Events in 1996 and before

July 18, 1980

H.H. the Dalai Lama said at Sera Monastery, Karnataka State: “In summation of my reviews, I am not saying Gyalchen is not an authentic deity. In any case, for those who mainly hold Palden Lhamo or Gyalpo Kunga (state protector), whether it be a great master or a monastery, it does not abode well to worship Gyalchen.”

H.H. the Dalai Lama orders to close down a small Shugden temple near the main hall of Sera monastery in South India. The temple had been attended by Lamas and senior monks from Sera-Je and Sera-Mey monasteries. A new little temple of state protector Nechung was erected under the command of the exile government in the courtyard of the monastery. Likewise in all Tibetan settlements.


H.H. the Dalai Lama orders the removal of Dorje Shugden statue from the main prayer hall of Gaden Monastery, the main monastery of Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. When the Dalai Lama is told that the statue was too large to get through the door, he replies that the statue should be broke up.


The Mongolian Lama Guru Deva Rinpoche, who made most generous offerings and donations to His Holiness, the two tutors, to the great monasteries, Sera, Drepung, Ganden, at a time, when Tibetans coming to exile experienced a shortage of everything. , who lived then in Clementown near Dehra Dun, India, was forced to leave India, because his printing press published a letter questioning the Dalai Lama's actions regarding Dorje Shugden. Rinpoche donated his house in Drepung Gomang gave it to the monastery. The abbot of the monastery managed to persuade a Tibetan mob not to destroy the house. Under the increasing pressure from Tibetans in Nepal, Guru Deva Rinpoche is forced to return to Mongolia - his native country.

March 1996

The only independent newspaper in Dharamsala, known as 'Democracy', had to stop publishing.

March 10th, 1996

During annual teachings at the Thekchen Choeling Temple in Dharamsala, H.H. the Dalai Lama imposed the ban on worshipping Dorje Shugden. “Whether outside of Tibet or within Tibet, this deity is discordant with our government and all our deities, this is serious in the context of the common cause of Tibet. It will be good if you comply (with what we are saying) without us having to resort to this last step. It will be the last resort if we have to knock on your doors (if you do not follow advice). ”

March 21st, 96

H.H. the Dalai Lama asks worshippers of Dorje Shugden to leave the temple and bars them from attending the empowerment.

March 30th, 1996

The Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama issues a decree for everyone to stop practising Dorje Shugden, with instructions to make people aware of this through government offices, monasteries, associations, etc.

Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (Parliament) passes a resolution banning the worship of Dorje Shugden by Tibetan government employees.

Letters from the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama were sent to the abbots of various monasteries in South India.

April 5th, 1996

H.H. the Dalai Lama addresses the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Women Association to encourage them to take up the cause of enforcing the ban. During this talk, H.H. the Dalai Lama is reported as saying that there may be one or two persons who might be willing to give up their life for him. Although this was later removed from the talk, it is believed that the talk was videoed by a Japanese film crew.

At 8 am, a group of nuns went into the abbot's chamber and dragged a Dorje Shugden statue into the street by using a rope attached to its neck. This statue in the Gaden Choeling Nunnery, which was consecrated by His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, the junior tutor of H.H. the Dalai Lama, H.H. Ling Rinpoche, the senior tutor of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Song Rinpoche and Kyabje Rato Rinpoche. The perpetrators, Lobsang Dechen, disciplinarian of the nunnery, assisted by nun Tenzin Tselha and Dolma Yangzom, spat at, sat on, broken up into pieces, and then thrown the remains into the town's garbage dump.

April 9th: 1996

The Tibetan Freedom Movement bars the worship of Dorje Shugden among its members.

April 14th: 1996

The Guchusum Movement Organization passes a resolution banning Dorje Shugden among its members.

* All government employees are ordered to sign a declaration to the effect that they do not / will never worship Dorje Shugden

April 18th: 1996

The Tibetan Department of Health gives a special notice to doctors and staff:

“We should resolve not to worship Shugden in the future. If there is anyone who worships, they should repent the past and stop worshipping. They must submit a declaration that they will not worship in the future.”

