June 04, 2008

Tha Dalai Lama Condemns Veneration of Shugden

His Holiness's office put out a statement concluding:

[The Dalai Lama] has stated that, as someone in a leadership position, it is his responsibility to speak out against the damaging consequences of this kind of spirit worship. Whether or not his advice is heeded, His Holiness has stated, is a matter for the individual. However, since he personally feels strongly about the negativity of this practice, he has requested that those who continue to propitiate Dolgyal, do not attend his formal religious teachings which traditionally require the establishment of a teacher-disciple relationship.

Meanwhile the Olympic torch is due to arrive in Lhasa in just over two weeks.

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Tom's picture

I watched the youtube videos listed above. My heart is aching in this conflict and it really distresses me. I do not know what to make of this as I have not seen a schism like this within Buddhism displayed so personally. This is just awful and the conflict seems to be the real tragedy. It is lamentable that such a refined system of thought has come to this.

Tom's picture


Tom's picture

I am not an expert in these matters. My interest here is simply to add information that I have read.

The legitimacy of Dorje Shungden's legacy is hardly regarded as "canon," when considered from an overall picture of Tibetan tradition. In recent times, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche spoke out to his Vajrayana students about Dorje Shungden, on the impending visit from H.H. in the late 70's (incidentally, the visit went well and was formative). So, from the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, there were serious concerns being levied.

I cannot speak to the accounts of those who believe Dorje Shungden's teachings to be valid, all I am insisting here is that H.H. was not singularly unfounded in his assessment. It seems to be the result of wanting to bridge the minor divides in what is an otherwise symbiotic representation of dharma.


Jimmy Marsden's picture

This problem has been going on for over ten years. Why is no one calling the Dalai Lama into question over this? Tricycle, why are you not asking him some penetrating questions? This has moved beyond polemics to actual persecution, surely that is newsworthy for Tricycle readers interested in the development of Buddhism?

From the New Internationalist, years ago:

Deity banned
Outrage as Dalai Lama denounces Dorje Shugden

Buddhists picketed the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the United States and Europe. They protested against the ban on the worship of the 350-year-old deity, Dorje Shugden, whom they say is one of the most revered in the Buddhist religion. In 1996 the Dalai Lama announced that worship of Dorje Shugden was banned and explained that his oracle, Nechung, had advised him that the deity was a threat to his personal safety and the future of Tibet.

The Tibetan Government-in-exile said its employees must stop worshipping the deity or be sacked. The office of the Dalai Lama told the superiors of the Sermey Monastic College in Bylakuppe, India: ‘If there is anyone who continues to worship Dorje (Shugden), make a list of their names, birthplace and class... Keep the original and send us a copy of the list.’

According to PK Dey, a human-rights lawyer from Delhi: ‘Those worshipping Shugden are experiencing tremendous harassment. It is not in a particular part of the country, but everywhere there are Tibetans. Dalai Lama supporters are going from house to house searching.’ For example, in Clementown, India, the house of a family of Shugden worshippers was stoned and then firebombed. Wanted posters describe people believed to be Shugden leaders as the top ten enemies of the state. The posters have been put up in monasteries, settlements and in Dharamsala by the Government-in-exile’s Department of Security.

Dorje Shugden worshippers say the ban and its implementation are in direct conflict with the proposed constitution of a free Tibet, laid down by the Dalai Lama in 1963. The constitution states that all religious denominations are equal before the law, and every Tibetan shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. But when Dorje Shugden worshippers challenged the ban, the Tibetan Government-in-exile stated that: ‘Concepts like democracy and freedom of religion are empty when it comes to the well-being of the Dalai Lama and the common cause of Tibet.’

During recent peace vigils a petition with 15,000 signatures was handed to the Dalai Lama stating the need for all Tibetan traditions to flourish. Protesters asked him to sign a declaration of freedom to worship Dorje Shugden. The Dalai Lama refused.

