What is the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)?


The NKT-IKBU (International Kadampa Buddhist Union) is a controversial New Religious Movement – different from mainstream Buddhist groups – created by one Tibetan Buddhist monk called Kelsang Gyatso in 1992. There are no other Tibetans in the group, either as teachers or students, and there is no contact between the NKT and the rest of the Buddhist world. It can be called a ‘separatist’ organisation.

A UK-based research group dedicated to New Religious Movements that is partially government funded – INFORM at the LSE in London – received more enquiries about the New Kadampa Tradition than about any other group, including Scientology, in the last 5 years. Inform mentioned the NKT three times, along with Scientology and other radical groups, in their leaflet ‘Extremism on Campus’.

Due to the NKT’s promotional campaigns and expansion techniques – not used in traditional Tibetan Buddhism where the teacher generally only teaches when asked – the NKT is still expanding its international property portfolio. The NKT-IKBU has roughly 48 centers in the UK, 50 in the US including in Hollywood and the Hamptons, and more than 120 in the rest of the world, with roughly 600 venues temporarily rented for giving classes. ‘World Peace Temples’ are within Meditation Centers. There are 32 World Peace Cafes, one hotel and a children’s Primary School in England. Tharpa publishing company only publishes Kelsang Gyatso’s books, translated into many languages including Chinese.

Kelsang Gyatso’s teachings are described as ‘Modern Buddhism’ which claims to remove the ‘Tibetan’ from Tibetan Buddhism for western people. The NKT ordination, teachings, study program and volunteer work conditions are unlike those in other Tibetan Buddhist groups and are focused on maintaining the ‘purity’ of the NKT and the danger of ‘mixing’ with other traditions or the ‘meaninglessness’ of ‘ordinary’ life.

Dismissing orthodox doctrine, Kelsang Gyatso has made a ‘protector’ practice of ‘Shugden’ the central focus of his own tradition, using it to give an ‘NKT’ identity or ‘allegiance’ that can unify his students all over the world. It is the obligatory daily practice for every NKT centre and teacher. For NKT students, following Kelsang Gyatso’s instructions, their ‘Shugden’ has become an incomparable ‘Wisdom Buddha’ who can solve all their problems, and is completely bonded, psychologically, with Kelsang Gyatso as their unique ‘spiritual guide’.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has advised that his own students should not worship ‘Shugden’ as it increases sectarian conflict and is historically connected to violent disagreements in the Tibetan world, including the murder of his close associate and two other monks, 100 yards from the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala in 1997. Kelsang Gyatso has retired but still appears to actively promote his students engaging in a defamation campaign against His Holiness the Dalai Lama for making this doctrinal decision. NKT followers who disagree with the demonstrations have quickly been removed from their NKT teaching posts by Kelsang Gyatso. Investigations show that accusations of ‘abuse’, creating ‘apartheid’ and ‘lying’, etc that the NKT aim at His Holiness the Dalai Lama have no foundation in fact.

There are many documented cases where the NKT has threatened to sue using libel law to silence other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. After initially pleasant experiences, survivors report being pushed by the group into serious commitments they did not wish to make. Followers leaving the group are told they will suffer in the ‘hell realms’ for leaving their ‘Guru’.

The NKT has been called a ‘cult’ by ex members due to the lack of democratic management and the group deliberately prioritising its own purposes over the well being of any individual. It is not known how many ‘NKT survivors’ there are, but an online support group has more than 1,200 members. Survivors have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and trauma. Many report confusion, a sense of betrayal and a deep distrust of others. Survivors experience problems integrating into ordinary society such as financial distress due to lost careers, housing problems and loss of contact with families as a result of their previous commitment to the NKT. Other psychological effects include intense fear, guilt, and disorientation relating to their identity and purpose in the world without the NKT.

Journalists drawn into the ‘Human Rights’ aspect of the NKT campaign may easily find themselves promoting the interests of the NKT.


Inform is an independent charity providing information that is as up-to-date and reliable as possible about what many call cults, sects, new religious movements (NRMs), non-conventional religions, alternative religions, spiritual or esoteric movements and/or self-religions based at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Information by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Declaration concerning the demonstrations by New Kadampa Survivors

Different issues the NKT claim as ‘abuses’ by the Dalai Lama are discussed here:

Further information on the NKT can be found here:

New website about the Shugden Controversy and the Shugden / Anti-Dalai Lama protests

There is a new website totally dedicated to the Shugden Controversy and the Shugden / Anti-Dalai Lama protests that contains information, clarifications and refutations of the key claims of the campaigning Western Shugden group (NKT/ICS). The site also includes some brief clarifying academic articles that highlight the background.

Who is protesting against His Holiness the Dalai Lama?


Concise information for a broader public

Even though the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) tries to distance itself from the International Shugden Community, and from another of its groups, the Western Shugden Society, there is clear evidence that it is the NKT that created both organizations.

The International Shugden Society (ISC)

  • On March 26, 2014, corporation papers were filed in the United States with the California Secretary of State under the name of the International Shugden Community, Inc; it is listed as an “active” domestic non-profit corporation under the jurisdiction of the State of California. The registered address of the charity is also the address of the New Horizon Health Inc. in Westlake Village, CA, whose CEO is Len Foley, Teacher at Tushita Meditation Center, Westlake, CA.
  • The NKT European connection to the ISC is in Norway. Corporation papers were filed on March 21, 2014, with the Registered Directors listed as Kelsang Jangdom, Chairman, and Kelsang Tubchen, Board Member. Both teach at the Nordic Kadampa Meditation Center in Oslo; Kelsang Tubchen is the National Spiritual Director for the NKT Nordic Region.

The Western Shugden Society

  • Before it was known as the ISC, the Western Shugden Society was the front organization for the demonstrations, authorized by Kelsang Gyatso. The WSS was formed in London on June 26, 2008, with its officers listed as Susan Jenkins and Helen Gradwell, aka Kelsang Pema.
  • Both women were also listed on the Board of Directors of two other corporations related to the New Kadampa Tradition; the Manjushri Mahayana Buddhist Center, and Tharpaland Kadampa Meditation Center. Kelsang Pema was Kelsang Gyatso’s personal assistant for more than a decade and was the main WSS spokesperson in 2008.

ISC Spokespersons, 2014:

  • William Fettig, aka Kelsang Rigpa, Western US National Spiritual Director and Resident Teacher at Hollywood and Santa Barbara Mahakankala Kadampa Meditation Centers, CA (Not in monastic robes)
  • Kelsang Rabten – NKT National Spiritual Director of New Zealand and Australia. Featured in the ISC videos to be found on YouTube. (Not in monastic robes.)
  • Len Foley – Teacher at Tushita Kadampa Meditation Center , Westlake, CA. Featured with Kelsang Rabten in ISC videos and Rebecca Gauthier, Resident Teacher at Tushita Meditation Center, Westlake, CA.

It can clearly be concluded that it is the NKT that organizes and carries out the demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

See also

Dalai Lama & Dorje Shugden: Was this really the beginning of ‘religious persecution’?


Concise information for a broader public

The Dalai Lama recommended a change in 1977.

Was this really the beginning of ‘religious persecution’?

  • In 1977, as Tibet’s pre-eminent spiritual leader and a leading member of the Gelug school, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recommended a change in the Gelug syllabus – to no longer regard ‘Shugden’ as a public ‘protector’ of the tradition. In 1996 he reinforced the need for this change.
  • In 2008, due to increasing disharmony within Gelug monasteries, the Dalai Lama suggested using a democratic procedure which the Buddha himself had created for settling conflicts; following a majority vote, Shugden and non Shugden monks separated and divided up the monasteries’ assets peacefully and fairly.
  • Shugden can be practised in private. Shugden practitioners have not been excluded from the Gelug school. Other schools of Tibetan Buddhism do not generally practice Shugden, seeing it as harmful, but have no specific public policy on this issue.

There are only two restraints on Shugden practitioners

  • Firstly, they cannot live, study, make offerings and pray in some non-Shugden practising Gelug monasteries.

They have their own Shugden monasteries to live, study, make offerings and pray in, given to them by the Tibetan government and monastic authorities.

  • Secondly, they are asked not to take initiations or extensive Buddhist teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

As Shugden practitioners do not follow His Holiness’ advice then they are appropriately asked not to take him as their teacher.

  • Whether or not a Shugden practitioner attends an initiation or a study programme of His Holiness or in a non Shugden monastery is taken on trust – no one will check the personal possessions or private practice of the person involved.
  • If a Shugden practitioner goes to a non-Shugden monastery, they will not be offered the traditional ‘tea and biscuits’ that are offered to guests. If they continue to visit, they will be asked why and this will be discussed. There is no other consequence or punishment.

No one can either be prosecuted or punished for practising Shugden

  • This is why Amnesty International and the Indian High Court say that there is no basis for alleging ‘Human Rights’ abuse by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the ‘Shugden issue’ is simply a change in religious doctrine.
  • There are some private businesses owned by followers of the non-Shugden monasteries that do not welcome Shugden practitioners as customers. This is their personal decision and is not suggested or enforced by the CTA or the Dalai Lama. This practice is against Article 15 of the Indian Constitution but in some circumstances religious commitments may legally take precedence. Buddhist practitioners with tantric commitments take a vow not to associate with those who disparage their tantric master.
  • Shugden practitioners have no legal restrictions on standing for governmental or political posts, or for accessing social care, education or travel permits from the Tibetan government.

There is no illegal ‘ban’, ‘religious persecution’ or ‘restriction of religious freedom’ by the Dalai Lama towards Shugden practitioners.

See also

Kelsang Gyatso’s Tibetan Relations


Concise information for a broader public

Kelsang Gyatso’s Tibetan Relations

  • Kelsang Gyatso is the Tibetan Buddhist monk who founded his own New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in 1992. He has lived in the UK since 1977.
  • Members of the NKT pose as the ‘International Shugden Community’ and the ‘Western Shugden Society’ and protest against the Dalai Lama for ‘abuse of the Human Rights’ of the Tibetans, saying that Shugden practitioners are refused employment, basic services, medical access and travel papers by the Tibetan government.
  • The Tibetan Homes Foundation was started in 1962 in Mussoorie, India, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is a registered charitable institute dedicated to the care of orphaned Tibetan children and destitute Tibetan refugees.
  • Kelsang Gyatso’s sister, Kunchok Chonyi, lived at the Tibetan Homes Foundation Home in Rajpur, as she was ‘old aged and destitute’. She is known to practice Shugden.
  • Ngawang Dolker, known as the niece of ‘Kelsang Gyatso, the well known devotee’ of Shugden, was working as a nurse at the Tibetan Homes Dispensary, from 1985.
  • In September 1996, both women travelled to the USA on Tibetan Government permits through the Tibetan ‘Family Reunification Program’.

On the path to enlightenment, in traditional Tibetan Buddhist thought, it is considered essential to repay the kindness of others.

  • In July 1996 Kelsang Gyatso published 2,000 copies of a polemical text entitled “A Sword That Cuts the Suffering Plaint of Tibetans-in Exile” circulating these amongst the Tibetan exile community, mainly in India. In this text Kelsang Gyatso condemned the Dalai Lama for spending his whole life collecting the wealth of simple Tibetan people, giving them no material help and doing nothing that is really helpful for Tibet.
  • Kelsang Gyatso also criticised the Dalai Lama for deceiving the Tibetan people, suppressing their democratic rights and freedom, and using his initiations, particularly the Kalachakra (for World Peace) to ‘control the public’ and ‘destroy his opponents’.
  • Kelsang Gyatso and his NKT followers completely ignore the suffering of the Tibetan people. Kelsang Gyatso only supports his own charities that specialise in buying real estate to create NKT World Peace Temples and Kadampa Meditation Centres in every city in the world. NKT students have been told that supporting any ‘Tibetan’ or other charity is a waste of money that should go towards the NKT.
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama regularly devotes his resources towards promoting Tibetan Buddhist culture and secular ethics, donates large amounts of money to scientific, medical, humanitarian and ecological causes and charities, and acts as Patron to many other charities worldwide. The Dalai Lama Trust, his own registered charity, provides grant-based support to various organizations and individuals working for the promotion and preservation of Tibetan Culture. He tries to meet every refugee who escapes from Tibet.


See also

The Shugden protesters are preparing for the U.S. Dalai Lama visit – and some journalists seem to become again their victims

False information increase more rapidly than true information. And what is not getting any better, is our ability to separate truth and lies. – Michael Lynch

The New Kadampa Tradtion (NKT) campaigners – via their front organizations International Shugden Society (ICS), Western Shugden Society (WSS), and Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) – have always contacted the media in advance to pass on their propaganda against the Dalai Lama – sending them press packages, contacting sponsors, donors, media people, participants of press conferences, dialogue partners of the Dalai Lama etc – long before the Dalai Lama arrived in a certain country to convince and influence them ahead about their point of view. According to a friend, psychological research about companies demonstrates that the person who bullies first a colleague first dominates the debate regardless of whether the accusations are true or not. This seems to true in the case of the NKT’s international Anti Dalai Lama campaign.

At the moment the New Kadampa Tradtion campaigners prepare for the upcoming Dalai Lama visit to the North America , and  seem to become once again successful in misinforming journalists who in turn unwittingly sometimes become  tools of the propaganda of the Shugden group by giving them a lot of space to express their allegations, ideas, and exaggerations unchallenged by any critical investigation or fact checking …

By far the majority of journalists have since 2008 missed any opportunity to balance the claims of the protesters, which they willingly repeated in their press articles and other media without seeking the expertise of independent academic experts. Either due to a lack of time, resources or effort to really investigate, or due to their own cultural bias, or sensationalist greed, or an arrogance that thinks they would be able to understand the complex Shugden conflict and cross cultural issues, the majority of journalists repeat the propaganda of the campaigning Shugden group again and again – thereby contributing to the sad situation of mistaken allegations becoming facts in the court of public opinion. I wonder if the press would be similarly naive or simplistic to repeat all the accusations of a Scientology front group without any skepticism or thorough investigation?!

The resent example of  a rather simplistic media  approach was given by Michael Carl in “The Dalai Lama accused of religious persecution“. A new journalistic piece that appeared recently and on first glance it seemed to be unbiased, reasonable and well informed. The author is Johannes Nugroho, and the title is “A lesson for the Dalai Lama“.

But what appears at first glance as a good journalistic piece turns out – if you check more deeply – to be just another piece by a journalist who fell pray to the propaganda of the Shugden protesters’ media team and the own lack background information, first-hand knowledge and cultural bias – if not also pride, to think that he would know more than an academic expert or there wouldn’t be a need to consult independent experts for an article about such a complex issue. I wrote a comment to Mr. Nugroho’s article which I post here for you too with a slight clean up and some improvements. Let me know what you think about it.

A lesson for Johannes Nugroho?

Dear Mr. Johannes Nugroho,
thank you for your article that tries to follow a balanced approach.
Nevertheless, some thoughts to your article where I see some problems.

When you write “There is undeniably a great difference in cultural values between Tibetan Buddhists who grew up within their community in India and the western converts who were raised with liberal western values.” in my eyes this distorts the background of the issue. Why? The protesters are members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), a very cultish, sectarian group, similar to Scientology – there is an Ex member Yahoo self-help forum with more than 1,200 members (I am one of those many Ex members), called “New Kadampa Survivors“. So we, as Ex members of the protesting group, speak from first hand experience, and as Westerners and not primarily as Dalai Lama supporters.

Now, your article wrongly suggests that the protesters would value “liberal western values” while they – in our own experience from within the group – accept a thorough lack of such Western values in their own organization, the NKT, (see “Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness“) and deliberately abuse the term Human Rights in order to slander the Dalai Lama with a mixture of untruths, some truths, spin of the facts, taking things out of context, exaggerations – in short a skilfully made disinformation mixture which seems to be appealing or attractive to the press, Western ears and those who lack precise knowledge and (naively) feel safe enough to think they don’t need to ask independent academic experts before they judge these complex, cross cultural issues and write about it.

The whole issue is based on cross cultural confusion and the protesters skilfully exploit this confusion, increase and fuel it by abusing the topic of Human Rights while claims of Human Rights violations have never been approved by any Human Rights group and such claims were totally rejected by the Delhi High Court in India in 2010 – where the organized Shugden followers tried to file a law suit against the Dalai Lama and the CTA – due to ‘vague averments’ and ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’.

When you state that the New Kadampa Tradition is identified as the main force behind the protests by the Dalai Lama supporters you are in my eyes already a “victim” of the propaganda tactics of the Shugden protesters. These tactics aim to divide voices into pro Shugden / anti Shugden and pro Dalai Lama / anti Dalai Lama factions but this is incorrect and serves only as a propaganda tool that narrows down the complexity of things and slanders those who correct the protesters (to be “blind Dalai Lama sheep”) for the sake of distorting the facts as well as over simplifying the situation and events, making things more suitable for simplistic propaganda that misinforms the public. As if those who state facts as facts would all be Dalai Lama supporters. Also, if you agree with the Dalai Lama does this make you a Dalai Lama follower? And if you disagree with him does this make you an Anti Dalai Lama proponent? What a simplistic world view!

That the NKT is behind the protests was mentioned for instance by INFORM (an reputable academic institution that researches on New Religious Movements, based at the London School of Economics) as well as the German Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen (EZW) neither of which can be identified as Dalai Lama supporters – and you can find this out yourself if you do proper research. To see this fact – that the NKT via front groups (similar to Scientology) are running these protests (from 1996-98 and from 2008 onwards) –  wouldn’t make you a Dalai Lama supporter, would it? It’s just a fact no matter which religious figure you follow.

With respect to banning Shugden from the institutional echelons of exiled governance, the anthropologist Prof Martin Mills writes in his paper, “This Turbulent Priest:Contesting Religious Rights and the State in the Tibetan Shugden Controversy“:

The allegation has been laid against the CTA (specifically, the 12th Session of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies) that they changed Article 63 of the Tibetan Democratic Constitution such that the presiding judge of the Judiciary Commission, along with its two juries, should not be worshippers of Shugden. This specific accusation has not been rejected by the CTA (however, I have yet to confirm it either way), who see it as within their remit to constitute governance as they wish. If true, however, it is indicative of the particular place that the Shugden controversy plays within Tibetan cultural politics: it is a debate about the foundations of the rule of law. In banning Shugden from the institutional echelons of exiled governance, the Dalai Lama is not simply reacting to intolerance of a sectarian minority: he is also acting to remould the exiled Tibetan polity as constitutionally non-sectarian.

It would be quite narrow minded and Western-centric (based on cultural bias and pride) to apply a “Western understanding” 1:1 onto other cultures, especially cultures that are by nature deeply religious, where religion and politics go together, and where there are other values of social context/living together that are different than those of Western cultures. Only a very ignorant person would compare the Aborigines, their society and modes of living, with Western values and standards and then state one-sidedly that the Aborigines (or their leader) would have a lesson to learn. The Tibetans and the Dalai Lama try to find a middle way between their own way of living and good Western modes of living, however, Tibetan democracy has been always special as Tibetans admit themselves (see “Tibetan democracy” by Dhondup Tsering).

The protesters and many Western observers (including you in your article) totally ignore the social/religious background and Tibetan society when they judge this issue. Anthropologists and scientists, who are well educated and knowledgeable, balanced and not too biased, don’t follow such extremes.

It is also incorrect when you state that “Tibetan Shugden followers [are] living under the jurisdiction of the CTA” because exiled Tibetans in India live under the jurisdiction of India and the Indian constitution. The CTA does not have any police, prison, court etc. That’s why academic experts such as Prof. Nathan Hill (University of London, SOAS) states in an article by TheForeigner (May 8, 2014) that the accusations made by the Shugden group that the Dalai Lama is suppressing freedom of religion are non-sense:

“This accusation makes no sense,” states Dr Hill. “The Dalai Lama is not head of any state; he has no military or police at his command; he has no political jurisdiction over which he can exercise suppression.”

“Some members of the Gelug sect left the authority of the Dalai Lama in order to follow what they see as a purer form of religion. These people may not be very popular in other parts of the Gelug sect, but their human rights have not been violated nor their freedoms suppressed; even if some people did want to suppress or silence the pro-Shugen side, they simply have no means of doing so,” Dr Hill concludes.

Again, when you insinuate or clearly state that the topic is based on a difference of values in both cultures, this is a simplification that in my eyes doesn’t accord with the actual situation. These Western protesters do within their own organization, the NKT, exactly the things they accuse the Dalai Lama of doing. For many of us Ex members these accusations are projections / reflections of the internal state and situation right within the NKT and its autocratic leadership. Moreover if you dig deeper and if you study what the NKT leader, Kelsang Gyatso, said and wrote over the last decades about the Dalai Lama you could see that he has a personal vendetta against the Dalai Lama and that he exploits his naive Western followers as foot soldiers in his unilateral war against the Dalai Lama – again, I speak of my own experience and investigation from within the group that stages these protests. My impression is based on my own experiences within  the group – other ex NKT members confirmed these findings.

It is also not the case that Tibetans accept the Dalai Lama’s words as law (see “The power of the 14th Dalai Lama …“).
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly insisted that people should not accept his stance on Shugden out of blind faith but they should really research into its history and background and they should accept his stance only when they have gained a conviction based on their own research. He also repeatedly said that people are free to ignore and to reject his advice. He also said that he will accept any result of the (democratic) Vinaya “Stick Referendum” held in the monasteries of South India, if the majority wanted to practice Shugden, he would accept that and never mention a word about this topic again:

If the final result of voting shows more than 60% want to propitiate Doegyal, then from this day onward I shall never utter even a single word about Doegyal. – see “The Call of the Dalai Lama to settle the Shugden controversy by majority vote

As an Ex member of the NKT I would not call the NKT heretical but just a destructive cult that uses Buddhism for empire building and to gratify the ego of the NKT leader, Kelsang Gyatso. This is an opinion often expressed by EX NKT and this criticism doesn’t make us Dalai Lama supporters – though naturally many ex members start to cultivate faith into the Dalai Lama because he is the exact opposite of this sectarian, intolerant and narrow minded cult with its black and white thinking and Anti Tibetan / Anti Dalai Lama stance. Those who criticize the NKT are up to 95% EX NKT. For a very very long time the far majority of Tibetans, as well as Westerners, journalists and academics have been totally unaware about the damage this group is doing to their Western followers, and started only recently to pay more attention to their suffering and to listen to them.

I don’t share your conclusion that the Dalai Lama would have to “somehow reconcile himself with the Shugden followers” I would rather suggest that Shugden followers have to somehow  reconcile with the Dalai Lama and they have to accept the decisions within the monasteries that are based on majority vote and Vinaya (Monastic Law) procedures. They should also get back to being more grounded because they totally hyped this topic as if it would be of utmost importance and more important than other REAL injustices (such as torture, real persecution etc) while NONE of them has been killed, tortured, put in prison, starved, or died due to “religious discrimination” etc. The instances of discrimination not nearly as heavy or widespread as they claim. If they are more reasonable and grounded and stop to hype their egos up with the importance of Shugden there would be a better basis to live together (again, I speak from my own experience and observations within Shugden communities).

This doesn’t mean that the Dalai Lama or the CTA/Tibetan Society don’t also have something to learn. But your conclusion that the Dalai Lama would have to “reconcile himself with the Shugden followers” does not take into account dependent arising and that there are more sides to be considered in this issue than that of the Dalai Lama or Human Rights. (Again you fell prey in my eyes to the Shugden propaganda that the Dalai Lama would be the sole culprit of the Shugden issue and its complications and to their abuse of the concept and understanding of Human Rights.)

BTW, Interpol still searches with red wanted notices for three Shugden followers for the alleged triple murder of a Shugden opponent (Gen Lobsang Gyatso) and two of his students, and Shugden followers tried to murder the assistant of Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche (a Shugden proponent) with the vile plan to accuse the Dalai Lama/CTA of this murder. This vicious plan of Shugden fanatics has been made public by Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche himself and this obvious fanatisation of many (but not all!) Shugden followers is a fact the Indian police acknowledges too. All these facets are totally faded out in your analysis as if they didn’t exist although they form an important basis for the Dalai Lama’s approach on Shugden. Your article also ignores the underlying sectarianism, elitism and power struggle that goes along with Shugden worship … – in short the article ignores and fails to consider the multi-faceted layers of the Dorje Shugden Controversy and the Anti Dalai Lama protesters in order to offer a rather simplified understanding that suggests the Dalai Lama has to change.

That’s why the article is one sided in my eyes and my conclusion is that you have a lesson to learn ;-) It would be good to contact academic experts and to read their works instead of writing a simplistic article such as this one.

The question I would find useful – if one understands the organized Shugden protesters as fanatics or fundamentalists (which they are in my and others’ eyes) – is: how can one be tolerant with the intolerant and how does one approach this radicalization, fanaticism and fundamentalism in Buddhism? This is a challenge to our whole society, the Tibetan society, and in different countries and religions – fanaticism seems to become an important topic in the 21st Century – and it is just too simple to call for tolerance for the intolerant or to ask the Dalai Lama to learn a lesson.

The Bristol-based Buddhist specialist Prof. Paul Williams remarked in a Guardian article about the Shugden controversy in 1996:

The Dalai Lama is trying to modernize the Tibetans’ political vision and trying to undermine the factionalism. He has the dilemma of the liberal: do you tolerate the intolerant?

See also

Concise information for a broader public by EX NKT

Background information on this blog

Last edited by tenpel on October 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm


Kadampa Ryan’s false reasoning why the Dalai Lama is “the false Dalai Lama”

GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

I was sad to read the recent rant published online by “Kadampa Ryan” entitled Ten Valid Reasons to Conclude That Tenzin Gyatso is a False Dalai Lama.

I, and others, have devoted a great deal of our time in dialogue with Ryan, in what he once called his “common ground” project. We had hopes that he placed a higher value on truth and decency than his peers within the NKT. However, this recent writing of Ryan’s is filled with vitriol, deception, unsubstantiated claims and narrow cultural bias. It’s sad.

Here are some facts in relation to Ryan’s writing:

  • Ryan provides no sources for his statements about the Dalai Lama. They could be barroom gossip for all we know.
  • He alleges things about the Dalai Lama that I, as a close follower, have never witnessed. Is he privy to inside information? As he lives in China, this is doubtful!
  • For example, I have NEVER witnessed the Dalai Lama:
  1. Accuse Shugden practitioners (for 40 years) of “wanting to harm” his life and the cause of Tibet; (point one)
  2. Accuse Shugden practitioners (for 40 years) of being Chinese spies; (point one)
  3. Accuse Shugden worshippers (for 40 years) of being murderers or sectarian. (point one)
  4. Force followers to make a decision between “loving him” and “practicing Shugden”. (This point, #2, was very convoluted– logic indeed.)
  5. “Encourage people to abandon their vows and threaten a second Cultural Revolution for those who don’t comply.” (point three)
  6. “Implore his followers and his government to withdraw all material support for and even association with Dorje Shugden practitioners.” (point six)
  7. Speak of Shugden practitioners as “enemies.” (point six)
  8. Raise money from Westerners for the Tibetan cause. (point nine)
  9. Call himself the “ultimate refuge”—in fact, he is very clear in every teaching on refuge that the Dharma is the ultimate refuge. (point ten)
  • In addition, Ryan’s story about how the Dalai Lama was falsely recognized due to a plot by Reting Rinpoche is not backed by “considerable evidence” as Ryan claims. In fact, this is a story told by anonymous authors who cite another anonymous author in the ISC publication False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History. Ryan himself has already refuted part of that story—the part about the Dalai Lama being Muslim. Isn’t it odd that he would trust the rest? Or perhaps he has found new evidence? Mainstream authors, who use their names and allow peers to review their work would not agree with this story. (point five)
  • As for Ryan’s claim about religious persecution, we—and Amnesty International and the Indian High Courts—are still waiting for evidence that there is significant religious persecution occurring! If he provided that, Ryan would then have to find evidence that the Dalai Lama instigated the persecution. He’s a long way from substantiating this claim: “Only a False Dalai Lama would hypocritically preach religious freedom in the world but then deny it in his own home.” (point four)
  • Recently, Ryan agreed that he was wrong about monks being made homeless due to restrictions on Shugden practice. However, several statements in this piece of writing suggest that he hasn’t really let go of that story– is that true?
  • Ryan provides no historical context or source for this silly, children’s story: “The Chinese told [the Dalai Lama] decades ago Tibetans could have religious freedom if only he would renounce any political position and authority. But instead, until only very recently, he held onto his position as both political and spiritual leader…Only a False Dalai Lama would hold himself out as a false hope when in reality it was his intransigence of wanting to hold onto his own political position that stood in the way of the religious freedom of his people.”

Really? Could Ryan provide some sources for that story? Some dates? This sounds like a one-dimensional children’s story—or a spin coming from the PRC propaganda machine—and like every other claim from the PRC and the ISC, it places the cause of every Tibetan problem on the shoulders of the Dalai Lama. It is beyond the scope of this writing—and definitely beyond Ryan’s understanding– to discuss the history of Tibet over the past 60 years. However, let it suffice to say that Ryan’s rendition is inadequate at best and I am certain he cannot provide an historical source for his claim. (point seven)

  • This statement by Ryan: “he wears all sorts of ‘false hats’ to promote his celebrity status,” clearly demonstrates that Ryan knows nothing about the Dalai Lama, the Dharma teacher he’s maligning. He simply knows of a face in the headlines. In reality, the hats the Dalai Lama wears are more than hats—they’re extensive projects, involving many many hours, days, weeks and years of his time. These projects bring delight and human decency, wisdom, hope and courage into the lives of millions of people around the world. And there is also the hatless Dharma teacher, the humble scholar who teaches Nagarjuna, Tsongkhapa, Kamalashila, Buddha etc. in ways that challenge the intellect and heart of all who attend. The Dalai Lama’s knowledge of Dharma far surpasses most lamas. But Ryan doesn’t know about this or about those other projects spreading altruism around the world—and yet he claims to know intimate details on what motivates the Dalai Lama, how he thinks and feels! How can that be? (point eight)
  • As for this statement: “He willingly deceives people in the West into believing Tibet is some sort of Shangri-la, when in reality it has always been a feudal theocracy.”I have heard Ryan’s story about the alleged sorry state of Tibet before! My friend Chris Chandler is a great fan of this theory. And so is the PRC! They love to claim that they have rescued poor, ignorant Tibetans from their feudal lords! Personally, I find Ryan’s, Chris’s and the PRC’s attitudes in this regard to be narrow, bigoted, hate-filled and ignorant.

Also, Ryan must know that we in the US have some deep shame in our own history and no American has the right to judge the history of another people—even today, our civil rights record is abysmal. How would we feel if people from other countries and cultures started calling us names and denigrating our choices? Once again, Ryan needs to read his history and discover for himself that Tibetan history is certainly no worse than our own history—Tibetan culture is a treasure to be preserved. He might even be interested to read the Dalai Lama’s first autobiography, written before the civil rights movement in this country, in which the Dalai Lama spoke of social reforms he had been initiating within Tibet in order to address inequalities. The PRC blocked much of that work. (point nine)

  • So how did Ryan do? Ten wrong out of ten. So much for “logic” and “looking deeply.” Most of what I’ve just written I’ve written before. Why do I keep feeling like I’m dealing with naughty children? Ryan has no more proof for his wild rant than I would have if I came up with a story that he was a child molester who was embezzling money from his government and teaching false Dharma. And writing a discussion about the Dalai Lama from China is a little like writing about tropical plants from Siberia. He has a distinct disadvantage there.

Surely, surely, any adult making claims that horribly malign another individual would take the time to be sure of his/her facts. But Ryan and I have already had that conversation as well. He is simply not concerned. He calls these infractions of truth minor and lightweight, of no significance. And as this diatribe shows, he is not concerned about providing evidence for his allegations, not concerned if what he says is clearly a fabrication.

All that seems to matter to Shugdenpas today is the need to rally the troops for the upcoming protests under those signs about a “false Dalai Lama.” And the phrase itself has that hypnotic quality when the protesters chant, doesn’t it? It has that insidious ear-worm that won’t leave you after you’ve heard it. This is what Ryan is really writing about, isn’t it? Somewhere someone has decided that the Dalai Lama is an enemy who must be undermined. The decision has been made and so it seems that the details don’t matter very much to anyone involved.

This is what I see, as Ryan builds his puppet, calls it the Dalai Lama and then accuses it of being false. All I can say is of course it’s false, just as false as the Ryan child molester I could build if I felt spiteful  enough. When is the Shugden community going to come to its senses?

NKT Survivor activists informing the public about the New Kadampa Tradition at the University of London

The New Kadampa Tradition about the “Modern Buddhism Event“:

Wake Up Smiling

Find out how to greet each day with a smile and see new opportunities in every encounter.

In this talk we will learn how to develop an open and warm heart towards others, freeing us from anxiety and self concern and bringing a freshness and joy to each day. Join in a guided meditation using the methods explained so you can start to experience the peace and freedom of a calm, clear mind.

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong is a Kadampa Buddhist nun and an inspiring teacher who teaches extensively and internationally to thousands of people each year with humour, kindness and wisdom exemplifying the essence of the Kadampa Buddhist way of life. We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to receive teachings from her.

What sounds so innocent, light and nice can turn your life into a night mare. Because for most of us ex NKT the NKT is a harmful, very destructive cult and those events are just a means to get and then to burn new members for the expansion of the group at the costs of the individual’s welfare.

Here are two videos from the protesters, Carol and Linda:



Here a video excerpt of one of Dekyong’s visits to London:


Gen Kelsang Dekyong, Spiritual Director of the NKT, at Anti Dalai Lama protests, reading aloud the hate filled manifest “21st Century Buddhist Dictator – The Dalai Lamafrom the Western Shugden Society broshure “The Tibetan Situation Today” (PDF):

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong at Colgate University (USA), April 22nd, 2008. (Details here.

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong at Colgate University (USA), April 22nd, 2008. (Details here).



EX NKT informing the public

Social Media

More on this blog

Images courtesy from New Kadampa Survivor Actvists.

Addressing More Deceptions And Misinformation Spread by The International Shugden Community (ISC) / New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)

This blog, Joanne Clark’s blog (who “revealed 32 deceptive statements and 16 unsubstantiated claims“), the official CTA website, and the official Dalai Lama website have pointed out different blatant untruths and spin of the facts spread by the International Shugden Community (ISC) / New Kamdampa Tradition (NKT) who wish to “shame, humiliate and denigrate” (“Atisha’s Cook”, NKT activist) the Dalai Lama. Media such as for instance France 24 TV, Al Jazeera and Swiss SF1 TV repeated such allegations without putting effort into verifying such claims made by an anonymous group with anonymous authors, anonymous websites, without a legal office – though this seems to have changed now –, who hide their identity with internet by proxy domain services.

Recently it has been pointed out on this blog that there is not any substance whatsoever in the claim spread by the NKT/WSS/ICS that Shugden monks had been made homeless. During the discussion more untruths were made visible, which I wish to address in an extra post here. The NKT via their front groups claimed among others that Shugden monks had been denied travel documents, health care, access to school, that they would have been removed from their jobs, the government etc. … claiming for instance:

Consequently, they are extremely angry with Shugden practitioners and try to remove them from their society by many different means such as humiliation, provocation, intimidation, threatening, ostracism, removing jobs and positions, denying services, spreading false rumours, lies, manipulation, not allowing others to have material or spiritual relationship with them, not giving the monks food in their monasteries, not allowing the monks to attend classes and services at their monasteries, and forcing them to sign a promise that they will abandon the worship of the Deity Shugden. – NKT front group Western Shugden Society in “The Tibetan Situation Today” (PDF, April 2008)

People lost their jobs, children were expelled from schools, and monks were expelled from monasteries; foreign travel permits and visas were denied; refugee aid, monastic stipends and allowances were cut off; and forced signature campaigns were undertaken. In these and many other ways that made Tibetans outcasts from their own already exiled community, the Dalai Lama, in the guise of his government, ministers and associated organisations, introduced a reign of terror against tens of thousands of his own people, making restrictions similar to those imposed on the Jewish people in Germany in the early years of Hitler’s rule. – NKT front group ICS’s official website, derived Oct. 06, 2014

Contrary to this in the 2014 Statement by Dept of Security Kalon on Dolgyal (in Tibetan/བོད་སྐད་དུ) [the brackets are additions to clarify]:

Similarly, they have accused the Tibetan Administration of discrimination and withholding medical care. If they can name a single person who has been denied medical care by the Department of Health for their beliefs, then we can definitely investigate the matter. [However, they have not.] There is no such instance of discrimination. They have also accused the Tibetan Administration of dismissing Dolgyal followers from government jobs. If they could name a single person who was dismissed, we could see how he or she was dismissed. [Again, they have not.]

It is not the sole domain of the Kashag to dismiss civil servants of the Central Tibetan Administration. The Charter of the Tibetans-in-Exile provides for the institution of an independent body with its own rules and conditions for the dismissal of civil servants. If any civil servant commits a crime, it is only on the basis of an investigation carried out by such an investigating committee that he or she can be penalized. Who has been dismissed for following Dolgyal? There are over 600 civil servants serving in the Tibetan Administration and none of them has ever been harassed under any circumstances for propitiating Dolgyal. Let me also make it clear that there is not a single civil servant in the Central Tibetan Administration who propitiates Dolgyal.

If propitiation of Dolgyal forms a basis for dismissal from a government job, should it not also be a requisite for the recruitment of new staff? However there is no such condition as the door is open for any Tibetan to work for the CTA. Particularly so in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (a platform which is even more important), I don’t think there is any such condition that bars any Dolgyal follower from becoming a member of Parliament. Parliament is a law-making body and nothing whatsoever prevents them from making such laws. As a matter of fact, some people are of the view that such laws should be created but no such laws have been made by the Tibetan Administration. Any eligible Tibetan can rightfully become a member of the Tibetan Parliament. In fact, one could contest for parliamentary election and speak from this very platform. Therefore, there are no instances of discrimination or partiality by the Administration. – Statement of Kalon for the Department of Security concerning Dolgyal related issues at the sixth session of the 15th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile or YouTube)

And in a Kashag statement (8 May 2014) regarding the claim travel documents had been denied:

In fact, far from denying them their religious freedom, Tibetan Dolgyal propitiators continue to travel within India and abroad on documents issued by the Indian government with the endorsement of the Central Tibetan Administration. In seeking legal status or political asylum in North America and Europe, Dolgyal followers could be using denial of religious freedom as an excuse, but the very documents on which they stay in India and travel abroad, is issued by the government of India and endorsed by the Central Tibetan Administration. Therefore, the CTA has neither denied them their religious freedom nor obstructed their rights to live in India and travel abroad.