April 19th: 1996

The Toepa Association (Regional Group) passes a resolution declaring Dorje Shugden a ‘Chinese ghost’
* Employees of the Tibetan children's Village are urged to take loyalty oaths.
* A decree is sent to all major Tibetan monasteries by H.H. the Dalai Lama's Private Office, making it mandatory for administrators and abbots to enforce the ban.
* Representatives of H.H. the Dalai Lama's Private Office start to arrive in the monasteries and Tibetan settlements to generate pressure and supervise the signatures drive.

April 22nd: 1996

The decree banning the worship of Dorje Shugden is officially read out at Drepung Monastery. The abbot said that everyone must abide by the ban. Drepung Loseling Monastery distributed a form, saying that anyone who does not sign will be immediately expelled from the monastery. So many monks including Dragpa Rinpoche moved to a nearby Indian town.

At Golathala Tibetan settlement near Bylakuppe, a large statue of Dorje Shugden together with smaller images and pictures of His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche were taken on behalf of frightened Tibetans on an all night car journey to the Shugden temple in Gaden Shartse monastery. In Bylakuppe, when a search party was looking for Shugden images, an attendant of the young Lama Dakyab Rinpoche told that he has thrown one in the lake near Tibetan settlement No 2. It is reported that many Shugden statues were thrown into the lake.

April 23rd: 1996

At Drepung Gomang Monastery, in the main assembly hall, the abbot announced a strict ban on worshipping Shugden. In the evening, the windows of the house of Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche, a prominent devotee of Dorje Shugden, were smashed. An atmosphere of intimidation pervaded the monastery. Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche's disciples complained to the abbot, but were ignored. The abbot ordered to sign a declaration to give up the worship of Shugden. Two monks from Ngari Khamtsen showed up at the Shugden temple at Gaden Shartse monastery, weeping and saying that although they didn't want to give up their religious belief, they had no choice but to sign, or face immediate expulsion from the monastery. One of them left the monastery next day.

April 25th: 1996

On the orders of the abbot of Gaden Shartse, Achog Tulku, then in Dharamsala, the monastery convenes at a meeting to discuss the status of its Dorje Shugden shrine. The meeting resolved not to curtail the religious freedom to practice Shugden.

April 26th: 1996

Hayagriva puja group of Sera-Je monastery received a special commission from the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama to perform 21 days exorcism of the deity Hayagriva Tamdim Yangsang against Dorje Shugden and its worshippers. Bari Rinpoche was asked to preside the exorcism. In return the Private Office offered him to be the next year Geshe Lharampa with exemption from Geshe exams.

In late April: 1996

Zungchu Rinpoche collected signatures from Shartse schoolchildren. A 11 years old monk asked what it was for. Zungchu replied that it was a form to find western sponsor for school children.

April 27-30, 1996

A period of great tension in the monasteries of South India. There was fighting among monks from Gaden and Drepung. At Gaden Jangtse monastery, a monk was beaten by supporters of the ban and had to be hospitalized. Windows of prominent Shugden worshippers were smashed.

May 1st: 1996

Government Officials proclaim a decree of ban under armed police protection at Gaden Monastery in Mundgod, South India.

May 9th: 1996

Tibetan Representatives from monasteries traditionally venerating Dorje Shugden from all over India met in Delhi and resolved not to give up their faith. They submitted their first appeal to the Private Secretary of H.H. the Dalai Lama.

May 10th: 1996

In the hope of a dialogue, Shugden devotees sent a petition to H.H. the Dalai Lama, which was followed by petitions on May 20, May 30, and June 5. A number of petitions and letters were sent to H.H. the Dalai Lama. Request for audiences have made on several occasions. They were rejected.

May 10/11, 1996

The Tibetan Youth Congress convenes and resolves to implement the ban in every Tibetan settlement. House to house searches start; statues, paintings, other holy objects are burned or desecrated.

May 14th: 1996

The Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet) releases a statement denying any religious suppression.

May 15th: 1996

Kundeling Rinpoche, Director of Atisha Charitable Trust, organizes peaceful demonstrations against the ban. A warrant for his arrest is issued upon Dharamsala's baseless allegation that he is a Chinese spy. He had to leave the country for the time being.

May 24th: 1996

Shugden Society receives a letter dated May 22, 1996, under the name of Kalon Sonam Topgyal, announcing that now there will be a complete ban on Shugden:
“...concepts like democracy and freedom of religion are empty when it concerns the well-being of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the common cause of Tibet.”

