Dorje Shugden controversy
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Dorje Shugden, also known as Dolgyal, was a "gyalpo" "angry and vengeful spirit" of South Tibet, which was subsequently adopted as a "minor protector" of the Gelug school, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, headed by the Dalai Lamas (although nominally the Ganden Tripas). Dreyfus says "Shuk-den was nothing but a minor Ge-luk protector before the 1930s when Pa-bong-ka started to promote him aggressively as the main Ge-luk protector." Pabongka transformed Dorje Shugden's "marginal practice into a central element of the Ge-luk tradition," thus "replacing the protectors appointed by Dzong-ka-ba himself" and "replacing the traditional supra-mundane protectors of the Ge-luk tradition." This change is reflected in artwork, since there is "lack of Dorje Shugden art in the Gelug school prior to the end of the 19th century." The view of Pabongka, and living ideological successors such as Kelsang Gyatso, is that Dorje Shugden is a ’jig rten las ’das pa’i srung ma (an enlightened being) and that, whilst not being bound by history, he assumed a series of human incarnations before manifesting himself as a Dharma-protector during the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama.
Restrictions on the practice of Shugden were implemented by the 13th Dalai Lama. Pabongka apologized and promised not to propitiate Shuk-den any more. With the urging of the other schools who have long been opposed to Shugden, and his senior Gelug tutor who always doubted the practice, the 14th Dalai Lama asked the increasing number of western Shugden practitioners who were newly being proselytized primarily in Britain to refrain from attending his teachings. Thurman notes that members of the cult responded by trying "to force their supposed mentor to adopt their perspective that the demonic spirit is an enlightened being, almost more important than the Buddha himself, and perhaps also rejoin their worship of it, or at least give them all his initiatory teachings in spite of their defiance of his best advice."
Thurman and Bultrini note the Chinese fueled cult of Shugden is an offshoot of the Gelug school, and not Tibetan Buddhism as a whole. Dilgo Khyentse, the primary non-Gelug teacher of the current Dalai Lama, and Gelug lama Trijang Rinpoche had a good laugh when Dilgo Khyentse said that Shugden would hit him if he accepted Trijang Rinpoche's invitation to stay in his house. Dreyfus said "The irony is that Shuk-den is presented by his followers as the protector of the Ge-luk (dge lugs) school, of which the Dalai Lama is the (de facto) leader." Kapstein notes the 14th Dalai Lama is "focused upon the role of Shugden as a militantly sectarian protector of the Gelukpa order, and the harm that has been done to Tibetan sectarian relations by the cult's more vociferous proponents."
- 1 Overview of the controversy
- 2 Arguments for and against the practice
- 3 History
- 4 Views on the conflict
- 5 Claims of violence/discrimination
- 6 Court case concludes
- 7 Chinese government involvement
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Overview of the controversy
The practice of Dorje Shugden (i.e. different forms of worship and specific meditation techniques) began at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama Lobsang Gyatso (1617–1682 AD). Those who have followed the practice of Dorje Shugden most recently in the 20th and 21st centuries include Trijang Rinpoche and Ling Rinpoche, tutors of the 14th Dalai Lama.
Trijang Rinpoche, the root Guru of the 14th Dalai Lama, introduced the Dorje Shugden practice to the Dalai Lama in 1959 prior to the Chinese takeover. The Dalai Lama carried out the practice in private as well as encouraging it in Gelug monasteries.
In 1975, The Yellow Book of Zemey Rinpoche was published, containing cautionary tales of numerous Gelugpa lamas (including the Fifth Dalai Lama) who had been killed by Dorje Shugden in punishment for adopting practices from Nyingma and other sects rather than adhering exclusively to Gelugpa lineage. This prompted the 14th Dalai Lama to more carefully research the nature of Dorje Shugden, and conclude that this was not an enlightened deity, but a dangerous mundane spirit. In response, he dramatically refused to accept long life offerings from the Tibetan government in exile following the 1976 Tibetan New Year, and hinted at his possible departure from earthly existence and the cycle of reincarnation. Later that year he finally accepted the offerings, indicating his willingness to continue as Dalai Lama, but in 1977 he began speaking out against the use of the deity as an institutional protector and laying restrictions on public performances of the practice. He stated that the Shugden practice is in conflict with the state protector Pehar and with the main protective goddess of the Gelug tradition and the Tibetan people, Palden Lhamo. He also stated that the practice encourages sectarian rivalry between Tibetan Buddhist schools. According to Georges Dreyfus, the Dalai Lama felt that his own accommodations towards non-Gelugpa sects would make him a target of Shugden's hostility. The Dalai Lama states that he has not forbidden the Shugden practice but only advised against it, and that individuals should decide for themselves if they want to practice it privately; however, he does not wish practitioners to attend his formal religious teachings.
