FAQs – About Dorje Shugden

Who is Dorje Shugden?

Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, the Enlightened Buddha of Wisdom. He arose as a Dharma Protector about 350 years ago especially to protect Nagarjuna’s Middle View, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa. He is often considered to be a Protector of the Gelugpa lineage but actually, he protects all sincere Dharma practitioners equally.


What is a Dharma Protector?

A Dharma Protector is a being who manifests in a particular form with the particular function of averting obstacles and providing conducive conditions for our spiritual practice. There are two kinds of Dharma Protectors: Enlightened Protectors who are emanations of Buddhas, and unenlightened / worldly Protectors.


What is the difference between an Enlightened Dharma Protector and a worldly / unenlightened Protector?

The difference between an Enlightened Dharma Protector and a worldly Dharma Protector is that the former is a Buddha whereas the latter is not. Many of the Dharma Protectors who are most commonly relied upon are Enlightened Beings, such as Dorje Shugden, who is an emanation of the Buddha Manjushri.

Enlightened Dharma Protectors’ principal function is to protect our Dharma practice, not to help our mundane affairs. Famous Enlightened Dharma Protectors are Palden Lhamo (an emanation of Tara), Six-Armed Mahakala (Avalokiteshvara), Four-Armed Mahakala, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden (Manjushri), and Setrab Chen (Amitabha).

The most famous of the unenlightened Dharma Protectors is Nechung / Pehar. These unenlightened Protectors are usually worldly beings who were oath-bound by Lamas to stop causing harm and to serve and protect the Dharma instead.


Why are Dharma Protectors so important?

When we are engaging in spiritual practice, obstacles and distractions will arise that may disturb our practice. Thus, it can often be difficult to fulfill our commitments or engage purely and deeply in Dharma practice.

Dharma Protectors are a very important part of our practice as they help to remove immediate obstacles to our spiritual progress. They also provide conducive conditions for us to accomplish our spiritual aspirations smoothly. For example, they can help to avert physical problems such as illnesses, accidents, financial difficulties, and bring about the resources we need such as sponsorship, resources and spiritual friends to support our practice.

Dorje Shugden has removed obstacles and created the conditions for the extraordinary growth of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, and most importantly, the realization of those teachings. Lama Tsongkhapa’s doctrine is now spreading swiftly to countries throughout the world and touching the lives of many who have been able to learn the teachings and put them into practice to effect great transformation in their lives.


Why does Dorje Shugden look so fierce?

In Buddhist iconography, wrathful expressions denote a very fast and powerful energy. It is likened to the “fierce” but compassionate energy of a mother who shouts at her child if she sees him playing with fire or about to harm himself.

Dorje Shugden’s expression of fierceness is symbolic of his very swift and efficacious ability to destroy obstacles for Dharma practitioners and come to our aid very quickly. Underneath the fierceness, everything that Dorje Shugden does is out of total compassion.


Is Dorje Shugden a spirit or demon?

No, he is neither a spirit nor a demon. Quite the opposite. He is an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, and is therefore a fully Enlightened Being.


Has Dorje Shugden emanated as other forms before?

Yes, prior to arising as a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden manifested as many renowned and highly respected Lamas including:

  • The Indian Mahasiddha Biwawa
  • Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen (one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s closest disciples who built Gaden Monastery)
  • Panchen Sonam Drakpa (an erudite scholar and debate master, whose philosophical texts are still being studied in the monasteries today)
  • Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (a highly respected Lama who was often compared to the 5th Dalai Lama).

What are the other forms of Dorje Shugden and what do they do?

There are five principal emanations of Dorje Shugden:

  • Dorje Shugden, the principal figure who represents consciousness. He bestows wisdom and shows the way to higher attainments.
  • Vairochana Shugden or Shize, who represents form. He purifies negative karma and obstacles.
  • Ratna Shugden or Gyenze, who represents feeling. He brings increase of all that is good.
  • Pema Shugden or Wangze, who represents discrimination. He brings peace of mind.
  • Karma Shugden or Trakze, who represents compositional factors. He helps to overcome delusions and combats the strongest negative, harmful energies.

What are oracles, and how are they related to Dharma Protectors?

Oracles are specially trained people who can take trance and serve as a medium for Dharma Protectors. This means that the essence or energy of the Dharma Protector can enter and use their bodies as a vessel to speak to us directly. Therefore, we can receive enlightened and accurate advice to make the right decisions to support our spiritual path in our daily lives.

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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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