The Lineage


As emanations of the Wisdom Buddha, every incarnation that arose before Dorje Shugden manifested was a fully Enlightened Being. Each incarnation contributed greatly towards the growth of Dharma throughout the Buddhist world. Dorje Shugden’s lineage of incarnations includes past great Mahasiddhas (highly attained practitioners), renowned Buddhist scholars, monastics of high moral discipline and outstanding Dharma teachers.



  • Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom.
  • Manjushri emanated during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni as one of Shakyamuni’s direct disciples.
  • Manjushri had already achieved full Enlightenment in a previous age, long before the time of Buddha Shakyamuni.
  • In the Sutra Revealing the Abode of Manjushri, Buddha explains how Manjushri manifests countless emanations to help sentient beings.


Mahasiddha Biwapa

  • Manjushri manifested rebirth as the Indian Mahasiddha Birwapa.
  • During the day, he studied and meditated on the Sutra teachings and during the night, he engaged in highly advanced practices.
  • Whenever he did his prayers, Buddhas like Nairatmya and celestial beings with whom he had a particularly strong karmic connection would come to his room to participate in the ritual feast.
  • In Nalanda Monastery where he studied, the monks nicknamed him “Birwapa” which means bad man” because they saw the celestial beings in his room as ordinary women, and believed that he was breaking his ordination vows and bringing bad reputation to the monastery.
  • Due to Birwapa’s extraordinary deeds, many people developed faith in him and in the Buddhist teachings. In this way, he led many people onto a spiritual path.


Sakya Pandita

  • Birwapa later incarnated in western Tibet as the great Lama of the Sakya tradition, Sachen Kunga Gyeltsen, more commonly known as Sakya Pandita.
  • He was very special even as a young child. Once, he dreamt that the great Indian Pandit Vasubandhu gave him teachings on his text Treasury of Phenomenology. When he awoke, he had memorized the entire text, which was almost 50 pages long.
  • Sakya Pandita’s name spread far and wide, reaching even to the Chinese Emperor who developed deep faith in him and the Buddhadharma.


Butön Rinchen Drub

  • Sakya Pandita took rebirth as Buton Rinchen Drub in western Tibet.
  • When Buton was a child, he could converse with Manjushri and displayed attainment of compassion and Bodhicitta in his speech and action.
  • In this life, he focused mainly on teaching and writing. He translated many scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan and wrote 26 volumes of commentaries on Dharma practice (Kangyur – the spoken words of the Buddha, and Tangyur – the commentaries of Buddhist teachings)
  • Buton Rinchen Drub and Sakya Pandita both showed practitioners how to meditate correctly and practice effectively to develop great wisdom and concentration


Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen

  • Buton Rinchen Drub was later reborn in central Tibet as Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, who became one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s principal disciples.
  • Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen’s main activity was to help the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa to flourish.
  • He oversaw the full building of Ganden Monastery, the first and most prominent monastery of the Gelug school of Buddhism.
  • He was especially famed for his pure morality and for upholding his vows very purely. His very name, “Duldzin“, means “Holder of the Vinaya”
  • Lama Tsongkhapa’s disciples believed that Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen and Lama Tsongkhapa were equal in terms of their realizations, abilities, and wisdom. The position of Ganden Tripa – representing Tsongkhapa on earth, after his passing – was offered first to Duldzin. However, Duldzin declined the honour and offered it to Gyaltsab Je, choosing instead to devote his life to protecting and spreading Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings.
  • It was with this commitment and devotion to the Dharma that Duldzin first made a promise to arise as a Dharma Protector specially to protect the Middle View of Nagarjuna, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa.


Panchen Sonam Drakpa

  • Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen was later reborn in central Tibet as Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Like Duldzin, he devoted his whole life to making Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage and teachings flourish everywhere.
  • This Lama is unique in that he is the only person who has ever become the Abbot of all three main Gelug monasteries – Ganden, Sera and Drepung. He was also the Abbot of Gyuto Tantric College and became the 15th Ganden Tripa.
  • Panchen Sonam Drakpa wrote many commentaries to both Sutra and Tantra. To this day at Drepung Loseling, the largest Gelugpa monastery, as well as at Ganden Shartse, monks qualify for their Geshe degrees by relying principally upon the scriptures of this great teacher.


Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen

  • Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen lived in Drepung Monastery during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. They were both disciples of the 4th Panchen Lama, Losang Chokyi Gyeltsen. Their affinity goes back to the time when Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, in his previous incarnation as Panchen Sonam Drakpa, was the Spiritual Guide to the 3rd Dalai Lama.
  • Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was so highly attained that Tibetan, Mongolian and Chinese nobility and royalty would travel immense distances just to make offerings and request teachings from him. His attainments were often likened to those of the Dalai Lama himself.
  • It was in this lifetime that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen fulfilled his promise to become a Dharma Protector and arose as Dorje Shugden.
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15 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Dorje Shugden comes from a line of enlightened masters and scholars. His lineage is pure and comes directly from Manjushri. Anyone who propitiates this great dharmapala will reap tremendous benefits. I recommend Dorje Shugden’s practice strongly.

  2. What a blessing to connect to this holy most precious lineage. May Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden spread into the 10 directions and many, many people connect.

    May the ban on Dorje Shugden come down swiftly

  3. Dorje Shugden is the emanation of Lord Manjushri. Dorje Shugden’s line of incarnations can be traced back to Mahasiddha Biwapa, Sakya Pandita and importantly as Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, disciple to Lama Tsongkhapa. At that time when he appeared as Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, he made a promise to Nechung to take on the role of a Dharma Protector with the specific function to protect Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching of Nagajurna’s Middle Way. Because of this promise, when he later rebirth as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, he manipulated a wrathful death to arose as Dharmapala. We are blessed to receive the teaching and practice of such a revered Dharmapala for unbroken lineage. He has the affinity with us in this degenerated age and will be able to swiftly assist us on our spiritual path.

  4. My hair stood on ends while reading this magnificent, simple yet detailed post. It made me realized how blessed am I to have an affinity with such a Buddha. No matter what reincarnation Manjusri took, it was always about spreading Dhamma and the lineage. Hence, how can one say that Dorje Shugden is a ‘demon’? And if He is a demon, why is it that nobody can ‘destroy’ Him? This clearly shows that He is a Buddha and He cannot be destroyed. When will anti Dorje Shugden people realize that He is indeed Manjusri, full of wisdom and compassion for all of us. His purposes are to benefit us with Dhamma and bring us to higher realization till the day we gain realisation and reach Enlightenment.

  5. Very good introduction and beautiful layout that briefly explains the great accomplished Drakpa incarnations and their previous incarnations leading to how Dorje Shugden arose. A good sharing to those wanting to know more about Dorje Shugden.

  6. Thank you so much on sharing Dorje Shugden ancestry. This is true fact Dorje Shugden is emanation of Manjushri, Buddha of Wisdom. it is learnt that an fully enlighten being cannot be subdued and destroyed, so since Dorje Shugden is emanation of a Buddha then why there are people out there saying he is a spirit or demon? This is so senseless. I don’t see Dorje Shugden as spirit, I see him as a Buddha, a protector with full of compassion and wisdom. How can an enlightened Buddha been called demon where there are no evidence.

  7. This article benefiting to those we wish to learn more about Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden is not only a powerful protector of our time but he comes from a great lineage of fully enlightened beings whose work has had a great impact on the growth of Dharma in the world and each previous life never ceased to protect the Dharma. OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA, may everyone be blessed by the wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden.

