The True Nature of the NKT Sponsored International Shugden Community Hate Campaign Revealed: The Usurping of the Dalai Lama and Destruction of the Tibetan People’s Institutions in Exile
The videos released by International Shugden Community narrated by anchorman and sometimes NKT monk and Resident Teacher Kelsang Rabten (National Spiritual Director for New Zealand and Australia) are becoming increasingly political in nature. The thin veneer of a “human rights campaign” is beginning to peel away to reveal the true nature of these provocative protests and online hate media that goes along with them: the complete usurping of HH the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama institution, and all of the institutions serving the Tibetan exile community in India.
The stage for this phase of the program was set with the new slogan being chanted by singing and dancing NKT members, some in monastic dress: False Dalai Lama. Such a slogan was developed with the view of establishing a doubt regarding the authenticity of the Dalai Lama in the minds of the general public attending his open talks. It was also meant to mobilize the ground troops of drum playing NKT “ordained Sangha” around a new effort – the usurping of Tenzin Gyatso from his position as the 14th Dalai Lama.
The video opens with intrepid reporter and part-time NKT monk Kelsang Rabten yelling at the Dalai Lama about being false and Reting’s recognition being fraudulent. He repeats over and over “it says you are the false Dalai Lama.” It is interesting that, having gone to the trouble to sneak into the talk and penetrate security, rather than bring up the Shugden issue (which is ostensibly the reason NKT is protesting), Rabten decides to use his 15 seconds in the spotlight to question the Dalai Lama’s authenticity and the validity of Reting Rinpoche as a regent. The video then cuts to Rabten sitting in a living room in Italy (perhaps a side trip during the Livorno protests) presuming to present an “in-depth report” and says that in this edition he will be SPEAKING with several Western and Tibetan scholars to hear what they have to say about the issue of the “False” Dalai Lama. Interestingly, there are no interviews with Western scholars included in the piece, just highlighted excerpts from library books. One Tibetan’s face is blurred throughout the interview so it is difficult to determine if he is a scholar.
The only true interview excerpts included in the piece (and questionably translated), are with a Geshe who teaches at Gangchen Lama’s centre in Italy. The significance of the only Tibetan scholar on the video being a resident teacher at Gangchen’s centre will be explained later. First it is important to examine the source of the “research” that part-time monk Kelsang Rabten presents during his in-depth report.
The only university level research he consults is the work of two China-linked Western academics, Melvyn Goldstein and Tom Grunfeld. Of the two Melvyn Goldstein is the more authentic, although he is regarded as having a pro-China bias that runs through much of his work. Tom Grunfeld, on the other hand, has been mired in controversy throughout his career for his colonialist, racist sentiments that mark his attitude towards the Tibetan people (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-schrei/what-good-it-does-a-respo_b_479379.html). This is on top of his lack of capacity in primary research regarding this topic as he understands neither the Tibetan or Chinese language. The famous Tibetan scholar Jamyang Norbu describes Grundfeld’s “research” as racist at best:
Another propagandists for China with pretensions regarding Tibetan history is Tom Grunfeld of Empire State College NY, author of The Making of Modern Tibet. I have written a fairly long review essay, Acme of Obscenity on his anti- Tibet “history”, where I have also provided detailed information of his Maoist background and his lack of qualifications (no knowledge of spoken or written Tibetan or Chinese language – for starters). If a similar book appeared today about Blacks or Jews there would, without doubt, be universal public outcry. Tom Grunfeld writes that Tibetan mothers licked their babies as they emerged from the womb – like animals. He goes on to specify that Tibetan were cruel, dirty, ignorant, syphilitic (90% of the population suffering from venereal diseases according to TG) sexual degenerates who were observed making love on rooftops in full public view. Clearly this is intended to portray Tibetans as barbaric, subhuman, even bestial, thereby justifying Communist Chinese rule in Tibet as necessary and civilizing.
One wonders how the moral indignation with which NKT members and Shugden protestors’ react to accusations of links with China cannot be laughed at, as their propaganda relies on the work of scholars holding a racist view of “backward Tibetans”, and sees the PRC as “liberators”. If this were truly the case, why did Shugden lamas along with the lamas of other lineages seek to leave Tibet when the PRC invaded?
Part-time monk Kelsang Rabten then goes on to describe research that indicated Reting had a lust for power, and for this reason installed the fase Dalai Lama. It is never explained how choosing the “wrong Dalai Lama” would help raise Reting’s political profile. From the way the story is presented it seems as if Rabten would have us believe this is the first time there has been more than one candidate for the position of tulku. This is patently false, and anyone with even a cursory familiarity with Tibetan history knows that almost every candidacy for the position of a high lama involves some element of controversy regarding the recognition. (see the articles on this site regarding the Karmapa dispute). It would seem that the mere fact that there was another candidate is grounds enough to usurp the current Dalai Lama and label him as false.
Several of the Tibetan Dalai Lama supporters now active on facebook regarding this issue, notably Siling Rinpoche, a scholar-lama from Sera Mey monastery, made the very valid point that the previous Trijiang Rinpoche’s recognition was also fraught with controversy. In fact, the majority of the people in the region from which the most vociferous of the Tibetan Shugden protest participants hail, Chatreng, was initiatlly dead-set against the recognition of the previous Trijiang Dorjechang, as he was from the U-Tsang region rather than their locality from where the Trijiang line traditionally came from. This information is contained within the autobiography of the previous Trijiang tulku.
