@ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Len Foley, Neil Elliott, and Nicholas Pitts (Kelsang Rabten)
I am a member of a small, unofficial, though well connected group of activists who have at heart the best interests of all parties concerned in the Shugden issue. I would like to offer my hand to you in a spirit of reconciliation and ask you to consider the following.
Since 1996 you have been protesting at various events wherever and whenever the Dalai Lama has appeared. You state the reason for your protests is that the followers of Shugden are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.
As principal evidence of this discrimination you circulate press packs which provide photographs of signs requesting Shugden devotees not to enter certain premises. These premises are of three types: religious institutions such as temples and monasteries; medical facilities; and shops owned by private individuals.
With regard to the first of these, you should be aware that it is a right enshrined in law, both in India and elsewhere in the civilized world, for the patrons and proprietors of religious institutions such as temples to ask those who hold differing religious views from their own not to enter certain buildings or areas. In India, non- Hindus are frequently instructed not to enter Hindu temples; thus exercising a right of admission refusal enshrined in Indian law. Elsewhere, in Saudi Arabia non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mekkah. In the West too, similar prohibitions exist: Gentiles are asked not to enter certain areas of synagogues, non-Catholics are prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools without the permission of the Church in some European countries, and so on. Even in the temples of the New Kadampa Tradition, those who have chosen not to receive certain tantric initiations such as Vajrayogini cannot enter premises where Vajrayogini teachings are taking place.
In short, ‘discrimination’ on religious grounds is quite normal practice in many of the religious traditions across the world and followers of these religions accept this, without claiming that they are being deprived of their human right to religious freedom or that they are the victims of discrimination. Please explain why followers of Shugden should be treated any differently in this regard and why normal accepted protocols should not be observed in their case.
However, you should be aware that if it is the case you consider yourselves discriminated against by the signs in religious institutions, there is very little that can be done about these, since such prohibitions are entirely legal, accepted practice internationally, with regard to the followers of many faiths. If you remain concerned over these signs, please lobby the Government of India, since it is they aho sre responsible for legilating in this regard.
Secondly, with regard to the documentary evidence provided from medical facilities, these images are over 15 years old and apparently no longer current. Please provide current evidence of discrimination in a medical context so that, if it should prove to exist, those responsible can be informed of the disagreeable nature of their conduct and the problems their actions are causing and asked to remove all signs and restrictions, with a view to restoring harmony between our communities.
If you can provide current evidence of discrimination with regard to medical care, you are welcome to do so since it will give us an opportunity to rectify this discrimination immediately. If on the other hand you cannot provide current evidence, it would be entirely appropriate for you to cease protesting in this regard, since the offending circumstances have clearly ceased to exist.
Thirdly, with regard to the signs in shops in the exiled Tibetan community, these have been placed there as the result of individuals’ personal decisions, after considering the advice of HH the Dalai Lama. As such, His Holiness cannot instruct them to now remove them since this would imply that His Holiness had instructed them to be placed there in the first place and indeed that he was wielding political control over these individuals, neither of which is the case.
Nevertheless, I can confirm that many of the individuals concerned have already realised their actions are providing ammunition for the critics of His Holiness and have therefore chosen to remove the offending signs. I can now confirm, categorically, that there are no more signs in Dharamsala or Mundgod. If you dispute this, please provide appropriate, dated photographic evidence. The situation in the settlement at Bylakuppe is not yet as clear but I do know efforts are underway to advise those who post such signs that, though they may well be acting in good faith, their actions are causing great harm at many levels and that it would be best therefore to remove them.
In summary, every effort is being made to ensure that, where actionable, any instances of discrimination against Shugden worshippers you claim are brought to an end.
In response, if it can be shown that the remaining shop signs in Bylakuppe and anywhere else they may have arisen have been removed, will you cease your demonstrations? If you are unwilling to do this, please state your reasons so they can be addressed at the earliest opportunity and this unfortunate situation can be resolved.
Please send your response to this website as soon as possible for public scrutiny and so any problems can be addressed.
updated December 18, 2014, at 01:24 pm
- The divorce from the Shugden monks: Is segregation “the Dalai Lama’s discrimination against Shugdens”? 2014/11/07
- In February 2008 900 Buddhist Shugden monks were made homeless by the Dalai Lama? 2014/09/26
Helpful background interviews
- Protests against the Dalai Lama over Dorje Shugden – An interview with Robert Barnett
- The Dorje Shugden Conflict – An interview with Thierry Dodin