Chronology of Key Events: 2008

January 6, 2008

  • The Dalai Lama presides over the opening ceremony of the Ganden Shartse debate courtyard. He states that he will not give teachings at Shartse because there are many Shugden devotees there.

 

January 7, 2008

  • During the opening ceremony of Drepung Loseling monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka State, the Dalai Lama says:
     
    With strong emotion, Samdhong Lama accused Shugden devotees, saying that they have made open and overt contact with the People’s Republic of China.
     
    He adds that he thinks it is very difficult for the monks to remain like fish and tadpoles together in the three monasteries of the Gelug Tradition.
  • In the afternoon, the Dalai Lama convenes a meeting in Drepung monastery, attended by Kalon Samdong Lama, Tsering Phuntsok, the Tibetan minister of Culture and Religion, abbots and ex-abbots. The Dalai Lama urges them to take action to clean up Shugden devotees. He reprimands the abbots of Jangtse and Shartse monasteries for not taking a rigid stand against Shugden devotees.
  • The Dalai Lama rebukes the Shartse abbot:
     
    Shugden devotees are growing in your monastery. If you are this inept, you had better resign.
  • The Dalai Lama also reprimands the Jangtse abbot:
     
    You said that the monastery is clean, but there are still some Shugden devotees. You must do better.
  • Later that night, Jangtse monastery holds a meeting about the signature and oath to give up the worship of Shugden to be taken by every monk. In this very meeting, Serkong Tritul Rinpoche and Geshe Tsultrim are expelled from the monastery because they worship Dorje Shugden.

 

January 8, 2008

  • In the assembly hall of Jangtse monastery, each monk is asked to stand up in turn in front of the speaker, declare that he will not worship Dorje Shugden, and walk under the pictures of the Protector Palden Lhamo and the Dalai Lama. Twelve monks who worship Shugden do not attend and are excommunicated from the monastery.
  • In Phukang Khamtsen, the signature and oath campaign is conducted in 10 monastic sections. Signed statements declaring that the signatory will not worship Dorje Shugden are collected from each monk. Monks who do not want to sign the statement and take the oath are pressured to do so. Photos and videos are taken during the signature campaign. A Phukang Khamtsen monk is expelled for refusing to sign.
  • The Dalai Lama scolds the abbots of Jangtse and Shartse, accusing them of lying:
     
    All you are doing is telling lies and playing drama.
     
    When the Jangtse abbot gets up to apologize, the Dalai Lama shouts at him to sit down.
  • The Khamtsen signature campaign does not satisfy the Dalai Lama, who insists that every monk, in the presence of the other monks, should sign a statement that from that time forth he will renounce his faith in Dorje Shugden and promise never to worship Dorje Shugden again.

 

January 9, 2008

  • When the Dalai Lama gives the empowerment of Yamantaka in Drepung Loseling monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka State, he says:
     
    In contemporary democratic practice, there is such a thing as a ‘referendum’, or ‘consulting the majority’. The matter has now reached this point of consulting the majority to see what they want. Therefore, when you return to your respective places after this program at Loseling monastery, put these questions to the monks:
     
    Whether you want to worship Dholgyal (Dorje Shugden)? This is the first question. Those who want to worship should sign saying that they wish to worship Dholgyal; those who do not want to should sign saying, “We do not want to.”
     
    Do you want to share religious and material amenities of life (live together in the monastery) with Dholgyal worshippers? Sign saying so: ‘We do not want to share religious and material amenities of life (live together) with Dholgyal worshippers’.”
  • The Dalai Lama also says:
     
    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.
  • The Dalai Lama continues:
     
    Those who worship Dholgyal are taken care of by the Chinese government. It would be best if they returned to where they are cared for. There is no reason for them to live here. Do you understand?
  • He also says:
     
    Recently, the Shugden society has written to the Indian Government, claiming that the Dalai Lama is banning the practice of Dorje Shugden, that they are becoming apprehensive, and that they seek protection from the government. The MEA has sent an acknowledgement. This has grave implications.

