Basic Information Kit

(Click to download this information kit in PDF format)

1: Introduction to Dorje Shugden

Dorje Shugden is the Wisdom Buddha, Manjushri, manifesting in the form of a wrathful and worldly Dharma Protector and has been propitiated as such by the highest Gelugpa and Sakya masters for some 360 years. While Dorje Shugden’s function is to protect the Dharma practitioner’s spiritual path by helping them overcome obstacles that hinder their dharma practice (such as health, livelihood, emotional and mental problems), his specific purpose is to protect Je Tsongkapa’s key teachings on Emptiness. Without non-conceptual understanding of Emptiness, it is impossible to attain the state of enlightenment. Therefore Dorje Shugden plays a very crucial role in the serious dharma practitioner’s life.

Dorje Shugden arose from the reincarnation line of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, a contemporary of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen in turn is recognized as the reincarnated mind-stream that traces all the way back to Manjushri and had taken embodiment in some of the most well-recognized Gelugpa masters such as Lama Tsongkapa’s main student, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen and Panchen Sonam Drakpa, whose works are still being used as textbooks for Gelugpa monastic education. These personages famed for their recognized enlightened mind attest to the enlightened nature of Dorje Shugden.

The worship of Dorje Shugden in the modern era was popularized by the example of the highest Gelugpa lamas such as Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche, the 10th Panchen Lama and many more, all taking Dorje Shugden as their Dharma protector. Even the 14th Dalai Lama was an ardent believer and wrote a famous praise to the deity, called Melody of the Unceasing Vajra.

  1. Introduction to Dorje Shugden
  2. History of Dorje Shugden
  3. The Nature and Function of Dorje Shugden
  4. The First Ever Dorje Shugden Graphic Novel in the World! (English)


2: The Dalai Lama’s Ban on Dorje Shugden

Dorje Shugden is the holy Dharma Protector of the Gelug lineage and has been practiced for 360 years. The Dalai Lama himself worshipped Dorje Shugden and yet in 1996, the Dalai Lama imposed a prohibition on the practice of this deity without providing any logical or scriptural reasons. The Dalai Lama’s act constitutes a breach of Shugden worshippers’ rights and in addition, forcing practitioners to abandon a sacred practice given to them by their teachers is forcing them to violate their religious vows and commitments.


2.1 Overview of the Ban

  1. Video: Al Jazeera Report on the Dorje Shugden Ban: This report reveals the evident breach of human rights as Dorje Shugden practitioners are denied access to fundamental services such as education and medical attention. Such harsh execution is the direct result of a speech given by the Dalai Lama, where he actually encouraged monasteries to expel monks who exercise their freedom of religion by practicing Dorje Shugden
  2. Video: France 24 Report on the Dorje Shugden Ban: Witness how the Dalai Lama divides a once-peaceful community because of a mandate. Watch the aggression and separation that replaces harmony and unity. This is Apartheid on Buddhist land.
  3. Video: Evidence of the Ban – Nunnery Case: The monastic community is a symbol of virtue but the ban imposed by the Dalai Lama has caused the members of a nunnery to not only break their vows but also destroy the icon of hope and humanity this community is supposed to represent.
  4. Video: Forced to Abandon the Practice: Listen to stories of victims of the ban such as the Thubten family, who were attacked by around 100 aggressors and forced to flee their own home. The violence and suffering that arose from the ban broke the trust and faith that many Tibetans had in His Holiness as they witnessed their lives and community fall apart as a result of the ban on Dorje Shugden.
  5. Proof of Discrimination: A series of letters, notices and photographs that prove the existence of a ban against Dorje Shugden, and that Dorje Shugden practitioners are marginalized and persecuted.
  6. Violence:
    • The hatred against Shugden practitioners spawned by the ban: Religious Freedom? The Central Tibetan Administration of Dharamsala sent men to harm Gen Chonzey in retaliation to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s refusal to attend the Sera Monastery Lamrim talks by the Dalai Lama.
    • Shugden practitioners receive death threats: How can the ban be beneficial for anyone when every single day, it puts millions of people in harm’s way, if not through physical violence then through a great deal of mental distress?
    • An Appeal Against Violence: Violence is intensifying within the Tibetan community-in-exile as the CTA calls for “action, very strong action against all Dolgyal monasteries, monks, teachers, geshes, lamas, supporters”. Not even the 84-year-old Gen Chonzey escapes a violent attack at Trijang Rinpoche’s Ladrang.


