In this section I will present the documentation for the interviews of Part I. It is not a history, since that would require a different kind of research possible here, which would have to include Tibetan texts, both published and unpublished. A uniquely Tibetan genre is "pe.bum" not much known or commented on in the Western context, since it was to a large extent governed by the rules of the oral transmission aspect of Buddhist lineages. It is a collection of texts about a practice by different authors which includes hand written, unpublished material of oral advice and explanations that pertained to secret mantra (vajrayana) practices, etc., which often held the key to the success of a practice, lineage, history. In Tibet, such a collection was not easily available or not published in the common sense of that word. Today, some have been published but are circulated mostly among those people who have been initiated into the practice. For example, according to oral sources, the texts concerning the practice of Dorje Shugden according were collected in Tibet by Tagri Dorje Chang by request of the Regent Radreng Rinpoche. I could not find written confirmation of this. There is reference in the below edition that the Mongolian Lobsang Tayang had collected many of the texts. The "pe.bum" from Tibet was expanded by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and the two volume 'jam.mgon bstan.sung rgyal.chen rdo.rje shugs.ldan rtsal kyi be.bum bzhugs.so, published by Gurudeva Rinpoche in Delhi, first early sixties, and this expanded version in 1983.
The material presented here is meant to contribute to the discussion with information not available now or not taken into consideration. The Dorje Shugden conflict is so emotional because it directly involves the Dalai Lama myth. For that reason it is extremely difficult to get reliable, objective information. It is also the reason why I have resorted to this very tedious method of presenting basic information. I hope this will provide a body of facts with the least interpretive overlay. Since the Tibetan exile government denies there is a ban or that anything discriminatory occurred against Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden, there is nothing much to present from their side in terms of facts. Unproven allegations and defamations against Dorje Shugden practitioners spread on behalf of the exile government will be discussed in Part III, particularly in the section "War of Words." In what follows, I am listing only the events for which there is documentation or reliable eye witnesses. Thus, it is by no means a complete or exhaustive chronicle. In order to better understand the unprecedented eruption of the Dorje Shugden conflict in 1996, I will first provide some historical background going back to the time when a highly realized master, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, first arose as a Dharmapala in the seventeenth century.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS OF 1996
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has said on many occasions Numerous times to Tibetans. For example, "I have come to be counted among the line of the Fifth Dalai Lama. I feel a definite karmic connection with my predecessor. It is my mandate to complete what was in practice during the Fifth Dalai Lama and my predecessor. This is my responsibility." In public, March 21, 1996, Dharamsala, quoted by the Kashag in an announcement of May 22, 1996. He also stated this in many Western interviews, most recently on CNN, Jan. 3, 1999, 10:30 pm EST; and "This much I can say. Through previous lives I do believe there is some special connection between my being and the Tibetan nation. My spiritual work and the freedom of Tibet are inextricably linked. And I feel, with some confidence, some connection with previous Dalai Lamas, particularly the Fifth and Thirteenth Dalai Lamas." Fourteenth Dalai Lama in, The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey through the Outer Reaches of Belief, by Mitch Brown, Bloomsbury: New York and London, 1998, p.122.
that he considers himself particularly close to the Fifth Dalai Lama and to the Thirteenth and that he will complete what his predecessors started. Specifically, he has referred to a ban (bkag.sdom
) he claims the Fifth and Thirteenth Dalai Lamas have imposed on Dorje Shugden as justification for asking Buddhists to stop this practice now and for proclaiming so widely his oracles' "prophesies" concerning the danger to his life and the cause of Tibet allegedly coming from Dorje Shugden. Since the Fourteenth Dalai Lama identifies himself so closely specifically with these two of his predecessors, I will start out with some relevant points concerning this historical identity.
• Seventeenth Century
In explanation of their anti-Dorje Shugden activities, Tibetans like to give as a reason that Dorje Shugden was surrounded by conflict from the very beginning. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama himself refers to a "conflict between the [Fifth] Dalai Lama and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen," with reference to the autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama and his Secret Visions, quoted in the Kashag Announcement of May 22, 1996. He also refers to conflict between deities from that time in a public teaching on March 10, 1996, Dharamsala.
The beginning was in 1654 or 1656. Some texts, Gene Smith, for example, cite 1654, others in 1656, Yamaguchi based on the autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama and Jamyang Shepa (Tibetan Chronological Tables of 'Jam-dbyangs bzad-pa and Sum-pa mkhan-po, translated by Alaka Chattopadhyaya, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies Sarnath, Varanasi, 1993, p. 237.) The discrepancy arises not only from the usual difficulties of establishing correct dates in the Tibetan historical context (for these difficulties and some corrections of earlier chronologies see Chattopadhyaya in the introduction to the Tibetan Chronological Tables) but also from the different interpretations of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's subsequent incarnation(s) of which there are several versions. This has caused some confusion exacerbated by mistaking historical references and time with religious accounts, as so often happens in the domain of Tibetan history. See, for example, Dreyfus: "The Shuk-den Affair: History and Nature of a Quarrel."
Scholars disagree about the historical origin of Dorje Shugden From the beginning the continuity of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was obscured by official sources, because he is believed to have been assassinated. "Again, in the fifteenth year of the term Regent Sonam Chophel, also known as Sonam Rabten, in the Fire-Monkey year of the 11th Sexagenary Cycle, in 1656, the reincarnate Lama of Drepung Zimkhang Ghongma known as Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, was unjustly assassinated out of jealousy by stuffing a silk scarf into his throat. Immediately thereafter, [the deceased] transformed into a malevolent force known as Dhol Gyalpo, creating great havoc upon those of Ganden Potang [the estate of the Dalai Lamas at Drepung Monastery of which Sonam Chophel, the Regent believed to be responsible for Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's death, was the main administrator during the Fifth Dalai Lama's time as well as the name for the government founded by him]. When this continued time and again, following order of the Dalai Lama, the Sakya Dagchen [ruling head of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism] Sonam Rinchen brought Dhol Gyalpo under covenant, becoming what is known as Dorje Shugden who is nowadays propitiated as protector deity by most of the patrons and masters on the Gelug side." Dujom Rinpoche: Crystal Mirror: A Short and Lucid History of Tibet, the Land of Snows, (gangs.cen bod.chen.po'i rgyal.rabs bsdus gsal.du bkod.pa sngon.med dvangs.shel 'phrul.gyi me.long zhes.bya.ba bzhugs), a text completed in 1961 but not published until 1978 for censorial reasons involving the exile government in Dharamsala. The place of publication of this text was withheld, page 373 or folio 508. This account is of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen having turned into a worldly spirit, something which is not accepted by those who rely on him as a Dharmapala.
The historian Sumpa Khenbo denies that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen could have turned into such a spirit, "That the particular Tibetan king [i.e. rgyal.po spirit] is the incarnation of gZim.khang gong.ma [resident of the Upper House, i.e. Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen] as said by Grags.rgyan is nothing but a biased statement." (Tibetan Chronological Tables, p. 248) Desi Sangye Gyatso, the Regent of Tibet after the death of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1682-1703) wrote that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was first a candidate for the incarnation of the fourth Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso, and that "later he became impure." This was the "official" government's version, perhaps an attempt to justify why they did not look for the incarnation of such a highly evolved, famous Lama. It is not tenable from a religious point of view for someone like Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen to have "become impure," if indeed this Lama was as highly realized as reported by religious people not involved in politics.
In 1657, when the Regent Sonam Choephel, who is believed to have killed Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, died, there was talk for the first time of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen having arisen as a rgyal.po spirit, a class of beings considered very dangerous because they are the result of monks who have broken their vows. Other learned Tibetans have argued that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was highly realized and could not have taken rebirth as such a spirit. (See, for example, Pabongka Rinpoche in the introduction to the rkang.so). Sumpa Khenbo (1704-1788) writes that Sonam Choephel (Regent from 1641-1657 when he died), "Due to much devotion to dGe-lugs he assumed the role of the protector of the religion and the savior of the dGe-lugs-pa as per popular belief. I think this is true." (Tibetan Chronological Tables, p. 238). Dreyfus claims this is an ironic remark. However, there is no indication why it should be interpreted this way. Regent Sonam Choephel would by current standards be called a Gelugpa zealot in the sense that he focused on the worldly supremacy of Gelugpa power in his aid to the Fifth Dalai Lama and the warfare accomplishing this aim, with his family engaging in "one of those frequent and unrewarding campaigns the Dge-lugs-pa regime thought necessary to undertake against Bhutan as the bastion of the older sects." (Richardson: High Peaks, Pure Earth, p. 450). His death was kept secret for a year and perhaps he haunted those who had participated in the assassination.
One version of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's story is that he reincarnated as a Chinese Emperor. The belief among Tibetans is that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen did, but not immediately. He took birth as the Ching Emperor Qianlong (ascended throne in 1736), active during the time of the seventh and eighth Dalai Lamas and who was patron and disciple to the great Tibetan scholar Changya Rolpa'i Dorje. This belief might be based on a prediction the first Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen made to his young disciple, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, that in future he would be born in the land of Manjushri (Tibet was considered the land of Avalokiteshvara and China the land of Manjushri) in order to benefit a great number of beings, when there was no Dharma in that land and that he would light the torch of Dharma there which will blaze forever. Quoted in 'jam.mgon bstan.sung rgyal.chen rdo.rje shugs.ldan rtsal kyi be.bum bzhugs.so, Vol. 1, Guru Deva Losang Tenzin, Delhi, 1983, p. 17.
The version believed by religious Gelugpas who rely on Dorje Shugden as Dharmapala is that after his death Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen went to the heavenly realms of the devas and emanated from there as the Dharmapala Dorje Shugden. (See, for example, .....verse from kangso) After the remains of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen were cremated the smoke went straight up into the sky, a sign that the deceased was taking rebirth in the heavenly realms. However, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's main attendant got disturbed and prayed to his ascending master not to leave matters without clarification and without revealing the truth of the shameful acts against him. According to oral history, a shaft of the smoke separated and went horizontally towards Lhasa and the Potala Palace while the main column continued to move straight up skyward.
As in many Tibetan incarnation stories historical time inconsistencies are not explained. They do not have to fit a historical chronology since Buddhists believe that enlightened beings can go to many different worlds even simultaneously to aid others. Almost all incarnation lineages have huge gaps in historical time and are usually not stated in chronological order.
Particularly since Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden as a Dharmapala see him in the nature of Manjushri, the action of taming and bringing under oath, which is necessary only of worldly spirits, does not apply to Dorje Shugden. Hence, the importance of a historical dates fades under this account.
Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen himself wrote poetic verses mentioning that in future he will incarnate everywhere, not only in Tibet (stated in the introduction to the be.bum). A more recent scholar, one of this century, Kachen Sopala from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, claims that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen reincarnated in the incarnation line of Ngari Tulkus. The present Ngari Rinpoche is the brother of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
as a protector largely because religious accounts in Tibetan Buddhism often do not follow historical time. As already mentioned, it is beyond the scope of this book to give a detailed historical analysis of this period. Since the Tibetan belief system is unique and historical knowledge mixed with religious presuppositions Consider, for example, the unusual type of power exercised by the highest political authority of a country to forbid a Buddhist master from reincarnating in a particular lineage, "...the Dalai Lama forbade any further reincarnation of that line [Zhwa-dmar-pa of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism now believed to incarnate in Situ Rinpoche, High Peaks, Pure Earth, FN #6, p. 359] and also confiscated the Zhwa-dmar-pa's property, including the monastery of Yangs-pa-can, which was conveyed to the Dge-lugs-pa monastery of Kun-bde-gling...." ibid., p. 358, probably in 1793
difficult for us to unravel, some points about religion need to be mentioned here. As is widely known, Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Tibetans claim to be able to trace incarnation lines across life times. They instituted this belief in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on a large scale, The Panchen incarnations of Tashi Lhunpo; the Dalai Lamas ('bras-spungs gzims-khang óg-ma lineage); the Panchen Sönam Dragpa incarnations ('bras-sprungs gzims-khang gong-ma lineage); dben-sa sprul-sku (Tsang); skyid-shod zhabs-drung (Bhutan's incarnations of Padma Karpo); khalkha rje-btsun dam-pa (Mongolia's highest official incarnation), for example. See Introduction by E. Gene Smith to The Autobiography of the First Panchen Lama blos-bzang-chos-kyi-rgyal-mthsan, pp. 11-12
first as a system to extend social influence, then to absorb older religious lineages and their supporting families, Ibid, p. 3; for example, "The rebirth of the First Dalai Lama as the son of Grub-chen Kun-dga-rgyal-mtshan resulted in the end of a hereditary line of Shangs-pa Bka'-brguyd-pa lamas. This process continued until recent times; the 6th Dalai Lama brought the Dge-lugs-pa considerable leverage with his branch of the Gnyos, the descendants of Padma-gling-pa, the chief lamas of the Mtsho-sna area." ibid., p. 4
and then for political legitimation starting in 1642 when the Fifth Dalai Lama established the Ganden Potang government. It is reverse reasoning to claim that the process using lines of incarnation to legitimate political power, which resulted in the institution of Dalai Lama that unifies religion and politics, was sanctified by Tsong Khapa just because one of his disciples, Gendundup, was posthumously called the first Dalai Lama, as does Gareth Sparham in his introduction to The Fulfillment of All Hopes, a text by Je Tsong Khapa he translated. The institution of Dalai Lama was created in 1642 and Je Tsong Khapa passed away in 1419. In other words, it was the Dalai Lamas who appealed to the religious authority of Tsong Khapa to help establish their own power.
