Is Dorje Shugden a Demon or a Buddha?

There are many who argue about the state of Dorje Shugden. Traditionalists, consisting of high lamas who received the practice from their masters consider Dorje Shugden an enlightened being, a Buddha on the basis that some of the most eminent Buddhist teachers of the century practice them, and also on the past reincarnations of Dorje Shugden, who comes from a long line of enlightened and erudite masters. On the other side of the camp are the Dalai Lama and his supporters, who claim that Dorje Shugden is nothing but a ghost, based on the circumstances of how Dorje Shugden came up on, his prayers, and his history based on the 5th Dalai Lama’s biography.

To explain this topic, we must first also discuss about the origins of Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden’s line of incarnations as explained by many enlightened masters, starts off with Virupa. Virupa is one of the enlightened Mahasiddhas of Buddhism. He was a monk in Atisha’s monastery, Vikramshila who has achieved spectacular tantric abilities to the point of having Yidams appearing to him directly.

His subsequent incarnations were all of high caliber from this point forward. He was Sakya Pandita, one of the 5 founders of the Sakya tradition, Buton Rinpoche who compiled the Tibetan Buddhist Cannon, Kangyur and Tengyur before reincarnating as Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen, who built and funded Ganden Monastery, and subsequently incarnated as Panchen Sonam Dragpa who composed most of the study material for the monks, which are still being used today. The last incarnation was a very famous monk by the name of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen.

Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was a contemporary of the 5th Dalai Lama. He is also a candidate for the Dalai Lama’s title when he was first discovered. He was immensely popular during his time, until his fame and property eclipsed those of the 5th Dalai Lama. When this happened, the attendants of the 5th Dalai Lama killed Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, who arose as Dorje Shugden.

The 5th Dalai Lama, who thought he was an evil spirit as many unfortunate events happened during that time attempted to exorcize him with the highest lamas of that time. Every single one of the highly effective rituals failed to destroy Dorje Shugden, and this made the 5th Dalai Lama realize that Dorje Shugden is not an evil spirit but an enlightened Dharma protector. The Dalai Lama immediately wrote prayers to Dorje Shugden and made a statue with his own hands, which exists until today. Dorje Shugden’s practice has existed and has been practiced by the Gelugs and the Sakyas to an extent since.

According to the traditionalists, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche got the practice of this protector from his master, Tagphu Dorje Chang. This Guru, Tagphu Dorje Chang, who was famous for his ability to traverse other planes of existences, went to Tushita heaven where Maitreya, Atisha and Lama Tsongkhapa and their retinues resided.

There, he requested the teaching of Dorje Shugden directly from Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen who passed it to him with Lama Tsongkhapa’s blessings. This practice was then disseminated and practiced by the highest lamas of the Gelugpa tradition. Logically, if they practice and recommend it, surely there is nothing wrong with the practice. [Source]

If Dorje Shugden was really an evil spirit, that would mean that all of these erudite masters such as Pabongkha Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, Zong Rinpoche, Rilbur Rinpoche, Taktra Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche, Domo Geshe Rinpoche and many others are also wrong and their teachings are invalid and will only lead to degeneration. Their students will also no attainments and their teachings will be invalid as well. It would also mean that Dharma protectors do not exist because they allow the Dharma to degenerate. However the opposite is happening and these teachers and their students are spreading Dharma far and wide, and there are attainments.

However, on the other side of the story, the Dalai Lama quotes from the 5th Dalai Lama’s secret biography, saying that Dorje Shugden is but a normal spirit who appeared out of distorted prayers. The biography also insinuates that Dorje Shugden is against the 5th Dalai Lama and wanted to harm him. The 5th Dalai Lama even wrote a prayer that requests the other Dharmapalas to destroy Dorje Shugden but it did not work.

Also listed as reasons were a number of high lamas who were also against the Dorje Shugden practice from the 17th century up to the 19th century, stating that Kalarupa was furious at monks who practiced Dorje Shugden and killed them to “cleanse” the monastery.  However, the main point as declared by the Dalai Lama on why Dorje Shugden should not be practiced is that Dorje Shugden encourages sectarianism since Dorje Shugden encourages the practitioner to only focus on his or her own lineage, and thus harmful to the cause of Tibet and to the Dalai Lama as the current Dalai Lama would like to practice all 4 of the lineages together.