For example, Chime Tsering, the then Secretary General of Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society, travelled on an Identity Certificate (IC), to the US, issued by the government of India with the endorsement of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi. His Indian Registration certificate (RC) was issued by the government of India with the recommendation from the local Tibetan Settlement Officer of the CTA. Furthermore, Athar Tsering, a former secretary of the North American Gelug Buddhist Association (USA) also travelled to the US using travel documents issued by the government of India and endorsed by the CTA. So do many others Dolgyal followers.

The official Dalai Lama site states from the The Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies’ Resolutions (Resolutions Passed Unanimously in June 1996 by the Parliament in Exile):

7. Some people have been spreading lies that individuals were harassed and their objects of worship seized for propitiating Shugden, and that government officials were expelled from job, etc. Not a single of these allegations were found to be true. Should such an incident ever take place, it must be noted that this is neither the wish of His Holiness Dalai Lama, nor the policy of the Tibetan Administration. We appeal to all the organizations and individuals to ensure that such an incident does not take place.

8. In sum, the departments, their branches and subsidiaries, monasteries and their branches that are functioning under the administrative control of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile should be strictly instructed, in accordance with the rules and regulations, not to indulge in the propitiation of Shugden. We would like to clarify that if individual citizens propitiate Shugden, it will harm the common interest of Tibet, the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and strengthen the spirits that are against the religion. This can be quite clearly and authentically established through texts and logic. Having said this, it is up to individuals themselves to decide as they like. We cannot force anyone to do anything against his or her wish. However, we would like to emphatically plead to the Shugden-worshippers that they should stop taking tantric initiations and teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

A visitor of this blog commented point 8:

Note the first part of resolution 8: “…strictly instructed,…not to indulge in the propitiation of Shugden.

This is what ISC/NKT likes to draw attention to. However, they seem to ignore the later part: “…it is up to individuals themselves to decide…We cannot force anyone to do anything against his or her wish….plead to the Shugden-worshipers that they should stop taking tantric initiations and teachings from [HHDL].

So CTA does not ban anyone from worshiping Shugden, it advises strongly, in agreement with HHDL, that doing so is unhelpful and ask that they respect HHDL’s wishes and not create a student-guru relationship with him because they are already ignoring his advice.

Dorje Shugden worship has not been banned

GUEST POST by Ani Tsultrim

The Buddhist monk, Tenzin Peljor, on his blog, “Tibetan Buddhism: Struggling with Difficult Issues:” writes:

Over the past two decades and, more recently during his tour of the US, the International Shugden Community (the latest New Kadampa Tradition “front organization” and its political wing) have protested against the Dalai Lama’s decision to “ban” the worship of the gyalpo Shugden. When asked to provide explicit evidence of such a ban, supporters of the deity frequently point to the following statement, purportedly from the Dalai Lama, which appears at Youtube (see 2:53 onwards)

“I began this ban to continue the Fifth Dalai Lama’s legacy, I started this by myself and I have to continue, and carry it to the end.”

Whether or not the Dalai Lama actually said this is highly questionable. To date, no evidence has been forthcoming from the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) to confirm or deny what His Holiness said.

Further, it is noteworthy that the NKT has a long history of distorting the statements made by the Dalai Lama. They produce sound bites; they slant the truth to support their unproved claims, they edit videos, and then post deceitful propaganda in various places on the Internet; on Youtube, on NKT web sites, and on NKT Facebook pages. They say the Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden. They say he is lying. They say that he is not the real Dalai Lama. They say that he is suppressing religious freedom. These are wild assertions, each of which need to be addressed and refuted, one-by-one.

Ostensibly, the NKT vitriol found on the Internet, centers around what they are calling a ban against the practice of Dorje Shugden. If, as they assert, the Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden, then any critical evaluation would include the answers to these questions:

What does the word “ban” mean, in English?

The modern English definition is this:

The definition:

Verb: to prohibit, forbid, bar, interdict

Noun: the act of prohibiting by law; interdiction

Examples: to ban nuclear weapons; to ban genocide

– The Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, 1984
Online source: http://dictionary.reference.com/

Clearly, the first, and modern, definition of “ban” is understood by English-speaking people as a law, or laws, which have been handed down by judicial bodies, both local and international. The Dalai Lama simply has no legal or judicial authority to ban the propitiation of Dorje Shugden, nor anything else, for that matter; not in Tibet, nor in India, nor anywhere in the world. He would be the first to affirm that this is so, and it would be re-affirmed by every judicial body and government in the world.

Is there a Tibetan word that means “ban” as understood by native English speakers?

Kelsang Khyenrab of the New Kadampa Tradition, on the face book blog, “Dalai Lama Truth,” says he consulted two sources for the meaning of the Tibetan word “ban.” He found these English equivalents:

  • sdom.byed.pa, and the synonym
  • bskrags.byed.pa

These Tibetan words are translated as: “prohibition,” “restriction,” “restraint”

– The Chinese – Tibetan Dictionary, People’s Publishing House, Beijing, Second Edition, 1996, and the Light English-Tibetan Dictionary compiled by T.G. Dongthog, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), Dharamsala, 1985.

These words–“prohibition,” “restriction,” and “restraint”–do not carry the force of law, since the Dalai Lama cannot have one thrown into prison for practicing Shugden. The best example of a true ban is that of the Chinese government’s ban on displaying pictures of the Dalai Lama. Many have been incarcerated and/or sent to labor camps for doing so.

Steve Maxwell, posting on the face book page “We Need to Talk About Shugden,” observed this concerning the deliberate attempts to deceive through the video edits done by the New Kadampa Tradition:

Then there is the issue of what HH  Dalai Lama actually said. Put it another way, just because the Shugdenites subtitle a video with the word ‘ban‘, it does not mean that that is an accurate translation.

In addition to the NKT’s total lack of understanding about the meaning of the word “ban,” there is the question of what words the Dalai Lama actually used. There are two other Tibetan words that could be expressed within this context, which are Dham Drak, and Kag Dhom.

Siling Tongkhor, a Tibetan monk, viewed all of the NKT videos that were posted on the “Dalai Lama Truth” page, and noted the following:

In all those video compilations, HHDL used the word Dham Drak only once. Though Dham Drak can be loosely translated as a “ban” it actually is an ambiguous word in Tibetan that could mean both ban and restriction. Though it may have identical impact in English, in Tibetan, Dham Drak sounds less like an actual ban. The important point is that His Holiness didn’t speak of “banning Shugden” in any other cases.” The word “Kag Dhom,” which unmistakably means ban, was not used by His Holiness at all.

Finally, from a Western Tibetan scholar regarding the terms used by His Holiness:

Dam-sgrags, which is the term cited as the term His Holiness has used, is translated as “restriction” in Goldstein’s Tibetan-English Dictionary of Modern Tibetan. In Bod-rgya tshig-mdzod chen-mo it is defined as ‘khrims-kyis ‘doms-pa’am do-dam btsan-po, which means a regulation or strong directive (made) by law.  It is clear from the Chinese translations in the dictionary and the examples of the usage of the term that it means a regulation restricting something, like a directive for a curfew regulating when or where you can and cannot go walking at night. This does not have the same connotation as a ban.

This brings us to a deeper look into this issue; namely, the second dictionary definition of the word “ban.”

Is there an ecclesiastical definition of the word “ban” that would apply to the statements made by the Dalai Lama?

The second definition of the English word “ban” is this:


a. to pronounce an ecclesiastical curse upon
b. to curse; to execrate
c. a malediction; curse

Accordingly, the word “ecclesiastical” relates to Christianity, and by its very nature and original use, it meant that one who had been banned by the church was also summarily excommunicated. That was quite a drastic event to befall a true believer.

So, because an ecclesiastical curse is a malediction, and unmistakably Christian, to try to equate His Holiness’ considered evaluation of Dorje Shugden to a Christian edict is an oxymoron. It is absurd to think that the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist, could, or would, pronounce an ecclesiastical ban on other Buddhists because they practice Shugden. He does not have the authority to do so, nor does he have the authority to excommunicate them.

If there is not a law, the breaking of which could incarcerate or fine practitioners, and if there is not an ecclesiastical curse, or pronouncement by the Dalai Lama which would lead to excommunication, then how can the NKT claim that there has been a ban?

Does the word “advice” have the same meaning as “ban?”

According to the Random House College Dictionary “advice” is: a) an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action; b) it is a communication containing information; c) it refers to opinions as bases worthy of thought; d) it is given after careful deliberation.

On the official website of the Dalai Lama there is this statement under the heading ‘His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice concerning Dolgyal (Shugden)’:

His Holiness has strongly urged his followers to consider carefully the problems of Dolgyal … and to act accordingly. He has stated that, as a Buddhist leader with a special concern for the Tibetan people, it is his responsibility to speak out against the damaging consequences of this kind of spirit worship. Whether or not his advice is heeded, His Holiness has made clear, is a matter for the individual. However, since he personally feels strongly about how negative this practice is, he has requested those who continue to propitiate Dolgyal not to attend his formal religious teachings, which traditionally require the establishment of a teacher-disciple relationship.

His Holiness is a Buddhist leader. He makes it clear that it is up to the individual. He is offering advice based on careful deliberation. Advice is not a ban. Because His Holiness is giving advice, it follows that:

>>> The New Kadampa Tradition is completely mistaken in making such a claim. By every definition of the word, there simply is not a ban against the worship of Dorje Shugden.

See also

Last edited on October 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Protests by the International Shugden Community (ISC) Against the Dalai Lama—Is There Any Truth in Them?

Here are some facts:

  1. The International Shugden Community (ISC) protesters claim that there is “overwhelming evidence” that Shugden worshippers are being persecuted by the Dalai Lama and his followers and that human rights violations abound. However:
  • In 1998, Amnesty International investigated their claims of religious persecution and found “insufficient evidence.” (AI Doc)
  • In 2010, the Delhi High Court also dismissed the Shugden community’s claims of religious persecution (see Delhi High Court or CTA site)
  1. Further, on Shugden community websites, many deceptions and unsubstantiated claims are made. Investigation of those reveals that things have not changed since Amnesty International and the Indian High Courts made their determinations. There is NOT “overwhelming evidence” of religious persecution.
  2. In fact, there is a compelling lack of credible, substantial evidence backing any of the protesters’ claims of serious persecution, no Indian media reports, police reports or impartial reports of any kind.
  3. The International Shugden Community (ISC) produce videos on Youtube and their website to look like BBC news releases, with a red, circling globe, urgent music and Breaking News or NEWS inscribed across the screen. On these videos, various ploys are used to deceive and mislead viewers, as will be demonstrated below. (see ICS)
  4. An investigation of the ISC website has so far revealed 32 deceptive statements and 16 unsubstantiated claims. There are definitely more because the investigation is not complete. Some of the deceptions are quite glaring. Some are simply little pieces that accumulate and add up to much bigger and more alarming accusations. In some cases the ISC will go out of their way to deceive.
  5. Many of the claims of persecution are in reference to events that took place ten or twenty years ago and that allegedly occurred in hard to reach, restricted areas of India. These claims are extremely difficult to substantiate or verify. Despite that fact, clear deceptions can nonetheless be found, due to simple carelessness in their reporting.
  6. When statements from the Dalai Lama appear in their video reports, these are short, misleading snippets taken totally out of context.
  7. Many of the protesters’ claims are hearsay and personal interviews. Several of those have been shown to be deceitful. Others cannot be verified.
  8. Here are just a few examples of the many deceptions from the ISC website:
  • In order to “show” that Shugden monks were made homeless and destitute in one “News” video, footage of young Theravada monks going on their traditional begging rounds was inserted—not Tibetan monks at all! This was an intentional deception. Exiles in Exile: Tibetan Monks outcast by the Dalai Lama (see YouTube),
  • In another video, a Tibetan woman from Switzerland wept as she told the story of her sister being unable to obtain food to eat in Dharamsala, India because Tibetans would not sell food to Shugden worshippers. However, even if it was true that Tibetans wouldn’t sell to her, Indians own most of the food stalls in Dharamsala and they don’t care about Tibetan controversies. Her sister could clearly find food! This video is clearly deceptive. (see YouTube)
  • In several videos, they tell the story of many Shugden monks being made “homeless” because of being expelled from their monasteries. The claim is made that they had to live in “slums” and “safe houses.” However, the truth is that these monks were provided with land and buildings in order to resume their choice of religious practice. Pictures of these buildings show that they were given their fair share, if not more and they are currently thriving. Those claims are simply false, more lies. (see YouTube and YouTube)
    See here for further investigation of this false allegation: “In February 2008 900 Buddhist Shugden monks were made homeless by the Dalai Lama?
  • This false claim about homelessness has been a favorite of the Shugden community. It is also made in the ISC publication entitled False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History, where they state on page 24:

As a direct result of this so-called referendum 900 innocent monks were then summarily expelled from their monasteries. Most of these 900 monks were very poor and had no other place to live; many were fearful of the future and actually wept as they were forced to leave.

  • In another video, they deceptively refer to the murder of Gungtan Tsultrim, which occurred in 1976, in the context of it being the outcome of a “wanted list” of Shugden worshippers made by the Tibetan Exile Government in 1997, twenty-one years after the murder occurred– or of a list that there is no evidence of! They are unclear, but both are deceptive. (YouTube)
  • In another video, reference is made to Shugden worshippers being mistreated in various ways some twenty years ago, such as having their house firebombed or being ransacked—but again, none of these claims can be substantiated by a media report, hospital report or police report. The reports are substantiated only by internal documents from the Shugden Community itself. (YouTube)
  • In another video, they claim that Shugden worshippers are persecuted because they are not granted Indian citizenship when they arrive from Tibet. In fact, no Tibetan is granted Indian citizenship upon arrival from Tibet—in fact, all Tibetans arriving from Tibet generally find life difficult overall. This is an outright lie. (YouTube)
  • In other videos, they show obscure pictures of wounds on the faces and hands of monks, all to indicate some sort of attack, presumably by non-Shugden Buddhists, but there are no media or police reports to substantiate any of the claims. No stories are told providing details of these attacks. They cannot be verified. (YouTube, Youtube)

Screenshot from the International Shugden Community’s (ICS) YouTube Channel (08/23/14) run by Gen Kelsang Rabten, the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) National Spiritual Director for New Zealand and Australia, currently residing in Hong Kong as the Resident Teacher of the NKT’s “Kadampa Meditation Centre Hong Kong”. ICS is a front group of the NKT.

Is the Dalai Lama False?

  1. Recently the Shugden community has published the second of its anonymously authored diatribes against the Dalai Lama, entitled False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History. In this, they claim that the Dalai Lama is secretly a Muslim, born to Muslim parents in a Muslim village—and he therefore is a “false Dalai Lama,” falsely recognized through a mysterious conspiracy by his Regent. They call him the “Saffron-Robed Muslim.” (see ICS)
  2. What sources do these anonymous authors cite for these claims? Another anonymous author! (of an obscure text cited by no other writers but themselves and very hard—impossible?—to find!)
  3. The truth from mainstream historical evidence is that the Dalai Lama was born into a village that had been taken over by a Chinese (Muslim) warlord. There were a few Muslim families in this village, but the majority was Buddhist. The Dalai Lama’s family was clearly Buddhist. In fact, his older brother had been recognized as a high incarnate Buddhist lama years before the Dalai Lama’s birth.
  4. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being Muslim—unless one is claiming to be a Buddhist monk! The Shugden community claims that the Dalai Lama is deceiving the world by not revealing his secret Muslim identity. They hold up banners in their protests showing the Dalai Lama in a Muslim taqiyah (which he donned during one of his many interfaith events). This has caused some to wonder if they are trying to incite Islamaphobia?
  5. This is also the reason protesters hold up placards calling the Dalai Lama false, why they chant over and over, “False Dalai Lama, stop lying…” This is entirely based on a wild report from a group of anonymous authors citing another anonymous author!

Is the Dalai Lama Lying?

  1. The Shugden community changes its mind frequently about why they believe he is lying. There are four full videos purporting to explain why the Dalai Lama is lying on the ISC website. All of those videos contain deceptions themselves.
  2. In one video, entitled The Dalai Lama Lies About Advice From His Teacher, they post a statement from the Dalai Lama’s website and then while the viewer is struggling to read that statement, the narrator reads it falsely, stating a key word “encourage” instead of “support”! The rest of the video is then a claim that the Dalai Lama was lying because he said “encourage”! In fact, they are lying about what the Dalai Lama actually stated, as quoted on his website! (see YouTube)
  3. In another Youtube video, entitled A Question for the Dalai Lama at His Hamburg Talk, Aug. 24, 2014, they show a brief clip from a teaching the Dalai Lama gave in Hamburg last summer. In this, a protester asked the Dalai Lama a question and as he was answering the question, the protester interrupted him by shouting “stop lying!”
    The Dalai Lama then paused and proceeded to address the accusation of lying, whereupon the protester continued to shout “stop lying, stop lying Dalai Lama…” until he was led out by security.
    First, it is surprising that the Shugden community should have been proud enough of this childish display of heckling to publish it on Youtube. However, their caption was even more surprising and yet another example of their habit of deception. They stated,
    “The False Dalai Lama … evades the question by saying that Buddhist monks don’t lie!

But we know that you ARE lying, False Dalai Lama: lying about your Gurus, lying about the nature of Dorje Shugden, lying about the ban you have imposed, and so much more.”So this is the level of honesty and balance the protesters support. (see YouTube)
  4. In other videos, the ISC claim that that Dalai Lama is lying because he says that he has never “banned” Shugden practice—because he claims that Shugden practice is harmful to the Tibetan cause and his own life…. Because he has disagreed with his teacher over his decision. Certainly the accusation of lying looks good on a placard and can rally the troops to protest, but in fact, the claims can be better described as disagreements over a complex issue, disagreements that are beyond the scope of this pamphlet, or any secular discussion, to address.
  5. It is clear in the ISC publication entitled False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History that essentially most of the claims of the Shugden community protesters rely on their belief in a Dalai Lama that no one can see, a “shadow Dalai Lama” complete with evil agendas and purposes totally contrary to how he spends his already very full days. Here is an example from that ISC publication, anonymously authored, anonymously cited, which demonstrates the extremist views these protesters hold:

… from a spiritual point of view there is no one who is more evil than this false Dalai Lama. We sincerely wish for the doctrine of Je Tsongkhapa to be free from being harmed by this enemy. (p. 3)


“Although Lhamo Dondrub [the Dalai Lama] is a Muslim, throughout his life he has maintained the pretence of being a Buddhist holy being, giving Buddhist teachings that he stole from his root Guru Trijang Rinpoche. In this way he has cheated people throughout the world.” (p. 13) (see ICS)

Statements such as these, which abound in ISC publications and video releases, make one wonder about the purpose and validity of the protests. They wish to portray a sane, reasonable face to the world, a calm complaint of religious persecution and human rights violations—but in fact, carry out an agenda themselves that is dishonest, inflammatory and extremist.