  8. It’s important for a Buddhist practitioner to know the lineage of the practice which traceable to an authentic lineage. In this case it’s great to learn the reincarnation line of the dharma protector Dorje Shugden where it led us all the way from the enlightened Buddha of wisdom, Lord Manjushri and we also can see that every reincarnation is inspiring. Through understanding the lineage, it also tell us that we learn and practice from Dorje Shugden practices it has a long line of lineage blessing all the way from the enlightened one with unbroken lineage. This rest assure us that we are at the right track and the practice will bring us a fruitful result if we follow through.

  9. Let’s see what Nechung comes from and compare it with Dorje Shugden. It’s baffling to see why Dalai Lama acknowledges Nechung as someone more reliable than Dorje Shugden despite he has timely failed to provide accurate predictions and it was Dorje Shugden who saved Dalai Lama providing clear instructions of the safest route to leave tibet in 1959.

  10. This article had clear expenation of Dorje Shugden lineage. In tibetan buddhism that rare to see such long lineage of protector. Whether people still believe or not. Dorje Shugden practice has grownth around the world. It show who he ready are.

  11. Beautiful to know what an enlightened being can do just to benefit other people.👍

  12. Such a powerful and pure lineage started from Lord Manjushri himself, the great Mahasidha Biwapa, Sakya Pandita, ButonRinchen Drub, Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, Panchen Sonam Drakpa and then Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. So which one is the demon actually? On what basis all these enlightened lineage lamas that mentioned earlier practice demon, became demon or behave like demon?!?! Those who are calling Dorje Shugden demon is telling the world that all these enlightened beings are demons. Hence all their students worship demons. Either you are saying these highly attained lamas practice demon can achieve enlightenment hence no need to take refuge in the three jewels anymore. Or you are saying these attained lamas and their students practice demon and all became demons hence when Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen died automatically he became demon. Hence for the last 400 years, all the gurus and students who practice DS are all demons. Wow! That’s a lot.. millions! Hence it was the demon that protected His Holiness Dalai Lama to escape from Tibet then. 😂🤣

  13. This is such a great lineage of highly attained masters all the way from Manjushri up to Dorje Shugden. Hence, it is silly and wrong to say Dorje Shugden practice is evil. If those people say Dorje Shugden is evil then are they referring to the whole lineage as being evil as well? Please re-think before listening and agreeing to what others say.

  14. I am new to tibetan buddhism. And started only because i connected with Tsem Rinpoche teachings on youtube. Given the dorje shudgen controversy. I dived into research and resonate strongly with dorje shugden practitioner stance.

    However a fair point was brought up which i hope can be answered.

    In Tsem Tulku list of previous lives

    Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was listed as one of his previous lives.

    If Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose as Dorje Shugden, someone must be lying. I don’t mean any disrespect but anyone has any answers that fould help me immensely.

    • Tsem Rinpoche is not an incarnation of Dorje Shugden. Rather Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen emanated as Dorje Shugden while at the same time his incarnation line continued with his most recent main mind incarnation as Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. Due to the fact the search and enthronement of his incarnation line was banned after Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen murder, his incarnation line was not proclaimed publicly until Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.

      Enlighten beings can manifest, emanate and incarnate in multiple and unlimited ways at the same time in the past, present and future. They have gone beyond the limitations of conditioned phenomena, time and space due to their enlighten nature.

      They can be manifest as inanimate objects, emanate as various supernatural beings like dharma protectors and they can incarnate as human beings like recognized tulkus and Lama/Gurus.

      Ultimately even all the enlighten beings and Gurus are one in nature as Vajradhara aka Samantabhadra the primordial Buddha who is the true nature of the mind.

      Going beyond conventional dualistic perceptions of reality, ultimately the Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen are one in nature as Vajradhara. What looks like conflict is actually enlightened actions for the benefit of all sentient beings. So what may look like a negative situation to our dualistic unenlightened minds are actually situations that help purify our karma and ultimately lead us also to enlightenment.

      In other words the Buddhas are one as Vajradhara.

      Furthermore, the Lama, Yidam and Dharma protector are known as the three roots. Both the Yidam and Dharma Protector are emanations of the Lama and thus all are one in nature.

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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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