From March 1996 onwards, the Dalai Lama decided to move more forcefully on this issue, which "is to be seen in connection with his interest in finding common ground in the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism so as to overcome precisely those exclusivist tendencies that Shugden is said to protect." Martin Mills believes this was a response "to growing pressure - particularly from other schools of Tibetan Buddhism such as the Nyingmapa, who threatened withdrawal of their support in the Exiled Government project." The Dalai Lama stated during a Buddhist Tantric initiation that Shugden was 'an evil spirit' whose actions were detrimental to the 'cause of Tibet'. The Dalai Lama concluded that henceforth he would not give Tantric initiations to worshippers of Shugden, since "the unbridgeable divergence of their respective positions would inevitably undermine the sacred guru-student relationship, and thus compromise his role as a teacher (and by extension his health)." Michael von Brück believes this involves a contradiction on the Dalai Lama's part:
Many of the present Lamas of the Gelukpa tradition have received their teachings from Trijang Rinpoche or Zong Rinpoche. In those cases where he is the 'root Lama' (rtsa ba'i bla ma) who has handed down all three aspects of the tradition (oral transmission of texts, commentaries, the empowerments), the relationship to him is absolutely binding. This is an essential part of Vajrayana practice. Otherwise, according to Tantric tradition he might be regarded as a person who has broken the Tantric vow (dam-nyams) and this would concern the Dalai Lama himself as having been initiated by Shugden practice.
According to von Brück, after examining Dorje Shugden based on three methodological devices—historical evidence, political reason, and spiritual insight—the Dalai Lama changed his view and now considers Dorje Shugden to be a worldly spirit. Von Brück concludes: "However, in spite of these arguments, opposition against this interpretation of the Dalai Lama and the exile government is still strong on two grounds: the truthfulness and commitments to one's root teacher, and religious freedom." The Dalai Lama, on the other hand, claims that he has not broken his commitment to Trijang Rinpoche, having renounced the practice "with the full knowledge and support" of that tutor.
Robert Thurman insists that there is no "ban" of Shugden worship, stating:
The worship of their chosen deity was not "banned" by the Dalai Lama, since he has no authority to "ban" what Tibetan Buddhists practice. "Banning" and "excommunicating" are not Tibetan Buddhist procedures.
The 14th Dalai Lama himself said in 2008, that he never used the word "ban", and "restricting a form of practice that restricts others’ religious freedom is actually a protection of religious freedom. So in other words, negation of a negation is an affirmation."
The CTA explained in 2007 that Shugden worshipers that come from Tibet who wish to continue to practice Shugden cannot enroll into Gelug monasteries due to "the Charter of the Monastic Discipline of the Gelugpa Sect which categorically forfeit the enrollment of the monks who continue to propitiate Shugden in all Gelupga monasteries and Kashag’s directive in support of the Charter. However, Kashag’s directive does not involve those who wish to join schools in exile community."
Arguments for and against the practice
Views of the majority of Tibetan Buddhism
Dilgo Khyentse, the primary non-Gelug teacher of the current Dalai Lama, and Gelug lama Trijang Rinpoche had a good laugh when Dilgo Khyentse said that Shugden would hit him if he accepted Trijang Rinpoche's invitation to stay in his house.
Minling Trichen Rinpoche, late head of the Nyingma tradition, said that "Shugden is a ghost. We Nyingma practitioner do not follow him. We propagate only those protectors that were bound by Padmasambhava. Shugden came after Padmasambhava."
Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, notes that at one time followers of his school did make offerings to Shugden but that, in this context, Shugden was regarded as a worldly deity. He also mentions two Lamas of pre-occupation Tibet, Dorjechang Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Ngor Kangchen Dorjechang, who limited the practice in their monasteries, confirming the existence of the practice within that tradition up to that time.
Palpung Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the most important Lamas in the Karma Kagyu tradition has said that the practice of Shugden "causes fear." He adds the practice is considered to create obstacles to spiritual practice.
- The Dalai Lama identifies Dorje Shugden as a "spirit", and claims that the tradition of propitiation associated with Shugden elevates this spirit to being equal or superior to the Buddha. He states that encouraging the worship of Dorje Shugden could contribute to reducing Tibetan Buddhism to a form of superstitious spirit worship.