It was a turbulent time culturally and politically and full of conflict. See, for example, Tibetan Nation, chapter 5
The Fifth Dalai Lama actively participated Including violent rituals, in 1641, for example, "The Dalai Lama sees in his vision that a large human head with a macabre face rises in front of the offerings on the altar; it opens its mouth wide, and numerous human heads fall into it like grains into a bag. The Dalai Lama remarks that this vision is a sign of success concerning the objective of the rite which is the victory of Gushri Khan and his forces over the King of Tsang in 1642." Secret Visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama, p. 15, but it is not until 1653, after his return from China that "... he perceives that he has in fact become Guru drag-dmar [a wrathful aspect of Padmasambhava, p. 54] and is so big that his head reaches the heavens. Due to the accomplishment of his meditation, he makes the remark that he has gained some confidence in performing a 'violent rite'..." p. 18.
in helping the Mongolian armies defeat the forces of the King of Tsang who had openly discriminated against and persecuted Gelugpas. Tibetan Nation,
chapter 5; Introduction to TAOTFPL, p. 3; Tibetan Chronological Tables
, p. 221: an entry for 1618 by Jamyang Shepa reads "Se-ra and 'Bras-spungs gling were destroyed in the seventh Hor month," and by Sumpa Khenbo, "The army of gTsang destroyed the monasteries of Se-ra and 'Bras-spung and murdered many a thousand." There was violent conflict at the inception of the Dalai Lama's political institution and the Ganden Potang government. Yet Tibetans do not, on those grounds, deny its legitimacy today, even after the loss of their country. The doctrine of non-violence currently associated with Tibet was championed first in exile in India, although "violent rites" continue to be performed. In 1995, for example, against Dorje Shugden in the presence of the Dalai Lama; and many government sponsored exorcism rituals during 1996/7 in the Tibetan settlements in South India as well as Nepal, according to eye witnesses.
It is believed that Dorje Shugden arose in the form of a Dharma protector after his immediate predecessor, believed to have been the most renowned, learned Gelugpa master of his time, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-1654), had been assassinated. See Dujom Rinpoche: Crystal Mirror: A Short and Lucid History of Tibet, the Land of Snows, (gangs.cen bod.chen.po'i rgyal.rabs bsdus gsal.du bkod.pa sngon.med dvangs.shel 'phrul.gyi me.long zhes.bya.ba bzhugs), a text completed in 1961 but not published until 1978 for censorial reasons involving the exile government in Dharamsala. The place of publication of this text was withheld, page 373 or folio 508. Also, "Although it is not stated in the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, according to common tradition, it is believed that Dakpa Gyaltsen was killed by stuffing his mouth with scarves." Fourteenth Dalai Lama in a talk, July 13th, 1978.
Buddhist ontology distinguishes between different levels of existence, between gross and subtle material bodies. While human beings and most animals have gross material form, the majority of beings have subtle energy bodies invisible to common perception of the material senses. All Buddhist protectors and most other helpful beings in the Buddhist pantheon are believed to have such subtle mental energy bodies invisible to the physical eye. Dorje Shugden is one of those materially invisible forces believed by those who rely on him to be in the same continuity as Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, the accomplished master whose actions were considered beyond evil intent. See for example the Fourteenth Dalai Lama's statement, "It is my view that Tulku Dakgpa Gyaltsen's instinctive behaviour and ways of thinking were good. I have looked at his Collected Works which also contain his secret biography. He seems to have been good in his studies and to have a gentle subdued mind. In his biography there are a few Guru Yoga texts, one of which has Buddha Shakyamuni in the center and around him: Guru Rinpoche [Padmasambhava] (9th century) surrounded by the Guru lineage of the Nyingma Order, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) surrounded by the Guru lineage of the Sakya order; Marpa (1012-1097), Mila (1052-1135) and Dwagpo (1079-1161) surrounded by the Guru Lineage of Kagyud order; Je-Rinpoche [Tsong Khapa] (1375-419) and his two spiritual sons surrounded by the Gurus of Gelug order;.... teachings of past Sakya, Gelug, Kagyud and Nyingma masters are summarized and it is explained that one should pay homage and recite eulogies through recollecting their qualities. At the conclusion, he explains that a boundless crime based on contemporary sectarianism produces causes to be thrown into bad realms and that he had written this Guru Yoga deliberately to avoid such negative results. Having seen that, I thought it was good. Usually, Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is considered a biased deity, since there was this account in the Collected Works of Dakpa Gyaltsen, I thought it was good." From the Fourteenth Dalai Lama's talk on July 13th, 1978.
Buddhists also believe that everything is caused. Thus, for an individual to be reborn as a wrathful being, like a protector, he must meet a violent death. Conversely, anyone dying a violent death is likely reborn as an angry spirit. Since Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was a highly realized master, it is impossible for him to have been reborn as an angry spirit. Since his nature was goodness, the wrathful appearance is considered merely an external show to help those who are threatened or fearful. Hence, he was reborn as a Dharma protector, not as a harmful spirit, it is argued.
This is considered one of the conditions. However, the main cause is a promise Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had made in a previous existence when he was one of Je Tsong Khapa's principal disciples. This was a pledge to take care of his master's illustrious doctrine when the need arose. The religious history of Dorje Shugden, his incarnations and deeds, are explained in dge.lden bsten.pa bsrung.wa'i lha mchog.sptul.pa'i chos.rgyal chen.po rdo.rje shugs.lden.rtsel kyi ksang ksum rmat.du byung.ba'i rtogs.pa brjot.pa'i ktam.du by.ba dam.chen rgya.mtso dgyes.pa'i rol.mo shes.bya.wa bshugs.so, edited by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche
An exclusively religious explanation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen turning into a Dharma protector seems to see the violent death merely as a condition of a larger viewpoint where revenge has no place.
Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's religious successor lineage is impressive. It included one of the most famous Indian secret mantra adepts (mahasiddha) of the 10th century, Virupa, About his feats see, Masters of Enchantment, The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas, translated by Keith Dowman, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1988, pp. 35-9
and the great Tibetan masters Sakya Pandita Kungo Gyaltsen (1182-1251), Buton Rinchendrup (1290-1364), For a short biographical sketch, see Dratshadpa Rinchen Namgyal: A Handful of Flowers, A Biography of Buton Rinchen Drub, translated by Hans van den Bogaert, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, 1996.
and Panchen Sonam Dragpa (1478-1554). According to the following sources: lineage prayer of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen composed by the first Panchen Lama Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen, 'jam.mgon bstan.sung rgyal.chen rdo.rje shugs.ldan rtsal kyi be.bum bzhugs.so, Vol 1, Delhi, 1983, pp. 131-8, with Sakya Pandita not included; dge.lden bsten.pa bsrung.wa'i lha mchog.sptul.pa'i chos.rgyal chen.po rdo.rje shugs.lden.rtsel kyi ksang ksum rmat.du byung.ba'i rtogs.pa brjot.pa'i ktam.du by.ba dam.chen rgya.mtso dgyes.pa'i rol.mo shes.bya.wa bshugs.so, edited by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche; dge.lden bsten.srung dkra.lha'i gyal.po srid ksum skye tgu'i srok bdag dam.lden bu.bshin skyeng.baí lha.mchok sptrul.pa'i rgyal.chen rdo.rje shugs.ldan rigs lnga rtsal gyi sger.bskang rgyas.pa phyoks las rnam.par rgyal.ba'i rnga tbyangs...bshugs.so, by Pabongka Dechen Nyingbo; Heart Jewel, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Tharpa Publications, London, 1991, pp. 81-90; Introduction to TAOTFPL, p. 11. It must be pointed out that religious successor lineages of famous Tibetan Buddhist masters are complicated. Not everyone agrees to the same predecessors. In that sense not one lineage is indisputable. Even the Dalai Lama's contains discrepancies when seen strictly from the point of view of historical succession and he usually makes a point to identify himself with the Fifth and the Thirteenth Dalai Lamas. To complicate matters, these lineages are often considered on the basis of any one continuity, body, speech, mind, or action, and there can be more than one incarnation of a famous master at the same time.
Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was strictly a religious personage and not involved in politics. Until 1641, the Fifth Dalai Lama considered Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen next to him in rank. "From this time  through the iron-serpent year (1641) the incarnated lama of the gZims-khang-gong, next to me in rank, continued to attend the smon.lam." Yamaguchi quotes from the Fifth Dalai Lama's autobiography, in "The Sovereign Power of the Fifth Dalai Lama," p. 12.
They were both from Drepung monastery and both were disciples of the First Panchen Lama Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, It might be relevant to point out here that the first Panchen Lama (the forth in the Tibetan count) Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen (1567-1662) was the most important master of his times. He had been abbot of all three monastic universities, Sedegasum, and Tashi Lhunpo, a greatly accomplished vajrayana master, author of many texts, some still recited daily by all Gelugpas. He ordained the forth and Fifth Dalai Lamas as well as Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and was Guru to both. It is said that he loved Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, who was not involved in politics, especially for his purely religious practice. The first Panchen Lama had a great deal of religious influence in Mongolia prior to the Fifth Dalai Lama's political take over. He created good relations with both the Mongols and Manchus and caused the Gelugpa tradition to flourish peacefully. It is said that he helped Tibet both in the religious and political sphere. He influenced Kushu Tenzin Chokyi Gyalpo, a Mongolian renowned for spreading the Gelug tradition in Mongolia. This laid the groundwork for the later more political success of the Fifth Dalai Lama.
who had given both their vows. Their personal histories had been intertwined in previous lives as well. A previous incarnation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, Panchen Sonam Dragpa, a great master, writer, abbot of all monastic universities in turn, vajrayana adept, whose textbooks are still today used at Drepung, had been the teacher of two Dalai Lamas, yet the Fifth Dalai Lama disliked him and criticized him openly. Yamaguchi, claims that the Fifth Dalai Lama plagiarized his "Chronicle of Tibet" from Panchen Sonam Dragpa. Ibid., p. 11. Thus, the Fifth Dalai Lama seems to have had difficulties with the lineage of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen through more than one life time.
One problem seems to have been that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was very popular also with Mongolians Ibid., p. 16
who played a large role in Tibetan political affairs at the time. Thus, he could easily have been perceived as a threat to those who had established political power with Mongolian backing. Although most Tibetans believe that Gusri Khan handed over Tibet to the Fifth Dalai Lama, not everyone agrees with how the sovereignty of the Dalai Lama's power was established. See, for example, "Sovereign Power of the Fifth Dalai Lama," and "The Dissemination of the Belief in the Dalai Lama as a Manifestation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara,"by Ishihama Yumiko, Acta Asiatica 64 (1993), pp. 38-56.
It was an important time for building the Tibetan national identity under the idea of a strong, unified central government "at Lhasa, which was enhanced by measures to demonstrate the continuity of the new regime with the religious rule of the great kings of the seventh to ninth centuries. Court ceremonial and pageantry, the building of the magnificent palace on the Potala hill underlined that theme; and the cult of the Dalai Lama as the embodiment of 'Phags-pa Spyan-ras-gzigs (Avalokitesvara) was, perhaps, developed at this time." High Peaks, Pure Earth
, p. 390. Political power was being compressed into an institution of a single authority For a more detailed analysis of the Fifth Dalai Lama's assumption of political power see, "The Sovereign Power of the Fifth Dalai Lama: sPrul sku gZims-khang-gong-ma and the Removal of Governor Nor-bu," by Professor Zuiho Yamaguchi, in Memoirs of the Research Department of The Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library) No. 53, Tokyo, 1995
that could not tolerate competition in any domain. "For the Dalai Lama to become the supreme religious authority in all Tibet, it was imperative that only a single incarnate lama in the person of the Dalai Lama preside over 'Bras-spungs monastery from his headquarters at the dGa'-ldan Palace." Ibid., p. 10
Ganden Potang (Palace), the name of the Fifth Dalai Lama's residence at Drepung monastery, was later given to the Tibetan government, i.e. the Ganden Potang government. He did not take up residence in the newly enlarged Potala Palace still towering over Lhasa today until 1659. From oral accounts it is known that the steady stream of Mongolians passing the "Lower Residence" (i.e. that of the Dalai Lama) at Drepung monastery to make offerings to Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen at the "Upper Residence" was a constant annoyance to politically ambitious officials. "...it seems that there were two residence, (bla-brang), the so called lower residence of the Dalai Lama and the upper residence of those of the lineage of Tulku Dagpa Gyaltsen, both of whom seem to have been quite famous. As a result of this it seems certain there were petty conflicts between the staff of the two residence." Fourteenth Dalai Lama, ibid., July 13th, 1978
At the same time the Fifth Dalai Lama stabilized and increased his power, especially during the years between 1642 and 1653, "...in the years between 1642 and 1653 the Dalai Lama took various actions presenting himself to the populace as a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. Since Avalokiteshvara was believed already before the establishment of the dGe-lugs-pa school to be the bodhisattva charged with converting Tibet, it is beyond doubt that the faith engendered in the minds of both the nobility and the general populace as a result of the Dalai Lama's actions served to gradually enhance the power of the Dalai Lama and reais him to a position on a different level from that of the regent and Gusri Khan and his descendants. Ever since then, right up until the present day, the Dalai Lama has continued to exert enormous influence over the people of Tibet as a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara." "On the Dissemination of the Belief in the Dalai Lama as a Manifestation of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara." pp. 54-5; and "This consolidation of religious and secular power in a single figure was an important moment in Tibetan history, a consolidation that received strong ideological support through the promotion of the cult of Avalokitesvara." Religions of Tibet in Practice, ed. by Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Princeton Universtiy Press, Princeton 1997, Introduction by Donald S. Lopez Jr., p. 31; see also the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, "...the lineage of the Dalai Lamas, which can be traced back to the Tibetan King, Choegyal Trisong Deutsan and even further to a relationship with Gyalpo Kunchog Bang." In a talk on July 13, 1978 in explanation of why the protector Nechung is more important for to the Dalai Lama to cultivate than Dorje Shugden.
when he popularized his identification with Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion special to Tibet, and the seminal king Songtsen Gampo credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. It was not until the eleventh century that the earlier Buddhist kings were identified with bodhisattvas. "In Tibet's religious development the eleventh century was a formative period for subsequent religious movements and especially for the legitimation of the territory of larger Tibet (three provinces) by the Gelugpas in the seventeenth century. For the first time, the myth of associating the early kings -- still identified with "the Divine Rulers of the old beliefs," i.e. Bön (Richardson, p. 198) -- with important bodhisattvas was read back into history and carried forward from then on, "...Srong-btsan sgam-po, Khri-srong lde-btsan and Ral-pa-can, who were acclaimed as 'manifestations' of Avalokitesvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani respectively. Srong-btsan sgam-po, the most fearful warrior of all the kings, was not the 'manifestation' of the gentle benevolent Avalokitesvara, the Lord of Compassion." Secret Visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Samten Karmay, Introduction pp. 1-2. It stands to reason that the Avalokiteshvara myth, as the legitimation for power, was projected backwards into history, since the ancient myths of origin did not get absorbed into Buddhism until this period. According to the indigenous belief system, "the kings were descendants of the Phyva gods," ... who were "above all, warriors who lead the army in person and engaged in battle." ibid., p. 1. In the myth of origin of the Tibetan people most widely told today, a rock demon (brag srin.mo) copulated with a monkey (spt'u) believed to have been a 'manifestation' of Avalokiteshvara. They engendered the Tibetan people which places Avalokiteshvara at their very inception. See, for example, Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen: The Clear Mirror, translated by McComas Taylor and Lama Choedak Yuthok, Snow Lion Pulications, Ithaca, 1996, Part I, in particular, chapter five. Later the myth (perpetuated in the rgyal.rabs.ksal.ba'i me.long) gets transferred to King Songtsen Gampo as the (religious) father of Tibet. According to some scholars, it is highly unlikely that that Lord, or jo.wo, had at the time of his flourishing anything to do with Avalokiteshvara. Die Werke des Regenten Sans Rgyas Rgya Mcó (1653-1705), Eine philologisch-historische Studie zum tibetischsprachigen Schrifttum, Kristina Lange, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, 1976, p. 149, FN 28, (my translation). See also, "The Royal Way of Supreme Compassion," by Matthew Kapstein, ibid., p. 70, where the source for the nationalistic Avalokitesvara myth is given as the "treasure" text (gter.ma), the Mani Bka' 'bum, from the twelfth and thirteenth century. The indigenous beliefs, now collected under the name Bön, have very different myths of origin. See for example, Philippe Cornu: Tibetan Astrology, Shambala, Boston, 1997, p. 20. This book contains a very readable introduction to the psychic-spiritual milieu of everyday Tibetan life lived until the Communist invasion. Today some of it continues but strangely fragmented and part of a new politicized overall setting. Also, Drung, Deu and Bön, by Namkhai Norbu, for an overview of the indigenhous believe system of pre-Buddhist Tibet which continued to evolve in close proximity to Buddhism.
Although in Tibetan religious history many Buddhist masters were celebrated as incarnations of Avalokiteshvara, From a translation of the "Annals of 'Gos lo-tsa-ba" composed by the Tibetan scholar and translator "Gö Lotsawa Shönnu Pal between 1476 and 1478, "Just as the Bodhisattva Manjushri took over China, in the same manner the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Arya Avalokitesvara protected this country of Tibet." The Blue Annals, George N. Roerich, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, Reprint of the Second Edition, 1996, p. 10006. Then the author lists many Tibetan adepts of Avalokitesvara (Book XIV).
this deity was now cultivated to legitimate the Tibetan national identity and attached as such to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. To mark his accession as sovereign, the Fifth Dalai Lama also wrote a history of Tibet For a more detailed philological analysis of the role this text plays in rewriting history to justify Gelugpa power over larger Tibet (the three provinces) aided by establishing incarnation lineages to legitimate political power locally in various areas of Tibet, see Die Werke des Regenten Sans Rgyas Rgya Mcó, especially the section "Über die Schriften des Regenten," pp. 124-144. The Fifth Dalai Lama's writings also show his understanding of the political need to invoke the identity of the earlier Tibetan kings with ancient Bön practices that still form the basis for political institutions like the State Oracle, for example. In speaking of the Tibetan kings before Buddhist advent in the 7th century Songtsen Gampo is traditionally counted as the thirty-third Tibetan king the Fifth Dalai Lama writes, "...and for twenty-seven generations of kings politics was protected by the drung, [legendary narratives], deu [symbolic language of signs, like geomancy, divination, etc.] and Bön [shamanic rituals and knowledge]." Drung, Deu and Bön, Introduction, p. xix. The Fifth Dalai Lama had to unify politically all the different strands of religion. "He was born in a Rnying-ma-pa family and is widely believed in Tibet to have been for all his life a secret supporter of the unreformed sects," says Richardson in High Peaks, Pure Earth , p. 354, and most Tibetans believe he did not only support but practiced them. The Secret Visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama testify to that even though they seem much more to belong to the Bön tradition which forms the foundation for the uniquely Tibetan conception of "power relations." In addition, to the Fifth Dalai Lama and his regent Sangye Gyatso were attributed Sanskrit names and their elaborate lineages indicating that "with these fictitious religious-mythological genealogies the origin of their ancestors was not only to be found in the Tibetan ancient history but also anchored in the Indian Buddhist tradition in order to let their ancestry appear as noble as possible." Die Werke des Regenten Sang Rgyas Rgya Mc'o, pp. 121-2, (my translation).
in 1643, a text he supposedly plagiarized from Panchen Sonam Dragpa, See above, Note 17.
a predecessor of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen. It stands to reason that the perceived rivalry between the two incarnate Lamas at Drepung did not originate with Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, The current view of the Tibetan exile government as brought into a Western context by George Dreyfus in "The Shuk-den Affair: History and Nature of a Quarrel" of attributing the rivalry solely to Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, I believe serves a political agenda rather than representing any form of scholarship, neither the academic critical version nor the Tibetan one that takes into consideration the appropriate Buddhist distinctions, i.e. as between the two truths, literal and interpretive, etc.
although, according to some sources, he had been a candidate for the Fifth Dalai Lama "The bKa'-brgyud-pa sect had already tried to make out the child as a reincarnation of one of their own lamas before he was recognized as that of the Fourth Dalai Lama, but this was not all. There was also another more serious candidate for the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama among the dGe-lugs-pas themselves. This was Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan (1619-54), who was presented as a possible reincarnation before being finally recongized as the reincarnation of Pan-chen bSod-nams grags-pa (1478-1554), the teacher of the Third Dalai Lama." Samten Gyaltsen Karmay in the Introduction to Secret Visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama, p. 3
while others say the candidate had been a member of Dragpa Gyaltsen's family. Yamaguchi in "The Sovereign Power of the Fifth Dalai Lama," p. 12; Yamaguchi then says, "From the very outset the presence of this incarnate lama [Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen] weighed heavily on the Fifth Dalai Lama."
If Yamaguchi is correct in his analysis of the texts that the Fifth Dalai Lama later rewrote his autobiography Yamaguchi, ibid., p. 17; also see a detailed discussion of this problem in Die Werke des Regenten Sang Rgyas Rgya Mc'o. Even though the Tibetan word rnam.thar is often translated with autobiography, this is a misnomer. A nam.thar of a Tibetan Lama was written by one of the aides in his close proximity because Lamas usually did not praise themselves. Thus, it is likely that events were included or omitted from the Fifth Dalai Lama's biography in accordance with how the writer of the times tried to portray events. There are discrepancies between different versions, according to Lange's philological studies, and many texts, also those of the regent, are believed to have been co-authored. Interestingly, the Ganden Potang, house or residence of the Fifth Dalai Lama at Drepung monastery, became a printing house.
to reflect history in a more favorable light, and if it is true that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was assassinated, it is not hard to imagine that official references to his popularity and deeds would be erased, minimal or negative. It is historical fact that no official search for an incarnation was undertaken. The main source of information for this time was the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama. We know that texts were removed from libraries because of the Fifth Dalai Lama's disapproval. On grounds, in part, that the author belonged to the Karmapa school, the principal opponents of the Fifth Dalai Lama in his defeat of the Tsang King with the help of Gusri Khan, claims Hugh Richardson, High Peaks, Pure Earth, p. 80; and, "...since there exist no records of events in Tibet around 1642 other than the Fifth Dalai Lama's autobiography," The Dissemination of the Belief in the Dalai Lama," p. 39, which, moreover, Yamaguchi claims was revised after the Regent Sonam Choepel and Gusri Khan had passed away.
Such attention to "official" versions of the historical events of the time could explain why Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's incarnation would immediately be called into question and continued to be so by the Ganden Potang government, Apparently changing texts to fit officially established views was not uncommon in Tibet. Even the one historical precedent the Dalai Lama cites again and again from Changya Rölpa'i Dorje to justify his Dorje Shugden policy appears to be based on one such case. The incident he refers to is narrated in Changya's biography of Trichen Ngawang Chogden. [(+) needs exact textual reference] An evil monk spirit (rgyal.'gong) from Dragsob (brag.sob) who was invoked by some active Lama retired from his monastic office (bla.zur) and a Khamtsen at Ganden. They built a wayside shrine for this spirit in the circumambulation path of Ganden. Trichen Ngawang Chogden declared this unsuitable. He said that since the time of Je Tsong Khapa and his disciples no worldly spirits were worshiped at his [Ganden] monastery and that in future this would also not be permitted. When that spirit was invoked through an oracle, he said that since the Trichen Rinpoche had said this, he had no choice but to leave and he excused himself and left for Taktse-Shöl. The Lama retired from his monastic office who had relied on that evil spirit died soon after as punishment by Kalarupa [one of Je Tsong Khapa's protectors]. There is no reference to Dorje Shugden in this passage. The evil monk spirit (rgyal.'gong) was continued to be worshiped as a local deity at the place where he came from. The same incident is referred to by the master Tuken in his biography of Changya. (Tib.: thu'u-bkwan (1737-1802). See Collected Works of Thu'u-bkwan Blo-bzang-chos-kyi-nyi-ma, Vol. 1 (Ka), edited and reproduced by Ngawang Gelek Demo with Introduction by E. Gene Smith, Delhi, 1972). There the Lama retired from monastic office, bla.zur, is changed to retired throne holders, khri.zur, in the plural; the evil monk spirit, rgyal.'gong, to Dholgyal (Dorje Shugden); and Trichen Ngawang Chogden to Trichen Dorje Chang. "So in the past some Ganden Throneholders relied upon Dholgyal and inauspicious things occurred. Thus the great Throneholder Vajradhara destroyed the shrine [referring to the above incident about the local evil monk spirit] ... and expelled him from the monastery ... the account was told." From the grammatical mistakes Tibetan experts believe the blocks of this text were manipulated even before it was printed. The Dalai Lama refers to Tuken's version and not to the original by Changkya. The exile government's special committee charged (after 1996) with the task of finding textual legitimation for the ban and informing the Dalai Lama either did not or did not want to find this discrepancy.
although it is hard for Western people to understand why this old feud would be revived some three hundred fifty years later by the exile version of the Ganden Potang government and with similar intensity and vigor, especially when the Buddhist world view that government claims to preserve stresses the illusory nature of phenomenal reality. It would also be plausible that accounts of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's lineage, legacy, and religious accomplishments would be subject to distortions, different interpretations, some of which were adopted as "official" while others circulated more secretly, orally, and through less widely published sources kept carefully in the form of prayers and sacred texts.
After Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's passing away, the Fifth Dalai Lama and some of his officials were convinced that he had come back as an harmful spirit. As already mentioned, Buddhism teaches that someone with high realizations cannot fall back into the dark stages of evil spirits. Thus, the ripening karma of a realized person being murdered is in accordance with Buddhist explanation of karma as well as his bearing this suffering while generating only virtuous intentions to benefit others (i.e. to protect the Buddha's doctrine) rather than reacting to harm others.
Why would they, if Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had not died a violent death? Some people claim Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen committed suicide, another most improbable act for a Buddhist master of that caliber, especially one accomplished in secret mantra where the body is seen as the deity. Suicide would amount to killing a Buddha for such a person.
Many inauspicious signs and events occurred and one would expect Buddhists, who believe in cause and effect and that results are particularly swift if actions involve a realized being, to conclude that these ill omens had to do with killing a holy being. But the government believed them to be caused by an evil spirit instead and employed the highest vajrayana practitioners of the time The Fourteenth Dalai Lama mentions in his talk on July 13, 1978 that according to common knowledge, Rigdzin Terdag Lingpa of Mindol Ling and Rigzin Pema Trinley of Dorje Drag performed two fire rituals simultaneously, one at E-WAM and the other at the Potala, which were deliberately aimed to annihilate Dhol Gyalchen [i.e. Dorje Shugden].
to perform exorcism rituals to destroy that spirit. They could not, it is told, and the Sakya Lamas involved in the exorcism rituals told the Fifth Dalai Lama that they were not dealing with an ordinary spirit.
The Fifth Dalai Lama, according to oral history, accepted this and composed several verses in praise to Dorje Shugden in which he acknowledged his mistake of having misjudged Dorje Shugden's appearance For those not familiar with Buddhist doctrine and at the risk of stating the obvious, the issue is religious power derived from the perspicacity to "see" the nature and appearance of subtle mental energy beings. If a Buddhist practitioner cannot distinguish between the subtle appearance of a Buddha and a demon, he or she could not possibly have the direct realization of the nature of reality. There are many interesting stories in Buddhist history concerning the distinction between appearance and reality, for example, the famous one about Upagupta who prostrates to Mara, the Buddhist incarnation of evil, whom Upagupta asks to manifested the appearance of the Buddha, with Upagupta claiming he prostrated to the Buddha, not to Mara. See, John S. Strong: The Legend and Cult of Upagupta, Sanskrit Buddhism in North India and Southeast Asia, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1992, Chapter five.
and the disturbances stopped.
PROPITIATION OF SHUGDEN BY THE GREAT FIFTH DALAI LAMA 'Jam.mgön rgyal.wa'i bsten.srung rdo.rje shugs.lden kyi 'phrin.bchol bhjoks.bsdus
, published by Seramey, p. 14
Though unmoving from the spontaneous, primordial sphere,
Your ferocious power is swifter than lightning,
You're fully endowed with confidence to judge right and wrong
Invited with faith, may you please come to this place!
Wearing monk's robes, adorned with a golden domed hat,
Right hand holding a club and left, a human heart,
riding various mounts of dragon, Garuda and so forth
You, who subdue the various demonesses of the charnel grounds, I praise!
I arrange favorite animals and various offering substances.
I reveal and confess not reversing my image of you
As a mundane spirit
Because of being somewhat clouded by my own interest.
Now, as I respectfully praise you with body, speech, and mind,
Bring about the good and avert the faulty
For us, the masters, disciples, patrons and entourage,
And cause the spiritual and temporal to flourish like the waxing moon.
Furthermore, in accordance with our prayers to swiftly achieve
All our wishes, bestow effortlessly supreme accomplishments!
And, as all needs and wishes arise from the wish-fulfilling jewel,
May we always be nurtured by the Three Supreme Jewels!
This brief praise, propitiation and dispatching activity is a praise of the manner in which you revealed very strong miraculous signs of invulnerability to the power of indisputably great tantrikas The different vajrayana masters from the Kagyu, Sakya, Nyingma traditions performing the exorcism rituals.
who tried to subdue you by burning you in the fire of a tantric ritual. The Tibetan exile government has publicized that these verses are not to be found in the collected works of the Fifth Dalai Lama or in his autobiography. In "A Reply to the Government," the author queries, "By this you mean to say he did not compose this prayer or you did not see it? There are many other works composed by the Fifth Dalai Lama that are not in his collected works. (For example, rang.rnam pö.tang.por)" p. 85
At Sakya, to the south of Lhasa, the great master Dagchen Sonam Rinchen is said to have given Dorje Shugden his name, which means "vajra force," referring to an unadulterated, pristine spiritual force, and officially recognized him as a powerful religious protector. Shung.len drang song gen.bo'i pel.tam
, by Losang Chompel, A Reply to the Government, Dorje Shugden Society, 1997, second edition, p. 65 Those who believe Dorje Shugden to be a worldly spirit say that he was put under oath (under covenant) by this great master, an act believed to turn a spirit into a servant of the Buddha Dharma. However, those who rely on Dorje Shugden as a Dharmapala take the promise Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen had made to Pehar (to act as special guardian of Je Tsong Khapa's doctrine in the future when the need arose) as the main component initiating the series of events that caused him to arise eventually, more than two hundred years later, in the form of Dorje Shugden. "Remembering the promise Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had made [some two hundred years and several life times earlier when he was Je Tsong Khapa's disciple, Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen] he went to Pehar-chok (pe.har lcog) [the sacred residence of the protector Pehar] and said to Nechung Chögyal [emanation of Pehar] that he remembered his earlier promise (dam.bca') or word of honor and asked what he should do to pursue it. [That protector had come to Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and reminded him of his promise, saying "Now is the time" and "The time has come."] The protector answered that he would offer his blessings and active support ('phrin.las) to that end. After that, because of Nechung's blessings, people came to Lhasa from all directions and especially from the Kham region and made more offerings to Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen than to the Fifth Dalai Lama. ... The upper and lower residence were considered almost equal. Moreover, during the Great Prayer Festivals, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's throne near the Fifth Dalai Lama's in the front row was slightly higher. All these factors made Desi Sonam Chöphel and the attendants of the Fifth Dalai Lama envious of him and they were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Suddenly, at the age of thirty-eight, on the 25th day of the fourth month of the fire monkey year (1656), Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen fell sick. Taking advantage of the situation sDe-pa Nor-bu and Desi Sonam Chöphel on the 13th day of the fifth month tried to murder him unsuccessfully with weapons. It had no effect on him. Therefore, the murdered him by stuffing a cloth into his throat." Bstod-'grel dam.can rgya.mtsho dgyes.pa'i rol.mo, Kathmandu, 1997, p. 137-38.
In other words, he was not subdued like a worldly spirit would need to be but manifested the different Buddha activities ('phrin.las
), which include wrathful acts, out of his own determination and high spiritual accomplishments. Properly naming this force and marking that event with a ceremony called enthronement is giving it its proper recognition. This has been confused with the act of subduing a worldly spirit. The different beliefs about Dorje Shugden depend not so much on historical records but on the differing interpretations of the relationship between reality and appearance.
It is perhaps more fruitful to ask the question why it was at this particular time that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen is believed to have fulfilled the promise he had made long ago in a previous life. Why was the Gelugpa tradition at that moment perceived by some Tibetans to be in danger as to require another guardian exclusive to its tradition? Why did the historical circumstances come together for this to occur when the Gelugpas supposedly celebrated their greatest victory? What was the tension between the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Gelugpa tradition that he felt such animosity towards its monks of whom he was one?
One possible interpretation is that the Fifth Dalai Lama represented less the purely religious Gelugpas, since he seems to have largely preferred to practice according to his own visions based on a Nyingma version of Tibetan Buddhism, and represented more the Gelug tradition as a political-administrative power base. This is not the example Je Tsong Khapa had shown his followers. He had resisted political involvement and rejected direct association with the Chinese emperor. See, for example, Tibetan Nation, p. 103.
But a fair ruler of a country has to represent all religious traditions which reduced the Gelugpas to the role a majority political party plays in support of its leader. Dorje Shugden does not need to be looked at as a political rival to the institution of Dalai Lama, as he oddly was again recently, but simply as a guardian of one particular religious tradition whose concern is purely religious in the sense of protecting the Dharma from declining into mere political or worldly involvement. According to this interpretation, Dorje Shugden had to arise at the time when the Ganden Potang government was established since with it arose the greatest danger for Gelugpas: to lose their religious tradition to mere political and social involvement. Today that danger is even greater because since the advent of modernity religion is defined almost exclusively in sociological terms and whatever religious knowledge does not fit the social parameters of the moment becomes eclipsed. The loss of the inner core of meaning is what a Buddhist protector is believed to guard against since he or she is entrusted with the continuity of a wisdom tradition.
• Two hundred years later
During this time there seems to have been no record of much conflict surrounding Dorje Shugden. Its practice was not very public. It is difficult to say how wide spread it was during that time. One reason, which remains valid till today, is that Dorje Shugden is also considered a special protector of the most secret practices contained in the Ganden Oral Tradition (Ganden Nyen Gyü or Genden Kagyü), "a system of tantric practices first conceived and taught be the great Je Rinpoche, Tsongkapa [1357-1419]...also known more fully, as the Ganden Oral Tradition of Mahamudra or, concisely, as the Gelukpa Mahamudra." Enlightened Beings, Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition, by Janice D. Willis, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1995, Introduction, p. xiv. Since Gelugpas strictly practice sutra and keeping monks' and lay people's vows, i.e. vinaya, on the outside, that is, publically, and tantra on the inside, privately, the esoteric side of Gelugpa practices are not as publicly known or discussed as they are in other Buddhist traditions. Hence, Dorje Shugden also was not discussed openly until brought into the public arena.
Until Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1941) taught widely, no Gelugpa who relied on Dorje Shugden had become as famous.
• Turn of the Century
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama (1876-1933) attempted to reform his country in many different respects, from the military to political and social practices. For background to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, see Portrait of a Dalai Lama, by Sir Charles Bell.
He strengthened the institution of Dalai Lama to an unprecedented extent. Even the Fifth Dalai Lama had his regent deal with affairs of state for long periods of time, while the Thirteenth took complete control of the political side of the Ganden Potang government. As one of the reform measures, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama had all the oracles tested and dismissed the frauds. The Water-Bird and Other Years
, a History of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and After, K. Dhondup, Rangwang Publishers, Delhi 1986, p. 62 According to oral sources, he is said to have banned all oracles for a certain period of time. Tibet had a complicated system of protective deities and local spirits that came through oracles in trance. See Oracles and Demons of Tibet, for example; also Portrait of a Dalai Lama, p. 43-6
Their power and ability to assist was believed to range widely with some being Buddhist protectors and forces under their control as well as other worldly spirits from ancient and pre-historic times. During the Thirteenth' moratorium, even the State Oracle was silenced because Nechung, a protector subdued by Padmasambhava and established as a Tibetan national protector by the Fifth Dalai Lama, According to Ngari Khentul Rinpoche, in an interview, February 4th, 1998; Thurman: Worlds of Transformation, Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, Tibet House New York, Publishers, New York, 1999, p. 399, where states that Pehar was brought from Samye to the Ganden Potang Government; see also The Guardian Deities of Tibet, by Labrang Kalsang, transl. by Pema Thinley, Little Lhasa Publications, Dharamsala, 1996. It includes the "government approved" protectors -- the author headed the government team instructed to find any textual references critical of Dorje Shugden, who is obviously not included in the book. In keeping with appropriation of early Tibetan history of the Ganden Potang government, Nechung is presented as the protector closest to the Tibetan government even before the Fifth Dalai Lama's time. He also presents Nechung as one of the Red and Black Dharma protectors traditionally held to be Chamsing and Palden Lhamo, according to many oral sources. In exile Chamsing was substituted with Nechung as the Red Protector of the two. (p. 79-80) It was at this time that [Fifth Dalai Lama] that the Nächung (gNas-chung) Oracle was attached to the famous monastery of Drepung (hbras-spungs) and recognised as the State Oracle of Tibet. It was regarded as the highest authority and its advice was sought whenever there was a difficulty in finding the reincarnation or Tulku (sprul-sku) of a high Lama (as in the case of the Dalai Lama and of Tomo Geshe Rimpoche), or whenever a political decision of great importance was to be made." p. 181, The Way of the White Clouds, Shambala Boston, 1970. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama states, "Since the time of the Victorious Gedun Gyatso, the second Dalai Lama, Nechung has been one of the two state protectors referred to as the Red and Black protectors, who have had special connection with Tibet's Ganden Potang government." From a talk about gods and protectors at Mundgod, India, June 25, 1980. Although the Ganden Potang government was established by the Fifth Dalai Lama, and not the second, this shows that Nechung became a government protector through the Dalai Lama.
had given false prophesies through the oracle in trance. For example, a victory against the British promised by Nechung in 1888 did not occur. Tibetans suffered a devastating defeat. See The Water-Bird and Other Years, p. 19-29; and another British military invasion in 1904, p. 20. See also Portrait of a Dalai Lama, p. 437. Later, Nechung is also believed to have prescribed the wrong medicine which caused the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's death. p. 440
At no time did the Thirteenth Dalai Lama close Trode Khangsar "...he [the Thirteenth Dalai Lama] did not ban Gyalchen's [i.e. Dorje Shugden] performance from Lhasa Trode Khangsar..." Fourteenth Dalai Lama, July 13th, 1978
in Lhasa, a residence of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen the Fifth Dalai Lama had authorized to be turned into a special protector temple for Dorje Shugden. The biography of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama does not mention any ban of Dorje Shugden or his oracle. On the contrary, it mentions advice given by Dorje Shugden through the oracle at Tromo Dungkar Gonpa which the Thirteenth Dalai Lama appreciated and followed. 'phags.pa 'jig.rten dbang.phyug gi rnam.sprul rim.byon gyi 'khrungs.rabs deb.ther nor.bu'i 'phreng.ba.bzhugs.so
, compiled by Phurchog Yongzin Thubten Jampa Tsultim Tenzin, Dharamsala, 1984, pp. 621, 630 and 648. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama was ultimately unsuccessful in banning oracles. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama states that "many deity-mediums were banned" during the reign of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (July 13th, 1978) while Dharamsala officials have repeatedly claimed that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama prohibited the propitiation of Dorje Shugden, implying that it was only he, when, according to many other oral sources all oracles were officially banned for a time, although propitiation continued secretly, according to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
By this time, Pabongka Dechen Nyingbo had become extremely famous as the greatest lam.rim teacher of his times with tens of thousands of disciples at all the great Gelugpa monasteries throughout Tibet. "Phabongka was famous for his view that lamas should not become involved in politics, ..." demonstrated by the fact that he reportedly declined to take over as Regent of Tibet when asked by Radeng Rinpoche before Taktra Rinpoche accepted the regency. A History of Modern Tibet
, 1913-1951, p. 362; also Pabongka Rinpoche is not mentioned -- as he no doubt would have had he been as important a political figure as he was as a religious one -- by two people who had been in Tibet at the time and were writing from their own observation and first hand oral accounts: Hugh Richardson and his Collected Writings on Tibetan History and Culture and Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa in his Tibet A Political History
, Potala Publications, New York, 1984 Pabongka Rinpoche was known to rely on Dorje Shugden. Up until this time, the practice existed quietly and was not as widely known as it is today. With Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1941), Tomo Geshe Rinpoche (1866-1936), and later Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981), the three greatest Gelugpa masters of our times, and with an estimated eighty percent of Tibet belonging to the Gelugpa tradition, a great number of people became spiritually connected (through dam.tshig
) with these masters and through them with Dorje Shugden.
According to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's autobiography, p. 620 and p. 649
Dorje Shugden came spontaneously through the Tromo Dungkar Gonpa Oracle in trance Usually a special ceremony with offerings and rituals was required to invite a protector to come through an oracle in trance. Only in the presence of very rare, advanced masters or at a time of extreme danger does the spirit take possession of the medium uninvited.
in front of Tomo Geshe Rinpoche, whom the Thirteenth Dalai Lama is said to have called a manifestation of Je Tsong Khapa. Reportedly after having met with Tomo Geshe Rinpoche to his attendants when the Thirteenth Dalai Lama stayed in Tomo (Chumbi) on his way back from exile in Darjeeling, India, in 1912.
The protector informed Tomo Geshe Rinpoche that there was danger from foreign aggression toward Tibet. Dorje Shugden advised renovating two stupas, the eastern and western one. Upon receiving the message, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama immediately renovated the great golden stupa at Ganden and the Potala in Lhasa. This incident would seem to contradict a statement of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (July 13th, 1978) that "in particular the Gyalchen medium was banned quite strongly" during the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's time.
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama praised Tomo Geshe Rinpoche for having helped to avert a possible national crisis. It probably refers to the Chinese, but it is also possible that the predicted danger was from Japan then at the height of its aggressive expansionism. Japanese armies were in Siberia at the time after having defeated the Russians. But an earthquake devastated Tokyo in 1923 and threats from the United States helped hasten the decline of Japanese expansionism.
• 1951 - 1975
The Dalai Lama was introduced to the practice of Dorje Shugden and continued to make offerings and perform rituals.
"When I went to Tomo, I had to stay at Domo Also spelled "Tomo" or "Tromo."
Dungkar Monastery, where there was a tradition of summoning the wrathful and peaceful aspects of Gyalchen through the medium of a monk. The medium himself wasn't a particularly good scholar, but when the deity was summoned he seems to have given clear prophesies, which was much appreciated. It had so happened that I had left Lhasa for Tomo rather hurriedly and the mediums of Nechung and Gadong were not among the entourage. In those days, I did not have a close connection with either Nechung or Gadong, such that I would summon them in my private apartment, except that they were invoked during the summer, winter and annual ceremonies. In any case, until then I had been a growing child and it goes without saying that I could not think independently about deity devotion; in fact I could not even think about things in general that much. However, it was on that occasion that neither Nechung nor Gadong were with me, although it was a crucial juncture in negotiations between Tibet and China. Among the officials there were those who wanted me to return to Lhasa and those who wanted me to go to India and so it became very difficult for me to decide.
At this crucial point there was, for one thing, a good monk medium nearby and for another, my strong faith in Je Pabongkapa because of which I felt a close bond with him. Also, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had a strong affection for me and this was a further cause. Anyway, with the coincidence of many causes I finally had to summon Gyalchen in my apartment at Tomo. While summoning him, monks chanted the Hundred of Deities of the Joyous Land (dga'a-ldan lha-gya-ma) to the tune of the Sangphu Monastery. In the course of the actual [trance] performance the medium wore yellow robes, chögö and namjar, and a pandit's hat in which he looked quite eminent. Facing toward me, he prostrated like a felled tree. When asked for predictions and advice, he answered fairly clearly. Once he said, "I have just come from Tushita after enquiring of Je Rinpoche." [Je Tsong Khapa believed to be in Tushita with Maitreya Buddha] Everything seemed to be fairly well resolved. Then, while [planning to] return from Tomo to Lhasa my intention to propitiate Gyalchen increased and consequently I summoned the wrathful Shugden in the main hall of Dungkar Monastery and I offered him a new costume. This is how my relationship with Gyalchen developed at the beginning." From the talk of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on July 13, 1978
After returning from Tomo in 1951, the Dalai Lama continued to consult Dorje Shugden through the Choekhor Yangtse oracle. Offering ceremonies were continued until 1975, when after some inauspicious dream he remembered Nechung's admonition while in trance to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama of having failed to cultivate Dorje Dragden, the protector of whom Nechung is considered a speech emanation. According to Ngari Khentul Rinpoche
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama then mentions that Dorje Dragden (later the aspect of Nechung) has had a long standing relationship with the lineage of the Dalai Lamas and, like the Fifth, traces it all the way back to the ancient imperial leaders of Tibet reviving this political link with the ancient empire as additional legitimation for the institution of Dalai Lama at a time when his stated task is modernization.
Specifically, on July 13, 1978, the Dalai Lama states that his relationship with Dorje Shugden was a mistake, because it did not follow the "path shown by the previous Dalai Lamas," and "I was cultivating a relationship with a new deity who had no responsibility to the Tibetan government In the "fulfillment/restoration" (kang.so) ritual of Dorje Shugden, composed by Pabongka Rinpoche, one of the concluding verses impels him to fulfill the wishes of the Ganden Potang government. dbang.phyug brgyud.lden dga'.lden pho.brang pa'i / mnga'.thang chab.srid spel.wa gang.su dag / bsam.don zhi.drag bya.ba kang.brtsams kyang / bde.blag sgrub.mdzed srung.mar nga'.gsol.lo (p. 69) Whoever works for the reign and remporal power of the Ganden Palace [government], endowed with the eight sovereign powers, we enthrone you as the protector who grants easy accomplishments of whatever they wish and whatever peaceful or wrathful activities they begin!
and no relationship with the lineage of the Dalai Lamas." He does so in a talk already quoted at his residence in Dharamsala, India, to a group of people comprising the Ven. Lobsang Nyima, the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Since Namgyal Monastery traditionally has performed all the rituals for the Dalai Lama and his rule, it is more closely tied to the government than others. Monks are required to pass special entrance examinations to show that they are capable of handling the heavy burden of memorizing rituals and their lengthy and complex performances, etc.
Geshe Loten, monk officials and twenty two senior monks of Namgyal Monastery, five senior monks of Nechung Monastery, two teachers of the Dialectic School, two monk-representatives each from the branches of the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges at Dharamsala, and Rato Kyongla Tulku and Nyagre Kelsang Yeshe, both resident in America, who were admitted by special permission.
The Dalai Lama also tells other Gelugpas (not Sakyas) in small groups and individuals privately not to rely on Dorje Shugden. For example, at the Ashoka Hotel in Delhi he told Gelek Rinpoche, Dagyab Rinpoche, Jamphel Yeshe, and others present not to practice Dorje Shugden. Privately, for example, he told the late Madame Ansermet, a disciple of Geshe Rabten, to stop her Dorje Shugden practice. Daughter of the famous Swiss conductor, she had been instrumental in bringing Buddhism to Europe, building a monastery for Tibetans at Rikon and at Lake Geneva in Switzerland. She also helped organize the Dalai Lama's first religious teachings in the West, in 1977 at Tharpa Choling, now Rabten Choling, in Mont-Pelerin, Switzerland. Mme. Ansermet, then a Buddhist nun, told me this personally.
There are many other such individual accounts told to me on condition of not mentioning names or specifics.
• late 70's:
The Dalai Lama forbids the recitation of the primary prayer, common to all Gelugpa (Lama Chöpa, composed by the First Panchen Lama), in front of the stupa at Bodh Gaya, the Buddha's place of enlightenment. Names of some outstanding masters of this lineage, such as Pabongka Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche, are removed from common (lineage) prayers and paintings.
A small temple for performing the monthly Dorje Shugden rituals was completed at Sera. The Dalai Lama confiscated it and did not permit it to be used as a place of worship. Later it was turned into a monastery office.
When Geshe Rabten visited Sera in April 1980, he sponsored a Dorje Shugden ritual in a large temple together with Zong Rinpoche. A huge number of monks attended. The Dalai Lama, when informed of this, was reportedly furious and went to visit Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, for the first time in several years, to complain. "Geshe Rabten does not liste to me," he is reported to have said to Trijang Rinpoche. Geshe Rabten then received a letter from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche informing him that his efforts at Sera had been correct and done for the right reasons but that it would be good to apologize to the Dalai Lama anyway, because the Dalai Lama was also Geshe Rabten's spiritual master.
• mid 1980's
The Dalai Lama orders the removal of a Dorje Shugden statue from the main prayer hall of Ganden Monastery before entering to impart teachings. Two monks who actually removed the statue are still at Ganden Jangtse, Serkong Labrang. It is widely known who they are. On December 29, 1997, I went to see each of them to ask for a detailed account. Both of them are quite old now. Each refused to talk and said he knew nothing. They did not have to say anything, their terrified faces told me a lot.
When told that it was bolted to the ground, he reportedly advised to get a chain saw.