May 28th: 1996

The exile Tibetan Cabinet Secretariat restricted permission for Geshe Cheme Tsering from travelling abroad to lead a cultural tour to raise funds on behalf of his monastery, Shartse, situated in Karnataka State. (Geshe Cheme Tsering is a devotee of Dorje Shugden and general secretary of Dorje Shugden Society.)

June 5th: 1996

During the 12th session of the Tibetan National Assembly, Dharamsala, (held between May 31 and June 6), Kalong Sonam Topgyal, Chairman of the Exile Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), addresses the assembly:

“Now on the matter of propitiation of Dharma protectors, I think we first have to come up with explanations on whether this (ban) infringes upon human rights or not. Therefore, it is clear that no one is dictating do's and don'ts to all our religious traditions including the four Buddhist Traditions and Bon. Anyone in our Tibetan society can engage in the religious practices of either Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, or Bon. However, once having entered a particular religious faith, (one has to) conform to the standard practices pertaining to that religious faith; it is not proper, however, for Buddhist monks to enter and practice (Buddhism) in mosques in the name of freedom of religion. This being the case, this (ban) is imposed without infringing upon religious freedom. In particular, since we are a dual system nation, we have to proceed in accordance with this religio-political structure (of our nation); it is not proper to engage in whims in the name of religious freedom. In short, the great monastic institutions and those under the (exile Tibetan) administration are not allowed to rely (on Dorje Shugden).”

June 6th: 1996

The 8-point resolution was passed by the Tibetan peoples’ parliament to impose a ban on worshipping of Shugden. It is a comprehensive, clear and worthy standard of do's and don'ts for both the public and private individuals.

June 19th: 1996

Tibetan Women Association sent a letter to Gaden Tripa, the head of Gelug Tradition: “we heartily appreciate and praise that many monks and monasteries have obeyed H.H. the Dalai Lama's speech against Shugden. We do our best against Geshe Kelsang, some Geshes and Westerners. They did protest. You must reply to letters and books written by them. This is only the best way to solve Tibet issue.”

June 1996

The retired Tibetan minister Mr. Kundeling is stabbed and badly wounded at his house. A few days before at a meeting in Dharamsala he had mentioned his concern about the new course of the exile policy.

July 8th: 1996

A Public Notice is posted: “On July 8, at 9 a.m. there will be the preparatory rite for the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion). And on July 8 there will be the actual empowerment. However, those who worship Dolgyal (Shugden) are not allowed to attend this empowerment. By order of the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama.” (Dolgyal is one of the names of Dorje Shugden, which the Tibetan administration is inclined to use in place of Shugden, thinking it to be a derogatory name.)

July 13th:

Samdong Tulku, Speaker of the Tibetan parliament, speaks to local Tibetan dignitaries in New Delhi, advising them not to use pressure or violent language in persuading Tibetans in the Delhi area to give up the practice of Dorje Shugden, but to ask them to choose between Dorje Shugden and H.H. the Dalai Lama.

July 13 to 14,

Mundgod, South India. Over 700 monks, devotees of Dorje Shugden, conducted a peaceful protest against the suppression of Dorje Shugden. There were eleven monks from Serkong House who joined the march. As a result, these monks were expelled from their college. On August 6, 1996, in the name of the Tibetan settlements in Mundgod, the Tibetan exile government sent a letter to Jang-Tse monastery, appreciating the expulsion of these eleven monks from the monastery.

July 17th: 1996

A resolution of Tibetan exile parliament tabled by Yonten Phuntsog and seconded by Tsering Phuntsog:

“8: In essence, government departments organizations/ associations, monasteries and their branches under the direction of the exile Tibetan government should abide by the ban against the worship of Dholgyal (Shugden). ...however, if the person is a worshipper of Dholgyal, he should be urged not to come to any teachings such as Tantric empowerment given by H.H. the Dalai Lama.”

Mid-July, 1996

Ms. Chogpa, 70 and a widow, in Rajpur Tibetan settlement, near Dehradun, U.P, was harassed beyond tolerance by local Tibetans and her neighbours. Helpless against so many people, she sold her home, kitchen, and small vegetable garden for Rs 5000. She took shelter in Lama Camp No 1, Mundgod, Karnataka State.

