Dorje Shugden Cham Dance in Tibet

Dorje Shugden Cham Dance in Nyemo Gyelche Monastery, Tibet


There are a few variations of accounts on the history and the lineage of Dorje Shugden, written by various attained lamas in the last 350 years. The source most contemporary Gelugpas now refer to was written by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche in his sungbum (collected works on Dorje Shugden). This is considered the most accurate account of how Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose as the supreme World Peace Protector Gyelchen Dorje Shugden during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. It also mentions clearly how the 5th Dalai Lama enthroned Dorje Shugden and apologized for the circumstances his ministers created. The 5th Dalai Lama also erected a Dorje Shugden Chapel in Lhasa which is still active today and protected by the Chinese government as it’s an important historical site to commemorate this great protector. The 5th Dalai Lama also composed a prayer to Dorje Shugden which is still being used today.

In Trijang Rinpoche’s writings or sungbum it describes clearly how Dorje Shugden for many lifetimes manifested as many high level Mahasiddhas. These Mahasiddhas extend all the way back to the time of the Buddha. Therefore, being of the lineage of great Mahasiddhas and teachers, it is impossible for Dorje Shugden to manifest as anything else but an enlightened being in the form of a Dharma protector.

Dorje Shugden’s history of manifesting as Dharma protector occurred during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, and you can see it clearly here in the illustrated story or graphic novel. Once he had arisen as Dharma protector which was assisted by the protector Setrap, his entourage included the nine wisdom mothers, eight fully ordained monks, and ten wrathful and youthful assistants. The entourage appears in this sacred Cham dance recounting Dorje Shugden’s history.

Dorje Shugden and his entourage of thirty-two deities are all depicted in this Cham dance as a World Peace Protector who will assist anyone of the Nyingma, Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu traditions. In fact Dorje Shugden will assist anyone of any background even non-Buddhists. As Dorje Shugden is a fully enlightened being propitiated by over 4 million adherents within Tibet and on the outside, this unique Cham dance is something to be seen. It would be worth anyone’s efforts to contact this monastery to join in the audience to witness a spiritual spectacle of cultural and religious Cham on the beginnings of a Dharma Protector whose influence and blessings continue to grow.

The Dorje Shugden Cham dance is rare but not an obscure lineage, there are various advanced monasteries in Tibet who have practiced this Cham dance for hundreds of years which is visual education to his many adherents in Tibet who may not be literate but nomadic.

First the monks must do pujas and meditation in preparation, and remain very clean and focused, and only then do they don the costumes of Dorje Shugden and entourage. They come out ritually and enact the story of how Dorje Shugden arose as Dharma protector from the powerful lama and teacher Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. It is considered a great blessing to witness this Cham.

It is the pleasure of us here at to present to you pictures of this Cham dance at Nyemo Gyelche Monastery that is performed yearly.



Tibetans flock to Nyemo Gyelche Monastery to be audience to the sacred Dorje Shugden Cham dance.


Dorje Shugden has 32 main deities on his entourage of which are the 8 Guiding Monks whose purpose is to increase Dharma learning. Monks dressed as the 8 Guiding monks entering the Cham area.


Black hat magicians and obstacle creating supernatural entities being subdued by the King of Dharma protectors, Dorje Shugden as depicted here.


Dorje Shugden in the centre of the Cham.



One who relies on Dorje Shugden with full commitment and stable mind will see vast benefits in their lives.



Kache Marpo who is the main Minister of Dorje Shugden in the Cham.



Nyemo Gyelche Monastery is located 136km towards the west of Lhasa, Tibet. A journey by car will take around 2.5 hours. It was built in 1059 by Dromtonpa, who was one of the main disciples of Atisha. Later in 1420, the monastery’s was further expanded by Yonden Gyatso who was inspired by Lama Tsongkhapa during that era, and on the main altar there is a 6 meter (18 ft) Lama Tsongkhapa statue. There are also statues of Dorje Shugden, Kache Marpo, Setrap on the altars.


Tsongkapa is the central image in the prayer hall of Nyemo Gyelche Monastery.


The Dorje Shugden image in Nyemo Gyelche Monastery’s protector chapel.