As a result of the Third Forum in Beijing in 1994, a new anti-Dalai Lama campaign is formulated. With the Panchen Lama fiasco in 1995, the Chinese launch unprecedented attacks even on the religious qualifications of the Dalai Lama. This had never occurred before. The Chinese resolved even to remove his name from history. For the background and historical unfolding of the unprecedented anti-Dalai Lama stand the Chinese government had developed at this time, see Cutting off the Serpent's Head, Tightening Control in Tibet, 1994-1995, Tibet Information Network and Human Rights Watch, New York, 1996. At this time (1994-5) there is no reported conflict concerning Dorje Shugden among exile Tibetans. However, later Tibetans bring this new, unparalleled harsh Chinese stand against the Dalai Lama into proximity with the Dorje Shugden Society which did not form until May 1996. See below document from the Cholsum Organization, February 1998.
Two oracles recently arrived from Tibet, who work for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile government, give "prophesies" about Dorje Shugden connecting him and Buddhists who rely on him with the Chinese. One is the Tsangpa oracle, for many years an officer in the People's Liberation Army [of China] and the other, an woman oracle of the deity Tsering Chenga, from Eastern Tibet had been a member of a drama troupe of Chinese training.
• May 14, 1995
) through the Tsangpa Oracle requested by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama, Prophesies of the Tibetan Government Oracles
, published by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, 1996, p. 13.
"It is important that Tibetans should observe their commitments (dam.tsig) which is their obligation. Particularly, the issue of Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is a bad omen. In this direction, we, the formless, are aware that it does not harbor good. This should definitely be stopped (mtshams.'jog) in the region of Tibet. With respect to the issue of the unity of religion and politics [of Tibet] and the Ganden Potang government in particular, Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] cannot demonstrate even a grain of benefit. He can never bring happiness for Tibet [or Tibetan people?].
• June 14, 1995
) through the Tsangpa Oracle requested by the Cabinet of the exile government: Prophesies of the Tibetan Government Oracles
, pp. 14-17.
"An important current issue is that if you continue to go through the motions of government service as if it were punishment instead of serving the Ganden Potang government with total loyalty it is possible that this may pose a serious threat to the well being of Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama]. A grave issue has arisen concerning the administration of the Ganden Potang. One thing that I, the Tsangpa Dhungthoed Chan, have to say about this explicitly is that [Tibetan] worship of deities has now reached a critical stage. It is extremely sad that Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] the Chinese spirit is being worshiped.
Even though [Gyalchen] angers Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama], there are those who worship him [Dorje Shugden] and who revere him in secret. Not only are there such worshipers in Tibet, there is deep reverence for him even among government employees. This is very harmful. That he is of great harm has already been said by Dorje Dragden [Nechung].
In this regard there is a popular perception that there is acrimony between Dorje Dragden [Nechung] and Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden]. That can never be true. For the success of Buddhism and the Ganden Potang government, Dorje Dragden continues to extend to me complete support and since I too am to pursue this path completely, [I have to point out] that if the Cabinet and the People's Deputies [Assembly] do not strictly decide this issue and adhere to it, even though Buddhism may spread and even though the causes for the speedy freedom for Tibet may have begun [to grow], Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is sowing dissension [among Tibetans] by employing Chinese spirits and [furthermore] taking advantage of being a formless entity to vocalize and spread misinformation and thereby supporting China. This is a grave matter. Interesting to note here is that the Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden strongly favor Tibetan independence. Thus, it is difficult to reconcile that they would be working for the Chinese who are so adamantly against Tibetan independence. It is almost as if someone were trying on purpose to divide the Tibetan people along these lines, zeroing in on the deepest karmic weakness of the Ganden Potang government brought forward into the twentieth century. One has only to ask, in whose interest would such a division be?
We recommend rituals toward the well being of Gyalwa Rinpoche [the Dalai Lama]. Nevertheless, it is our serious concern that there needs to be strict adherence to the wishes of His Holiness and internal unity. Whether it be the People's Deputies or an ordinary Tibetan, it is unacceptable for anyone to engage in partisan politics.
Of the honest guidelines stipulated by [His Holiness] in this regard, the most important is that regarding the worship of deities. If the common Tibetans and the government employees in particular do not heed those guidelines, there will be great loss for all." When in 1995 someone claims that the seeds of freedom for Tibet are flourishing when the Chinese have vowed to wipe out even the name of the Dalai Lama from history seems a blatant contradiction. In fact, this sounds so absurd that one must conclude something else entirely must be going on here. I think it is that the demonization of the Dalai Lama by the Chinese which started in 1995 is passed right on to Dorje Shugden. Perhaps he is strong enough to carry such a heavy burden. Who is to say which would be a greater loss to the tradition of Buddhism, a Dalai Lama shouldering the blame for the loss of Tibet, no doubt unjustly, or Dorje Shugden and the split banning him has caused within Buddhism? All we know for certain is that the demonization of Dorje Shugden split the Tibetan community. It drive underground many genuine Buddhist practitioners and their practices, leaving in the larger public view mostly those who know how to play their political card correctly.
Another interesting point about this "prophesy" is the claim that acrimony between Nechung and Dorje Shugden is impossible. This is a statement from an ultimate and exclusively religious point of view also held by Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden. Clearly there is a danger to the Ganden Potang government of the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have been working hard to destroy it for the last fifty years. Blaming Dorje Shugden for the actions of the Chinese makes the issue a political one. Dorje Shugden is -- even for the government protector through this oracle -- a matter of politics. The issue the oracle points out it is about the [deposed] Tibetan government, that is, the institution of the Dalai Lama. It is political, especially when it concerns the Chinese.
In one trance ceremony of Tsering Chenga, the female oracle tells that Dorje Shugden
prevented her from raising the Tibetan flag on the Potala in Lhasa Some of the prophesies of these oracles are published by the exile government's Department of Religion and Culture, 1996: gzung.bsten bod.skyong lha.srung khag.gi rdo.rje bka'.lung bzhug.so //
implying that Dorje Shugden works for the Chinese.
• also 1995
The Dharamsala government Most government rituals are performed by Namgyal Monastery, special to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government. In the course of the ban, other monasteries were also asked by the government to perform anti-Dorje Shugden rituals, often without the participating monks knowing specifically who had ordered them.
performs massive exorcism rituals against Dorje Shugden. For some the Dalai Lama is present. See above reference, the Dalai Lama's statement of March 21, 1996
It is said that for thirteen days after the Tibetan new year celebrated in spring 1996, the government did rituals against Dorje Shugden.
• Winter session 1995/6 of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies
as quoted in a letter by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama to the abbot of Sermey Monastic College, March 30, 1996, "In his address to the winter session of the Tibetan People's Deputies, His Holiness reiterated the labors of his predecessor [regarding a ban of Dorje Shugden]. He also observed that it will not be a healthy practice to seek a spiritual relationship with His Holiness and then violate it. He has never made such a statement in the past. Given the recent volatile history of Tibetans, there is an unmistakable hint of exasperation if we are to go by the urgency of his talks. This is intolerable."
• March 1996
The only successful independent Tibetan newspaper Independent publications are usually sidelined and pressured into closing. All publications, including the Tibetan Review and Tibet Times are government sponsored and/or subsidized. "The launch of Tibet Times was more or less timed to fill in the void left by the sudden closure of Mangtso in 1996." "The Independent Thrust:" Tibetan Bulletin, Jan.-Feb. 1999
in Dharamsala, Mangtso
(Democracy), which had criticized corruption in Dharamsala, stops publishing in response to an accusation by the Assembly with the Dalai Lama present that the paper "plays into the hands of the Chinese." According to a government official whose name must remain unmentioned.
Tibetans regard this as a most serious charge, the equivalent of treason. Mangtso had been the most widely read Tibetan newspaper ever and was financially almost self-sufficient at the time it closed down, according to one of its main editors. The newspaper's staff received many death threats while in print. The information about death threats and circulation comes from Lhasang Tsering, in a conversation in Dharamsala, Dec. 8, 1997
When the Dalai Lama Even before the critical remark in the meeting with deputies and others present, the Dalai Lama did not give Mangtso any interviews, something resented by some Tibetans in view of the fact that he did to a great variety of Western magazines including Playboy, high fashion magazines like Vogue, which declared him Special Fashion Editor of a 1993 issue, many small local Western papers, and Chinese students.
expressed disapproval with the paper, it closed. But at no time did the editors give this as the reason. Tibetans are often pressured into something called "self-censorship" and "self-responsibility" to conveniently relieve the government of any responsibility for questionable activities. Tibetans participate in this to protect the reputation of the Dalai Lama. Self-censorship under pressure in the name of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan unity is a common Tibetan method -- perhaps inherited from the Communists -- even among the best educated intellectuals like the editors of Mangtso who clearly believe that criticism is part of the democratic process and, hence, something more anti-Chinese than all the demonstrations of single-minded patriotism. See, for example, Jamyang Norbu and Lhasang Tsering in Tibet, the Issue is Independence, edited by Edward Lazar, Parallax Press, Berkeley, 1994.
The information circulated in 1996 as far as the Internet insisted that the paper closed down because of insufficient funds.
• March 2-4, 1996
"In his inaugural address to the Congress of the Cholsum (three provinces of Tibet) Organization, The Cholsum Organization has a complicated history not too many Tibetans clearly understand. For reference to Cholsum Organization in Tibet, see Dawa Norbu: Tibet, the Road Ahead. This Cholsum Organization formed in exile under the guidance of Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama's most politically active brother. Educated Tibetans believe he started it as a frontal organization for his political interests. Nothing has been written about it, as far as I know, so sources other than oral ones are difficult to find. In recent years, another organization was started, the United Cholsum Organization. It has taken the role of policing conflicts such as the Dorje Shugden one and to take control of Tibetans social relations by whipping up emotions, often using the name of the Dalai Lama.
the Dalai Lama referred to his recurring sore throat. ... this is an indication that he does not wish to speak on this anymore, since no one is paying heed." Quoted in a letter by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama to the abbot of Sera Mey, March 30th, 1996.
In response, Cholsum passed a resolution that its members would stop the practice of Dorje Shugden and the Dalai Lama remarked to members of the Cholsum Congress on March 4th, "It is good that paying attention to my health you have passed a resolution regarding this matter. Danger to health does not exclusively mean an armed attack. This type is extremely rare in Tibetan society. If there is continued indifference to my injunctions, then there would not be any point in my continuing to live silently as a disappointed man," quoted in the letter by the Dalai Lama's Private Office.THE ERUPTION OF THE CONFLICT IN 1996
The Dalai Lama's statements during his public teachings March 10th and 21st, 1996 (excerpts quoted below) mark the beginning of what commonly was called "the ban." In the course of 1996, all governmental, regional and social groups passed resolutions which amounted to a creed-like confession of faith and loyalty oath in one. They were circulated in all the Tibetan communities and people were pressured into signing them, often under threat. Then these signed statements were offered to the Dalai Lama sometimes on special occasions. It was clearly meant to please him. The signed petitions also given to the government officials most instrumental in implementing the ban in order to establish closer bonds with those in power. Tibetans were compelled to prove that they were "clean."
• March 10, 1996,
During a religious discourse on the step-like path to enlightenment (lam.rim) in Dharamsala, circulated by the exile government's Department of Information and International Relations, the Dalai Lama stated more publicly than ever before that there was discord between deities. This served as the reason for his ban of Dorje Shugden which, he says later (March 21, 1996), was already proclaimed by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama on the basis of the Fifth Dalai Lama's secret visions. "I have repeated time and again that sometimes there is discord between [Tibetan]
deities. These statements I have made in the past still remain unchanged. I hope no one will imagine that there has been change in this regard." From a translated transcript of the public address to Tibetans during the lam.rim teachings March 19, 1996.
He claims that Dorje Shugden is in discord with government approved protectors. "Whether outside of Tibet or within it, a deity in discord with [government deities] whose relationship with the origin of this [exile] government at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama [is discordant] whatever may be the ultimate reality this is serious in the context of the common cause of Tibet. Therefore, unless I remind you once again there are those who pretend they have not heard it. It will be the last resort if [we] have to knock on [their/your] doors. It would be good if [they/you] can heed this without [us] having to resort to this last step." For a Tibetan, this is very strong language. The phrase "it would be good, if..." is culturally understood to be an order with a strong warning of very serious consequences if not followed.
In the same talk, the Dalai Lama says, "Some people assume that I am saying this [not to rely on Dorje Shugden] from an interpretive point of view and not a definitive [literal] one. The distinction between definitive and interpretive meanings of Buddhist texts is an important, much debated philosophical one pertaining to Tibetan Buddhism. It is used to distinguish scriptural meanings dealing directly with the Buddhist notion of emptiness from all other texts requiring interpretation. It is usually not applied the way the Dalai Lama does here, i.e. to give an order to his subjects. The Dalai Lama asks for his words to be taken literally and tells those who try to find an honorable space for disagreement when they interpret the Dalai Lama's words on the subject of Dorje Shugden they presume they know what he thinks. And obviously, nobody can presume to know what anyone else thinks, let alone someone considered to be a Buddha.
