The Demise of the Great Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen

At the time, the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Palace was referred to as the Lower Residence and Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s Palace, the Upper Residence. This referred to the positioning of the residences, with one being literally physically higher than the other, rather than the status or attainments of the respective Lamas. However, people began talk about both the Upper and Lower residences as if they were equal in stature which meant that many saw Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen as equal to the Dalai Lama.

On top of that, they even made Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s throne higher than the Dalai Lama’s during the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa. These were among the many reasons for the Dalai Lama’s regent, Desi Sonam Chopel, and other attendants at the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Palace to begin talking and expressing their unbearable jealousy. They eventually began to talk about assassinating Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

One day, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen feigned a sudden illness, which he said was due to interferences of inauspicious spirits, and began to make preparations for the inevitable. Desi Sonam Chopel’s brother, Depa Norbu, who was in collusion with the evil Desi, came to where Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was residing under the pretext of visiting. He entered the large bedroom of the high Lama and tried to offer him food laced with poison.

However, as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was an enlightened being, he did not have the karma to be harmed and the poison had no effect on him. Next, Depa Norbu tried to stab him with a dagger but the blade wouldn’t penetrate his skin. Instead, mysterious eyes would appear wherever Depa Norbu had tried to pierce him with the dagger, and stared back menacingly.

Finally, understanding what his adversaries were trying to do, and knowing how it would help him to fulfil his promise, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen advised them that he could only be killed if he was choked with a khata.

Immediately Depa Norbu took a long white khata and stuffed it down his throat with such brute force that the high Lama suffocated and passed away. It was said this murder was so violent that, at the point of death, a slight amount of fierce energy resembling wrath arose in the mind of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. This energy created the circumstances for him to arise in the form of the wrathful Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden.

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  1. Dear Sirs, I am interested in Tibet and its history especially in the 15th to 17th centuries and studying various history books. I found your detailed account of the demise of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen very interesting but I could not find it given anywhere else in any of the various history books in English that I have collected and read so far.
    I therefore wonder if you would kindly intimate to me the source that you have taken this account from as I am thinking about writing an article which would also cover this subject, it is concerning the life and times of the 5th Dalai Lama and I would be very interested to know the actual historica source of this account that I could quote in the article (since unsourced articles on websites like this would not be up to academic standards for citation).
    I hope you will understand and let me know, many thanks indeed,
    Sean Jones

  2. Hello, I have now found the source myself, this story is basically taken from Ktabje Trijang Rinpoche’s 1967 text in Tibetan, called in brief ‘Gyalchen Todrel’ (Wylie: ’khrul ba’i rol rtsed); someone has translated it and then you have presented it here in this kind of comic-book format.
    Hope this is helpful, since you were unable to respond yourselves.
    Have a good day.

  3. Dear

    Thank you for this article. I found this article several years ago. At the time I did not understand the significance of TDG allowing himself to be murdered by the Dalai Lama’s attendants. I thought at the time why TDG allowed the attendants to create heavy negative karma by killing him. It did not make sense to me …

    However, after relying on DS for several years, I begin to understand that sometimes, things did not go as per my expectations or projections because DS is omniscience and I am not. I feel that TDG is so compassionate to allow himself to be killed in order to fulfil his promise to Nechung. The Dalai Lama’s attendants already had the evil intent to kill him and that in itself is a heavy negative karma. TDG was using this as a mean to generate wrath and arise as a very powerful Dharma protector.


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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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