He says that he banned the worship of Dorje Shugden because it is a divisive deity that causes sectarianism among his followers, and is leading to the degeneration of Buddhism. But in doing so he has left many Tibetans confused. Gonsar Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama who has worshipped Dorje Shugden throughout his life, says: ‘I cannot accept this ban on Shugden. If I accept that all my wise and great masters are demon worshippers, then their teachings are wrong, everything they believe in is wrong. That is not possible.’

Sara Chamberlain

Tenzin's picture

Please check out this video to see the Dalai Lama saying in his own words that he forced the expulsion of monks from their monastery. The speech is sinister and unpleasant.

Al Jazeera broadcast this news video and article yesterday (see links below). It was viewed by a potential 40 million people (according to Al Jazeera viewing estimates).

This story is breaking. The persecution has just recently been covered by a number of newspapers, including The New Statesman, France 24, Knight News, and Cincinnati City Beat.

It is only a matter of time before the Dalai Lama’s illegal and unconstitutional actions become public knowledge. It would be better if he lifted the ban before that happens for the benefit of himself and his followers (not to mention those whose religious tradition is being destroyed).


News article:

goldenmala's picture

CNN has recently done a documentary about the Dalai Lama and his reliance on Nechung (a worldly spirit). In the documentary he is asking Nechung for political advice:

Khedrup's picture

There are many clear links between the Shugden supporters and Chinese government. Kundeling Lama, the head of the Delhi based Shugden society said openly in an interview with France 24 TV that he supports the Chinese leadership,and even defends China's policy in Tibet, saying "The cultural revolution was much worse in China than Tibet." Complete nonesense, it was just as bad, one need merely look at the ruins of all the old monasteries or talk to Tibetan exiles of the older generation to confirm this.

The Dalai Lama's ban is not the reason this issue came to a head. It is mostly a result of Shugden agitation to propagate their prayer, supported by the Chinese government:
Forceful evacuation in Gangchen Monastery - Shugden monks forced Dalai lama supporters out of monasteries in Chinese occupied Tibet.

In addition, the Indian police confirm that Shugden devotees are the main suspects for the murder of Ven. Lobsang Gyatso and his two students in Dharamsala. The neutral Indian police who are not Buddhists: http://antishugden.com/interview-with-prithvi-raj-chief-police-of-kangra...

It is understandable that the Dalai Lama's government does not want Chinese agents under the banner of Shugden in its monasteries.

balance's picture

Who is really behind these protests?

Are the accounts a little too one sided?

Who is Shugden?

Curious then follow this link


I have done my own independent research. I suggest everyone does the same

the lone ranger's picture

Find out about the Dalai Lama's religious persecution against Shudgen practitioners on the following swiss documentary:-




Lineageholder's picture

For all his smiles and charm, the Dalai Lama is harming Dorje Shugden practitioners in India. This 'man of peace' is denying them food, shelter, education and travel visas for worshipping a Buddha traditionally revered by millions for four hundred years. His own Teachers practised it too, but he says they are "wrong". So much for the love, compassion and religious tolerance he preaches everywhere!


Make up your own mind about this important issue.

Tenzin Dradul's picture

Dalai lama has right to express his view and practice any religion he prefer. But when his view on this practice is enforce through his exile goverment office and NGOs then it become repression. Because of this ban monk, nuns, lay man and woman all are sufferings, families are divided, childrens are denied educations, health care and aids given by western aid groups. Monasteries are divided, nuns left without home. Dalai lama fame, money, power and infulence is so big. No-body is ready listen to our cry for help. His PR machine has successfully carried away smear camphain against practitioners as chinese agent, killer etc. In reality all this as not true. We just wana practice our 400 years prayer in freedom. Hope it not much to ask from man of freedom and campassion.

Concerned's picture

This isnt about China,this is a completely seperate issue..people,please do your research and find this out.

Concerned's picture

no commentary?
This isnt something you we should stand back and let happen.
Please,someone in this magazine stand up and use logic.
This ban makes no sense..and yes it's a ban.
Feature an article in Tricycle PLEASE!