 

January 11, 2008

  • Shartse monastery holds a meeting in its office attended by representatives of Khamtsens. The abbot explains that three different meetings have been held: In the first meeting, the Dalai Lama spoke of boycotting religious and material contact with Shugden devotees. In the second meeting he said that the Shugden organization has contact with China and also that Lama Gangchen and Kundeling Rinpoche should return to China. In the third meeting he said that he would distribute a document regarding the Shugden issue, and that the referendum would be held.
  • The abbot remarks that the situation is increasingly grave and urges Lungrik Tenzin, the representative of Dhokhang Khamtsen, to take this into consideration and follow the example of the others.

 

January 13, 2008

  • In the morning, abbots and representatives of Shartse monastic sections visit the Dalai Lama and show him the list of names and signatures. The Dalai Lama says:
     
    There are six more programs to come. Shugden devotees need allotment. I will talk to the Indian government.
  • In the afternoon, following the teaching in Loseling monastery, the Dalai Lama distributes literature that expresses contempt for the practice of Dorje Shugden. He says:
     
    If 60 percent of people say that they will continue to worship Shugden, then I will talk no more against Shugden. On the contrary, if 60 percent do not want to worship Dorje Shugden, then I will continue with my plan to eliminate the practice from the monasteries.

 

January 19 & 20, 2008

  • Samdhong Lama, Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration, and Tsering Phuntsok of the Tibetan Deparment of Religion and Culture hold a meeting in Drepung monastery regarding Shugden worship. They pass a resolution to conduct a referendum on whether monks want to practice Shugden or not, and whether monks want to share a religious and material relationship with Shugden monks or not.

 

January 21, 2008

  • At 3:30 p.m., Sharpa Choeje, Jangpa Choeje, representatives of the Tibetan Department of Culture and Religion, a local Tibetan deputy, the local head of the Tibetan settlement, administrators of Gomang and Loseling monasteries, and administrators of Shartse and Jangtse monasteries pass a resolution which outlines procedures for a referendum, the real purpose of which is to impose a ban on the worship of Dorje Shugden. The deadline of the referendum is set for January 26, 2008 and February 8, 2008.

 

January 23, 2008

  • Sera-Mey monastery issues a form:
     
    Before the witness of the great protector Thawo, I….. take a volunteer oath, without a doubt, making a clear decision to relinquish sharing all religious and material amenities of life with any Dholgyal follower, whoever he may be, from now on.
  • The Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society releases a 16-point pronouncement in disagreement with and opposition to the referendum proposed by the Dalai Lama.

 

January 26, 2008

  • The referendum is conducted in Sera-Jey monastery, starting at 7am. Sharpa Choejey, the representative of the Tibetan Department of Culture and Religion, and the monastic administrator supervise the referendum.
  • With the intention of ceasing to provide food to Shugden monks, the abbot of Sera-Mey monastery asks the monastic kitchen to close on the occasion of Indian Republic Day. The meal had been funded by the late Khensur Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, a Shugden devotee.
  • All the shops in the monastery are closed. Many monks, particularly Shugden devotees, are worried about the consequences of the forthcoming referendum. A report is circulated that a Tibetan officer will bring members of the Tibetan public to protest against Shugden monks in Sera-Mey monastery, and that the public might be provoked into protesting and attacking Shugden monks.
  • According to Phayul.com, Tashi Lhunpo monks swear once more in the presence of dignitaries from the religious and political departments of the exile government. This confirms their stance that Dholgyal (Shugden) is no longer propitiated by the monks of Tashi Lunpo.

 

February 1, 2008

  • Monks of Pomra Khamtsen who worship Shugden hold a meeting in their monastery, during which they resolve to keep their religious faith. A student of a senior monk of Pomra is bribed, receiving thousands of rupees for his signature. A report circulates that some monks from Pomra were given ten thousand rupees each by the monastic staff for their signatures.

 

February 3, 2008

  • Monks wishing to join the great prayer festival now require a certificate issued by the Ganden and Drepung Monlam committees. The announcement states that Dholgyal (Shugden) followers are banned from attending the prayer festival.

