaced but now the situation has so much deterioted that a shugden monk was not allowed to attend the funereal of her mother. ” says a shugden worshiper Tsering Lama.

“We are not anti Dalai Lama, We respect him, He is a god even though he doesn`t love us.” said Perma.

In 2008, a referendum , in open, was organized in southern India monasteries where the monks were made to select either a yellow stick or a red stick with former stick for choosing Dalai Lama and red stick for Dorje Shugden. The shugden monks were expelled from the monasteries. All the monks who were expelled after the referendum have opened their own monasteries so that can freely worship Shugden.

Dalai Lama has upped the ante in recent years by encouraging the monasteries to expel shugden monks. In 2008, he said in a public speech “Recently monasteries have fearlessly expelled Shugden monks where needed. I fully support their actions. I praise them. If monasteries find taking action hard, tell them the Dalai Lama is responsible for this.” He further added “These monks must be expelled from all monasteries. If they are not happy, you can tell them that the Dalai Lama himself asked that this be done, and it is very urgent”.

Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society also filed an petition in Delhi court against the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) regarding the discrimination and violence incidents against shugden devotees. But the court stated their are not enough evidences to prove the claim.

Geshe Thoemey accuses Tibetan administration of not allowing Tibetans to study in Shugden monasteries, he says, “If students come to our monasteries, we wll grow but they stop students , they want to dry our monasteries “.

But the Tibetan government in exile does not support these allegations. The govt considers Shugden issue as a Chinese weapon against His Holiness.

Dalai Lama has been continuously taking up this issue in public speeches from 1996. “We request Dalai Lama to stop saying anything on this issue, if he doesn`t say anything then there is no problem.” says Tsering.

Since the Dalai lama is talking about the retirement, Its really difficult to see where the struggle for Tibet leads.

“There is no hope for Tibet, to happen such kind of thing you need blessings from your gods but you criticize the god who gives you blessings” said Geshe Thoemey

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  1. Reading about what Geshe Sopa Thoemey has to say about what the Dalai Lama was saying and the actions taken to dry up the monasteries and make the lives of the simple monks difficult, is very upsetting. In fact, even now, the segregation and discrimination is still happening.

    Geshe Thoemey was very accurate when he said he sees a difficult future ahead for Tibet. As Geshe Thoemey said, “There is no hope for Tibet, to happen such kind of thing you need blessings from your gods but you criticize the god who gives you blessings”

    May all mend their broken samaya and unite the Tibetans in harmony and peace.

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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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