After the Storm

The campaign of the Western Shugden Society (WSS) / New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) has settled for the time being. After a big propaganda battle, which was picked up by many media—in almost all cases unable to untangle the accusations and its background—there is time to look a bit what is left over with respect to the facts after this propaganda storm.

Since I have not too much time, I will make it short.

One will find a lot of distorted portrays nowadays on YouTube and all over the internet about the Dalai Lamas, Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, to which in no small part the WSS have contributed to, a field usually in the hands of China, Trimondis, Goldner and some others who look onto these issues from a very distorted and narrow minded or deluded perspective.

Personally I was forced to read more academic literature on these issues than I’ve ever intended to do but this I see now as a good outcome of it—though it distracts me from my Buddhist philosophical studies.

There are some new articles online—more will come soon hopefully—written by known academic scholars touching many of the issues pushed forward by the WSS and others.

There is also a paper by a university student which I and others found quite interesting:

With respect to the court case of some Shugden followers against the Dalai Lama, there are also news offered at the official TGIE website*:

Delhi High Court Dismisses Dorjee Shugden Devotees’ Charges

Dharamshala: In response to the allegations of harassment and maltreatment filed by the Dorjee Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society against the Central Tibetan Administration and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the High Court of Delhi dismissed their writ petition and application.

In an order dated April 5, 2010, Justice S. Muralidhar dismissed the writ petition and application on the grounds that the allegations of violence and harassment were ‘vague averments’ and that the raised issues ‘do not partake of any public law character and therefore are not justiciable in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution.’

Citing the ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’ on Dorjee Shugden practitioners, the Court noted the counter affidavit submitted by the respondents, referring to ‘an understanding reached whereby it was left to the monks to decide whether they would want to be associated with the practices of Dorjee Shugden.’

Closing the doors on the possibility of similar complaints in the future, Justice Muralidhar concluded that the ‘matters of religion and the differences among groups concerning propitiation of religion, cannot be adjudicated upon by a High Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction.’

This statement by the High Court of Delhi may be also interesting in the light of the claims made by the WSS—or some Shugden devotees—who claimed that “the Dalai Lama found guilty of persecution” and who spoke even of a “criminal case against the Dalai Lama”…

In the next months I hope there will be more papers on controversial discussed issues, e.g. the non-existent ‘Nazi-Tibet-connection’, and the institution of the Dalai Lamas. In rather near future there will be answers given by scholars to a 6page questionnaire which includes the most frequently discussed controversies related to Tibet/Dalai Lamas/Tibetan Buddhism. With respect to the ‘Nazi-Tibet-Connection’ there is a good summery by Jigme Duntak:

The latest and most extensive research article on the ‘Nazi-Tibet-connection’ can be found in the book Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries (2008). Paris: École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), coll. Études thématiques 22, vol. I. It includes the excellent article “Nazis of Tibet: A Twentieth Century Myth.”, pp. 63-96, by Isrun Engelhardt.

Since many Tibet critics, who very often fall into the extreme of portraying everything related to Tibet in a very negative way— or to justify China’s invasion as a ‘liberation’—like to stress brutal punishments in Tibet to justify their one-sided criticism, here a quote by Prof. Martin Brauen taken from his highly recommendable book Dreamworld Tibet—Western Illusions, p. 245:

This brings us to the traditional Tibetan system of justice, going back to the seventh century, of which Tsewang Norbu says:

As in many societies at a comparable stage of development, the Tibetan state had at its disposal archaic legal standards and practices, which from a present-day point of view would be characterized as inhuman and barbaric … This legal practice remained in effect in Tibet right into the twentieth century. Fortunately, the application of such methods of punishment was the exception rather than the rule.

But—according to Tswang Norbu—critics of this system ought first to take a glance at the history of the European Middle Ages and note that the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were no tale of glory for Europe either. Thus the author holds a mirror up to Westerners for them to look at themselves—a new, exciting element in the encounter between the West and Tibet.

* see also: Delhi High Court Dismisses Dorjee Shugden Devotees’ Charges by TibetInfoNet

Update 25.10.2012

All top-Tibetologists and historians I asked or whose opinions were forwarded to me said that Engelhardt’s research is “authoritative”, of “finest scholarship” etc. But as it is in life, distorted accounts by sensationalist orientated writers or ideological deluded people, including Christopher Hale, Heather Pringle or the conspiracy theory adherents Trimondis, are by far more popular.

Last edited by tenpel on October 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm