Recognizing Tulkus

Tulku Dragpa Gyeltsen who arose to become the Protector Dorje Shugden

When news first broke on the website about the incarnation of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen being among us, the forum broke out in storm. Many were skeptical, even critical of the possibility and much doubt was cast. Discussions became very heated, not only about Kyabje Drakpa Gyeltsen but about the whole tradition of recognizing incarnated lamas (tulkus) and consulting oracles. Below is a very comprehensive sharing from one of the forum posters, TK, who addressed all the various concerns on the forum and offered everyone new, clear perspectives on what had become a rather heated, muddle debate.

And the debate continues! This opinion piece has been extracted from the forum. Please add to the discussions on the forum if you have further perspectives, comments and thoughts. We always welcome debate and exchange. The original thread can be viewed at



(1) Since no one knows where Kyabje Drakpa Gyeltsen is now, it is premature to say it is not true, or that he is a political tulku, etc. You haven’t seen the stone said to be a diamond yet. It could be or it could not be. So be open since you know nothing of the person nor circumstances.

When it’s revealed, then cast your stones if you can, at that time. If a great lama recognized this person decades ago (as it said), who are you to criticize? Why do you surpass the lamas when it comes to the tulku and oracle system? If you don’t like it, that’s fine. But don’t criticize. It has served its purpose well among the elite greats who find the system genuine and beneficial. Does Trijang Rinpoche become wrong when it comes to issues you don’t like or which our culture doesn’t support? You are saying that because Geshe Kelsang doesn’t support it, then it is wrong. Well, if he is saying it’s wrong, then maybe he can be wrong also? Just because Geshe Kelsang doesn’t approve or support this does not mean it is wrong or has no purpose.

(Editor’s Note: The recognition of tulkus and oracles are not practiced within the New Kadampa Tradition centers nor endorsed by their spiritual guide Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. As such, certain students from NKT expressed very strong views about the invalidity of tulkus and oracles, and the recognition of these beings)

(2) Who recognized this incarnation of Kyabje Drakpa Gyeltsen? You do not know either. Since you do not know who the lama is, be open and don’t judge. What happens if the recognizing lama was the previous Zong Rinpoche, Dagom Rinpoche, Sogpu Rinpoche or even Trijang Rinpoche themselves?

The Simla Oracle taking trance of Dorje Shugden

(3) Oracles and tulkus may not work in Geshe-la’s organization and that is fine. But just because Geshe-la does not endorse them, it does not mean they have no use. Zong Rinpoche and other high beings found them useful. Trijang Rinpoche blessed monks and people to become oracles. So are you saying Trijang Rinpoche was just doing cheap tricks? Since Trijang Rinpoche is Geshe Kelsang’s root guru, it would be good for him not to criticize this practice as it was a practice of his own root guru. If Geshe-la doesn’t like the practice, then he should stay quiet; otherwise he becomes like the Dalai Lama who says Trijiang Rinpoche was sublime except when it came to Dorje Shugden. During his lifetime, Trijang Rinpoche, recognized many tulkus, such as the previous Dagom Rinpoche who turned out to be a gem. So was Trijang Rinpoche also political in recognizing them?

(4) If the tulku system is not valid, then don’t look for the incarnations of Zemey, Trijang, Dagom, Zong, Tendar, Gonsar, Gangchen, Denma Gonsa, Drayab, Panchen, Dromo Geshe, Sogpu, Rabten, Zawa, Dakpo, Pabongka, Daknak, Yongyal Rinpoches. They and many more are tulkus and they have turned out fine. How many great Geshes with pure monkhood, great learning and practice are arising from the monasteries now? Think. It is a dangerous time. If we stop the tulku system within the Gelug and ‘erase’ all these great names who can do so much, there is great danger.

HE Dromo Geshe Rinpoche whose reincarnation was recognised by Dorje Shugden himself, and who currently resides in Shar Gaden for his monastic studies

So what are you proposing? To not look for any of their incarnations? Not educate them and give them a chance to open the karmas from their previous incarnations? If they mess up, then they mess up. How many ordinary Geshes and monks messed up and disrobed? Countless. Look at Geshe Thupten Jinpa, now married with two kids. So should we also stop the Geshe system and monk ordinations because countless Geshes and monks have messed up, disrobed and not put their learning / training into use?