Kache Marpo, the main Minister of Dorje Shugden.


Image of Dharmaphala Setrap who has spiritual bond with Dorje Shugden is also housed here in Nyemo Gyelche’s protector chapel.


Dorje Shugden lineage thangka

Thangka that includes the previous incarnations of Dorje Shugden, the lineage lamas who disseminated Dorje Shugden’s practice and Dorje Shugden’s entourage.

Click here to download high resolution file for printing:


Previous incarnations of Dorje Shugden arising from Manjushri.

(top row) Manjushri
(2nd row, left to right) Yulmang Gathey, Birwapa
(3rd row, left to right) Thombi Sambhota, Emperor Triseung Deutsen, Naropa
(bottom row, left to right) Kamashila, Loden Sherab, Gonpo Chodak, Bojeku Donpa Chenpo


Previous incarnations of Dorje Shugden.

(top row) Ra Lotsawa
(2nd row, left to right) Shakya Shri Badra, Kunkyen Chogo Oser
(3rd row, left to right) Buton Rinchen Drub, Sakya Pandita, Tsarchen Losel Gyatso
(bottom row, left to right) 15th Gaden Tripa Panchen Sonam Drakpa, Tulku Yeshe Wangpo, Tulku Ngawang Sonam Gelek, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen


The practice and lineage of Dorje Shugden started from Mahasiddha Dakpu Dorje Chang in his meditation, went to Gaden Pure Land requesting permission from Lord Tsongkhapa to reveal the practice, Tsongkhapa agreed, so from Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen’s heart sitting to the right of Tsongkhapa, lights emanated to below Lord Tsongkhapa’s throne, and from there arose Dorje Shugden and his complete mandala .
(top to bottom) Maitreya then Tsongkhapa representing Gaden Pure Land, Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, Mahasiddha Dakpu Dorje Chang, Pabongkha Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, Denma Gonsar Rinpoche (Wh0 can represent our own teacher from whom we received Dorje Shugden’s practice.)


 Dorje Shugden in the centre of the lineage surrounded by his principal four emanations, 9 Wisdom Mothers, 8 Guiding Monks, 10 Wrathful and Youthful assistants and Minister Kache Marpo.


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19 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Wow! I heard about the Dorje Shugden cham dance but have never come across such sacred pictures of this happening. I would have loved to witness it one day. I am glad that Nyemo Gyelche is actively preserving this sacred tradition. Nice closeups of the lineage thangka of Dorje Shugden. I am casually surprised to find the other lamas that are considered incarnations of Dorje Shugden as well like Loden Sherab, Naropa, Kamalashila, King Trisong Detsen, Tonmi Sambhota and Ra Lotsawa. These are some of the biggest names in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Incredible…

  2. Notice the chapel built by the 5th Dalai Lama to Dorje Shugden as well as the prayer composed by 5th Dalai Lama to Dorje Shugden.

    Whatever 14th Dalai Lama is saying that 5th Dalai Lama banned Shugden doesn’t seem to be accurate. Even if 5th Dalai Lama had doubts, he later regretted and built the chapel to Shugden which exists till today for us to visit.

  3. Yes I was there in tibet in 2003 and every and each tibetan said the prayer composed by 5th Dalai Lama to Dorje Shugden. And still there. so i don’t think 5 5th Dalai Lama was stupid to build the this place for Dorje Shugden. we do believe what is the prove like in tibet till today not on some one saying thank you

  4. Wow, very nice thangka and brief explanation provided by From the brief explanation, we can have better understanding of emanation of Dorje Shudgen.

    Logically the fifth Dalai Lama can not be wrong as he had composed a prayer for Dorje Shudgen. Hopefully more people can learn from DS.Com web page to know more about Dorje Shugden..

  5. Thanks for the good information about Dorje Shudgen. It’s always enlightening to read about Dorje Shugden is not a spirit and has a very pure lineage. For some reason, I have strong faith in Dorje Shugden no matter how the other side look at it.

    I would like to thank for always giving us good information, I believe it’s not easy to gather these kind of information, the website is putting a lot of efforts to make things clear and spreading informative stories.

    I hope the world can give an unbiased exposure to this precious practice like what this website does! _/\_

  6. These pictures are such incredible quality, the audience must be very blessed to witness the Cham and especially on such holy ground built by H.H the 5th Dalai Lama. Many incarnations ago till this date to H.H 14th Dalai Lama it cannot be possible for Dorje Shugden to be considered an evil spirit according to H.H when he had built chapels, monasteries, and statues for Dorje Shugden, hundreds of years ago, why all of the sudden now would he ban Dorje Shugden? It doesn’t make sense, we must understand H.H.D.L is truly an enlightened being there has to be a much bigger purpose to this ban and we mustn’t be too quick to act on it.

    This website is a great website to understand the truth and more about Dorje Shugden and I thank the founders of this website for providing them to the world. We all need to know the truth, we all need to work together to bring the ban down!

  7. Will be very fortunate if I have a chance to be able to witness or participate in this sacred event, moreover when I look at the pictures whereby there’s a monk or performer who’s holding a role of Dorje Shugden looks very real from far. Like I am having a vision of Dorje Shugden. How I wish….luckily this sacred monastery is being protected by the Chinese Government if not I can’t imagine what will happen to it. This is The ONE monastery which was built or initiate by the 5th Dalai Lama. Just doesn’t making any sense why would the same mind would do the complete opposite after 350 years. But still I hope H.H have a good reason behind all these suffering which is created. WHY?

  8. We study history of any event, country or a personality through written text and practice of traditions. Thank you for giving us such detail truth of the unbroken and enlightening lineage of Dorje Shugden.

    The Cham dance is very powerful and performed for lay people who are illiterate and can learn through the media of dance which depicts the truth and history of Dorje Shudgen lineage.

    The Thangkas are another record of such lineage.

    It is wonderful that Nyemo Gyleche Monastery still maintains this traditional dance to keep the lineage of Dorje Shugden alive. Thank goodness it is in Tibet, China where the worship of Dorje Shugden is not Banned.

    Thank you for such beautifully illustrated information that strongly enhance my belief in this enlightened Protector. A protector for all, above sects, traditions and religions. A Protector for ALL.

  9. It is commonly said that a picture paints a thousand words. This video illustrates the colorful coordinated perfection of a cham dance. Unfortunately it is not the cham dance of dorje shugden. Nonetheless we can still feel the wonderful visual sensation and visualize dorje shugden as the main figure. Beautiful and holy.

  10. Sure looks like a safe protector practice to me. Don’t see any spirit worship.

  11. Thank you for such detailed explanation. I know it’s asking too much as the team behind this website has done so much to give information to everyone, but I do wish there is an English version of this thangka. :)

    During this time with the ban, it becomes even more crucial to keep the lineage and tradition of Dorje Shugden pure and revived serving as a reminder of DS’s origins. As it’s being constantly distorted with false, many with unstable minds are easily swayed by negativities. This dance also serve as an obstacle clearance from negative forces while inviting peace, harmony and joy for the coming new year.

  12. The lineage clearly shows how Dorje Shugden arose as a Dharma Protector. By having such a illustrious line of incarnations, how can Dorje Shugden be regarded as an evil spirit? Furthermore, the lineage can be traced back directly to Manjushri, hence Dorje Shugden is also the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. If Dorje Shugden was a spirit, then by that logic, many other emanations of Manjushri, who has the same mindstream of Manjushri, can be regarded as spirits as well?

    If Dorje Shugden wasn’t an influential aspect of the lineage, then there would not be a Cham dance about Dorje Shugden in the monastery. Since Cham was first performed around 760-770 AD by the Indian saint Padmasambava, it is definitely a sacred and authentic tradition, and for such a sacred tradition to be performed on Dorje Shugden, it must mean that Dorje Shugden is an enligtened being.

    Read more about Cham here:

  13. How nice to be able to organise this cham dance to travel the world to bless people and also to introduce Dorje Shugden to them. This is part of Tibetan culture and heritage that must be preserved.