For further information, see

Joanne Clark, October 1, 2014


The Virtues of Humility – by Matthieu Ricard

Part 1

Humility is sometimes scorned, regarded as a weakness. The writer Ayn Rand proclaims, “Discard the protective rags of that vice which you called a virtue: humility.”* Pride, however, the narcissistic exaggeration of the self, closes the door to all personal progress, since in order to learn, you must first think that you don’t know. Humility is a forgotten quality of the contemporary world, the theater of seeming. Magazines are constantly giving advice about how to “affirm” yourself, “make an impression,” “be beautiful” — to seem instead of be. This obsession with the favorable image one wants to present is such that we no longer even ask ourselves anymore the question of the groundlessness of seeming, but only how we can appear most positively. However, as La Rochefoucauld wrote, “We should gain more by letting the world see what we are than by trying to seem what we are not.”

Most people associate humility with a lack of self-esteem and a lack of confidence in one’s own abilities, when they don’t associate it with an inferiority complex. They don’t recognize the benefits of humility, since if “self-importance is the privilege of the fool,” humility is the virtue of one who has taken the measure of all that’s left for him to learn and the path he still has to travel. Humble people are not beautiful, intelligent people who take pride in convincing themselves they’re ugly and stupid; they are people who don’t make much of their ego. Not thinking of themselves as the center of the universe, they open up more easily to others and are especially aware of the interconnection between all beings.

* Rand, A. (1992). Atlas Shrugged. Penguin, p. 970.

Part 2

A humble person has nothing to lose or to gain. If he is praised, he thinks it’s for what he has been able to accomplish, not for himself as an individual. If he is criticized, he thinks that bringing his faults out into the open is the best service anyone could do him. “Few are sufficiently wise to prefer censure, which is useful, to praise, which is treacherous,” wrote La Rochefoucauld, as if echoing Tibetan sages who remind us that “the best teaching is one that reveals our hidden faults.” Free from hope and fear, the humble person remains carefree and without affectation. Paradoxically, humility also favors strength of character: the humble person makes decisions according to what he thinks is fair and holds to them, without worrying either about his image or about what people will say about him.

Humility is a quality that is invariably found in the wise person who has acquired many qualities, for, they say, it’s when the tree is loaded with fruit that the branches bend to the ground, whereas the proud person is like the tree whose bare branches point up to the sky. While traveling with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I often noted the great humility laden with kindness of such a venerable man. He is always attentive to people of modest means and never poses as an important person. One day, after greeting François Mitterand, who had just accompanied him to the front steps of the Élysée palace, the Dalai Lama, before getting into his car, went over to shake the hand of one of the guards standing at the side, beneath the stunned gaze of the President of the Republic.

Humility is a component of altruism, since the humble person is naturally concerned about others and attentive to their well-being. Social psychology studies, on the other hand, have shown that those who overestimate themselves show a tendency to aggression that is greater than average.* A link has also been highlighted between humility and the ability to forgive, whereas people who think they’re superior judge the faults of others more harshly and regard them as less forgivable.**

* Bushman, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: Does self-love or self-hate lead to violence?? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 219–229.

** Exline J. J. & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Case Western Reserve University. Unpublished data cited by J. P. Tangney, Humility, in Handbook of Positive Psychology (2002).


Sri Lanka: Radical Buddhist groups join forces

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A hard-line Buddhist monk from Myanmar known for his anti-Muslim stance said his movement will join hands with a like-minded Sri Lankan group to “protect” Buddhists, whom he called an endangered world minority.

Ashin Wirathu, leader of 969, a fundamentalist movement, was a special invitee Sunday at a rally of Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Power Force, a Sri Lankan group accused of instigating deadly violence against the country’s minority Muslims in June.

Joining 969 could further boost an already soaring support base for Bodu Bala Sena, an ultranationalist group that has enlisted thousands of youth and Buddhist monks in just two years of existence. This, in turn, could exacerbate mistrust and tensions between Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese-Buddhists and its Muslims.

Politically, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s credibility among Muslims stands to erode further after his government allowed Mr Wirathu to visit Sri Lanka despite opposition from Muslim groups, including his own allies. Mr Rajapaksa is already under criticism for not taking action against Buddhist monks whose inflammatory speeches are blamed for anti-Muslim violence in June that killed two people and wounded dozens, and saw many shops and homes set on fire in three western towns.

Read the full article from the Bangkok Post here.

See alao: Violence by Buddhists against Muslims

In February 2008 900 Buddhist Shugden monks were made homeless by the Dalai Lama?

There are so many wrong and misleading claims and allegations by the International Shugden Community (ICS) / New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) that it is almost impossible to address and to correct them all. Joanne Clark’s blog and this blog made some efforts to correct some. There were also efforts by others (including the CTA, Buddhist (Head) Organizations etc.) but the ICS / NKT / Shugden groups still flood the media, interview partners of the Dalai Lama, journalists, Buddhist centres, the internet, news comment sections, YouTube (and also this blog) with false information.

Recently, a senior NKT teacher, Kadampa Ryan, repeated in the discussion thread of the “Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness“, the claims of the ICS/NKT, that the CTA/Dalai Lama had made Shugden followers “homeless”. To make it more easy for Ryan and others, here some of the facts.

The NKT / ICS Campaign claims wrongly for many years now:

In February 2008, as a direct result of the Dalai Lama’s demands, 900 Buddhist monks were made homeless.

But the facts, are, that after the Vinaya ‘Stick Referendum’ that is part of the monastic training for Buddhist monks and nuns, laid down by the Buddha and one of seven ways to settle conflicts (and which is deeply democratic), the majority of the monks in the three main Gelug monsteries (Ganden, Sera, Drepung) in India decided to separate from Shugden monks if they wish to continue their worship. Those who wanted to stay had to give up that practice. This is how things are done, if there is trouble, either your find a compromise or you have to separate if that is not possible. It is also common and part of democratic processes that a majority vote has to be accepted and respected. If a community decides based on majority vote that you cannot smoke on the group’s assets, then those who want to smoke have either to go or to abandon smoking (or you find another way that concords with the majority decision). This is really not an unusual or even criminal or oppressive behavior as the Anti Dalai Lama Campaigning Group wants to make the world believe.

All the monks who had to leave, got a fair share of the houses and property of the whole community. There is no doubt about it that this was the case, and even the deceptive Pro Shugden Site www . dorjeshugden . com acknowledges this fact. Here some excerpts, screenshots and commentaries to their own statements.


Below you find two images about the “desperate state” of the poor, made homeless by the Dalai Lama, Shugden monks in India.

Serpom Monastery

Serpom Monastery

Shar Gaden Monastery

Shar Gaden Monastery

The Shugden Site states:

… the existence of Shar Gaden and Serpom monasteries, established for the sole purpose of preserving and upholding Dorje Shugden’s lineage and ractices. Both monasteries are open and thriving, and their activities encompass the full range of monastic programs including Geshe degrees, initiations and oral transmissions, international tours, Buddhist festivals and celebrations.

These two eminent monasteries are and will continue to be an educational base for high Lamas such as Domo Geshe Rinpoche and other future lamas to come. They are learning centers, hubs from which Dorje Shugden’s lineage is practiced and transmitted, and where Guru Devotion is strong and powerful.

With approximately 600 monks in Serpom Monastery, 800 monks in Shar Gaden Monastery and with these numbers increasing over the years …

However, the anonymous Pro Shugden people behind the Shugden site deceive the readers about the fact, that the Shugden monks got the ground on which they built their new monasteries from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)* – the CTA which they accuse of oppressing them and of violating their human rights. Not telling the full facts they twist the facts instead:

… the very existence of these monasteries is a thorn in the side of Ganden, Sera and Drepung monasteries because they are right next door! More importantly, they are out of the CTA’s reach. The CTA cannot touch them, cannot close them down, cannot harass them, cannot do anything to them because they are legal entities licensed and protected by the Indian government.

Getting the land by their claimed “evil oppressors” and accusing the CTA to only aim to “close them down” and “harass them” is totally deceptive and wrong.

The story about the lack of water is a lie as explained on the Talk about Shugden site:

Nicolas Tessier Saying they had no proper source water is false as, up until last year, many of their water pipes where still connected to the main feeding source of Sera Mey. Those who were in residence in 2013 will remember well the drought that affected us leaving the Sera Mey kitchen, main building complex and various housing group with NO water. Hence, Sera Mey requested Serpom to find an alternative source for their water for which they complied and the matter was settled peacefully and without a hint of conflict. From 2008 to 2013 give us a gap of 5 years for which they were provide with water.

Siling Tongkhor I concur with what Nicholas has written above. Especially the case with water pipes. We were sharing the same water (coming from the Sera Mey water tanks) for the last 5 years from 2008-2013 after the separation.

The following excerpt by the Pro Shugden Site is a mix of truth and untruths (lies) – first they said Serpom was left without a prayer hall, now it has been changed to “without a properly sized” prayer hall. The Pomra monks fit comfortably in their old kangtsen prayer hall before the new elaborate one was built.

As you can see from the following quotes, not even the (deceptive and anonymous) Pro Shugden Site makes claims of “homelessness”.

When Ganden Shartse Monastery split, then Abbot H.E. Khensur Rinpoche Dakpa Tenzin braved the wrath of the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) by insisting that monastic property be divided equally between Shar Ganden’s monks (formerly Dokhang Khamtsen) and the remaining monks of Ganden Shartse according to headcount. Through his compassion and unbiased care for the monks of Ganden regardless of their practice, the monks of Shar Ganden had sufficient assets and did not have to experience severe poverty after the separation, although Khensur Rinpoche suffered for his bravery.

Serpom’s troubles did not end after separation
*In the case of Serpom Monastery however, things were quite different. Instead of dividing the properties equally based on the headcounts of the monks, the then Abbot of Sera Mey, Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Rabga, who presided over the separation and segregation of monastic assets allowed Serpom Monastery (formally Pomra Khamtsen) to keep only the buildings on Pomra Khamtsen land. This decision, although seemingly fair, left monks from both sides struggling to rebuild some essential structures of their separated monastery. The Serpom monks were without a properly- sized prayer hall, without a school and with insufficient accommodation and in the early days, Serpom did not even have a proper source of water (the monastic water pump house was built elsewhere) .

In case they change it, here the screenshot …

Screenshot DS Site

Screenshot DS Site

Here another description by the Pro DS Site:

The 450 monks of Dokhang Khangtsen has officially seperated from Gaden Shartse Monastery. Gaden Shartse had meetings and the property of the Shartse had to be divided. Dokhang Khangtsen was given their share of the collective monastic property. From Gaden Shartse Monastery, Dokhang khangtsen has recieved:

1. 400 crore Indian Lakhs (1 lakh is Indian rupees 100,000)( 1 crore is 1 lakh x 100)
2. 15 Female buffaloes that produce milk
3. Shartse has a guest house in Delhi, that has been handed over to Dokhang.
4. Shartse has a newly built guest house in Gaden, that has been handed over.
5. Much ritual silverware and ritual objects of the monastery.
6. Hospital Car
7. Carpets and Many thangkas
8. One lorry and two tractors
9. 20 acres of agricultural land

They have remained where they are in the Monastery but seperated from the main Gaden Shartse Monastery completely. They have no involvement with any activities with eachother. They have kept their khangtsen prayer hall and monk rooms. With this, they have formed their own Monastery and now it is offically called: SHAR DOKHANG DRATSTANG

The newly elected Abbot is: Geshe Lobsang Pende

In case they change it, here the screenshot …

Screenshot DS Site

Screenshot DS Site

* The Sikyong told to one of my reliable sources, that the CTA gave the land to the Shugden monasteries.

This claim makes sense, because the Indian government gave land for the Tibetan settlements to the CTA (formerly TGIE), the exile government of the Tibetans. According to my knowledge, the CTA is in charge to use those settlements / land according to the needs of the Tibetans.

Siling Tongkhor, a Gelug Tulku, states on the Talk about Shugden site:

… The land where Pobhor Khamtsen of Sera Mey Monastery has built their living quarters and now the monastic building, was given by CTA not the Government of India. Of course every inch of Tibetan refugee land belong to the government of India and not an iota of Indian land belong to Tibetans. The land was under CTA’s undertaking and after the split, was allotted to the remaining monks of Sermey Pomra Khamtsen, which has earlier, housed the largest number of Shugden worshippers prior to the separation in 2008.

Since the original Pomra Khamtsen monks had lost everything because at the time of separation the Shugden followers of the Pomra Khamtsen asked for all the property : monastic temple, monetary funds, living quarters et al, CTA gave the abovementioned land to the original Sermey Pomra Khamtsen monks where they have already built living quarters now and is halfway through building the monastic temple. The Shugden followers of Sermey Pomra Khamtsen went on to found a new monastery named Serpom – a derivative of Sera Mey and Pomra, and got all the lands, money and living quarters, monetary funds and as well as a newly built temple readymade! (all belonging to the erstwhile Pomra Khamtsen of Sera Mey monastery)

However, according to the 2014 speech by the Desung Kalon, the land was provided by the Indian Government at the request of H.H. the Dalai Lama:

In keeping with the principles of the Dharma and the Vinaya, ‘the mouth was distinguished from the moustache’ during the proceeding of Tsulshing ['Stick throwing'- a monastic form of democratic referendum] in Gelugpa monasteries in 2008. Nobody was asked to leave the monastery; it was in fact left for the monks to decide where they wished to live. As was said earlier, it is true that a small number of people continue to live [in Gelug monasteries] with numerous rights. At present, there are the so-called Shar Gaden Nampar Gyalwayling and Serpom Khangtsen monasteries in Mundgod and Bylakupee respectively, [populated by Shugden devotee monks] who are living on the lands provided by the Indian Government at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Administration has never asked them to leave the land. If they voluntarily decide to leave, they are free to do so. There is no prohibition from the Tibetan Administration but rather there are words of appreciation. During the meeting of Tibetan Settlement Officers last year, a clear directive was issued that everyone is equally entitled to the rights enshrined and this directive still remains valid. There is no discrimination regarding this issue.

To reconcile both information … maybe after a request from the Dalai Lama, the CTA gave the land, originally donated and  designated by the Indian Government for refugee usage, to the Shugden monks.

See also


Last edited by tenpel on September 27, 2014 at 06:36 pm

Update Oct. 02, 2014

From Siling Tongkhor: “The ‘ground’ is a refugee area reserved by the GOI for Tibetan refugees. So the land belongs to none other than GOI. Now for any Tibetan individual or organization to build or developed on these refugee areas they had to seek a reference letter from the local CTA office known as the Representative’s Office or from the Settlement Officer. The land on where the Serpom Monastery and its residential quarters are situated are all within the refugee area and thus need reference from the CTA’s local office – Representative’s Office. If CTA really wanted discriminate the Shugden followers as they allege it can take back the land anytime by asking the Indian government to do so as CTA itself doesn’t have any law enforcement network to put that into effect.”

Update Oct. 03, 2014

From a source close to the CTA: “… as far as the land is concerned, it’s land already in the possession of the respective monasteries. It is not in the CTA’s hands to give, nor really in the GoI’s either. Technically it’s under a 99 year lease, but it would be best to think of it as in the possession of the respective monasteries. It’s not as if land was added to the settlements on this occasion. The land used for the new constructions was already delineated as settlement land.” The source added that “it is difficult to identify an ‘owner’” and therefore it would be ok to say “that it was in the monasteries’ ability to allot it to those undertaking the new constructions.”

Revised Declaration from New Kadampa Survivors concerning the demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The following is a revised and abbreviated version of the Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness.

line-gothicWe, the undersigned, as former members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), and ex-practitioners of Dolgyal Shugden, are appalled and saddened that those who were once our NKT sangha demonstrate against and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The NKT, led by their teacher Kelsang Gyatso, operates as the ‘Western Shugden Society’ (WSS) and more recently as the ‘International Shugden Community’ (ISC). These groups attack His Holiness with unwarranted allegations and distortions of what we know to be the truth. We now believe it is time to speak out!

1) The NKT call His Holiness the Dalai Lama a ‘liar’. His Holiness holds a different view from Kelsang Gyatso concerning the nature and history of Dolgyal Shugden and the effects of this practice upon the well-being of His Holiness, the Tibetan people and their cause. A difference of opinion is not lying.

2) The NKT claim that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has broken samaya with all his teachers by rejecting the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. This practice was viewed as problematic by His Holiness’ Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche. After extensive historical investigation His Holiness saw that Dolgyal Shugden worship was often associated with sectarian views and ‘distorted aspiration’. He explained to his Junior Tutor Trijang Rinpoche why it was his duty to avoid this practice and advise others to do so. Masters of other traditions have also dismissed this practice after investigation. According to Buddhist scriptures and past masters, these are correct and appropriate actions.

3) Kelsang Gyatso claims that by rejecting Dolgyal Shugden, His Holiness is rejecting all the lineage teachings of the Gelug tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. Shugden was not taught by Je Tsongkhapa and His Holiness still holds his lineage gurus and all Gelug teachings in the highest esteem. Kelsang Gyatso, however, is never seen in public with teachers connected to the lineage he claims to represent. He is alone, with no influence from either peers or superiors. He created his NKT in 1992 after a schism with another Tibetan Buddhist group whose property he kept as his own. In 1996 he was unanimously expelled from Sera Je Tibetan Buddhist monastery for being a ‘holder of broken commitments and wrong view’. Kelsang Gyatso has made his own tradition of ‘Modern Buddhism’ and his own ordination system without the traditional monastic code of conduct. He has isolated his students from the wider Buddhist world.

4) The allegation that the Dalai Lama is repressing Freedom of Religion is more relevant to the way the NKT operates. NKT centres are dedicated to the exclusive devotion of Kelsang Gyatso and Dolgyal Shugden. No other Tibetan teachers are allowed. NKT centres only sell Kelsang Gyatso’s books. Students only study Kelsang Gyatso’s books with teachers trained in the NKT and appointed by Kelsang Gyatso. Teachers at all critical of the NKT are removed from their posts. Ordained NKT people and others are told they may never get enlightened if they leave the NKT.

5) The Tibetan people number little more than 6 million. An unknown number of Tibetans, often quoted as being more than one million, have been slaughtered due to the Chinese occupation and colonisation. Claims made by the ISC such as ‘4 million Dorje Shugden practitioners are suffering’ from His Holiness’ abuse of their Human Rights are obviously untrue.

No established Human Rights group or court has ever confirmed any of the NKT, WSS or ISC’s claims of intentional Human Rights abuses by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or the Central Tibetan Administration. In 2010 the Indian High Court rejected a law suit by Dolgyal Shugden followers because of ‘vague averments’ and ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’.

6) There are many documented cases where the NKT has threatened to sue using libel law to silence other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet discussion forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. In our experience, the NKT generally prioritises the expansion of the group over the welfare of individuals. The NKT Survivors internet group numbers over 1,200 subscribers. There is no Dalai Lama Survivor’s group.