Another historical fact is that many people dreamt of Dorje Shugden, in a dream to several people, announcing the death of the 13th Dalai Lama in a “joyous and melodious tone” from Pabongkha Rinpoche’s biography, as proof of his maliciousness. All of these are proof that Dorje Shugden is against the Dalai Lama and are presented as scriptural evidence that Dorje Shugden is malicious and that he is against the Dalai Lama.

On another level, since Pabongkha Rinpoche’s time, consultations with the state oracle, Nechung had stated that he was unhappy with monks practicing Dorje Shugden in Drepung monastery, and that it would speed up the degeneration of the Dharma if it continued.


Although all of these there are a few loopholes with these scriptural references.

  • Firstly, it is a well known fact that the 5th Dalai Lama was very against Dorje Shugden at first and tried to destroy him but realized that Dorje Shugden is a Buddha when all of the methods failed. He remedied for his mistake of writing the wrathful prayer by writing a prayer enthroning Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Dharmapala. The evidence from the 5th Dalai Lama’s biography only takes the part where the 5th Dalai Lama still thought that Dorje Shugden was still a spirit and not after.
  • On the Kalarupa case, there was no evidence on who perceived Kalarupa acting this way. On the sectarianism of Dorje Shugden, in his prayers Dorje Shugden is requested to protect Losang’s tradition (Gelugpa). This is however a standard feature of any Dharma protector prayer where the Dharma protector is requested to protect the lineage, and not exclusive to Dorje Shugden’s prayers alone, therefore there is nothing sectarian about Dorje Shugden’s prayers.
  • Many lamas such as Pabongkha Rinpoche has also stressed the importance on being loyal to one’s own tradition as it sends a message to others that your own tradition is not good enough, which is why you take on another lineage, giving a bad impression to others of your own lineage [Liberation of the Palm of your Hand] and Dorje Shugden encouraging this trait is not a strong or valid reason for him to be classified as sectarian.
  • As for the other historical facts, it is also well known that Dorje Shugden saved the life of the 14th Dalai Lama by asking him to flee Tibet when Nechung asked him to stay, and also Dorje Shugden asking people to form Chushi Gangdruk, a guerilla group to protect the Dalai Lama, 3 years before the uprising began [], so why would Dorje Shugden be happy for the 13th Dalai Lama’s death but protects the 14th Dalai Lama? This inconsistency does not make logical sense at all.
  • In Dorje Shugden’s biography, it is stated that Nechung specifically appeared to Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen and requested him to manifest as a Dharma protector for the recent times to come. In other words, Nechung was instrumental in the “creation” of Dorje Shugden, but why would he go against him now when he helped create Dorje Shugden? Did Nechung realize he made a mistake? But if he did then that would mean that he is no longer dependable as the state oracle as all his instructions and predictions would be false, including all the tulkus that he has approved. Again, there is no logical conclusion to this point.

As presented here, the points given on why Dorje Shugden is a demon is quite weak, but there is much evidence that Dorje Shugden is in reality a Buddha after heavy contemplation, reasoning and evidence.


Please support this website by making a donation.
Your contribution goes towards supporting
our work to spread Dorje Shugden across the world.
Share this article
3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Dorje Shugden is one with Buddha Manjushri.The golden lights has the wisdom of the Buddhas that takes you all the way to enlightenment.
    Dorje Shugden practice by erudite masters and he is an enlightened Dharma Protector.

  2. He is buddha . he is shakya protectar.

  3. I am a survivor of a Malaysian cult called Losang Dragpa Centre in Petaling Jaya. When I left they started to harass me and send me all kinds of threats. I had to buy a gun to protect myself and later move to another country.

    I thought Lama Zopa was just a charismatic lama, but once I moved into his commune everything was about dorje shugden and online ghostwriting to make him look good. It turned out he was a charismatic cult guru. When I got to know his students and him they were all very nasty immature people and when I left they stalked me online and IRL.

    I now have a new life and am a counselor for a cult survivor org and have recovered with the support of my family and friends in SG.

Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Please enter a valid email address

Please enter your message

Show More
Show More

(Allowed file types: jpg, jpeg, gif, png, maximum file size: 10MB each)

You can now upload MP4 videos to the comments section. "Choose File" -> click "Upload" then wait while your video is processed. Then copy the link and paste it into the message box. Your video will appear after you submit your comment.
Maximum size is 64MB

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.

Dorje Shugden and Dalai Lama – Spreading Dharma Together | Terms of Use | Disclaimer

© 2021 | All Rights Reserved
Total views:10,181,588