What about Gen Samten who was a well-respected monk and teacher after Geshe-la in the NKT? He disrobed too. So what does this mean? Is the whole system wrong in the NKT too? How many monks and nuns have left the NKT? Does that mean it is wrong? Of course not! By that same logic, stop using negative examples to bring down a tradition that worked for the most part. In samsara, two opposing ways cannot work simultaneously, so just accept the situation and make do. Geshe-la’s system doesn’t fully work either. It will be interesting to see what happens to NKT after Geshe-la passes away (forgive me for even saying that; apologies).

Do not simply put the tulkus and oracles down. The greats of our lineage who have transmitted the pure doctrine to us regarded the tulku system with high regard. They also talked to Dorje Shugden via the oracles thousands of times in their lifetimes. Since they are such great teachers, with great intelligence, precise logic and tremendous experience, we should respect what they respect for the most part. If we don’t like what they did or practice, we don’t have to name what they respected or recognized as a “hoax”, as political or wrong. If these lamas really were wrong, then why practice what they teach? It is because these beings were right in what they respected, taught and practice that you have beings like Geshe Kelsang Gyatso existing today.

Tulku Dragpa Gyeltsen arising as Dorje Shugden

(5) This issue of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen and what happened to him after being strangled is a big issue on the plateau of Tibetan Buddhism. Maybe it has no followers in the greater part of the world, but if this issue was not big and shattering for those involved, then why are we even on this forum? Most of the 6 billion people on this planet don’t give a hoot as to what we are debating about in this forum. Does that mean it is not important? Out of 6 billion people in the world, only about 360 million are Buddhists. Out of this number, how many are Tibetan Buddhists? And within that, how many our Gelugs and in our lineage? It becomes a small number, doesn’t it? So what’s the point?

The rarity of Lama Tsongkapa’s tradition is acknowledged clearly. Numbers do not make it not important. If what happened to Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was not important and still holds no relevance, then we would all be good friends of Dalai Lama and perhaps even his students. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and Dalai Lama would be the best of friends. After all, isn’t that what great Geshes like themselves should be: forgiving, loving, humble, accepting and loving all sentient beings? They shouldn’t be ‘against’ each other and having protests against the other. Is that monkly? Samsara has never been perfect. Why look for something that has never existed? Is this a view of how you want to be although we are stuck in dualism, have a lack of merit and zero attainments?

(6) There’s nothing political about Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen not being able to be silenced. ‘Being silenced’ in this case means to let people think he was evil, that he became a spirit or was not fit to teach. He is back which means that those who were politically motivated in killing him were not successful! He has been back again and again and now again. Unfortunately all the energy that the Tibetan government have spent on erasing him has not worked.

Be gentle. Don’t criticize. Watch. Observe. Reserve judgment until you know the full details of this Kyabje Drakpa Gyeltsen. He could surprise you and turn out great. If he doesn’t, then you can open up the ‘I hate tulkus and banish the tulku system’ protests / writings / placards / opinions again. For now, watch. Observe. Be wise and reserve pre-judgment from one announcement on this website and when you know nothing of the intimate details yet.


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. From a practicing Kadampa within the NKT, thank you. We should not cast something out just because the NKT does not practice it. We should not be judgemental and sectarian. Is it not a Bodhisattva downfall to praise ourself( or our tradition) and scorn others?

  2. Im glad to hear a voice of reason! No your absolutely right – just because a group doesnt practise it, doesnt mean the practice isnt valid. Like Guru Rinpoche… just because I dont practice him doesnt mean hes any less enlightened. Likewise with Dorje Shugden.

  3. I don’t think maybe you understand that Geshe Kelsang isn’t saying anything against what other lineages do as far as the tulku system is concerned. He is just not wanting to continue it within his own tradition, the NKT.

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

© 2020 | All Rights Reserved
Total views:9,791,839