 

The Monlam Chenmo Committee prohibits Shugden practitioners from participating in the event

February 4, 2008

  • An agency is set up in Ganden Monastery to monitor whether monks are still secretly practicing Dorje Shugden. Despite having signed, the monks are afraid of those doing the monitoring.

 

February 5, 2008

  • Gyalrong Lophel appeals to Shugden devotees not to frequent his restaurant situated in Camp No 3, near the Tibetan Medicine Clinic, saying that being linked to the worship of Shugden is bad for business. The appeal appears in Lochok Ponya, a Tibetan Newspaper published in South India. Two other restaurants run by Amdos take the same stand.

 

February 7, 2008

  • In the assembly hall of Shartse monastery, the disciplinarian with tears in his eyes announces:
     
    Now Dhokhang Khamtsen will be separated from Shartse monastery.
     
    Many monks burst into tears.

 

February 8, 2008

  • In the afternoon, the Sera-Mey abbot Gen Rabgya calls the administrators of Pomra and asks them to consider the interests of the monastery and give their signatures denouncing Shugden. The Pomra administrators say they cannot renounce their religious faith.

 

February 9, 2008

  • At 6.30 a.m., the referendum is conducted in Shartse monastery, Mundgod, Karnataka State. Each monk picks a stick, enters the assembly hall one by one, and reads in front of a microphone:
     
    I… take a volunteer oath, without a doubt, that I make a clear decision to relinquish the religious and material amenities of life (live together) with Dholgyal (Shugden).
  • Local police are deployed around the venue. There is no sign of any breach of law and order. The process finishes at 1 pm. Monks from Dhokhang do not take part in the referendum.
  • The referendum is conducted in Sera-Mey monastery, Bykakuppe, Karnataka State at the same time. Police are deployed and there is no sign of any breach of law and order. No monks from Pomra attend the referendum.
  • Dokhang Khamtsen separates from Ganden Shartse and Pomra Khamtsen separates from Sera Mey. The milk for morning tea turns sour and happens every morning for a week although the vessel is thoroughly cleaned.

 

February 9, 2008

  • A report circulates that the Sera-Mey abbot disagrees with the swearing, saying that it is causing disharmony between teachers and students, between monastic sections and the monastery, and between individual monks. He asks the local committee to take responsibility if anything bad happens. The committee presides over and monitors the referendum, signature and oath campaign.

 

February 11, 2008

  • The Central Committee for the referendum holds a meeting with the representatives of all monasteries. Many do not want to continue the movement, but Jangpa Choeje says:
     
    It would not be good if we avoid the movement.
  • Sera Mey delegates complain that the monastery has big problems, including the canteen being closed. The meeting is dismissed without reaching any decision, but the participants are informed that a second step is to be implemented soon.

 

February 13, 2008

  • Kenchok Rinpoche from Australia and some Chinese offer a long life puja to an ex-abbot, Ngawang, in the assembly hall of Sera Mey monastery. Kenchok asks Shugden monks not to attend the long life puja, despite the fact that they have a Guru-disciple relationship.

 

February 13, 2008

  • An additional Commissioner, a special representative for Tibetans, calls a meeting at Sera Mey monastery, Bylakuppe, South India. It is attended by the Sera Mey abbot, representatives of the Tibetan settlement and representatives of Pomra. The meeting starts at 2.30 pm and finishes at 5.30 pm. The AC presents a stack of 800+ letters from America, Europe, and Canada regarding the abuse and discrimination against Shugden monks.
  • In the evening, a meeting is held at Sera-Lachi during which it is decided to hold the great prayer festival. Identity cards saying I will not share religious and material amenities with Shugden devotees are made for the participants of the great prayer festival.

February 15, 2008

  • The great prayer festival is held at Drepung and Ganden monasteries. To patronize the puja and make offerings, patrons must sign that he or she denies spiritual and material resources to Shugden devotees. Some do not sign, saying they want to contact monks from Dhokham monastic section who worship Shugden. Shugden devotees are barred from the offerings to the monks.
  • A meeting is held at the Tibetan local assembly. The heads of Camps 5 and 9 suggest that a similar campaign must be carried out among the lay public. The local head says:
     
    We should not move hastily. There is a second plan to come. When I met Samdhong Rinpoche in Bangalore (Karnataka State) yesterday (February 14, 2008), he told me:
     
    ‘If the monasteries are completely cleansed, the campaign – of taking the oath not to worship Shugden and not to share religious and material resources with Shugden devotees – will be initiated throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan, then abroad and gradually in Tibet.’

 

February 18, 2008

  • Excerpt from Voice of Tibet radio, broadcasted from Norway:
     
    This year, on the third day of the Tibetan new year, vote sticks were taken concerning whether monks want to worship Dholgyal or not. 412 monks who continue worshipping Dholgyal in Ganden Shartse monastery have already separated from the monastery, like self-expulsion.

 

February 20, 2008

  • Bod-Kyi-Dus-Bab (a Tibetan Language Newspaper) covers the full announcement of the Deparment of Culture and Religion regarding the vote against Shugden worship, in which the Minister Tsering Dhondup says:
     
    I think the monastery must give allotment, examining the number of worshippers there are in the respective monasteries. Since they have already taken the oath that they will never share religious and material resources with (Shugden devotees), there is no way for them to be integrated; they must be separated. I think the local enclave and Dholgyal devotees must consider what to do.
     
    The newspaper only presents one side of the story; the Dorje Shugden worshippers are not interviewed.

 

February 24, 2008

  • The Department of Culture and Religion asks the referendum committee to carry out the same campaign in Nepal. The committee complains of difficulty and asks officers from the Tibetan government in exile to go instead.
  • The Department replies:
     
    It is not appropriate for them to do so; it is not good to show the involvement of the Tibetan government in exile. You need to be the public face and we would send the recommendation letters there to help arrangements.
  • The committee agrees to send their envoys to Nepal.
  • Many monks in the monastery, although they are not Shugden worshippers, express their concern about the disharmony, schism, and tension in the monasteries as a result of the referendum. They are not happy with the divisive apartheid policy against Shugden monks.

 

February 25, 2008

  • The great prayer festival is held at Sera Lachi monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, starting at 7am in the assembly hall. Over 200 police are deployed around the assembly hall. The monks from Pomra who worship Dorje Shugden are made to stay in the courtyard while the other monks hold their prayers inside the monastery. Journalists witness the drama and newspapers report this development. Some non-Shugden monks buy up the newspapers to prevent them from reaching the hands of others.
     

    The exclusion of Shugden practitioners in Sera Lachi during the great prayer festival makes headlines in local newspapers

 

February 28, 2008

  • In the afternoon, the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibetan Women’s Association in Bylakuppe summon their members to take the oath and sign the statement renouncing the worship of Dorje Shugden. This is presided over by the Sera Jey abbot Lobsang Palden and takes place at Podrang (the Old Palace of the Dalai Lama where the Tibetans normally hold festivals), which is situated at Dickyi Larsoe Tibetan Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka State.
  • The monks are not able to share vehicles when traveling to the shops. Informers and watchmen monitor to see if non-Shugden monks are making any contact with Shugden devotees.
  • To purchase anything in the monastery shops, monks have to show identity cards certifying that they have taken the oath not to worship Shugden, nor to share any religious or material relationship with Shugden practitioners.

 

March 4, 2008

  • The 14th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPIE) begins its fifth session in Dharamsala. The speaker Karma Choephel lauds the bold initiative of the Tibetan monastic communities in their resolve to end Dolgyal (Shugden) worship, following the long life offering to His Holiness the Dalai Lama held at Drepung monastery in South India in February. He adds:
     
    This session will present motions to strengthen the present resolution adopted by the TPIE against the propitiation of Shugden.