- The Dalai Lama states that there is an "acknowledged link" between worship of Dorje Shugden and sectarianism between the various Tibetan Buddhist schools. The Dalai Lama believes non-sectarianism is "his most important commitment", and that the worship of Dorje Shugden may be a barrier to this commitment to non-sectarianism.
- The Dalai Lama says that Dorje Shugden has a long history of antagonistic attitude to the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan Government they have headed since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. He identifies the 5th and 13th Dalai Lamas as having specifically spoken out against Dorje Shugden as a threat "to the welfare of beings in general and the Tibetan government headed by the Dalai Lamas in particular". He states that in light of the current difficult situation endured by the Tibetan people, it is particularly important to resist the worship of Dorje Shugden as a potentially divisive practice.
The Dalai Lama stated conclusively, "I have explained the reasons why I am against the veneration of Shugden and given my sources in a very detailed manner." The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) explains the official advice of the Dalai Lama based on the three points above:
The Dalai Lama has strongly urged his followers to consider carefully the problems of Dolgyal practice on the basis of these three reasons and to act accordingly. He has stated that, as a Buddhist leader with a special concern for the Tibetan people, it is his responsibility to speak out against the damaging consequences of this kind of spirit worship. Whether or not his advice is heeded, the Dalai Lama has made clear, is a matter for the individual. However, since he personally feels strongly about how negative this practice is, he has requested those who continue to propitiate Dolgyal not to attend his formal religious teachings, which traditionally require the establishment of a teacher-disciple relationship.
Replies from Shugden practitioners
McCune comments, "As we see, the Shukden issue is far more complex than it appears at its surface. Both sides offer seemingly convincing arguments in favor of their respective points of view."
1970s - The Yellow Book
|“||Retrospectively, we can say that the whole affair started from this book and the Dalai Lama's reaction to it. Prior to its publication, there was no controversy concerning Shuk-den.||”|
The controversy surfaced within the Tibetan exile community during the 1970s. In 1973, Zemey Rinpoche published the Yellow Book, which included cautionary tales passed down by Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche of 23 members of the Gelugpa sect who also practiced Nyingma teachings and were supposedly "killed" by Shugden.
The Yellow Book (so called because of the color of its cover) was actually entitled Thunder of the Stirring Black Cloud: The Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father. It was written by Dzeme Tulku Lobsang Palden (1927–1996) of Ganden Shartse College and published in 1974 by Chophel Legden in Delhi. This book claims to be a record of stories told to the Dzeme Rinpoche by his guru, Trijang Rinpoche, about how Dorje Shugden punished various Geluk and Nyingma lamas and others who "corrupted the pure Geluk teachings," mainly by studying Nyingma teachings. According to Mumford, Dorje Shugden is "extremely popular, but held in awe and feared among Tibetans because he is highly punitive."
Georges Dreyfus said that the sectarian elements of the Yellow Book were not unusual and do not "justify or explain the Dalai Lama's strong reaction." Instead, he traces back the conflict more on the exclusive/inclusive approach and maintain that to understand the Dalai Lama's point of view one has to consider the complex ritual basis for the institution of the Dalai Lamas, which was developed by the Great Fifth and rests upon "an eclectic religious basis in which elements associated with the Nyingma tradition combine with an overall Gelug orientation." This involves the promotion and practices of the Nyingma school. Kay reminds us that "when traditions come into conflict, religious and philosophical differences are often markers of disputes that are primarily economic, material and political in nature.
Paul Williams states that "The Dalai Lama is trying to modernize the Tibetans' political vision and trying to undermine the factionalism. He has the dilemma of the liberal: do you tolerate the intolerant?" Georges Dreyfus disagreed with that interpretation:
[I]n this dispute the Dalai Lama's position does not stem from his Buddhist modernism and from a desire to develop a modern nationalism, but from his commitment to another protector, Nechung, who is said to resent Shukden. Thus, this dispute is not between followers of a traditional popular cult and a modernist reformer who tries to discredit this cult by appealing to modern criteria of rationality. Rather, it is between two traditional or clan-based interpretations of the Geluk tradition, that of Shukden's followers who want to set the Geluk tradition apart from others, and the Dalai Lama's more eclectic vision. The fact that the former may be more exclusivistic and that the latter may be more open does not entail that they can be interpreted adequately through the traditional/modern opposition.