They act as if they knew what I mean. This is wrong. In other words, the ban is not "advice" open to interpretation. It is to be taken literally. Otherwise the interpreter would assume he or she is capable of second guessing the mind of the Dalai Lama, something considered especially sacrilege among religious Tibetans.
This is very important for all of you to know. Some were telling me not to say this, I am not saying it without thinking," and, "...I am saddened when requested not to address this topic." It must be difficult for the millions of people familiar with the image of an ever laughing Dalai Lama to imagine the depth of desperation he seems to suffer as a result of the loss of his country and his inability to bring a happy conclusion to the "cause of Tibet" in spite of his super human efforts. This despair is obvious when the Dalai Lama says, in the same talk, "I am insisting on this labor [of working for the cause of Tibet] in the hope that at this bleakest point in the history of Tibetans I can share the suffering of my people and provide them some hope. Do you understand?" It is understandable that Tibetans listening to such intense emotional appeals from the most important person in their lives became whole heartedly motivated to act against anyone disagreeing with the Dalai Lama. He had already pointed them out a long time ago. Only now they were clearly identified as standing in the way of achieving freedom, the "Tibetan cause."
In the same address, the Dalai Lama also exhorts Tibetans inside Tibet to give up Dorje Shugden. But to them he offers a chance for explanation, something denied those in exile, "Whether in Central Tibet, or Dotoed (Kham) or Domed (Amdo), if there is unreasonableness in what I have said repeatedly, you can give reasons and we can discuss it. In the absence of such reasons, indifference to this talk will affect the cause of Tibet in general; I as a private individual have nothing to lose." At no time was the Dalai Lama or his government open to discussing the issue. None of the reasons put forth have been accepted or even considered. "It is certainly possible that some of you senior (spiritual masters, practitioners, monks and lay people) have become unchangeable, like twisted tree trunks. It makes no difference to me. Those of you who are studying in the monastic colleges/universities, or wherever you live, think carefully. It is better not to be mistaken from the beginning. There are many young incarnate Lamas [at this teaching today]. At this point, the Dalai Lama pointed directly at the thirteen year old incarnation of his Tutor, Yongdzin Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Tibetan culture holds as extremely rude the gesture of pointing directly at someone, especially in public. It is cause of great embarrassment and shame.
You too should think very carefully from the beginning. To rectify [a mistake] once it has been made is difficult. It is not good. The same goes for those in Tibet."
• March 21, 1996
From a translated transcript: At a religious gathering, in the main temple in Dharamsala, in preparation for an empowerment of the meditational deity (yid.dam
) Tamdin (Hayagriwa), From a translated transcript of the address during the teachings; all of the points discussed here from March 10th and March 21st were quoted and circulated in an announcement by the Kashag (Cabinet of the Tibetan exile government) on May 22, 1996; also video taped, available at the Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable & Religious Society, Delhi.
the Dalai Lama states publically that Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden are not permitted to attend. It is the first time that the Dalai Lama publicly bars people from attending empowerments. The reasons he gives are two-pronged. According to government oracles, Dorje Shugden is connected with Chinese deities or spirits. This endangers the cause of Tibet he says. He tells that they had done many prayers for the cause of Tibet the previous year and also mentioned Dorje Shugden by name in their exorcism. Since the deity of empowerment that day was the same as had been used for the exorcism against Dorje Shugden, the Dalai Lama clarified this conflict of interest which points far beyond this particular situation to an irreconcilable conflict within the conception of the "cause of Tibet" itself.
The Dalai Lama gives as religious reasons for barring Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden that their participation would harm his life and health. He quotes a common Tibetan saying, "Giving innumerable empowerments, [did you] fill the world with ruinous practitioners?" This refers to practitioners not able to keep properly the bond (dam.tsig) between spiritual master and disciple and why, therefore, the master must test the disciple before bestowing an empowerment. "This will affect the life span of the spiritual master as well," the Dalai Lama points out and praises those former practitioners of Dorje Shugden who have given up and "become pure." To those who might not have given up but refuse to leave he says, "...not only will it not benefit yourself but in the worst case may even become the cause of shortening the life of the Dalai Lama. If you wish the speedy death of the Dalai Lama, then I have no objection."
Perhaps it needs pointing out here that Buddhist masters can and should exclude those unprepared for a specific empowerment. On these grounds, the exile government and most supporters of the ban claim that the Dalai Lama is perfectly justified in barring disciples from initiations. Although this is true, other Tibetans attending public teachings and empowerments by the Dalai Lama are usually not examined for their religious qualifications as a precondition to attend. Considering that the Dalai Lama is also the head of government, which gives him a unique status among Tibetan Lamas, the unprecedented exclusion of a segment of the Tibetan population from attending even his general discourses -- when declared non-Buddhists are permitted to attend even his most esoteric Buddhist rituals See below Part III, (+) the case of the Kalachakra initiation in Bloomington, Indiana, August 1999, for example.
-- also means that they are excluded from being Tibetan. The Dalai Lama's teachings are also mass social events that galvanize Tibetans in part designed to strengthen their sense of nationhood in exile. The Dalai Lama's public exclusion set an example for his followers. How widespread the need to exclude Dorje Shugden followers from Tibetan society became can be seen from the subsequent reactions by all Tibetan governmental and social groups.
Almost every Tibetan has taken an empowerment from the Dalai Lama. Thus the channels for the emotional appeal were well established. The perception of Tibetans was that if they did not give up Dorje Shugden, they would cause the death of the Dalai Lama. The emotional appeal was direct. It was unmistakably clear to them. If religious concerns was the source, the following problem should have been addressed. A large number of Tibetans had made similar commitments (dam.tsig) to other realized spiritual masters. Buddhism teaches to see them as equal regardless of their social or political standing. Violating the vowed relationship with those masters would also shorten their lives or cause their death. This is the fundamental moral dilemma.
The Dalai Lama also appealed to the pre-Buddhist belief system still alive among Tibetans. "During my visit to Hunsur [settlement in South India] the previous year, poor and helpless people have been told [through divination] that their illnesses have been brought about by Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden]. I felt this was repugnant. Others have reported dreaming of a bearded monk strangling them. This is a very clear indication that [Dorje Shugden] is a spirit, far from being a deity." Dorje Shugden is here declared a harmful, evil spirit on the basis of uneducated people's dreams and local divinations while hundreds of highly educated and realized masters saw him as a powerful protector of religious actions and vows.
• March 30, 1996
The Private Office of the Dalai Lama sends a letter to the abbot of Sera Mey Monastic College where at least two thirds of the monks rely on Dorje Shugden. It quotes the relevant passages of the Dalai Lama's speeches about the ban of Dorje Shugden, adding that "this [reliance] becomes cause for instability within the Gelugpa order [of Tibetan Buddhism]." After pointing out that some "individuals have actually urged His Holiness to desist from raising this issue since, according to them, this is causing more harm than good in Tibetan communities," the letter quotes widely from the Dalai Lama's speeches in political and social fora, such as the Chamber of the Tibetan People's Deputies and the Congress of the Cholsum Organization, where he spoke against the protector. Referring to the Dalai Lama's urgent statements from March 21st it says, "Please consider this as important and make each member understand it. Make them aware that in this extremely sad situation of Tibetans, at this point in our history, no one should stubbornly hold onto their individual convictions at the cost of our cause and people."
"As to the essence of this decree, we urge you to wholeheartedly set this matter straight, in contrast to mouthing deference as in the past. Unable to bear the urgency of this situation, we at the Private Office have not choice but to send this circular."....
"Therefore, under the auspices of all former abbots, disciplinarians, incarnate Lamas and Geshes, an announcement should be made of these talks by His Holiness regarding the worship of deities in such a way that no one can have the excuse of not having heard it. In addition, ensure total implementation of this decree by each and everyone. With the additional assistance by the house masters, also ensure the explicit announcement of this decree to all ordinary monks [in the monastery]. In implementing this policy, if there is anyone who continues to worship Dholgyal [Dorje Shugden], make a list of their names, house name, birth place, class in the case of students, and the date of arrival in case of new arrivals from Tibet. Keep the original and send us a copy of the list. Please share this responsibility and submit a clear report on the implementation of this circular."
In response to such instructions from the Private Office and other government departments, signatures of monks were collected swearing to give up their protector practice now for all times. The petitions asked for names, birth place, father's name and other personal detail. Videotapes, audio cassettes, written material with His Holiness' emotional appeals from March 10th and 21st were distributed throughout all settlements around India and Nepal to persuade everyone to give up Dorje Shugden. It was a systematic effort more thorough than any other ever made by Tibetans in exile.
• April 5th, 1996
Around eight in the morning, the first statue of Dorje Shugden was desecrated, broken, and thrown down the side of the mountain into a garbage heap. Some accounts say it was later dumped into a river. This statue was consecrated by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Tutor of the Dalai Lama, and presented to the nunnery in Dharamsala which he helped start. A nun in fervent compliance with the Dalai Lama's wish had "volunteered." The desecration set off shock waves of different kinds in the Tibetan exile community. Others followed the example reminiscent of actions many believed only the Chinese had done in their homeland.
• April 6, 1996
A circular by the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies specifies "the need to announce that people should stop the tradition of worshiping Gyalchen Shugden..." Quoted in a letter by the Tibetan Freedom Movement to the Assembly.
• April 9, 1996
The Tibetan Freedom Movement is one of the "non"-governmental organizations. Although the Tibetan exile government consistently denies that these types of social groups work for the government, it is clear from looking at their functions that, in fact, they do. For example, Tashi Angdu, the President of the Cholsum Organization, the largest regional association with the most political clout, confirmed the close collaboration between the social-regional groups and the exile government,"The nature of our work and views of our government are the same. We do not do anything which contradicts the views of the government." Interview, Beat Regli: "Discord in Exile," a mini-series of "10 vor 10," DRS Swiss Television, January 7, 1998. Members of the exile government are also active in various social groups and attend meetings. The Committee for the Protection of Tibetan Religious and Political Affairs, for example, is a minister of the exile government.
It is the duty of this organization to collect taxes for the government. Every Tibetan is obliged to pay one rupee per month recorded in the "green book" (rang.dzen lag.deb
). The Tibetan Freedom Movement responds to a government circular (April 6, 1996), "Since it is important to purge worshipers of Shugden within our own membership...we found no one [who relies on Dorje Shugden] and we solemnly declare the henceforth in the future also there will be no one in our membership who will worship [this deity]. (5 signatures and seal of the organization)
• April 14, 1996
The Guchusum Movement of Tibet Formed after the demonstrations in Lhasa starting in 1987 and subsequent repressive actions by the Chinese by those who escaped from that persecution.
in a letter to the Assembly of the Tibetan Peoples' Deputies, "As per your decree of April 6, 1996, banning the worship of Dholgyal Shugden among the public, we have convened a special meeting...to purge any member who worships Shugden in this Association. We solemnly declare that through this purge among our standing committee members there is not one who is or will worship Shugden. Moreover, in the future also we will abide by this decree." (11 signatures and seal of the organization)
The cover letter to the announcement is addressed "to all patriotic members of this Association." It states that the organization resolves to purge all members in compliance with the addresses of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the decree of the Chamber of the Tibetan People's Deputies banning the worship of Gyalchen Shugden. The Association further states that "...far more significant [than achieving our common interests of "obtaining freedom for Tibet which is the duty ordained by history,"] are the decrees of the Dalai Lama and the exile government. These two are indispensable for obtaining our aims." The announcement ends with an exhortation, "Even if it were a member who does not worship Shugden, in view of the welfare of the six million Tibetans, they should still declare that they will abide by this resolution in the future. [Signed] declarations to this effect should be received at this office before the 15th day of the 4th Tibetan month (May 31, 1996).
• April 18, 1996
From a "Special Notice to Doctors and Staff Members" issued by the Department of Health of the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, (signed by Assistant General Secretary and seal of the Department of Health)
"As we all know, our exile government oracles pointed out repeatedly and in naked words that the worship of Dorje Shugden poses danger to the well being of the Dalai Lama, besides posing danger to the cause of Tibet.... Regarding this, all government employees in Dharamsala have already passed resolutions in favor or it. Since it concerns the cause of the Tibetan people and above all His Holiness well being, we cannot leave it as it is. Therefore, if we do not have among us anyone who worships Dorje Shugden, we should resolve not to worship Shugden in the future. Whereas if there is anyone who worships Dorje Shugden, they should repent the past and stop worshiping. They must submit a declaration that they will not worship in the future. In case there is anyone who does not abide by the addresses of His Holiness to give up Shugden worship, then, since there is nothing more important than the well being of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause, such person should submit their resignation. There is no other alternative for such a person. We should also take stringent responsibility to urge relatives who worship Shugden to abandon this worship. At the gathering of the relevant staff members, make this announcement and make sure that no one comes up with excuses of not having heard it. We also request you to send us the signed resolution at once from each and everyone."