7) In 2008 Kelsang Gyatso stated that he was personally organising the NKT’s participation in the protests led by the Western Shugden Society (WSS). All the Directors of the WSS were and are members of the New Kadampa Tradition. However, the NKT has denied that they have any connection to the WSS. The latest NKT front group, the International Shugden Community (ISC) actively recruits protestors and fundraises for demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama inside NKT centres.

8) Misleading and deceitful media techniques are used in NKT campaigns. In his YouTube “News Broadcasts” for the ISC, senior NKT monk Kelsang Rabten hides his bias and status as a monk by not wearing his robes. An ISC video uses footage of young Burmese monks to fraudulently misrepresent the situation in India regarding the supposed ‘ostracism’ of Dolgyal Shugden followers. The mainstream press has published NKT accounts without confirming their accuracy.

9) Both in 1996-7 and in 2008 the NKT organised demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama that coincided with the public exposure on the internet of the alleged sexual misconduct of the Deputy Spiritual Directors of the NKT. His Holiness has not changed his view or his actions since 1996. Therefore we question what has caused NKT followers to start their demonstrations and defamations again in 2014.

We offer our support to the Tibetan people in their struggle to preserve their lives and their culture. We question the intentions of those who use their culture but do not support this struggle, not even acknowledging the kindness given in training their own teacher.

We feel that Kelsang Gyatso and his students have no basis in fact for making any attempts to discredit and disparage His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We request them to stop misleading and disturbing others with this false campaign.

26th September 2014

Carol McQuire
Jamie Kostek
Lynne Cracknell
Ani Tsultrim
Graham Smetham
Linda Ciardiello
Ian Thomas
David Cutshaw
Robert Helms
Steve Maxwell
Michael Brown
Charles Wesley
Andrew Durling
Andrew Cheadle
Kevan Webb
Tenzin Peljor
James Tregaskis
Tim Ford
Karma Yonten
Amanda Zinski
Stuart Everard
Andrea Ballance
Yeshe Tsomo
Richard Litchfield
Anne Maxwell
Andrea Clarkson
David Silver
Steve Cody
Peter Dornan
Ben Grimwood
Adrian Benson
Charles Miller
Chris Cliff
Michele White


Lyn G Farrell
Charlie Worthington
Tony Allen
Ganesha von Hendricks
Ashoka von Hendricks
Dan Ballance
Joanne Clark
Carol Brearley
Jon Underwood
Erika Adler




See also

Dear Kelsang Rabten


Dear Kelsang Rabten,

This is addressed to you because of the contrast I feel between the mild mannered man in the suit at the talk at SOAS on August 15th this year and the loud speaker wielding ‘Tibetan Buddhist robed monk’ who appears shouting ‘False Dalai Lama’ and other such defamations at the demon-strations you organise against His Holiness.

Just as the Shugden statues the NKT now use appear to have lost the ‘suppression of the ego’ in the form of a human being ‘pressed down’ by the Snow Lion’s feet, and Shugden’s wrath has disappeared into the bland and smoothened face of a fabricated ‘Wisdom’ being, then so too, I feel you have changed. Something is missing or ‘covered up’. I will call it ‘love’. I know you will still profess to possess this. So, let’s change it to ‘respect’. I feel you have lost ‘respect’ for the roots of your passion, which I knew to be Tibetan Buddhism in its many forms. You were one of the most learned and widely read teachers I met in the NKT. So, what happened?

I more or less left the NKT in 2006. I must have seen you at Manjushri, at the Summer Festival that year, probably in the distance, as you were always above and beyond me in the status game. But you were the kindest teacher I had in the NKT – you tried to answer questions properly (did we ever tell you that?) and you were visibly upset and asked me what the problem was when I cried during your teachings. No one else ever did that. You seemed moved when I told you that my self and my daughter were so poor that we had to eat the rice from my mandala kit one evening – the rents at the centre were too high. You told me to ‘sleep less’ when I said that I couldn’t keep up both the centre and the practice commitments. I replied that I was already only sleeping 4 hours a night and you didn’t know what to say. There was no answer, was there? It wasn’t a life that we could sustain.

Unfortunately, you gave me as an example to other mothers – “If Shraddha can do that, why can’t you?” which provoked resentment against me. I don’t think that was your intention. And you accepted my apology for ‘writing to the NKT about a problem at the centre’ which wasn’t yours, but your teacher’s. You tried to make the peace – you told me I ‘had a good heart’ so, it was considered that I deserved to be forgiven. And here we are again.

The concept of having love and respect for those who are ‘mistaken’, even towards your own teachers if necessary (they may not ‘be’ perfect), is essential to the Buddhist path. But as a Shugden follower you do not seem to show any respect for those who could be ‘mistaken’, like you view His Holiness to be, let alone accept any possibility of ‘being mistaken’ yourself. Isn’t ‘being mistaken’ what we are until we are enlightened? If we can’t accept any ‘mistaken minds’, then we can’t get enlightened, can we?

I heard your voice in one of the videos of His Holiness’s teachings this year – you ‘asked him a question’ from the audience but it was just another shouted out slogan. You might be able to explain something to His Holiness he knows nothing about, but not by shouting. I have suggested to the Tibetans that I thought that you would be one of the few protestors who might be open enough to talk with His Holiness rather than shout at him, but now I am not so sure. Aren’t you closing off the spiritual path with your lack of respect as well as any possibility of dialogue?

His Holiness insisted on having an ‘open mic’ question and answer session in Hamburg. Of course, your group was able to use that opportunity well. But if you ask a question, don’t you wait for an answer? Twice, your representative spoke ‘over’ His Holiness. And, of course, accused him of lying… Again. His Holiness is a monk. He follows his vows because he believes in them. Thousands of people have seen him keep his vows. There is private and public evidence of this. He is a very highly trained, intelligent and thoughtful man who keeps his vows. Now, in the NKT I don’t think there is any guarantee of that; of people keeping vows. I know that the ‘vows’ you kept and seem to be keeping were ‘loyalty to your close teacher’, ‘loyalty to Kelsang Gyatso’, ‘loyalty to the NKT’ and ‘loyalty to the Shugden cause’.

I think you changed your clothes at the SOAS event because you decided to ‘not be’ a monk so that you could ‘be’ a representative of the International Shugden Community – is that right? I mentioned that I thought it strange to see you in a suit. You could have mentioned that it was also strange to see me in lay clothes as the last time you saw me I was an NKT nun, but you didn’t. You just looked down at your clothes and sighed and said that you weren’t used to it either. So, why? I forgot to ask. It was as if we shared a moment in which our roles were frozen, both of us paused in a game that others were designing.

Are you a monk if you behave differently with and without robes? You will probably say that the vows aren’t in the robes. For you they appear to rest in the loyalties you profess. But isn’t that the contradiction? Are you ordained? Or are you a ‘loyal servant of your master’?

What stops you ‘being a monk’ all the time if you are telling the truth? Why do you wear robes to shout at His Holiness outside teachings – you ‘represent’ the ISC then, don’t you? – and not wear them inside a university classroom or when filming a video? When you are singing and chanting and shouting and drumming in your robes are you ‘beyond samsara’ because it doesn’t matter to you that, in the Vinaya that you profess your ten vows cover just as efficiently as two hundred or more, it says that this is not behaviour suitable for ordained people?

His Holiness calls himself a ‘Bodhisattva trainee’! He is trying to be a Bodhisattva. I think you may agree on that, whether he ‘is’ the ‘right’ Dalai Lama or not. Yes? No. You can’t agree to that and also hold that he is a ‘liar’. So you are saying that he has broken his Pratimoksha vows at the most basic level? That he is lying? You really think the Dalai Lama has never tried to generate Bodhichitta? You think he does not have your well being at heart? You must think this because if you did not you would know that whatever your views as to his decisions, you should still treat His Holiness with respect or your own suffering in the future will be great. But lack of respect is the essence of your ‘demon-strations’.

I was disappointed that you had no more evidence at your SOAS presentation than you present online. You haul out old data. Rehash. Find a small problem in the Himalayas and make it front page crisis. Add footage from other times and places in a way that deceives the viewer into ‘seeing’ more than a sensible report would show. Teenagers in the UK suffer far more prejudice than your ‘persecuted’ Shugden followers. And when there is prejudice it often comes from fear. At some level, I think you know that. But you are tied. ‘Interrupting’ the Dalai Lama is seen as a hero’s task, a guerrilla romance of great import, an achievement. Any murmur of doubt is hidden behind the celebration. I remember the expression on the face of the young man that security took out of the Hamburg venue. He was in shock…a kind of sheepish shock. The ‘moral muddle’ you and he are in is precisely what His Holiness is trying to warn you against, although his words are culturally more distant than mine. He’s Tibetan. We aren’t.

Your ‘demon-strations’ are precisely the ‘evidence’ of what you are being warned against – you lack respect. You lack respect for your robes and for other practitioners. That same lack of respect blocks your spiritual path, for if you cannot admit to being at all ‘mistaken’, how can you expose the deeper levels of your own mind? And how can you have a dialogue with anyone, let known with His Holiness? There has been no change in policy or in action by His Holiness or of the Central Tibetan Administration in the last few years since you stopped your last demon-strations in 2008. So why start again, why now? It’s as if you want to create a campaign where there is none. Of course, if we are terrified of making mistakes then that same terror will blind us from our mistakes any way! Do you know that, in tradition, (something you claim to be protecting), you can stop engaging in a practice without breaking samaya with a teacher if that teacher understands why. Or if you know that he is completely mistaken about a particular view. You can keep love and respect for them even if you see a particular view as mistaken. But you are trapped, aren’t you? Following instructions, like putting on a suit. And interrupting an answer to your questions.

I didn’t think it ‘was’ Shugden either, the cause of my problems with the NKT ‘view’. I only prayed to him intensely once, with a whole bag of rice Kuten Lama had blessed. Five minutes later my daughter experienced the worst accident the school playground supervisor had ever seen. I had prayed for ‘obstacles’ to my fast path to enlightenment to be removed!

Four months before I was asked to leave Bodhisattva Centre ‘immediately’ , for complaining about my teachers’ conduct, I had prayed to a more ‘generic’ idea of ‘Buddhas’ to sort out a good path for me. It didn’t take them long! There’s a weight I am free of out of the NKT, whatever other things I am also aware of missing, such as the buildings, the space to meditate and the study on a plate, people to talk to and a ‘purpose’ to fulfil in promoting it all. I am free of that weight of obligation to a ‘lineage’ which isn’t anything other than a system – a ‘Shugden’ system based on ‘obedience’ and problems with ‘samaya’. It’s completely different ‘out here’. I’m not judged or rewarded as you are – by your political feats of producing disturbing video news. Or for interrupting His Holiness… I am not forced to have any particular views as proof of my samaya.

Of course, I could be making a mistake. Another one. But, there is something real about vows outside the NKT. People respect them, as a practice. It’s nothing to do with ‘obedience’ and everything to do with ‘respect’. ‘Reality’ has a way of shifting itself into view in the long term so, some day, the reasons behind your actions will become clearer. I blame the views. And the ‘muddled vows’. For Pabongkha and for your teacher, Shugden was a family deity. You discredit him if you think that was by force, but even the Kuten Lama ended up agreeing with His Holiness. You’d be in good company!

May all mistaken views be clarified. May this mess speed us all on our respective paths. Somehow.


Former Kalon Tripa, Ven. Samdhong Rinpoche’s address at Suja TCV School on the issue of Dholgyal (Shugden)

Samdhong Rinpoche at TCV Suja on 26th July, 2014

Samdhong Rinpoche at TCV Suja School on 26th July, 2014

We had a brief mention and summery of Samdhong Rinpoche’s speech about Shugden at Suja TCV School here. The campaigning Western Shugden propagandists, who have no knowledge of Tibetan language and culture, have repeatedly and falsely accused the CTA, the Dalai Lama or Samdhong Rinpoche to “incite hate”. You can see for yourself how much this is true, if you have properly translated accounts of their speeches. Here is another piece.

In fact it are the campaigning Western Shugden propagandists and Kelsang Gyatso, their leader, who incite hate against the Dalai Lama. This is obvious when you were in NKT and under the influence of their Agit-Prop (propaganda) and it will become obvious if you see and reflect about their websites, blogs and Facebook accounts.


Former Kalon Tripa, Ven. Samdhong Rinpoche’s address at Suja TCV School on the issue of Dholgyal (Shugden)

On Saturday, the 26th of July, 2014, the former Kalon Tripa, Ven. Samdhong Rinpoche addressed the staff and students of Suja TCV School on the issue of Dholgyal (Shugden). (The following is English translation of the address.)

To the ordained sangha members, the staff members of Suja TCV School led by the Director and the Principal, and the beloved school children who have assembled here. As was clear from the announcement made earlier, in consideration of a special purpose, students from three schools, namely Gopalpur TCV, Upper TCV , as well as this school, have gathered here for this address, aimed at clarifying some points. Earlier, the plan for me was to arrive here at the end of the previous month. However, due to some health issues, I couldn’t make it then, for which I ask for your forgiveness. The topic for clarification and discussion here today came up in connection with an event put up by the organizers of the recently concluded program of giving Introduction to Buddhism by His Holiness the Dalai Lama held at the Upper TCV School for the benefit of a large number of Tibetans. During that time, the organizers had also arranged an event where they requested the Honorable Sikyong and the Honorable Speaker of Tibetan Parliament to speak on the perspective, stand, and policy of the Central Tibetan Administration concerning the issue of Dholgyal. At that time, both the Honorable Sikyong and the Honorable Speaker had spoken at depth and length on the topic, and the program concluded with a question and answer session wherein the students had asked a variety of questions. Among them, five questions were directed to the Speaker, and six to the Sikyong. So, a total of eleven questions were asked. However, from among those questions, there were six to which we need to pay attention. These six questions may vary in syntax and choice of words, but, in essence, they all seem to imply that the questioners had some reservations regarding propriety and justification of the steps taken by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration on this issue.

If you ask, how? Some of the questions point to this: The Dholgyal issue, these days, has taken on a political twist with the People’s Republic of China (henceforth, PRC) making use of it. Therefore, if we confront and challenge this issue with renewed rigor, wouldn’t this have an adverse effect on the unity of our people? Another one says: If, in the future, the force and influence of them (Dholgyal followers) persistently remain after the Tibetan issue is resolved, isn’t there the danger of Tibet becoming divided along the same lines as that of India and Pakistan upon partition? One questioners asks if the discrimination meted out to them is justified. Particularly, in the eyes of the student-questioner, it appears to suggest that the Dholgyal followers are discriminated against in the society. The questioner cites such instances as children in schools belittling and disliking fellow students when they discover about their association with Dholgyal, and some restaurants and shops posting notices to the effect that Dholgyal followers are not welcome in their premises. The questioner even uses the English term “social discrimination” and wonders if the above instances do amount to social discrimination. One questioner asks if it is not our obligation to give religious freedom to every person. Another one uses the English term “secularism” and asks if, like in the case of India, it is not binding on us to give freedom to profess or propagate any religion. Such were the six questions. During the program, the addresses apparently went on quite long that it was already time to conclude the session. Later, when arrangements were made to clarify on those points, the audience had already begun to disperse. However, it is deemed necessary to make clarifications on these points, and thus this meeting of ours here today is convened. Therefore, in the address today, I will be touching only on the contents of those questions.

We will not have the opportunity to present the background information on the Dholgyal issue, nor there time for that. Let’s assume that you already knew about them. If do not know, then there are several conveniently readable books that are results of research undertaken over a long time. The Central Tibetan Administration has published several books for educating and enlightening people on this issue. There are also introductory books written and published by individuals as well as private committees specifically formed to undertake researches into this. Recently, there was a book written by an editing committee constituted from the Great Monastic Seats of Learning of the Gelug Order located in South India. If you look at these books, you will have a clear understanding.

Today, I have come here on my personal capacity, not as a representative of the Central Administration or any particular group or section. Therefore, I shall relate my personal views and the course of happenings as they actually occurred. Yesterday, when I carefully listened to the entire recordings of the students’ questions, I experienced a mixture of both happiness and sadness. The reason for why I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness is as follows: It has been several years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has admonished us on this Dholgyal issue. His Holiness began giving the admonishments in the year 1975/1976, and has since been following up on this with extreme clarity. Not only this, numerous individuals and organizations such as the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, and several great masters have also made repeated clarifications. Despite all this, we still see unresolved concerns and seeds of doubts in the minds of younger generation. That, too, the generation of youths who are currently enrolled in schools, thus not a generation of youths without education. That, too, among the youths who are enrolled in schools, in and around Dharamsala, such as those run by the TCV organization and the Central Tibetan Administration. This makes me a little uneasy and surprised. This cannot be blamed on the students. This is due to the lack of a clear and effective guidance from the responsible personnel, the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, and the teachers and staffs of the schools. Due to this lack of guidance, the concerns and doubts in the minds of students remain unresolved. On top of this, the rigorous attempts of the Dholgyal followers in exploring various means to project false propaganda has begun to take effect on the youths. Seeing this, it is but natural to generate fear and a strong feeling of unease.

Previously, a responsible Tibetan visiting from the US also told me of this, that the thinking of several young Tibetans in the US seem to be affected by the false propaganda carried out by the Dholgyal followers, in that there are many young Tibetans who take some exception to the approaches of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration in this regard. This person also told me that some of them even tend to be not so responsive to others’ efforts to clarification. But then, when I think of those living in the US, I can kind of sympathize with their situation. They have almost no other source of information than the social media. They have no access to a person-to-person exchange and discussion. If one depends solely on the social media, then definitely the online sites managed by the Dholgyal followers are far more numerous, forceful, and widespread. In contrast to that, it is quite clear that we, on our side, do not have as many sites presenting our viewpoint. When this issue was first raised in India, unlike in the US, it would have been pertinent for us to have and should have made clarifications. So, from that point of view, to witness that there still are lingering doubts and concerns on this issue is a sad sign. That gave rise to a feeling of sadness.

Earlier, I told you that I had a mixed feeling of happiness and sadness. You may wonder what might be the reason for happiness over this. The fact that those students decided to bring out their doubts and concerns, and seek clarification at the right opportunity, and did not keep their doubts buried inside, is a very good thing, I thought. Whatever the issue at hand may be, it is always very important to table them for open discussion. Unless you do that, the responsible personnel would not be able to know what the students have in their minds. If they do not know, then the opportunity to clarify on them would also be not there. So, I recognize the students’ asking those questions as a righteous behavior. Therefore, I congratulate the questioners. In the future, too, whenever you have similar doubts and concerns, you should not merely carry them in your minds, but must seek clarification and guidance from whoever may be available for that. In the event you do not find them, these days there are many books, websites, as well as many other mediums of information. You could go through them, and, I think, it would be good if your doubts are resolved through that. So, this is the background information.