Various Shugden supporters assert that there was no factionalism before the ban, and that it is the Dalai Lama who is being intolerant and adhering to a theocratic model of government[unreliable source?]
In March 1996, responding to increasing political pressure (especially from the Nyingma school, who threatened to withdraw from the TGIE), the Dalai Lama announced that Dorje Shugden was "an evil spirit" detrimental to the cause of a free Tibet, and so he began to request that those who worshiped Shugden no longer attend tantric initiations from him, which "effectively placed them outside the fold of the exiled Tibetan polity." At one Tantric initiation, the Dalai Lama said:
If any among you here are determined to continue propitiating Dolgyal, it would be better for you to stay away from this empowerment, get up and leave this place. It is improper for you to continue to sit here. It will not benefit you. On the contrary it will have the effect of reducing the life span of Gyalwa Rinpoche [the Dalai Lama], which is not good. However, if there are any among you who hope that Gyalwa Rinpoche will soon die, then you can stay.
In remarks to members of the Cholsum Congress on March 4, 1996, the Dalai Lama expressed satisfaction that the Congress had passed a resolution addressing the worship of Dorje Shugden, implying that Tibetan Buddhists ignoring his restrictions might hasten his own death, since "then there would not be any point in my continuing to live silently as a disappointed man." The Dalai Lama's official position is that:
Propitiating Dolgyal does great harm to the cause of Tibet. It also imperils the life of the Dalai Lama. Therefore, it is totally inappropriate for the great monasteries of the Gelug tradition, the Upper and Lower Tantric Monasteries and all other affiliated monasteries which are national institutions ever to propitiate Dolgyal. The public should be thoroughly informed so that they can gain a clear appreciation of the situation themselves. However, everyone is completely free to say: 'If the cause of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s life are undermined so be it. We have religious freedom. We are a democracy. We are free to do as we please. We will not change our tradition of propitiating Dolgyal.'
Although the TGIE said that individuals must be free "to decide as they like," it asked that monks in the refugee community sign an agreement in support of the ban, in particular requesting the names of any monks at Sera monastery who continued to worship Dorje Shugden. According to Chandler, "Individual monks are required to render fingerprints and signatures that demonstrate their pledge to uphold the Dalai Lama's position." House to house searches were conducted by the TGIE, "demanding that people sign a declaration" that they had abandoned the practice. The TGIE passed a resolution forbidding governmental and monastic institutions from propitiating Dorje Shugden:
In sum, the departments, their branches and subsidiaries, monasteries and their branches that are functioning under the administrative control of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile should be strictly instructed, in accordance with the rules and regulations, not to indulge in the propitiation of Shugden. We would like to clarify that if individual citizens propitiate Shugden, it will harm the common interest of Tibet, the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and strengthen the spirits that are against the religion.
Previously confined primarily to the Tibetan exile community, the dispute over Dorje Shugden developed international dimensions that same year, when the British-based New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) began to publicly oppose the Dalai Lama's position. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, was a devotee of Shugden, and the nephew of a man who had previously served as a medium for Shugden in Tibetan refugee communities. Unlike other Gelug teachers, some of whom privately worshiped Shugden but did not teach the practice to their Western students, Gyatso made Shugden practices central to the teachings he imparted to non-Tibetan students in England and abroad.
When the Dalai Lama visited England later in the summer of 1996, members of the New Kadampa tradition staged pickets outside venues where the Dalai Lama was speaking, holding placards accusing the Dalai Lama of repressing religious freedom. At the time, the NKT was the largest Buddhist organization in the United Kingdom. Gyatso also founded the Shugden Supporters Community (SSC), which distributed press releases to news outlets covering the Dalai Lama's trip to England. The SSC also initiated a letter-writing campaign to petition the British Home Secretary to revoke the Dalai Lama's visa. In August 1996, Sera Je monastery in India formally expelled Kelsang Gyatso, citing his opposition to the Dalai Lama.
The NKT claimed that the Dalai Lama's remarks had inspired the harassment of Dorje Shugden worshippers among the Tibetan exile community in India. Martin Mills, a lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, observed while in India that those who did not worship Dorje Shugden seemed to feel that they should "endeavor to eradicate its practice amongst their peers, neighbors and co-workers as an act of loyalty to the Dalai Lama." The alleged abuses included searches of the homes and temples of Shugden devotees, and the destruction of images of Dorje Shugden. In 1996, the TGIE began a campaign to "subdue Dorje Shugden propitiation amongst government employees and Gelug monasteries." Speaking to the press in England, the SSC therefore stated that Shugden worshippers had been dismissed from their jobs and expelled from monasteries.