  14. The Cham dance is very powerful and through the dance which depicts the truth of Dorje Shugden, it is an effective way to educate lay people who are illiterate to understand the history and lineage of Dorje Shugden. The dance is very sacred and may it leave a karmic imprint in the minds of those who witness it. May they understand the truth and not be blinded by the false accusation by the CTA that Dorje Shugden is a spirit.

    It is good that this tradition is still preserved and that the monastery is still practicing this dance. May the ban be lifted soon.

    Thank you to for your strong devotion and hard work to always provide clear logical information about Dorje Shugden.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this ancient yet alive tradition of the Dorje Shugden Cham dance! It is very amazing that the Tibetan culture have such a wonderful way to educate people. It is like how we apply visual aids in modern days to help the students in understanding subject matter. Ancient lineage like this has again proven that the practice has been preserved since long ago and it has been practice by prominent lamas including the Dalai Lamas. This is definitely another piece of strong evidence for the CTA wish not see and can easily brush it off as a cultural thing. Again, which part of Tibetan Buddhism has no relation with its culture?

  16. How fortunate are we to be able to set eyes on such a sacred performance.

    I often revere the ordained community for their ability and willingness to let go of their worldly concerns and dedicate their lifetime to preserving and and spreading the Dharma teachings of Lord Buddha. However, with great respect, I notice that the Sangha community do things that are similar to us, the vast difference is in the motivation and the impact their action has on others.

    Why do I observe this? The beautiful performance of the Cham dance is a form of art and “entertainment” for the audience. We have ample selection of performances in samsara from operas to theaters to movies at the cinema. However, our performance and “art” is based on less virtuous motivations of personal gain of wealth, fame and control instead of preservation of tradition and lineage that is salvation to humanity. Similarly, the entertainment of samsara brings little benefit after a “good time” and in some cases can even cause damage like in the case of clubs and bars; the entertainment of Dharma brings blessings, peace and harmony with beings in the various realms.

    I see possible of application of this view in many other activities. For example, in the secular world, we dedicate time and effort to develop mastery in doing business to make money and out-do our competition, which could ultimately harm the competing party. In the world of Dharma, we study and practice hard to develop mastery that can be used to heal and protect others.

    I do not share the above observation to downgrade the Cham dance or any of the beautiful rituals upheld by the pure Sangha members. I share my thoughts with the intention to illustrate that we, lay people, are already engaged in and keeping busy with similar types of activities. The shift we need to make is in our intention so that the consequence is one that benefits many sentient beings…and not limited to just “having a good time”.

  17. Such a religious and spiritual ritual dance was and is still being performed in the past and present by the great peoples in all parts of the world namely the native Indians of the Americas, Africa, Asia, etc. In the past such dances is part of the storytelling the elders tell their children and grandchildren as education to pass on their religious and spiritual belief and lineage.

    This article really provide me and other readers to this wonderful website, how alive and growing the practices of Dorje Shugden are in Tibet.

    May the unjust and undemocratic ban on religious freedom for the practice of Dorje Shugden be lifted soon so that such a beautiful ritual may be witnessed by the world without fear of harm and prejudice to the practitioners and performers.

  18. This is classic! Haven’t seen this before in my life and thank you so much for sharing this here! The photos were very nice! Such blessings to even see it virtually let alone being able to be there witnessing it LIVE in action!

  19. Dorje Shugden practice might not have a long history but his incarnation lineage does have a long history. No one will agree with the CTA anymore after studying carefully the incarnation lineage of Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden is not an ordinary protector, he is a result of a highly attained master who dedicated his life to protect and preserve Buddhism.

    All of Dorje Shugden’s incarnations are highly attained Buddhist masters or practitioners. He was Magadha Sangmo, a very devoted student of Buddha Shakyamuni who invited Buddha to come to her house using incense. He was Virupa, whose teaching is greatly relied on in the Sakya tradition. He was Sakya Pandita, who is one of the Five Sakya Forefathers. He was also Emperor Kangxi. With an impressive ‘resume’ like this, how can Dorje Shugden suddenly be a spirit?

    It is important to preserve the history of Dorje Shugden so people can know more about him and strengthen their faith in him. It is good that in Tibet they have this special Cham dance to present the story of Dorje Shugden. It is also nice to know China allows the monastery to do this special Buddhist dance.

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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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