If you asked what our impressions are about the contents of the aforementioned five/six questions, then here it is. The number of questioners is just a few students. From the factual point of view, as I mentioned, those were the contents that emerge from those questions. However, if you ask, what does that indicate? It indicates that you cannot establish no other students had similar questions in their minds. It indicates that you cannot establish it was only those students who had such questions in their minds. For, it takes someone to have some courage and training to be able to raise questions in a big gathering, others cannot. So, I think, the questions from the six people indicate that it is possible for there to be, and there may actually be, similar doubts and concerns in the student community. There may be many others who have similar thoughts, concerns and doubts. It is possible that the students engage in similar conversations among themselves. Therefore, it is important that we should address their doubts and concerns and give clarifications. Otherwise, if this is left unattended to, naturally there is the danger of giving rise to more concerns and doubts, instead of things becoming clearer. Because of that, when the TCV Administration and the organizing committee for the Introduction of Buddhism asked me to address these points, I was able to see a definite need for that.

With these backgrounds, I would now summarize the themes to address here, this way: The questions put forth by the six students may vary in their syntax, delivery, and clarity. However, when one looks thoroughly into their contents, one may sense the underlying mental feelings associated with them. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has, for long, been giving valuable guidance concerning this Dholgyal issue. In response to the guidance, the Central Tibetan Administration, the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, different monasteries, non-governmental organizations, and individuals have taken many steps and made many efforts. I think that those questions make it clear that some people have the feeling that, among those steps and efforts, there may be some that are slightly unfit, unsuitable, and inadequate. Summarizing the meaning of this, it is clearly reflected in them that some feel that there have been some violations of the human rights and religious freedom of the Dholgyal followers. Second point, there seems to be the feeling that the manner in which the Central Tibetan Administration and the general Tibetan community relate to the Dholgyal followers is wrong, and that there is some discrimination in the society. Third point, there seems to be the feeling that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration are not making enough efforts to build unity between the general Tibetan population and the Dholgyal followers, or that their efforts do not go far enough to achieve that. Lastly, that the unity is important, and, in the interest of unity, objection to/disapproval of/rejection of the worshipping of Dholgyal should be toned down a little. There is the feeling that between the two, i.e. benefits accrued from objecting/disapproving/rejecting the worship of Dholgyal and benefits accrued from forging unity, the latter is more important and that objection to/disapproval of/rejection of the Dholgyal worship is not that important. From the way I understand, the backdrop of the six questions is kind of subsumed into the above four points.

These four points do not convey new concerns and doubts that are affecting the thought of the present youth. From early on, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave repeated guidance on the Dholgyal issue and the Central Tibetan Administration followed up on them with steps and efforts, the Dholgyal groups have engaged in false propaganda concerning these points. Lots of incidents took place in the society. Therefore, taking stock of all of that, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (henceforth, ATPD) formulated, on June 6, 1996, an eight-point resolution, adopted through general consensus, which lays down guidance for the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, the general public and the individuals on how to deal with the followers of Dholgyal. This is talking of some 19/20 years ago. Still, the complications continued to persist thereafter. Because of that, on Sept. 17, 1997, another 11-point resolution was adopted through general consensus. If one carefully reads the introductory section and the articles of the above two resolutions, one will find that the above four points of concerns and doubts have been thoroughly addressed in those resolutions. Therefore, anyone who harbors such concerns and doubts should study the aforementioned 8-point and 11-point resolutions adopted through general consensus by the ATPD. I have hope that things will become clear through that. All those resolutions are important ones that deal with the public mentality and behavior. Due to the lapse of a long time since, it is possible for these resolutions to have slipped away from the memory of the public. Therefore, I think that it would be good to read them time and again and let the students read them and explain to them. Since these are resolutions that have been adopted after thorough debates in the Assembly, each statement and paragraph in them carry significant meanings. You will be able to find them among the records of the Assembly. The same goes with the books written about the Dholgyal. When the students read them, things will become clear to them. The reason why I make reference to these written records is that, since they are in written form, they can be read over and again. They are terse and comprehensive, and thus they may relate to many doubts and concerns. What we will be hearing live here may or may not be retained by all, and it is possible that people may forget half of them by the time the session is over. Therefore, instead of making references to long treatises, I have referred to two compact resolutions, with the thought that it will be more convenient for you to go through them and benefit from them.

Of the four points that I brought out, the first relates to whether the actions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration, several governmental/official and non-governmental/official གཞུང་འབྲེལ་དང་གཞུང་འབྲེལ་མིན་པའི་ groups, the monastic institutions do indeed infringe on the Basic Human Rights and Religious Freedom of the Dholgyal followers. To this, I hold that such an accusation is a false one. I can decidedly say that all of our actions, over the time, have not infringed upon their rights, either directly or indirectly. This is not a case of suspecting that we might not have infringed. For, the question of whether or not an infringement has occurred is a legal question. Not just that, it is also an administrative and social question. These need to be looked into carefully. They have been using an English term. I have not seen this rendered into Tibetan. Most of their propaganda are made in English and other western languages. What they have claimed in these propaganda materials is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has ‘banned’ the worshipping of Dholgyal. They have used this English term. In Tibetan, this English term translates to ‘making something not permissible’. All that His Holiness has done is raise objection to the worshipping and disapprove/reject དགག་བྱ་དང་བཀག་འགོག་གནང་བ་ it. He has not issued an arbitrary decree saying that the Dholgyal worshipping cannot be done. Therefore, he has not banned the practice. We have to understand this clearly. If he has banned it, how come the Dholgyal worshippers are carrying on with the worship? Not only are they carrying on with the worship with freedom, they even have the liberty to deride him, to carry out demonstrations against him wherever he pays a visit, and to express opposition by being in close physical proximity to him. All these clearly demonstrate that His Holiness has not banned the worship; he has not issued any decree banning the practice. Look at the addresses that His Holiness has given over the time. He admonishes us that we would be better off if we do not undertake the worship; that the current approach to the worship goes against the precepts of taking Refuge into the Triple Jewels; and that it (the worshipping) brings down the standard of Buddhism. He also admonishes that it (the worshipping) undermines the harmony among the different Orders of Tibetan Buddhism, and adversely affects the Tibetan cause and unity of Tibetan people. So, His Holiness has only offered the admonishment that it would be better not to engage in the worship. He has never asked us to terminate the worship from now onwards. If one listens to the words of His Holiness, he has, from the beginning, said that it is his duty to give advice to people, and that whether or not people listen to him is up to them. On some occasions, His Holiness conveys this by quoting Khache Phalu, saying: “The heart advice of Khache Phalu has been given; it is now up to you (the listeners) whether to heed or not.” Many of you may have certainly seen His Holiness quoting this. These are all captured in written records. I am not making them up. To tell you of a recent happening, on the 10th of this month (July, 2014), in Ladakh, during the preliminary teachings leading to the Kalachakra empowerment, His Holiness said, “If there are Dholgyal worshippers in the audience, I ask you not to stay for the empowerment. I have always asked you not to carry out that worship, but it is up to you if you listen or not. Nothing is being forced upon anyone. That is individual liberty. However, if you are a worshipper and still insist on receiving any tantric empowerment from me, then it would only cause degeneration of the sacred commitment (samaya), on the part of both the master and the disciple.” When we take this above address into consideration, he never says that one cannot carry out the worship. All he says is that it is not good to carry out the worship and that whether one heeds the advice or not is up to the individuals. Besides that, given the current socio-political situation, there is no way that His Holiness could impose a ‘ban’ on anything. This is something that we need to know very clearly. So, the freedom to choose to listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama is left with the Dholgyal followers themselves. This freedom of theirs is never compromised. On the contrary, if you look at the physical and verbal actions of the Dholgyal followers, then it becomes quite clear that it is them who have transgressed the Human Rights and Religious Freedom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration, and the monastic seats of learnings. Basic Human Rights is a general theme. Regarding the question of engaging in Dholgyal-worship or not, when someone suggests not to engage in the worship, the Dholgyal-worshippers interpret this as a violation of their freedom to worship. Since the worship or non-worship (of anything) comes under the question of Religious Freedom, it would, at the first glance, appear that any suggestion to the effect of not engaging in the worship might inflict harm on the undertaking of the worship. It is possible for someone to harbor such suspicion. However, this situation needs to be studied thoroughly. Looking from the perspective of international law, where might the topic of Religious Freedom fit in? There is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Within that Universal Declaration, the Article 18 deals with, what we might call in Tibetan, ‘Religious Freedom’. In that Article, it deals with freedom related with three things. They are ‘thought, conscience, and religion’. What do all humans have equal right to freedom of? They have the freedom of harboring any thought. They have the freedom of conscience. The have the freedom to have faith in any religion. So, these three freedoms are lumped together. It is not just about religion. In terms of the nature and extent of this right, this “includes freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance, and the freedom to change his religion or belief.” The freedom to change religion is also included within this right to religious freedom. So, the right to denounce or praise a particular religion, and based on that, the right for any individual to change ones’ particular religion are included within this right to religious freedom in the Universal Declaration. So, no one is keeping any individual from worshipping Dholgyal. One may offer guidance. That’s all. When they (Dholgyal worshippers) meet together and engage in the propitiation rituals with the accompaniment of horns, trumpets, drums, and cymbals, there is no one to create any hindrance. When you go to South India and observe the activities of the breakaway Shar Gaden and the breakaway Ser-med Pomra, you will witness how they have, in the past, and still do, in the present, go about their activities with even more pomp and show than the main monasteries. In that, no one, neither the public nor the administrations, is meddling with them. They engage in very rigorous propaganda campaign, and they are able to do that due to the fact that they have freedom, not otherwise. To that, we are not causing even the slightest of hindrances. Instead, when they demand that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should stop publicly disapproving/rejecting??? the Dholgyal worship, that act is an attempt to violate the religious freedom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. On our part, we are not demanding that they stop their propaganda campaign. It is them who stage demonstrations demanding that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should cease to make disapproving statements on Dholgyal worship. So, look who is violating religious freedom, they or we? It is very important for us to understand this clearly. Besides, the right to freedom of religion is not an unconditional right. It is always a conditional right. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it says, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind…” It also says, “No distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs…” So, as much as the Dholgyal followers have the right to freedom of religion, so do His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans have the same right. Thus, there has never been any violation of their right to religious freedom. If at all there has been any case of violation, then it is His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the rest of the Tibetans who have suffered the violation. And this fact can be verified both legally and politically, and this can be proven true. That’s what I want to say here. Also, we are living in India, and if we want to raise an issue related to religious freedom in India, we would need to do so in accordance with the Constitution of India. In the Constitution of India, the issue of religious freedom is dealt with in Article 25. If one looks at the subsets 1, 2, and 3 and their implications under the above Article, one will see the provisions on religious freedom in this Article 25. The right to freedom of religion in the Indian context is linked to so many conditions. It is not a right without any conditions attached to it. At the outset of the Article, the following conditions are attached to the right: “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part…” Only after fulfilling these conditions, it goes on to say, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” If, under the pretext of religious practice and religious rites and rituals, someone were to disrupt the public order. Take, for example, the Dholgyal worshippers. At this present time, they are the biggest cause for public and administrative unease. In terms of contravening morality, the Dholgyal followers have terrorized, murdered, beaten, and tortured people and continue to do so. If one looks at these acts, they have contravened morality. As to whether or not they have disrupted the health condition, it relates to the specifics of the particular situations. For instance, if they persist in their present activities, they are liable to be banned under the law and regulations of the Government of India. In particular, if we look at their ways and activities from the perspectives of the western world, it would be hard for them to defend their status as a religious group. Rather, theirs could be considered a Cult. The centers of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso operating in England had been, on several occasions, suspected to be leaning towards such an organization by the British Government. They have since introduced some changes in the organization to avoid complications. It is slightly settled nowadays.

If one reads Prof. Bob Thurman’s articles, one would see very clearly how the New Kadampa is either a Cult already, or at least leaning towards it. If it becomes one, then it would be liable to a legal ban under the provisions of the Indian law. It cannot escape such a liability. In the subsets 1 and 2 of Article 25 of the Constitution, it is written that “Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law…” It is also written that nothing in the Article shall “prevent the State from making any law (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.” For instance, in the customs of many Indian religions, they discriminate people on the basis of caste and color, and stipulate that such and such caste people are permitted to enter a temple and such and such people are not. Likewise, they make similar discrimination with regard to education, stipulating that such and such caste people can study this and that, while others cannot. There are also the religious custom of discriminating certain caste and color as untouchable. All these customs have not been granted under the right to freedom of religion. They have all been banned under law.

For instance, discrimination in granting or banning entry to temple has been banned under law. What does this indicate? This makes it very clear by law that in regards to any incident that violates public order and morality, it is legal to intervene, control, and regulate such occurrences. This is the situation under the Constitution of India. However, we have never sought any such intervention, control, and regulation. If we take the Charter of Tibetans-in-exile into consideration, Article 10 deals with the issue of religious freedom. In that section, the first statement says, “All religious denominations are equal before the law.” Even allowing that the worship of Dholgyal constitutes a denomination of its own, it would have the same footing as those of the non-worshippers. Therefore, it is not permissible for one to violate the right of the other. On our part, we do not violate their rights. On their part, there have been attempts to violate the rights of others. If the ATPD were to intervene on those attempts, they are entitled to do so under the provisions of Article 12 of the Charter. Since it states, “Subject to any law imposing restrictions in the immediate and ultimate interest of the Tibetan people and for the benefit of the public”, it is a matter that can be legally intervened into. This has not happened so far. However, in the future if the ATPD decides to pass law and regulations concerning some of their (Dholgyal followers’) activities, the ATPD is legally capable of doing that.

To summarize the first point, I may say that, ever since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has guided us on this Dholgyal issue, he has never engaged in a single act that violates the Basic Human Rights and Religious Freedom of the Dholgyal followers. If any of you have such concerns and doubts to this effect, I wanted to make it clear that such concerns and doubts are baseless. However, there is no reason for you to believe me by this mere statement of mine. It is possible that some of you may already not believe me. On this globe, whenever there is a violation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom, who should you approach for its protection? On the international level, there is the organization of Amnesty International. When one witnesses such violation, one has to appeal to the Amnesty International. In India, there is the National Human Rights Commission. So, in India one has to approach the above National Human Rights Commission. For the protection of these rights, one has to turn to this Commission in India. In the year 1998, the followers of Dholgyal did approach the Amnesty International. Soon afterwards, the Amnesty International carried out a thorough investigation. At the end, Amnesty International came out saying that in Tibet there are several cases of violation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom that the organization was able to verify. However, in the exile community, particularly with regard to the Dholgyal followers, they have not been able to verify even a single incident where the violation of Human Rights and/or Religious Freedom has taken place. So, the international organization told the Dholgyal groups in clear terms that the organization could no longer pursue with their allegations. All this is a widely known fact, well documented in written forms; there is nothing secret and classified about this. If you look at these documents, it will be clear to you.

Later, in the year 2007, they also appealed to the National Human Rights Commission in India. In that appeal, they have specifically brought up the case of the 16 new arrivals from Tibet who were denied admission into one of the Great Monastic Seats of Learning. Usually, the Reception Committee (for the new arrivals) would eventually issue a recommendation letter to the individual new arrivals for admission into either a school or a monastic institution. Such a letter would specify that the individual in question is interested in joining a particular house-group within a particular monastery or monastic seat, and would request, on his/her behalf, for acceptance into the said organization. It would be the same for any particular school or any monastic institution belonging to any religious order, irrespective. However, the Reception Committee did not give this group of individuals the recommendation letter for admission into the Great Monastic Seats of Learning (of Gelug Order). They were all told that they could be issued recommendation letter for any school of their choice, but not of the Great Monastic Seats of Learning. The reason why they could not be given a recommendation letter for those Monastic Seats is because the Charter of the Gelug Order that the dge-ldan bstan-bdag lhan-tshogs (the Central Authority of Gelug Order???) had promulgated lists the requirement that anyone seeking admission into any Gelug monastic institution must be unassociated with Dholgyal worship or must have terminated such previous association. This requirement could not be nullified by the Central Tibetan Administration in exile. In general, monasteries, schools, and universities have the freedom to come up with their own admission requirements. One cannot challenge them on the ground of one’s rights. Whatever rules and regulations an organization may have laid down is governed by the procedure of making rules and regulations of the respective organization. Thus, the Reception Committee could not issue a recommendation that goes against the Charter of the Gelug Order, and so they didn’t.

This is an isolated case they (the Dholgyal followers) had picked on, and there were other allegations they have made and continue to make. For instance, that their children were dropped from schools, that people were not allowed into the hospitals, etc. None of these were substantiated. If one looks at the debate proceedings and the written records of the ATPD, all these allegations would be clearly proven false. Not a single one has truth. The National Human Rights Commission in India has undertaken a thorough investigation over these allegations. The Reception Committee and related Departments received orders for enquiry. Over and above these, the Commission itself carried out thorough investigations. Finally, the Commission released reports, dated Dec. 19, 2007, saying that they had not found a single case of violation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom, and, therefore, no decisions could be taken, and no confirmations could be issued to the allegations they had made. No one can accept the claim that the conclusions drawn by both the Amnesty International and India’s National Human Rights Commission are false. If one insists on the unreliability of the above conclusions, one could and should approach higher courts of justice. But they have not done that. The reason for this is that their allegations were baseless. The conclusions drawn by these organizations were not biased, rather they were arrived at after thorough investigations. That is why, when I decidedly said that there were no violations on our part, it was based on the conclusions drawn by these organizations that have legal authorities. If anyone wants to expose the truth of these conclusions, one must approach the higher courts of justice and have one’s allegations verified. Instead, if one continues to create scenes in the alleyways and allege that one’s rights are being violated, then that is, in clear terms, telling lies, and making baseless and unreliable charges. So, therefore, these incidents should not be a cause for concern and doubts. That is one thing I wanted to let you know.