• April 23, 1996
From a declaration of the Toepa Welfare Association of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Office of the Executive Committee, Dharamsala, "In compliance with this address [March 21, 1996] by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and in compliance with the oracles of our government,...in compliance with the decree of the Chamber of Tibetan Peoples' Deputies of April 6, 1996 banning the worship of Shugden, and mindful of this decree of our government, we hold this special convention..... Most of our members have not worshiped Shugden in the past and... we the subjects of His Holiness belonging to this Association solemnly declare that we shall have nothing to do with this deity. We hereby also resolve to expel anyone [from our membership] who worships Dholgyal [Dorje Shugden]. To this resolution we put our signatures..."
• May 1, 1996
In preparation for the proclamation of the ban by officials from the exile government at Ganden Monastery in the south of India the following warning preceded the announcement. The government officials in a dramatic show of force came to the monastery with a large Indian state police escort. Thus flanked, the monastic administration under instructions from Dharamsala through a former highly respected abbot read the following resolution in order to silence any questions during the government's announcement on the issue:
"Whereas an announcement is going to be made at the behest of the Tibetan exile government, and whereas we want this announcement to be accomplished with satisfaction, we have called an extended meeting of the two abbots, former abbot Lati Rinpoche, the administrators of the great assembly (lachi) of Ganden monastery, the chanting master of the joint assembly (lachi), the administrators of the two colleges [Jangtse and Shartse] of Ganden, the chanting masters of these two colleges, and the masters of the twenty three houses of Ganden, this day of May 1, 1996 unanimously resolve that
"If during the announcement there is any action on the part of anyone that will smear the reputation of Ganden Lachi that person will be expelled from the monastery. Likewise, anyone who supports him, voices opinions or asks questions will be expelled from this establishment.
"Moreover, the mentor of the said offender shall make a very elaborate gift of tea and bread to the entire monastic establishment." An elaborate offering of tea and bread to two to three thousand people adds up to a substantial sum of money. Punishing another for one's actions is a type of social control usually practiced among Communists.
The announcement shows that the government had anticipated widespread disagreement with the ban and that monks might publically disagree. The show of force was not only to silence the monks but also a statement of determination. But to other Tibetans it carried the humiliating message that Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden are violent. It confirmed to them something they believed the oracles had meant with the projected threat to the Dalai Lama's life.
• May 5, 1996
Wall posters went up attacking the young incarnations of two of the most acclaimed and famous Buddhist masters, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche the Tutor of the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. They were from Ganden monastery and known to have relied on Dorje Shugden. They had made his practice known to large numbers of people.
A highlighted area on top of the poster reads, "Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Religious and Political Leader of Tibet." The notice from two hundred fifty-five members of the "Secret Society of External and Internal Enemy Eliminators reads:" "Anyone who goes against the policy of the government must be singled out one-pointedly, opposed and given the death penalty. ... The previous incarnations of Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche have gone against the repeated advice of the Dalai Lam to leave the practice of Dorje Shugden. This statement that the Dalai Lama would "advise" his own Guru to leave a religious practice integral to the lineages of which he was at the time the most prominent representative is preposterous and shows a complete lack of knowledge and respect for any religious considerations.
If the current incarnations do not stop practicing and continue to contradict the words of the Dalai Lama, not only will we not be able to respect them and oppose them single pointedly, but their lives and activities will definitely be destroyed. This is our first warning."
The two Rinpoches mentioned are age thirteen and eleven respectively. The threats to their lives deeply shocked many people around the world. The two young Lamas had to leave the country for safety reasons. With it they also left behind their traditional studies not available as completely anywhere else in the world as currently in the exile communities in India. Thus, the threats to the lives of the young Lamas immediately confirmed the second threat to their lives' work.
• May 10-11, 1996
The resolution of the special session of the Tibetan Youth Congress, Dharamsala, claims "...negligence on the part of the public toward these addresses [March 10th and 21st] with active propagation of this worship on the part of some [spiritual masters], and whereas this negligence is beyond tolerance anymore..." The Tibetan Youth Congress is a nationalistic organization that has not ruled out force in its pro-independence stand. In this it has clashed with official policy of the exile government and His Holiness' stand on non-violence. Focusing more on the political side of issues and down playing religion, their patriotism is of a different, more aggressive kind. A statement like the above from the TYC carries more weight than from other organizations in its implicit call to fight because of the TYC's long term activism in Tibetan society and use of violence. It is currently the largest "non-governmental" organization with over sixty chapters around the world. Although claiming to be funded by membership fees and other fund raisers, members nevertheless get funds from the exile government for taking care of elderly or other types of social work.
According to the brochure of the Youth Congress, it was founded in 1970 by Tenzin Gyeche, still Private Secretary of the Dalai Lama, and other prominent figures in the exile government was and inaugurated by the Dalai Lama. Aside from the struggle for total independence even at the cost of one's life mentioned in the aims and objectives of the TYC, it calls on members to "dedicate oneself to the task of serving one's country and people under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Spiritual and Temporal Ruler of Tibet and to promote and protect national unity and integrity by giving up all distinctions based on religion, regionalism and status." Further, "Being a national movement, activities of TYC are not restricted just to its members, but, also receive the active support of all Tibetans young and old, men and women, monks and lay. Furthermore, TYC commands a large following inside Tibet. ... From its very inception TYC emerged as an active force with clear aims and objectives. It also served as a catalyst to bring about certain reforms and changes within the Tibetan community so as to enhance the development of a truly democratic society. TYC, therefore, sees itself as an instrument to fulfill the wishes of the Tibetan people." Political activities to keep alive the question of Tibetan independence in the international arena include, "making direct and indirect representations at various international forums regarding China's invasion and continued occupation of Tibet and initiating and organizing different activities such as peace marches, public demonstrations, picketing & fasting to internationalize the issues related to China's occupation of Tibet." Clearly, Tibetans seen to interfere or harm this cause, i.e. Tibetan independence, would be perceived as betraying the very basis for the existence of such an organization and thus as serious adversaries. From the resolution:
- Since there is nothing more important [for Tibetans] than the cause of Tibet and the health of the Dalai Lama, the participants solemnly agree to abide by these addresses of His Holiness the Dalai Lama;
Upon arriving back at our respective areas, after showing the video clip of this talk to local Youth Congress members and announcing the resolution of this Congress, the local representatives will solemnly declare that they will abide by these addresses of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and will report back within two weeks from this date on the progress made in this direction;
When it is confirmed there is no one in the Tibetan Youth Congress membership worshiping Dholgyal, we will gradually present the [said] video clip to the public, announce our policy on this issue and especially urge the Tibetan youth to evaluate their decisions in this regard;
Even in places without Youth Congress branches, the nearest Youth Congress affiliate will try to urgently promote this message by presenting the [said] video clip, etc.;
This Congress urges the Cabinet, the Chamber of Tibetan People's Deputies, the Religious and Educational Council, and the Ministry of Home Affairs [of the Tibetan exile government] to implement this policy in their respective areas of responsibility;
This executive committee will likewise announce its policy to all Tibetan monasteries and urge that everyone must abide by the address of the Dalai Lama;
Together with documents pertaining to this ban on the worship of Dholgyal, this Congress will urge each and every spiritual master, including Geshes, that in the interest of the health of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence they should stop worshiping Dholgyal;
If anyone in the Youth Congress membership is found to still worship Dholgyal, that member will be immediately expelled from Tibetan Youth Congress membership;
This Congress will also urge all other Tibetan organizations not to enroll anyone into their membership who venerates and worships Dholgyal. An estimated 60% of Tibetans belong the to the Tibetan Youth Congress. Every Tibetan belongs to at least one, but usually more than one of such social organizations. By uniformly taking up the ban, they effectively controlled Tibetan society. Thus, every Tibetan became directly involved in this issue.
The Youth Congress rose to the challenge and took up the issue and even officials of the Tibetan exile government privately admitted two years later that excesses had occurred, especially from groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Tibetan Women's Association. The type of social pressure exercised by these groups was reminiscent of methods used in Tibet most Tibetans thought they had escaped. One can easily imagine that when a zealous young Tibetan without religious upbringing or interest and without any other politically relevant domain of action pressures a learned, older religious master -- someone who fled Communist rule for religious freedom -- about which part of his religion to practice and which not that two very different worlds collide.
By the end of May, the family of the president of the newly formed Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society had received death threats by phone and threatening letters written by D.P. Gyatso, President, Secret Youth Group, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and a Volunteer Youth Group. Whether or not these were actual organizations or in any way related to the Tibetan Youth Congress could not be established.
• May 22, 1996
The response to the Dalai Lama's addresses of March 10th and 21st by the Kashag (Cabinet), "In consideration for the well being of the Dalai Lama, the common cause of Tibet and the edification of the Gelugpa tradition, since it is the responsibility of the government to see to it that these addresses of His Holiness are followed to the letter, we have taken these steps: to be clean followers of Lama Tsong Khapa and to facilitate clear understanding of right and wrong as well as proper appreciation of present and long term benefit, the standing committee of the Peoples' Deputies, the Private Office [of the Dalai Lama], the Information and International Relations Department have distributed tapes and transcriptions of His Holiness' speeches in successive support.... The Cabinet received signed declarations from monasteries, organizations and private individuals, convinced of the detrimental effects both for the public and private individuals through these persuasions, stating their decision to stop worshiping Dholgyal [Dorje Shugden] henceforth. We recognize this gesture of self-responsibility toward our common cause." "Self-responsibility" here is to be understood in the same way as self-censorship under pressure. Many people gave up the practice and signed the petitions simply because they believed the reasons given: harm to the Dalai Lama and to their common cause. Others signed by force of social pressure and out of a sense for self preservation. Sign or face possible expulsion from the monastery, job, welfare organization, or school.
"If worshiping Dholgyal poses a threat to our cause and the well being of His Holiness, there is no benefit in talking about democracy or freedom of religion." This statement was seen by many Tibetans as the equivalent to an "emergency" where the protection of civil liberties is suspended. Since the exile government is not a legitimate government with its own police force, and Tibetans generally do not trust the Indian police, they often take matters into their own hands.
The government also makes clear that it acts on the perception of Dorje Shugden as an evil spirit without any regard for large numbers of people It was explained to me by many different oral sources that approximately one third of all practicing Buddhists in the Tibetan tradition are connected with Dorje Shugden, either by relying directly or through their spiritual master.
who have a very different view of this protector and acted responsibly both in the religious and secular spheres. "His Holiness is the incomparable secular and religious head of this government. In virtue of his religious and political office it is his responsibility and right to guide [us] and restrain harmful factors toward Tibetan governance. How is this against democracy? To make such a complaint is similar to leveling charges of denial of religious freedom by a black magician who is restrained from practicing his art on a subject. Whether this restraint constitutes infringement of (religious) freedom is self-evident to any nation or person."
"In summary, no Tibetan monastic establishment under this exile government is permitted to worship Dholgyal. Given this condition, anyone who continues to worship Dholgyal, indifferent to our cause and threatening the well-being of His Holiness, fervent about freedom of religion [saying] 'we will never change our faith in Dholgyal' is free, of course, to howl this way. This freedom is also given by His Holiness. However, the perception toward such a person/ organization will be decided by the majority of the Tibetan populace. Therefore, at this juncture, irrespective of time or place [including Tibetans abroad], everyone should make common cause of this issue."
"Heads of our religious traditions, abbots and reincarnate Lamas, Geshes, representative officers [of the government] and people in areas of responsibility you are requested to bear the recent addresses of His Holiness about Dholgyal in mind and, just as the body is under the head, bring into the fold everyone under your jurisdiction. Furthermore, since this is liable to be exploited by others, give clear explanations to the public. On the part of the general Tibetan populace, without changing sides and with patriotism in your heart you are urged to come out and express your convictions and use your talent, abilities, and strength as contribution to your exile government."
• May 22, 1996
The same day, the Department of Religion and Culture sent out materials explaining the ban and how it should be enforced through published material, the addresses by the Dalai Lama concerning this subject on audio cassette and video, and a booklet of the oracular pronouncements. The cover letter to Sera Mey Pomra Khangtsen opens as follows:
"As you know, the book titled "Secret Visions of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama stipulates 'Dholgyal should be banned'." In conjunction with this, the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama specifically issued a ban. The government oracles have continually pronounced that the subsequent worship and propitiation of Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] continues to affect the well being and effort of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, religion and politics of Tibet, freedom and the people of Tibet."