 

March 10, 2008

  • The Statement of the Kashag on the Forty-Ninth Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day:
     
    However, a few of the monastic institutions of the Gelug tradition have still not clarified their positions on this issue, as a result of which the propitiators and non-propitiators of Dholgyal live together under the same roof. A broad section of the enlightened monks have, therefore, expressed their views through a number of campaigning activities that this matter must be resolved once and for all.
     
    As such, during his recent visit to Mundgod, South India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has suggested to the Gelug monastic institutions that, for the future convenience of all, a referendum must be conducted amongst the monks. The responsible authorities of the monastic institutions unanimously supported this idea and a referendum was conducted by relying upon the Buddhist Vinaya system of voting by administering Tsul-shings (Sangha voting sticks). Subsequently, most of the Gelug monastic institutions, including the three Great Monastic Seats, have disassociated themselves completely from the Dholgyal propitiators.
     
    While expressing our appreciation for this, the Kashag would like to urge the monastic world that they should not be negligent in this matter in the future as well. There is, still, a tiny number of monks who have not stopped the propitiation of Dholgyal. Since they cannot live within the compounds of the Great Monastic Seats, they should move out of the monasteries and live elsewhere. Towards this end, the Central Tibetan Administration will provide the necessary assistance we provide to all other Tibetans.

 

March 13, 2008

  • During the call-in broadcast from Radio Free Asia, Jamyang Norbu, a Tibet activist and writer, is asked what he thinks of the March 10th Statement:
     
    The main reason for the March 10th speech is to address the issues of our Nation, but on this day the Kashag twice brought up the complicated issue of deities and Dharmapalas, which is dividing our Tibetan community between those who practice and those who do not. Please, with my hands folded, I request the Exile Government not to bring this subject up in the March 10th speech.

 

March 18, 2008

  • An anonymous letter is posted in Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. It reads
     
    The Shugden Organization, Adruk family and Shamarpa group are all Chinese spies and must be attacked.
  • The Adruk family’s guesthouse is attacked with rocks.
  • The list names 17 Tibetan families as Chinese spies. One man goes to the office of the Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibetan Women’s Association and says:
     
    You need to prove the allegation that we are Chinese spies.
     
    They reply that they have nothing to do with the list. He says:
     
    You know full well that you organized the protest.

 

March 31, 2008

  • The oath and signature campaigns are carried out among Tibetans living in Camp No 7, Mundgod, Karnataka State. The campaign is presided over by the Loseling monastery ex-abbot Pasang, the president of the Tibetan Women’s Association, Pema, the president of the Regional Assembly, Mr. Tenpa, a member of the Tibetan parliament, Tsultrim Woeser, and the head of Camp No 7.

 

April 3, 2008

  • A meeting is convened in Sera monastery, South India by the Deputy Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, and attended by abbots, administrators, representatives of Pomra, and the Dalai Lama’s representative in the Tibetan settlement.
  • The Deputy Commissioner makes three demands:
     
    1. You had better hold spiritual activities together, as you used to.
     
    2. If this is not possible, then one party must hold their prayers first, and the other party must do so next.
     
    3. If even these two demands cannot be met, then there will be no option but to close Sera Lachi and Sera-Mey monasteries.
  • The Sera Jey monks in attendance suggest expelling the Shugden monks and making them go elsewhere. The police say:
     
    According to your point of view, we should single out the Muslims from the Hindu community and the Hindus from the Muslim community. This is not possible. The so-called referendum is nonsense. You are saying that they only have 200 monks. Whether they have 200, or 500, or 10, the Indian government supports those with truth on their side.
  • The high-level police officers give 24 hours for a decision. The deadline is 3 pm, April 4, 2008.