The second point is that people have a feeling that they (Dholgyal worshippers) are being discriminated against and are meted out unfair treatment. On this allegation, there are things that we need to understand clearly. For instance, no hospitals, stores, restaurants, etc. that are run by the Central Tibetan Administration have ever stated that the Dholgyal followers are not welcome into their facilities. Nor have they put up any posters to that effect. There have been no discrimination whatsoever from the part of the Central Tibetan Administration. From the Reception Committee based in Nepal to the Reception Committee in Dharamsala; from the point of arriving at the Reception Committee in Dharamsala to the point of receiving audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; from there to the point of being sent to schools—all are being treated same as any other Tibetan would be. This includes those who come openly declaring themselves as Dholgyal worshippers. None is discriminated against. They are given the same facilities and same health care. They are given recommendation letters to enroll into schools. It is possible there may be some among them who are still continuing in those schools. However, when privately owned restaurants and stores carry signs that say the Dholgyal worshippers are not welcome, then that is the freedom of the owners. That is their Fundamental Human Rights. Although I do not clearly remember which order of Article it is, there is definitely the provision for the right to privacy. Under that right, anyone can express their mind of being not receptive of someone. That is their fundamental right. There is no way we can violate that. For instance, when one is staying in a big hotel, one finds several message signs hanging on the door knob to choose from. One of the signs say ‘Do not disturb’. If one does not wish anyone to enter the room for a time being, one could put up that sign on the outside. That is not a case of discriminating against anyone. Be it a room service or a caterer, for the time being the sign keeps them away. At some monasteries and monastic institutions, when they put up signs that say the ‘Dholgyal followers are not welcome for ordering propitiation rituals or for making donations’, that is exercising their lawful rights; that is not at all a case of unlawfully violating the rights of others. Let alone that, in the hospitals, people infected with contagious diseases are quarantined and not allowed to meet with other people. That is not violating the rights of anyone. Instead, that is being done for the benefit of both the patients and others who might, otherwise, contract the disease. They (Dholgyal followers) are deceptively mixing the two concepts of ‘Social discrimination’ and ‘Social boycott’. Social discrimination is one thing, and social boycott is a different thing. The Dholgyal followers are mixing the two together in an attempt to mislead people. When they are affected by social boycott from others, they claim that they are being subjected to social discrimination. In actuality, this is not at all a case of social discrimination. Everyone has the right to engage in a boycott. Above and beyond that, boycott is the best method of non-violently confronting and protesting an unbecoming action. Mahatma Gandhi, in his struggle for independence and several other causes, saw the method/s of non-cooperation/civil disobedience and boycott as the best possible option/s and therefore resorted to it/them. Gandhi-ji gave ‘boycott’ a new name in ‘non-cooperation’. Non-cooperation and boycott have a similar connotation. Therefore, in the Tibetan society, when you see the owners of stores, restaurants, monasteries put up signs saying ‘Dholgyal followers are not welcome’ at the entrances, in order for them to keep away from having any social and spiritual fellowship with the Dholgyal followers, they are merely exercising their lawful rights and not usurping the rights of the Dholgyal followers. This we have to understand clearly. In our Tibetan society, we engage in several forms of boycott. The non-governmental groups such as the Tibetan Youth Congress often promote measures of boycotting Chinese products, irrespective of whether they are successful in making a difference. As far as I can remember, on several occasions, they had campaigns of damaging Chinese thermos and burning Chinese blankets, etc. Even though no one really succeeded in stopping the buying and selling of Chinese products, they did make efforts towards that end. Those measures were not a case of discrimination against the Chinese businessmen and Chinese producers. That was not social discrimination, only a social boycott. We take up such measures because we consider them relevant and just, not because they are irrelevant and untruthful. In particular, what the followers of Dholgyal and the international community need to know is that there would be no way anyone could bother them if they were to carry out their Dholgyal worship privately and in a low-key fashion. The main reason for the social boycott of Dholgyal worshippers is not because they carry out that worship; such a reason is rarely used. Instead, the main pressure for the boycott comes from the fact that they engage in slander campaigns against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and openly oppose the guidance of His Holiness. That is what is making people uneasy about them and difficult to accept them. On the other hand, if someone were to carry out the worship quietly, who would even notice that? The main reason for social dislike and anger is their criticism and opposition to His Holiness. Therefore, to suggest that existing distance between the social boycotters and the Dholgyal groups is not good is not at all tenable. If one feels that both the supporters/approvers and detractors/ disapprovers/ revilers མཚན་སྨད་མ་ཞུ་མཁན་དང་ཞུ་མཁན་གཉིས་ of His Holiness the Dalai Lama could be treated at par, then such thinking is definitely a grave mistake, I think. For instance, in the schools, if the rest of the students were to bully and despise a student who worships Dholgyal, then that is unacceptable. On the other hand, if the other students choose to distance themselves from that student, then, I think, there is nothing wrong with that. There is no reason for anyone to be physically close to each other. Just as one would distance oneself from someone with contagious disease, likewise keeping distance from someone who has incurred a breach of trust/samaya with His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be advisable for the benefit of both the parties involved. There will be no harm from such a choice. Since there is no way any violation of the rights of any concerned party could take place by following the present mode of conduct of the Tibetan society and the Central Tibetan Administration with regard to the Dholgyal followers, I personally feel that there has been not a single wrong in this.

The third point is that people have the feeling that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Monastic institutions, and Central Tibetan Administration have not made any effort for building unity between those who worship Dholgyal and those who do not. I don’t think that is at all the case. Nor do I personally believe that there has been either inadequate effort or negative efforts in this regard. If you ask for the reasons to feel this way, they are as follows: There is no time limit imposed for amendment in one’s action with regard to Dholgyal worship. Nor is there anyone to འགྲིག་གི་མི་འདུག་གསུང་མཁན་denounce you once have made the amendments accordingly. If a Dholgyal worshiper were to discontinue the worship and choose to return back to a monastery or to the society, he/she could do that any time. Once you have returned back, there would be no one to denounce you and ostracize you on the grounds that you had engaged in the worship previously. This is borne out by the reality on the ground at any one of the Great Monastic Seats of Learning. It has been around 30 years since disapproval/repudiation/rejection of Dholgyal was made public. Even if someone comes forward these days and pledge to make amendments, admitting their mistake, these Great Monastic Seats of Learning will still certainly accept them. If one were to admit mistake and pledge amendment in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama today, he would kindly accept your request. He would never reject you, saying this is too late in coming. So, the door for them to return back to their alma maters and mainstream society is always open, not closed. Not only are the doors open, the act of returning upon making amendment is something anyone should be able to achieve. Anyone should be able to accomplish this. In view of one’s future prospect, both worldly and spiritual prospects, if one insists on not leaving the Dholgyal, and if, faced with the decision of choosing between one’s guru and a spirit, one chooses the spirit, that is really unreasonable. So, the fact that, upon making the amendment, one is welcome anytime to return back to one’s old community and feel treated equally is the most open road to unity and the best road to unity. This is how I think. To date, there has not been a single case at the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, etc. where someone who had earlier engaged in the worship and later made amendments is subjected to denouncement and ostracizing. There are many individuals who are still reeling in uncertainty. Since there is no time limit imposed for them to make amendments, there is no such thing as being too late for a decision, or missing a deadline. So, from our part, there has been a considerate thinking in place. Particularly, on the part of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he has put forth a very clear picture, backed by scriptural sources and reasoning, of what are the harm and benefits, respectively, that one may accrue from Dholgyal worship or otherwise. If anyone is a sensible person, there is nothing in that presentation that one cannot give a favorable thought to, or that one finds no direction which way to think. Therefore, there has not been any lapse, at all, on our part by way of either making inadequate efforts or negative efforts towards building unity. This can be clearly sensed.

It seems that there are some who feel we should make some concessions to the Dholgyal worshippers who are unable to stop the worship so that they could return to the mainstream society. Particularly, there are some who feel that there could be a way to make some kind of compromise and reach an understanding between those who worship Dholgyal and those who do not. For instance, in that meeting (at TCV), one of the questioners wondered if some kind of agreement might be struck (with the Dholgyal worshippers). This same suggestion had appeared before and has appeared this time also. In general, if the other one is a human being, one would expect him/her to be able to be made to understand. Those who could not be brought to an understanding thus far, what additional things are left that might be done, what additional information might be given to bring them to an understanding. Is there any? We should think over this. If there are people who want to make efforts in bringing about an understanding between the Dholgyal worshippers and the Central Tibetan Administration, what are you going to bring on the agenda for discussion, as an effort to this end? On our part, it is an easy job to come up with a clear demand. That is to ask them to stop the worship of Dholgyal. On the very day that they stopped the Dholgyal worship, they could readily enter into the old community. There would be no need for them to have the backing of an influential person; there would be no need for a reference person. All they do is to declare that they stopped the worship. If one asks if there is any way by which they could receive acceptance without having to stop the Dholgyal worship, then, decidedly, the answer is that there is none. If one were to hypothetically allow for that, then that would mean all of our previous claims of harm accrued from the worship would have been baseless; all those would have to be withdrawn. So, there is nothing that could be compromised and harmonized here. So, it comes to the same thing as I mentioned earlier. I may conclude this point on that same note.

Supposing someone asks the following question: For the purpose of forging unity between those who haven’t stopped Dholgyal worship and those who have stopped the worship, is there a way by which a Dholgyal worshipper could be accepted to continue with the worship? Then, what would be the response on our part? Getting rid of its roundabout way of asking, this question, in simple terms, amounts to the following: Would it be okay to carry on with the worship? Could we accept the worshipping of Dholgyal? If this were to be the case, then all the guidance that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been giving us thus far would come to nothing. Therefore, if one thinks that may be there is a way by which such a unity could be forged by both sides budging a little to make room for each other (Tibetan proverb: both the pass and the mdzo budging a little, by lowering down and holding out, respectively, to make for a smooth passage—–the sense is incorporated into the text; so this could be left out if one so chooses) and give the Dholgyal worshippers the okay to continue with the worship, then (it should be understood that) there is no room for such an immunity. The option is only between continuing and discontinuing the worship. If they stop the worship, then the sky would be cleared of clouds and the ground cleared of dust. There would be no more inconveniences. If they insist on continuing with the worship, then it is not a feasibility at all for those who have discontinued the worship and those who continue the worship to live in one community through a fellowship of engaging in spiritual and social activities together; they cannot continue to live together like water mixed with milk. Therefore, unity and Dholgyal worship are two options to choose from, not something that could go together hand-in-hand. This should become clear in our minds without any lingering concerns and doubts. If that does not happen, then there is the danger of remaining unclear on so many other things. Among the questions asked before, there was one that says that the PRC is extending support to the Dholgyal worshippers, in all nations, by all the three means of manpower, finance, and technology, and that there is danger of Tibet dividing into two at the time when the question of Tibet is resolved, like it happened in the case of India and Pakistan. So there was this thought expressed there. Such a thought is fueled by extreme speculation which has no backing of any reason or reality on the ground. In the first place, what is the percentage of people worshipping Dholgyal, both in and outside Tibet? It is a very small percentage. Majority of the people coming to the demonstrations are paid a daily wage for their participation. In Tibet, too, the number of people worshipping Dholgyal is dropping on a daily basis. From among the worshippers, too, the majority of them make the outward show of a Dholgyal worshipper solely for the sake of protecting their livelihood, work, position, etc. There is a very little number of those who carry out the worship from the depth of their hearts. When they claim that they have some 4 million followers, this is an utter exaggeration. Let alone 4 million, there may be hardly one hundred thousand of them in actuality, I think. Besides, currently we are going through a phase of period when the Dalai Lama-led Tibetans and the PRC look at each other as adversaries. So the present support for the Dholgyal groups from the PRC is a reflection of that phase of relation. However, in the future, if His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the PRC reached some agreement and the day arrives for the Tibetan issue becoming resolved, then the support of the PRC to the Dholgyal groups would not be forthcoming, nor would it be deemed necessary. There would be no purpose to gain from such a support then. On that day, it would be easily clear how many of them worship from the depth of their hearts. Therefore, such a spate of concern and doubt is extremely exaggerated. One of the Tibetan sayings goes: If you tell a lie big enough as a mountain, you may get truth the size of a yak. The above is an instance of reposing hope in such a belief. So, the above speculation is just a case of someone being carried over by their exaggeration, which has no basis, whatsoever, in reality. Besides that, whatever activities the Dholgyal followers are undertaking, be that inside Tibet or outside of it, they are all baseless and contrary to truth. There is not a single one that has truth in it. The most spoken out allegation they make is that they are denied religious freedom. As related earlier, I have elaborately exposed this allegation of theirs. They allege that they are being unjustifiably discriminated against. I have fully explained the situation which shows that is not the case. If they have the desire to live together in the society, the door is always open. Be that in private and public life, organization and group life, the door is always open. I have explained this clearly. That they cannot divide Tibet into two parts in the future is obvious beyond doubt (squarely visible even if looked at from the sides—–the sense is incorporated into the text; so this could be left out if one so chooses)). This is something that anyone can comprehend. Therefore, I think it would be better off if we can clear our thoughts completely of the above concerns and doubts. When I speak of clearing our thoughts of them, I am saying so on the basis of reason and truth. I am not saying that because this is our position and is faultless, or that that is their position and, therefore, is faulty. This is not a statement of discrimination. Point by point, if we closely investigate who is reasonable, who is lawful, and who has truth, it should be verifiable. If one has no desire to investigate, but insists on remaining biased like that of a soiled pot, then there is nothing that could be done. If the few Dholgyal followers insist on their current stand, saying they do not intend to change from their present behavior and that they do not intend to accept reason and truth, then that is a case of foolish stubbornness. There is hardly any way to respond to that. Such things are better off to be left unattended. By leaving them unattended, even if some of them breakaway from the mainstream society, it is more beneficial both to the Tibetan cause and our ultimate situation. If they continue to stick around, it is not going to be any more beneficial. Not just that, if they continue to stick around, as a result of that there is going to be great harm both in the short term and long term as well as in the ultimate. This is very clearly evident. I can say this without mincing any words.

Now, as per the program schedule, my time is up. So, I will stop here. For the remaining time, if you have any questions to ask or doubts to be clarified, I ask you to be frank and open. Thank you.

(Following the above address, Rinpoche responded to the questions asked by the students present there).

Trijang Rinpoche’s view about Shugden / Dolgyal: A trouble maker and killing spirit +++ The protesters never asked for a dialogue

Trijang Rinpoche’s view about Dorje Shugden / Dolgyal and why Shugden harms sentient beings

The Shugden protesters from the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and their ICS spokes persons (usually a NKT teacher or a NKT representative of a country) run a Anti Dalai Lama campaign in which they totally ignore history and facts. The protesters suffer from one-sided information and from being largely misinformed. In a way the protesters protest against their own ignorance they project onto the Dalai Lama …

For instance the NKT/ICS protesters ignore the violent, controversial and sectarian background of Shugden worship and they are not aware that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of NKT, presents them a white washed version of Shugden that makes Shugden more acceptable for Westerners and that is very much different than what the ‘root guru’ of Kelsang Gyatso, Trijang Rinpoche, himself taught about Shugden (see a bit about this in Carol McQuire’s SOAS talk).*

ICS spokes person and NKT’s Germany representative Gen Kelsang Ananda (Markus Rehnert) for instance answered to the leftist newspaper TAZ  when confronted with the Yellow Book that mentions 23 government officials and lamas who have been assassinated using the deities power: “I don’t know that book.” Being confronted by the TAZ that this book was a key factor in the controversy Kelsang Ananda tried to escape the facts by answering “There are other texts that say the very opposite.” Also this answer ignored history and fact. Similarly, in 2008 Kelsang Pema, personal assistant of Kelsang Gyatso and spokes person of the Western Shugden Society claimed wrongly to the BBC: “It is a simple prayer that encourages people to develop pure minds of love, peace and compassion.” This ignorance regarding history and facts is a tool in the NKT introduced by Kelsang Gyatso and this tool makes the protesters the uninformed but willing army in Kelsang Gyatso’s unilateral battle against the Dalai Lama.

The NKT protesters ignore the Yellow Book since Kelsang Gyasto said, “I knew Zemey Tulku. However, I do not believe the information contained in The Yellow Book.[...] I would like to suggest to everybody to forget The Yellow Book. The Yellow Book was not written by Buddha, so why should we believe this?” He also says “I don’t know the real reason for his writing this book. Maybe this was his view and he was trying to prevent Gelugpa Lamas from engaging in Nyingma practices.” (see ‘Interview’ with Yvonne Nilles, a disciple of Kelsang Gyatso). This rejection of history and facts aims to deny or to suppress any negative inferences that can be drawn about the Shugden/Dolgyal cult from the “Yellow Book.” The Yellow Book contains the oral stories by Trijang Rinpoche about the violent nature of Dorje Shugden / Dolgyal.

Ok, if the NKT don’t accept the oral stories of Trijang Rinpoche, maybe they can get aware of his own writings?

Trijang Rinpoche’s view**

In Trijang Rinpoche’s text about Shugden, Music Delightning an Ocean of Protectors (PDF), Trijang Rinpoche clearly explains Shugden’s nature and way it arose. He says that Shugden / Dogyal is a mundane (ie. worldly) protector (p. 11), a damsi (vow breaking) spirit (p. 107) and a gyalpo spirit called Dolgyal (p. 109) that harms and kills sentient beings (p. 111–122 and more). About the violence Shugden brings to other sentient beings Trijang Rinpoche states (p. 121–122:

Furthermore, whether they were lords of Tibet, great lamas who held the political power of the throne, lamas and tulkus, great or small, with illustrious lines of incarnation, holy beings rich in scriptural and realized qualities, high lords of vast lands and works, those haughty with pride of family lineage, dominion and wealth, any who hypocritically claimed to be followers of Protector Manjusri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings while remaining unsatisfied with Je Lama’s precious Teachings of Sutra and Tantra which, in terms of view, meditation, and action, need not crave more from any other tradition, and, instead, mixed, polluted, or confused them with other modes of view and practice, whether lay or ordained, regardless of status, there have been many who have met with unpleasant wrathful punishments, such as being punished by authorities, litigation and legal disputes, untimely death, and so forth. Such swift, decisive signs appear to direct perception. Here praise is offered to that manifestation as a great wrathful protector who raises the Yellow Hat Teachings to the heights of the heavens.

This mundane harmful spirit is, according to Trijang Rinpoche, an emanation of Manjushri who emanated for the special purpose (p. 9) of protecting the purity of Tsongkhapa’s tradition and stopping Gelugpa’s taking teachings from other traditions.

HH Dalai Lama (and most Buddhists) doesn’t believe that Manjushri would emanate a mundane spirit to kill and harm sentient beings, but some lamas of his lineage teach exactly that. Kelsang Gyatso plays to a Western audience and says that these stories are just stories but they are told to stop Gelugpas taking teachings from other traditions. Therefore, the raison d’etre for the entire Shugden / Dogyal cult, coming from Dagpo Rinpoche, Pabongkhapa and Trijang Rinpoche, was to restrict the religious freedom of Gelugpas by threatening that if they didn’t stay away from other, particularly Nyingma, teachings, or in NKT speak, remain ‘pure and faithful practitioners’, Shugden / Dogyal would kill them. Trijang Rinpoche tells stories both of ‘hypocritical’ Gelugpas and people of other religions, like Bonpos, being killed by Shugden / Dogyal***.

If the NKT can easily disregard what Zemey Tulku wrote in the Yellow Book, can they also disregard what Kelsang Gyatso’s own ‘root guru’ wrote himself because it “was not written by Buddha, so why should we believe this?”

See also

* Carol McQuire said
What ‘Shugden’ practice in the NKT isn’t…

  1. I my experience, it’s not used as a spirit practice in which you tell Dolgyal Shugden what to do ‘ordering it about like a servant’.
  2. It’s not used as an ‘oracle’ practice since 1995 when Kuten Lama, the Shugden oracle, last visited the NKT.
  3. It’s not used as a ‘self-generation’ where you become that Buddha or Yidam yourself.
  4. It’s not used as ‘wrathful’ practice as in the Nyingma, where as ‘Deva’, the practice allows you to see and work with your own negativities.

** Thanks to Dorje for pointing out these information and for putting it together in the comment section of this blog!
*** The term Dolgyal was also used by Pabongkha Rinpoche for Shugden (see Dreyfus). Consequently, if the claims by the NKT and Shugden followers that the usage of the name Dolgyal for Shugden would be slanderous were true, it follows the strongest propagators of Shugden, Trijang Rinpoche and Pabongkha Rinpoche, slandered Shugden too.


The protesters never asked for a dialogue

The NKT/ICS spokes persons repeatedly complained that the Dalai Lama would have refused to pick up a dialogue with them. The problem is that the protesters (NKT via their front groups Dorje Shugden International Coalition, SSC, WSS and ICS) never asked for a dialogue but issued unreasonable demands and ultimatums. Here is a brief overview of the ‘History of Dialogue’ the NKT was looking for.

The following petition was delivered to the Dalai Lama in New York on May 1st 1998 together with 12,000 signatures*, requesting him to sign the attached declaration:


Your Holiness,

Out of your great compassion for us, please accept our following request.

As you know, many people both in the East and in the West, are openly saying that the worship of Dorje Shugden is harmful to your health, to the Tibetan cause, and to the development of the Nyingma Tradition. This false information is destroying peace and harmony within the Tibetan and Buddhist communities worldwide. Because of this, many people are losing their religious freedom and are consequently experiencing great suffering.

It is completely untrue that the worship of Dorje Shugden harms Tibetan independence, your health, and the development of the Nyingma Tradition. This is very clear; no one can give valid reasons to prove these statements.

To release many people from this suffering and to restore peace and harmony within the Buddhist community, from the depths of our hearts we request Your Holiness, please please accept our petition and sign the attached Declaration for the happiness and benefit of all. Our sole wish is that the four Tibetan Buddhist traditions flourish in harmony, free from sectarianism, and that all Tibetans and all other living beings may live in

With respect and offerings,

Signed on behalf of the Dorje Shugden International Coalition
Morten Clausen
New York Representative of the Dorje Shugden International Coalition


Many people are now believing and saying openly that the worship of Dorje Shugden is harmful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s health, the Tibetan cause, and the development of the Nyingma Tradition. This is completely untrue.

This false information is a cause of serious disharmony within the Tibetan and Buddhist communities, both in the East and in the West, and because of this many people are losing their religious freedom and are experiencing great suffering.

Therefore, I declare that from now on everyone has the complete freedom to worship Dorje Shugden, and that no one should interfere in any way with their worship.

Signed by
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

The following two letters were received in response to these demands:

1. May 4, 1998

Dear Morten Clausen,
Thank you for your letter of May 1, 1998. There is no possibility for an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

As for your wanting him to issue a declaration drafted by you, please find here a response from the Secretary of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Mr. Tenzin Geyche Tethong.

With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
Dawa Tsering
Representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama

2. May 4, 1998

Dear Morten Clausen,

This is with reference to your petition to His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with a copy of a declaration that you want him to sign saying “everyone has the complete freedom to worship Dorje Shugden.”  His Holiness cannot accede to your request to sign the declaration as it is in total contradiction to his carefully considered position on this practice.

Let me say at the onset that this is not an issue of religious freedom, as you portray.  You are free to worship or practice what you wish.  His
Holiness has said many times that it is his responsibility to provide correct spiritual guidance to his followers, but it is upto individuals whether they want to follow or not.

I would like to reiterate here briefly the three main reasons why His Holiness is advising Tibetan Buddhists against following this practice:

a)  the nature of this practice is leading to the degeneration of the profound teachings of the Buddha into little more than spirit worship;

b)  it is encouraging sectarianism, which is totally against His Holiness’ basic approach towards religious harmony, particularly within the Tibetan Buddhist traditions; and,

c)  the Great Fifth, and the Thirteenth Dalai Lamas, as well as many other prominent Tibetan lamas, who are revered by the majority of Tibetans, have categorically stated the harmful effects of this practice.

Therefore, there is no way His Holiness can sign your declaration.  You will recall that on an earlier occasion, too, Mrs. Chungdak Koren, His Holiness’s Representative stationed in Geneva, and myself met with some of your representatives at Caux, Switzerland, in 1996 and conveyed a similar message.

With warm wishes,
Yours sincerely,

Tenzin Geyche Tethong
Secretary to H.H. the Dalai Lama

see: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.religion.buddhism.nkt/dsg9o6YBgX0%5B126-150-false%5D

The NKT tried to force the Dalai Lama to sign a declaration that goes against his own investigation, research and opinion and is in favor of the opinion of Kelsang Gyatso / NKT. Is this a call for a dialogue?

In 2008, when the NKT started their second world wide media “against the Dalai Lama”**, via Western Shugden Society (WSS) the official website of the WSS stated:

“Dalai Lama, stop your lies, give religious freedom”

The purpose of this website is to expose the hypocrisy of the Dalai Lama who presents himself as a champion of human rights and defender of religious freedom while inflicting terrible human rights abuses on his own people and interfering with the religious freedom of thousands and thousands of people around the world.

The site is presented by the Western Shugden Society (WSS), an ad hoc coalition of Dorje Shugden practitioners from many different countries. The immediate aims of the WSS are expressed in a recent letter we sent to the Dalai Lama.

Because the Dalai Lama refuses even to acknowledge our correspondence, let alone enter into meaningful dialog, we are left with no alternative but to organize protest demonstrations wherever the Dalai Lama teaches. We will continue to organize demonstrations to coincide with the Dalai Lama’s schedule until he agrees to our requests.

We hope that through our actions, international scrutiny will be brought to bear on the Dalai Lama’s lies and actions of religious persecution so that the Tibetans he is oppressing will receive justice and Dorje Shugden practitioners around the world will receive religious freedom.

What was the ‘correspondence’ and ‘meaningful dialogue’ the NKT claimed to seek? It were against unreasonable demands (see Tibetan Situation Today, PDF):

12th April 2008
To the Dalai Lama of Tibet,

We the Western Shugden Society ask you to accomplish four things:

  1. To give freedom to practice Dorje Shugden to whoever wishes to rely upon this Deity.
  2. To stop completely the discrimination between Shugden people and non-Shugden practitioners.
  3. To allow all Shugden monks and nuns who have been expelled from their monasteries and nunneries to return to their monasteries and nunneries where they should receive the same material and spiritual rights as the non-Shugden practitioners.
  4. That you tell in writing to the Tibetan community throughout the world that they should practically apply the above three points.

Do you accept these four points? We require your answer by the 22 April 2008, signed and delivered by registered post to:

Western Shugden Society
c/o Dorje Shugden Devotees Society,
House No 105, Old Tibetan Camp, Majnu Ka Tilla, Delhi-54

With a copy of your letter sent to the following email address:

These demands are unreasonable because Dorje Shugden practitioners have freedoms. They can practice privately and at their own monasteries and places. It is the freedom of others to restrict a practice that they regard as harmful and oppressing religious freedom, similar how nowadays smokers are banned from public places but can smoke at their own places. The majority of the monasteries have the right to ban a practice at the institutional level that is not in accordance with their understanding of Buddhist practice and that brings disharmony. The rights of the majority have to be considered too. Banning Shugden practice from the monastery grounds was based on a majority vote that is according to the Vinaya as laid down by the Buddha (see ‘Stick Referendum). Going against this majority vote would make the Dalai Lama indeed a dictator. The Vinaya Stick Referendum and its outcome has to be accepted by both, the Dalai Lama and the Shugden protesters.

What we experience now with the ICS in 2014 is just a repetition of the past. The NKT’s/ICS’s unreasonable demands for ‘dialogue’ – which they do not actually seek – are addressed in this post:

* This number can be doubted because the NKT and their front groups were witnessed for creating signatures by invented names and persons.
** Letter by Kelsang Gyatso to his students: “[…] To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted. Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need. With much love and prayers, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso”

The Benefits of the Anti-Dalai Lama protests by the Shugden group (NKT/ICS)



I think it is important to reflect from different angles about the NKT/ICS protests. On a mundane and spiritual level you can establish many good reasons why the protests bring more harm than benefit. Such a situation might lead easily to a rejection or to ignoring the protests and the protesters. Especially this blog focuses strongly on the negative sides of the NKT/ICS and the protests – an approach that can easily lead to aversion, anger or hate. However, this is not the aim of the blog. The aim of this blog is to correct the misinformation being spread by the Western Shugden group (NKT) since 1996.

When I was just in Hamburg attending the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – which were very inspiring and moving – I realized that my strategy just to ignore the protesters might be good for my own mind only from a short term perspective. This strategy helps me to prevent to think negatively about the protesters / NKT (or the few Tibetans who joined the protests) and to get upset or disturbed. Though this is a functioning strategy (like Shantideva suggests in his Patience Chapter of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara: “be like a piece of wood”), in the long run ignoring others is not a very powerful training for the mind.

Many reported that they feel that the protesters are very aggressive and that this in turn disturbs their own mind. I made a test in Hamburg by walking through the protesters without ignoring them and I have to agree, not ignoring them but opening up for the noise and what they shout disturbed also my mind.

However, these protests are a very rare and useful opportunity to practice patience and different Dharma methods to increase the positive mental energy by being mindful of the content of the mind (aversion, anger) and just observing it or by actively cultivating an antidote of non-hatred or an understanding of dependent arising etc.

If the protesters were just Christian fundamentalists, I would generously accept them, so why do I take them so seriously? From a dharmic perspective they are my best friends. They offer the rare chance to practice patience, they help me to learn to be at peace and calm, not getting disturbed. The protesters are my sponsors, donors and friends; no!, they are better than my sponsors, donors and friends because they serve as a basis to cultivate the quality of patience and love, precious gems not even my sponsors, donors and friends can offer me. So they are the best thing I can meet or encounter in order to train my mind! Instead of ignoring them I should appreciate their presence and make the best use out of this opportunity which soon may cease.

The protests remind me also of the Four Trainings of a Trainee in Virtue (of a Buddhist monk) that are included in the Bodhisattva vows*:

  1. not to respond to being chided by chiding
  2. not to respond to anger by expressing anger**
  3. not to respond to being struck by striking back
  4. not to respond to insult by insulting

So, I would like to commit myself to use the protests in a more powerful way for training my mind and I would like to encourage others to do so too. Actual it is a very precious opportunity which should not be left unused. Thank you, dear protesters!

Geshe Langri Tangpa

Geshe Langri Tangpa

When I see ill-natured people,
Overwhelmed by wrongdoing and pain,
May I cherish them as something rare,
As though I had found a treasure-trove.

Geshe Langri Tangpa


* “Buddhist Ethics” by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, Snow Lion, 1998, p. 189. The training is not only meant with respect to the own person but also to those close and dear to yourself.

** I understand this also as an advice not to allow even the slightest anger in my mind if someone is attacking me or someone dear to me angrily.

Some Media and the Shugden Controversy – How TV Channels and YouTube Can Deceive You

Me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the New Kadampa Tradition under the front group Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998.

This is me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the New Kadampa Tradition under the front group Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998.

Going back to my time in NKT from 1995–2000, I remember the point in 1996 when the Dalai Lama was introduced to me as being a bad person who “oppresses religious freedom”, as a politician who “mixes Dharma with politics“, who had no spiritual qualities whatsoever and who had “broken with his root guru”. At that time I still admired the Dalai Lama as a Bodhisattva, as Chenrezig in person. Although I had thrown my Dalai Lama book and a Dzogchen book into the garbage, having learned by the manipulative skills of my NKT teacher that these are not “pure Dharma” books, whereas “Geshe-la’s” (Kelsang Gyatso’s) books are “pure Dharma”, my veneration for the Dalai Lama was still there.

Such veneration wasn’t good for the protests. So my NKT teacher tried her best to convince me that the Dalai Lama was a very ordinary person. It was hard for her, but finally she succeeded. Along with the NKT information I was fed, she was so successful that I really hated the Dalai Lama. I couldn’t bear even to see a picture of him. I immediately felt repulsion and hostility, thinking “this man fools the whole world”. Not only this, I also was thinking that it would be better for the Dalai Lama to be killed because he harms so many sentient beings. I wondered: “Is it my task to kill him out of compassion?” After I left the NKT, it took me years to clear up my mind from these wrong views and projections against His Holiness.

During this process of indoctrination by the NKT, two German speaking TV broadcasts played a major role. They were shown to us to “give evidence” that the Dalai Lama was a “ruthless dictator” who “oppresses his own people”. These were the TV broadcast by DRS (SF 1) “10 vor 10″ of Switzerland TV “Bruderzwist zwischen Tibetern” (‪05. January 1998) and the TV broadcast by a major TV station in Germany PANORAMA of ARD “Verklärt, verkitscht – Hollywood feiert den Dalai Lama” (20. November 1997). You can find both of them on YouTube uploaded by the NKT or other Shugden groups. The former is being translated into English and both were used for the new NKT video Mr. McBretney (NKT/ICS) showed at SOAS. These broadcasts approved the claims of NKT and tried to convince the audience that indeed the Dalai Lama has a dark shadow that the world ignores.

I remember that while watching “Bruderzwist” from ‪05. January 98

when I saw and heard the old Tibetan monk who cried and said: “I would prefer to have died than to experience this” my mind was thinking ‘but why doesn’t he consider Karma, cause and effect? And why does he cling so much, that he feels pain?’

However, after we watched the documentary, there wasn’t space for an open discussion in the NKT centre, just instructions of why and how we must continue to organize the protests and attend them at different places.

What most English-speaking people don’t know about that documentary is that it was only part one of a five part TV series on Swiss TV SF1. This part one was considered – and is, in fact – a heavily biased part, which had led to a serious controversy in Switzerland. The TV Chief, Christoph Müller, had to excuse himself, saying in defense that they are only an “Infotainment-Magazine”, “we don’t make academic research.” The protests by Tibetans, the media and scientists forced the TV channel to re-investigate their claims, to consult academic experts and to send another broadcast that corrected most of the former claims. You won’t find this self-correction on YouTube with English subtitles, because it doesn’t support the aims of the proselytizing Shugden group that is very active on YouTube. (The full German version of this “self correction” by the TV channel can be found here.)

The self-correction by Swiss TV corrected and balanced all of their former TV contributions about this issue. It provided explanations from the Indian police – see the English transcript here – and it corrected some of the many misleading claims SF1 made in the first parts of their series which the NKT/WSS/Shugden groups have now spread all over the internet and YouTube. For instance, ex-Minister Mr. Kundeling says in this documentary

I don’t practice Shugden, hence I can’t be stabbed for practicing it, they claimed I would be stabbed by the Tibetan Government because I worship Shugden, this is not true, this is a lie.

The self-correction by SF1 also made it clear that the document about ten Shugden practitioners (hysterically announced by the organized Shugden groups as “The ten most hated enemies of the Dalai Lama” etc) was made on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament and was stamped as being “internal”. The reason for making this document was in response to the brutal killing of the Dalai Lama’s confident and Shugden critic Gen Lobsang Gyatso and two of his students (allegedly by  Shugden practitioners). The Parliament made the document to investigate security risks for the Dalai Lama and who might be behind those brutal murders. The announcements of the Shugden practitioners’ names and faces in the public on posters was not spread by the government but leaked by a parliament member.

The moderator acknowledges that, according to the Indian police, there are “fanaticalizations” and “fundamental tendencies” among Shugden practitioners. The SF1 documentation makes clear that every society has a right to decide what is authentic and what violates their rights and that of course, if Shugden practitioners are elected into the government, this will be accepted. […]

However, the constant misinformation by NKT, together with these two one-sided documentaries (which are just propaganda, as a Tibetologist once said to me) were a key factor in convincing me that the NKT was right and the Dalai Lama and the world were wrong.

It was a hard process of more than 4 years after I left NKT to reconsider the validity and claims of all the information and broadcasts. For instance, I didn’t know that some leftist journalists (who often have a problem with religion and authority in general) were in favor of the distorted Shugden claims. They were obviously happy to write something bad about the Dalai Lama, misunderstanding propaganda with enlightenment (“Aufklärung”). This is also true for the well spread PANORAMA broadcast, which was also shown to myself and other NKT followers.

Some of the reporters and journalists who reported about the Shugden controversy in a one-sided way might have been driven by sensationalist greed or by underestimating the complexity of the issue, simply taking the claims of Shugden informants at face value.

However, PANORAMA (John Goetz and Jochen Graebert) topped the misinformation, because they incorporated the interviews with two academic experts, Prof Donald Lopez (USA) and Prof Jens-Uwe Hartmann (Germany), into their misrepresentation of the situation which lent their report more creditability. It was only around 2008 (11 years later) that I learned that both academic experts had distanced themselves from this documentary and what distortions and errors it contained. Prof. Hartmann wrote (unauthorized English translation of his German article):

In a report on Tibet on November 20, 1997 in the Panorama program [of German National TV Channel 1], the Dalai Lama was criticized for his stance in the conflict over the protective deity Dorje Shugden (rDo-rje shugs-ldan). The occasion for the broadcast was the latest Hollywood film on Heinrich Harrer’s stay in Tibet and the Tibet image conveyed in that film; and the presentation was characterized by a desire to scrutinize the “Tibet Myth” and especially the “Dalai Lama Myth” in relation to the reality and to reveal the discrepancies. To illuminate the contradictory nature of the person of the Dalai Lama, he was first introduced as the world’s most highly respected Nobel Peace Laureate, and then shown, in light of the Shugden conflict, as being an entirely different person behind this façade, namely that, together with the Tibetan government-in-exile, he uncompromisingly suppresses the religious freedom of his countrymen.

The show drew its effect from the skillfully constructed contrast. That this approach was mainly aimed to rouse emotion in the viewers, and less on informing critically and emotion-free is a common feature nowadays for all such television magazines and tells something about the general information culture even within the Public Broadcasting Services. However, another thing was the tendentious handling of facts, which was aimed at creating as sensational an impact as possible. Although the editors of the program knew the facts and had the background information, the inclusion of these would have necessitated a much more positive view of the Dalai Lama and, as such, they were left aside in order not to jeopardize the “emotion targeting” effect. This is unfair sensationalist journalism.

As I now know from numerous conversations with viewers, there were misunderstandings not only because of the one-sidedness of the report, but also because of the blurred depiction of individual facts. As such, the viewers got the impression that the murder of Geshe Losang Gyatsho and his two students in Dharamsala earlier that year had been perpetrated by the pro-Dalai Lama faction, as they did not clearly express in the report that the Geshe was a close confidant of the Dalai Lama supporting his position in the Shugden conflict.

In July Prof. Jens-Uwe Hartmann wrote an updated version of his 1997 article and this is now online and has been translated into English (note his clear statement at the end about this broadcast):

It was information and academic papers such as these that helped me to make up my own mind about Shugden. And I am very happy that I found them and that I could re-investigate all of the information I received – not only from the NKT, but also from Shugden lamas such as the self-proclaimed (or fake) Kundeling Lama (Lobsang Yeshi) [note there is an officially recognized, genuine, Kundeling Rinpoche], Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, Gonsar Rinpoche and some of their students.

In 2008, there were two similar documentaries by Al Jazeera, The Dalai Lama: The devil within and France 24 TV, The Dalai Lama’s demon which repeated similar to the Swiss SF1 TV documentary and the German Panorama documentary distorted claims of proselytizing Shugden groups (e.g. 4 million practitioners).

I would like to encourage any open minded person and those in NKT, those who have left the NKT or who are wondering about all of this, to take time to thoroughly investigate the claims being made by using reasons based on facts. It’s worth doing it. Your mind will come to peace and you will enjoy certainty and confidence about these matters.

Last edited by tenpel August 30, 2014 at 09:55 pm


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