2.2 Refuting the Ban

The Dalai Lama’s Shugden ban is in fact baseless. The following section refutes the reasons the Dalai Lama gave for the ban.

  1. The Dalai Lama’s 2 points for imposing the ban
  2. Refuting the claim that Shugden practice jeopardizes Tibetan efforts to regain their country

Further reading:


3: The Shugden Ban Affects Hundreds of Thousands of Lives around the World

It is said that Dorje Shugden is practiced by a minority of Tibetan Buddhists, and was even labeled as a cult by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). However, when examined in detail, many practitioners of this deity are prominent Gelug scholars and Lamas. The fact that at one point of time, the majority of Lamas were practitioners of Dorje Shugden indicates that the practice is integral to the Gelug lineage. The pervasiveness of Shugden monasteries, often established after the monks refused to give up the practice; and the number of worshippers indicates that the Dalai Lama’s ban affected a large percentage of the Tibetan community, and to a certain extent, the international community of Buddhists within this tradition.


3.1 Prominent Dorje Shugden Lamas

  1. His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama: The 14th Dalai Lama said that the 5th Dalai Lama was opposed to Dorje Shugden. To the contrary, the 5th Dalai Lama acknowledged Dorje Shugden as a Dharmapala with a praise he personally wrote and had Trode Khangsar built for Him. The Dalai Lama also made an image of Dorje Shugden that is venerated till today at Phelgyeling Monastery in Nepal.
  2. His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama: The current Dalai Lama was heard to say and echo the 10th Panchen Lama’s words that the Dalai Lama will safeguard Tibet from the outside while Panchen Lama, second only to the Dalai Lama in spiritual authority within the dominant Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, would safeguard Tibet from the inside as he never left Tibet for exile.
  3. His Holiness Tagphu Pemavajra: An undoubted Mahasiddha whose attainments are even acknowledged by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama himself.
  4. His Holiness the 101st Ganden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal: One of the most erudite scholars in the Gelug school in this century, H.H. Ganden Trisur ascended the Ganden Tripa’s throne, representing Lama Tsongkapa on earth between the years 2003 – 2009. Upon retiring from his term as Ganden Tripa, His Holiness Ganden Trisur left his spiritual home in Ganden Shartse Monastery to join Shar Ganden Monastery, where he was able to practice Dorje Shugden openly. H.H. Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is one of the most recent examples of how the ban on Dorje Shugden has placed many Lamas and lay practitioners in the difficult position of having to hide their practice.
  5. His Holiness Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche: The author of the modern-day Lamrim who was hailed as one of the most attained and recognized lamas of this era.
  6. His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche: Virtually all modern Gelugpa lamas are direct or indirect students of Trijang Rinpoche. He was also the junior tutor to H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama.
  7. His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche: One of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s close disciples and a great scholar, Zong Rinpoche has held various important positions including a 10-year term as the abbot of Ganden Shartse.
  8. His Eminence Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: The spiritual guide to one of the largest Buddhist institutes in the west known as the New Kadampa Tradition, Geshe-la is well known for his great Guru devotion to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.


3.2 Dorje Shugden Monasteries

In the year 2008, actions were taken to eliminate Shugden practitioners within the monastic community. During this time, various new monasteries were formed to accommodate monks who had been expelled, while some smaller monasteries were cut off from the Tibetan leadership for continuing the practice. Below are a few examples of monasteries and Buddhist centers around the world that continue practicing Dorje Shugden despite the difficulties they have faced.

  1. Shar Ganden Monastery (Mundgod, India): Formed by the monks of Dokhang Khamtsen, the largest Khamtsen in Ganden Shartse Monastery after the majority of the monks refused to give up their practice of Dorje Shugden.
  2. Serpom Thoesam Norling Monastery (Bylakuppe, India): Formed after the monks of Sera Mey Monastery’s Pomra Khamtsen refused to give up their practice of Dorje Shugden.
  3. Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (Shigatse, Tibet): The main monastery of the Panchen Lamas continues their Dorje Shugden practice until today.
  4. Sampheling Monastery (Chatreng, Tibet): The personal monastery of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.


4: International News Coverage of the Ban

  1. Al-Jazeera Reports: The Dalai Lama, The Devil Within: One of the earliest reports on the Shugden controversy. Al-Jazeera, a news media famed for circumventing censorship, tells the story as it is.
  2. France 24 Reports: The Dalai Lama’s Demon: The Dorje Shugden Controversy as reported by France 24 clearly illustrates how Dorje Shugden practitioners are deprived of fundamental human rights e.g. medical attention. We see how a once-peaceful little town is torn by separation due to the ban imposed by the Dalai Lama.
  3. Al-Jazeera Reports: Samdhong Rinpoche was caught lying about Dorje Shugden practitioners: This is a collection of video clips on the recent documentary by Al-Jazeera titled ‘The Dalai Lama, The Devil Within’ that highlights Professor Samdhong Rinpoche’s blatant lies.
  4. Oslo, Norway Peaceful Demonstration Coverage: Compilation of news reports, videos and pictures from the Dalai Lama’s visit to Oslo, Norway in May 2014. The peaceful demonstrations conducted by the International Shugden Community received much media attention and the truth behind the Dorje Shugden ban was transparently communicated in various Norwegian media.
  5. Rome, Italy Peaceful Demonstration Coverage: Compilation of news reports, videos and pictures from the Dalai Lama’s visit to Rome, Italy in December 2014. The International Shugden Community gathered for a peaceful demonstration as the Dalai Lama arrived to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Prize Laureates. Every media channel that covered the summit inevitably wrote about the demonstrations and the suppression as well as oppression resulting from the Dalai Lama’s decision to impose a ban on Dorje Shugden.
  6. Birmingham Peaceful Demonstration Coverage: As the Noble Peace Laureate gave talks about harmony and compassion, peaceful demonstrators consisting of sangha members, Tibetans and international Buddhists ask His Holiness to lift the ban that has caused suffering to millions of people, especially within his own community of Tibetans in exile.
  7. Vancouver Peaceful Demonstration Coverage: The Dalai Lama travels to Canada to meet with students and celebrities to teach about “educating the heart” while his own people are ostracized and deprived of fundamental basic needs like education and medical attention.
  8. Hamburg Peaceful Demonstration Coverage: The coverage of the peaceful demonstration in Hamburg reflects the character of Shugden Buddhists and their practice.
  9. 700 protesters in Washington DC demand religious freedom: Many of the Tibetan protestors suffered tremendously as a result of the ban, yet patiently stood in the cold to request the Dalai Lama to lift the ban and allow them to return to their families.
  10. Mixing Religion and Politics: The Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden Prayer: A compilation of news coverage by Al-Jazeera and New York Times
  11. Video: Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden controversy: The issue of Shugden was covered by Australian News Channel in June 2008. The international community was surprised at how an icon of peace is causing division in the Tibetan society in exile and the monastic community.
  12. Video: Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3): This important and comprehensive Swiss documentary highlights the issues revolving around Dorje Shugden and the Dalai Lama. Listen to the painful and tearful encounters of steadfast Dharma practitioners as they face the Dorje Shugden ban. They suffer alone and with little hope as the threat is coming from within, imposed by their trusted leader to whom they pledged alliance.
  13. Video: Contradictions in the Dalai Lama’s speeches on Dorje Shugden: The Dalai Lama forcefully says he is happy that Shugden monks have been expelled from the monasteries. He also encourages further expulsion of monks who refuse to abandon their faith in Shugden. His tone with his own Tibetan people is starkly different from the speeches he gives in Western countries of openness, dialogue and tolerance.

(Click to download this information kit in PDF format)

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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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