 

April 4, 2008

  • Lobsang Choedar of Sera Jey monastery declares that he and his people will stop Shugden devotees from attending the next day’s puja at Sera Lachi monastery. He forms a group named the Himalayan Culture Organization to sacrifice their lives to fight against Shugden devotees. Lobsang is from Tawang of Arnachal Pradesh, India.
  • Lobsang Choedar and his group try to incite a crackdown against the Shugden monks. Mr. Choeder gives an inflammatory speech to the Tibetans in Camp No 1 and distributes a three-page letter, the gist of which is that he has begun the campaign against Shugden devotees, that he will finish it, and that he will drive all Shugden devotees from India. The letter contains a hit-list of 12 monks from Pomra.
  • He and his group defy the official order of the Deputy Commissioner of Mysore. A rumor circulates that members of the Tibetan Women’s Association are coming to Sera monastery to protest against Shugden devotees, and to physically drive them out of the monastery, with Lobsang Choedar as the leader and organizer of the mob.
  • The police ask the Shugden monks not to attend the puja, assuring them that there will be no puja in the monastery at all. The Deputy Commissioner gives 24 hours to make a decision. None of the Shugden monks defy the police directives.

 

April 5, 2008

  • In the morning, Sera Lachi monastery, Bylakupee, Mysore District, Karnataka State, reopens for sojong ceremony. The Tibetan public, mostly old men and women, gather in the courtyard of Sera Lachi, ready to pounce upon Shugden devotees. The mob leaders intend to create a clash between the two groups, to allow them to file cases against Shugden devotees and harass them.
  • A high level officer of the Tibetan government in exile says:
     
    If you open the cafeteria and they come to collect food, tell them not to come. If they don’t listen, ask the Sera Jey monks to come, and if not, call Tibetans.
  • Pomra monks are stopped on the way to Sera Lachi. A monk cameraman from Pomra is slapped on the face and someone tries to snatch his camera. The Tibetan Women’s Association and the Tibetan Youth Congress threaten to come at night to attack the Pomra monastic building.
  • The Tibetan mob protest with harsh words to the police and the Indian government that they were not supported.
  • At 6 pm, Sera Mey monastery announces a debating class will be held in its courtyard. The class does not take place.

 

April 8, 2008

  • Posters of the photos of five monks are displayed, confirming their excommunication from Sera Monastery and appealing to the Tibetan public and monks not to share religious or material resources with them.
  • The Delhi High Court sends a notice to the Dalai Lama and other respondents on a writ petition filed by the Dorje Shugden Society.

 

April 11, 2008

  • At 6 pm, the abbot of Sera Mey Monastery, Gen Rabgya, delegates of the monastic section, and Thupten Rinchen of Tsangpa Khamtsen, and monks of Pomra are present for debate class. The abbot and Thupten announce:
     
    You, the monks from Pomra, cannot attend the debate class. You are not qualified because you did not take the oath and pledge.
     
    Monks begin leaving the courtyard as a result of the presence of the Pomra monks. The next day, Shugden monks are not allowed into debate class and are blocked from entering through the gate.

 

April 13, 2008

  • In the SOS school, Bylakupe, Tibetan students are asked to give their signatures that they will never worship Shugden, and also to pledge that they will never share religious and material amenities with Shugden people. 20 students refuse to sign and are threatened with expulsion.
  • The signature and oath campaigns are carried out in the three different camps at Bylakuppe, presided over by the abbot of Sera and the Dalai Lama’s representative.

 

May 16, 2008

  • The Himalayan Buddhist Association holds a meeting in the courtyard of Sera Lachi monastery. The Himalayan monks in attendance decide to continuously confront Shugden monks and to excommunicate them not only from Sera Monastery but also from India.
  • This branch association has been actively involved in and pre-meditated the anti-Shugden activities in Sera monastery. It is said that this branch has written to the Indian government to appeal for Shugden monks to be driven out of Sera Monastery as well as from India.

 

May 19, 2008

  • Gen Rabgya, the abbot of Sera Mey Monastery, summons two senior monks of Pomra to his house and informs them about the meeting, adding:
     
    You still have time to think, or you will be in difficulties.

 

August 31, 2008

  • Sera Mey Library bans Shugden practitioners from entering the premises

 

October, 2008

  • The Tibetan Association of Western Massachusetts, USA, is closed down because some of its members are Shugden practitioners
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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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