July 11th: 96

A total of ten Tibetans including eight males and two women, were expelled from the Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibetan Women's Association, for refusing to give up their religious faith in Dorje Shugden. This incident took place in the Tibetan community in Shillong, Meghalaya.

July 1996

* Tibetan Democratic draft constitution for a future free Tibet is amended to read that no judge or juror can be an adherent of Dorje Shugden.

* During the preparation for the Kalachakra initiation in Lahul Spiti, H.H. the Dalai Lama's female oracle Tsering Chenga alleges that some thirty members of Dorje Shugden Society will attack H.H. the Dalai Lama during the initiation. Elaborate security measures and searches show this to be a false prophecy and a false alarm. There is no one from Dorje Shugden Society.

July 25th: 1996

A letter sent to various monasteries recruiting monks for the Buddhist School of Dialectics in Dharamsala. One of the four qualification required is:

“4: The candidate should not be a worshipper of Dholgyal (Shugden).”

July 29th: 1996

11 young monks were expelled from the monastery on the ground that they demonstrated against H.H. the Dalai Lama. Along with 300 monks of Shartse monastery, they took part in a peaceful demonstration against the ban at Gaden Monastery, Mundgod, Karnataka State.

July 29th: 1996

900 monks from Sera-Mey monastery conduct a peaceful demonstration against the ban on Dorje Shugden.

* Samdhong Tulku, then speaker of Tibetan people's deputies, gave a speech to the gathering monks in the assembly hall of Sera Lachi.

“...Dorje Shugden and Nechung (state protector) are both Bodhisattvas who reached high grounds.”

August, 1996

The Secret Society of Eliminators of the external and internal enemies of Tibet announces its death threat against the two young reincarnations of high Lamas who rely on Dorje Shugden, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (13) and Kyabje Song Rinpoche (11). An extract reads:

“Anyone who goes against the policy of the government must be singled out, opposed and give the death penalty... As for the reincarnations of Trijang and Song Rinpoche, if they do not stop practising Dholgyal (Shugden) and continue to contradict with the words of His Holiness H.H. the Dalai Lama, not only will we not be able to respect them, but their life and activities will suffer destruction. This is our first warning.”

August 8, 1996

Tibetan school children are taught a new song for the first time, called “Tibetan Cause,” including the lines: “All Tibetans, listen to the advice of His Holiness H.H. the Dalai Lama and rely on pure protectors. This is the Tibetan cause.”

October 4 - 6, 1996

The Board of Gelug teachers in Europe (19 members) meets and requests an audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama to discuss this issue. The audience is denied, with a letter from the private office of H.H. Dalai Lama stating: "You have nothing else to say apart from taking care of the 18 volumes of Je Tsongkhapa's works." From then on the members of the board were too scared to ever meet again.

* Dorje Shugden Society meets with abbots from Sera, Drepung and Gaden in New Delhi. The abbots request an audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama to discuss the issue. The audience is denied, as have all previous requests by the Dorje Shugden Society for audiences concerning this matter.

November 7-8, 1996

The house of the retired school teacher Mr. Thupten is attacked and set on fire with his daughter and a relative purposely locked in. Fortunately they survive. In a tape published by Dorje Shugden Society, Mr. Thupten had given a number of historical accounts, showing the blatant injustice in the Exile Government's actions.

November 11, 1996

A notice is posted banning devotees of Dholgyal (Shugden) from attending a Guhyasamaja empowerment by H.H. the Dalai Lama (Document).

November 19 - 21, 1996

H.H. the Dalai Lama travels to South India to visit Tibetan Monasteries at Mundgod, without traditional request, an unprecedented move for a Dalai Lama. Shugden Society holds off a peaceful demonstration in the hope of reconciliation with H.H. the Dalai Lama, and petitions H.H. the Dalai Lama. They are denied the audience and H.H. the Dalai Lama speaks in even harsher terms about the ban, and threatens: “You might feel that by publishing letters, pamphlets, etc. against this ban, H.H. the Dalai Lama will revoke the ban. This will never be the case. If you take a hard stand, I will tighten this ban still further.”