The video then goes on to a supposed “interview” with a blurry-faced “Tibetan scholar” who says, with no evidence, names, or dates etc. that “many lamas, many people and many (sic) Tibetan government don’t believe he (Tenzin Gyatso) is the real Dalai Lama because there was one other child (candidate).” By way of evidence for this proclamation it is only revealed that the other candidate had “some signs”. (Those familiar with the process of tulku recognition in Tibetan Buddhism will note that it is not at all a rare occurrence for several children to exhibit signs of being a reincarnation. Indeed, in the case of the Dalai Lamas, it is the historical norm that several candidates were considered.)
Kelsang Rabten then goes on to explain that the current Dalai Lama was found in a village with a large Muslim population called Takster, a repeat of NKT’s Islamaphobic “saffron-robed Muslim” campaign, equating that since the Dalai Lama comes from a Muslim region he must be “false”.
The remaining balance of the video is an interview with Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen who is credited as being “from Ganden monastery, now resident in Italy.” This does not give the whole story, as a simple web search reveals that Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen is now actually the resident teacher at Kunphen Lama Gangchen Centre in Milano, Italy (http://www.lgpt.net/News/12/09a_12en.htm)
Geshe Jangchub insinuates that since the other child candidate (who was later recongized as a lama called Diktru Tulku) comes from the Lhasa region (instead of the poorer and less famous region of Amo from where the current Dalai Lama was born), and since his family was wealthy and well-known in Lhasa society, he (Diktrul Tulku) must have been the correct candidate. One wonders who would take such elitist and classist comments seriously. The dharma centre where Geshe Jangchub teaches is significant as the spiritual director of Kunphen Lama Gangchen Centre, is no other than a disrobed monk from Sera Mey, Lama Gangchen, one of the most vocal Shugden supporters in Europe, who can be demonstrably linked to Chinese government authorities. His photos feature prominently on PRC propaganda sites where he lauds the Communist Party of China’s activities that “benefit and protect” Tibetan culture. (http://info.tibet.cn/en/newfeature/xzt_1stwenhult/xzt_1stwenhult_chuxizh/t20061011_160742.htm)
So what does this all mean, and why have the NKT-sponsored International Shugden Community videos gone from the Shugden issue to proving the Dalai Lama is “false”? It is this author’s opinion that Shugden is actually a secondary issue. And that the current provocative activities are actually the result of careful planning by NKT founder Kelsang Gyatso, Gangchen Tulku (author of “Ocean of Truth Explained) and Kundeling Rinpoche (who said that the communist invasion of Tibetan by China was a good thing on television) to attempt to completely discredit and overthrow the Dalai Lama.
Shugden is a banner around which the troops of NKT, Ganchen Centres and, to a lesser extent, Tibetans from the Chatreng region and Serpom, can rally around. It is a way to mobilize a reasonable amount of people to discredit the Dalai Lama and disturb his followers, so that his activities can be undermined.
This is actually a political move by conservative Gelugpas opposed to the increasingly non-sectarian nature of Tibetan polity and openness of the Dalai Lama’s presentation of Tibetan Buddhism. As the Dalai Lama has in their eyes betrayed the traditional Gelugpa hegemony of the Tibetan political establishment he must be “false” and therefore worthy of deposition.
In the words of Kelsang Gyatso’s student who posts under the moniker Atisha’s Cook, the Dalai Lama must be “shamed, belittled, ridiculed and discredited.” It is worthy of note too that the court case brought to the Delhi High Court by the NKT-supported Dorje Shugden Devotees Society involved a writ application about the legality of the Central Tibetan Administration (formerly the Tibetan Government in Exile). One wonders how a deliberate attempt to deconstruct an organization that gives voice to the difficulties of Tibetans, and has no practical real political power in India accomplishes anything. Indeed, such moves by Shugden lamas would be reason to label them as being agents of the Chinese regime, lauding Chinese government activities in Tibet and attempting to undermine the activities of the Central Tibetan Administration. One wonders how this hobnobbing of Shugden lamas with the Chinese authorities helps the cause of Tibetan Shugden worshipers who the NKT say are ostracized from their communities. Indeed, it would see to contribute to the marginalization of their communities in exile.
The current shift in focus of the NKT’s campaign, from the Shugden issue to a movement to depose the “false Dalai Lama”, reveals the nature of the intention of this group of fundamentalist lamas from the beginning. One wonders who has anything to gain from such a move, when the pressure on the Tibetan people and their culture is at an all time high. It would seem, only a small group of fundamentalist Shugden lamas and the Chinese authorities.
- Human Rights in Tibet before 1959 by Robert Barnett
- Anti-Dalai Lama Shugden Group continues their campaign and spins the facts endlessly 2014/07/10
- Shining Light on the Misrepresentations of the New Kadampa Tradition and Shugden Protestors 2014/06/10
UPDATE 29 JUNE 2018
- Brief information about His Eminence the 13th Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche – the officially recognised Kundeling tulku