India Update – Present Situation

A monk from Sera  Monastery wrote about the present situation:

– The Shugden portion from Pomra Khangtsen at Sera Mey (about 120–130 monks and novices) is not attracting any new Tibetan monks as those who come into exile do so in the spirit of being close to HHDL.

– Most of the Tibetan Pomras have left the Khangtsen and re-joined Sera Mey. Especially the young monks want no part in the vitriol of the more militant leaders who now largely control the breakaway faction. The nasty rhetoric spewing forth from several of the leaders of the faction against the Dalai Lama, in the words of this monk “literally had the monks running out the door back to the majority faction of the monastery.” The nasty comments and lies are so poisonous even many monks loyal to Shugden cannot stand it and have left the monastery altogether.

– Because of lack of numbers, Shugden practising Pomras have been going to Nepal to recruit young children (7-12) to join their house. They do this because most Tibetans wishing to ordain cannot take the taste of their vitriol against the Dalai Lama. The Nepali children are sent to the monastery by their parents because there is free room and board, but are usually called back by their parents when old enough to work in the fields. For this reason, they don’t finish their studies but serve only the purpose of bolstering the numbers of the Shugden faction in Pomra Khangtsen.

– From a young age these Nepali children are being taught to hate the Dalai Lama, that he is a destroyer of dharma, etc. In fact, one monk told me the Shugden leaders of Pomra are making use of the tension between Nepali and Tibetan monks to further their cause.

– Some Tibetan Shugdens at Sera who are not part of the militant wing have been shocked by the claims on the WSS website that this is a false Dalai Lama. They believe the tactics of these Western neophytes to Buddhism have harmed their cause more than helped it. This is according to one Shugden follower I spoke to in Delhi.

– Despite threats from Shugden worshippers, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will perform hundreds of bhikshu ordinations for novice monks of both Sera Mey and Jey this year around Losar at Sera Monastery.

– His Holiness has continued to withdraw from any political responsibilities in order to allow the Tibetans to take charge of their own future. This indicates all the talk about him being a dictator is baseless. The current meeting is being held largely in his absence, and on Phayul you can read a document where he begs the Tibetans to discuss every option openly.

– The above information comes from 3 members of Sera Mey monastery and 1 Geshe from Sera Jey monastery. In addition, I spoke with one monk loyal and a layperson to Shugden in Majnu Katilla settlement, Delhi.

– By all accounts the situation at Sera, despite the anti-Dalai Lama vitriol of some Shugden monks in the breakaway faction of Pomra Khangtsen, is largely peaceful. In fact, the demands of WSS have already been met! Both sides are continuing their practices without interruption and, through the division into two monasteries , there has been little conflict to mention the past two months. Both sides have kept all their own buildings and no one is homeless as a result of this dispute.

– The seperation has in fact eased tensions and made it easier for both sides to focus on their divergent goals.


France 24 TV and Al Jazeera claimed there would be 4 million Buddhist Tibetans worshipping Shugden. It seems both media didn’t verify the claims they took over from Shugden supporters for their reports. More than 10 years ago the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and their members spread already this wrong information via their sub-organisation Shugden Supporters Community (SSC). Two British media consulted specialists and pointed out that this claim is grass exaggeration.

Andrew Brown from The Independent wrote:

The figure of four million worshippers of Shugden was preposterous. There are only about six million Tibetans in the world at most, of whom less than half are members of the Gelugpa order (Steven Lane estimated 30 per cent), where the veneration of Shugden is concentrated. Even among the Gelugpa, only monks can be initiated into the cult of Shugden, and only a minority of those actually are. Most of the experts I talked to thought that about 100,000 people at most could be affected by the Dalai Lama’s ban.

Peter Unwin stated:

The figure of four million worshippers is grass exaggeration, experts estimating the figure to actually be around 100,000 or less than 2% of the Tibetan population, a large proportion of whom abandoned propitiation of the deity after the Dalai Lamas pronouncements.

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