November 1996

H.H. the Dalai Lama attends the last day of six weeks of practices in connection with Tamdrin Yangsang, the day on which the rituals including the “taking out of the tormas” are performed. Those present are monks from Sera-Je and Nechung monasteries, and six oracles, who all went into trance. One, a female oracle, Tsering Chenma, began attacking Dorje Shugden, saying that even within this congregation there are still those who practice Dorje Shugden. Another female oracle, Yudonma, then pointed to a Lama called Jangmar Rinpoche from Drepung Loseling monastery, aged late 60's, originally from Gyalthang province of eastern Tibet, and started shouting, “This Lama is bad, he is following Dorje Shugden, take him out, take him out!.” She then started pulling his robes and grabbing his head. The Lama got up and slapped her twice. A scuffle broke out between Jangmar Rinpoche and his attendants on one side, and the oracle and monks from Nechung monastery on the other. Thus the lama was expelled. Next day he reported this incident to His Holiness directly and His Holiness said: "You have no fault, I know very well that you are not a practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Sometimes these oracles are a little too much. It is good you gave a slap." Thus he resumed his place.

November 21st, 1996

Excerpt from an address delivered by H.H. the Dalai Lama on Nov. 19th to Nov. 21st at Lama Camp No.1, Main Prayer Hall

(By Geshe Cheme Tsering)

1) In the hopes of a reconciliation speech, devotees of Dorje Shugden have called off their proposed peace march. They published this in the local paper also. They even called personally on the Deputy Commissioner as well as the SP of Karwar to assure the concerned authorities about this good will gesture. The office of the Shugden Society in Delhi even sent a delegation to request an audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama, in the hopes of reconciliation during this visit. The Private Secretary, Mr. Lobsang Jinpa, told the delegates there is no point in seeing His Holiness by the delegates if they do not want to give up their worship of Dorje Shugden.

2) On Nov. 20th, at Drepung lama camp, H.H. the Dalai Lama gave teachings and a talk from 8am to 11am. The highlight of his talk was on two topics:

a) On his part, H.H. the Dalai Lama said, he was no longer striving for complete independence for Tibet from China. Tibetans, in view of their small population, large land mass, lack of natural resources, need for industrialization, should therefore again much more be striving for genuine autonomy under China rather than complete independence. As times change later on, independence can be mooted;

b) During this year's New Year teachings, I spoke against the worship of Shugden, and expressed my feeling. I did not ask the Tibetan exile Cabinet or the exile Tibetan parliament, to enforce the ban. However, they voluntarily supported me. I appreciate their show of support. Likewise, among the abbots, there have been many who gave up worship of Shugden after my talks, I give them my thanks for their compliance.

In significant contradiction to allegations made by the exile Tibetan govt. earlier this year that the worship of Dorje Shugden poses danger to H.H. the Dalai Lama's well-being, the Dalai Lama himself assured the public that 'there in no need to worry about his well-being', adding further that 'he is confident of living up to the age of eighty' at least.

3) Background:

On this day, there was a monastic debate examination. Members of both Shartse and Jhangtse monastery (approx. 2,000) participated. The program began at 2pm, and lasted till 7.30pm. During this program, at about 6 pm, H.H. the Dalai Lama spoke and delivered an address.


“When I was visiting sera monastery (in Byalakupee, Nov. 15-18, 1996), a representative of Shartse and Jhangtse monastery called upon me, formally inviting me to visit these two Monasteries. I playfully asked them about recent demonstration against my officers...

“This time I will visit Shartse; in the future, however, if the monastery continues to worship Dorje Shugden and build images of this deity, then I must decline to visit Shartse. In that case, neither they should invite me, nor will I come even if invited.

'Likewise, in Tibet in the future, if any monastery worships Dorje Shugden, neither they should entertain any hopes of inviting me, and even if invited, I shall not feel comfortable accepting such invitations.

'Likewise if there are still people who feel they cannot give up this worship and who feel they will continue to worship Dorje Shugden, I do not see any benefit for them to remain under the auspices of Ganden Phodrang Tibetan govt. 'You might feel that by publishing letters, pamphlets etc. against this ban, H.H. the Dalai Lama will revoke this ban. This will never be the case. If you take a hard stand, I will tighten this ban still further.'

After these words, H.H. the Dalai Lama stood up from this throne, and pointing at his left and the right, asked: 'which is Shartse and which is Jhangtse'. Then, pointing towards the Shartse section, His Holiness remarked: “I warn you, elder monks of Shartse. You must not say one thing and do another. The elder monks should change their mind, and guide the junior monks.”