The numerous denials on the part of TGIE officials between 1996 and 1998 of any kind of "ban" on Dorje Shugden practice were "clearly" and "in all probability simply disingenuous," according to Martin Mills. Chandler adds that "despite the government's insistence that the Dalai Lama's decree does not constitute a "ban," it is important to note that those who choose to worship Shugden against the wishes of the Dalai Lama and mainstream Tibetan society become virtual outcasts."
A 1997 Swiss TV stated that there was evidence of violence and even death threats towards Dorje Shugden practitioners. It claimed that wanted posters of Dorje Shugden adherents were being posted in Dharamsala, encouraging violence towards practitioners. Following protests from viewers and especially from the Tibetan exile community in Switzerland, the channel broadcast a second documentary retracting some of its claims (such as the existence of wanted posters) and giving a more balanced representation of the dispute.
In India, some protests and opposition were organised by the Dorje Shugden Religious and Charitable Society with the support of the SSC.[better source needed] In, 1996 the SSC attempted to obtain a statement from Amnesty International (AI) that the TGIE (specifically the 14th Dalai Lama) had violated human rights. However, the AI replied that the SSC's allegations were as yet unsubstantiated. Two years later, the AI stated in an official press release that complaints by Shugden practitioners fell outside its purview of "grave violations of fundamental human rights" (such as torture, the death penalty, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention or imprisonment, or unfair trials), adding that "while recognizing that a spiritual debate can be contentious, [we] cannot become involved in debate on spiritual issues." In itself, the nuanced statement neither asserted nor denied the validity of the claims made against the TGIE, just that they were not actionable according to AI's mandate. While the AI report effectively exonerated the TGIE of human rights abuses, Jane Ardley comments that the Dalai Lama was at fault for using his political authority to infringe upon others' religious freedom, saying that "While the Dalai Lama's stated concern, that worship of the deity threatened the Tibetan struggle, is entirely valid from a political perspective, this was not cause enough to ban it as a religious practice... The Dalai Lama used his political authority to deal with what was and should have remained a purely religious issue."
The opening address of the fifth session of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE), which began on March 4, 2008, was delivered by Karma Chophel. According to the official website of the TGIE, he lauded the bold initiative of Tibetan monastic communities in their resolve to end the Dolgyal (Shugden) worship, following the long life offering to the Dalai Lama held at Drepung monastery in south India in February. "This session will present motions to strengthen the present resolution adopted by the TPiE against the propitiation of Shugden," he added.
Critics of the ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden say that it has caused a large rift in the Tibetan community and is increasing disharmony in the Tibetan diaspora.
In February 2014, more protests against the Dalai Lama took place during his tour of America as reported by NBC Los-Angeles.
On March 17, 2014, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile passed a further resolution, re-affirming their existing stance, and stating that Dorje Shugden practitioners working under the "Chinese government's ploy" to destabilise the Dalai Lama as "criminals". The resolution also promised an investigation into the protests that were aimed against the Dalai Lama in San Francisco.
Views on the conflict
According to the Tibetan government in exile
According to the Dolgyal Research Committee, instituted by the Tibetan government in exile (TGIE), prominent opponents to the practice have included not only the 5th, 13th and current Dalai Lamas but also the 5th and 8th Panchen Lamas, Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, the 14th and 16th Karmapas among others.
According to Shugden supporters
This view is also held by other Gelug Lamas past and present who are or were considered great masters, including: Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche (root Guru of many highly regarded Gelug Lamas of the early 20th century), Trijang Rinpoche (junior tutor of the 14th Dalai Lama). Among those who practised Shugden in the Gelug school were not only the Dalai Lama but also Geshe Rabten, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe (founder of the FPMT), Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (founder of the NKT) and Tomo Geshe Rinpoche.
Views of non-Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhists
Dorje Shugden has traditionally been regarded as a protector especially of the Gelugpa tradition. The other schools of Tibetan Buddhism have therefore usually not worshipped him or even, in the historical context of (political) rivalry, have seen him as a potential threat.
While traditionally, the relationship between Shugden and the Nyingma is one of enmity, there is some evidence of latter day Nyingma practitioners in Nepal having received and propitiated Dorje Shugden via a patriarchal rather than politico-institutional lineage. Mumford writes based on his anthropological studies in Nepal in the late 1970s:
Tibetans in Kathmandu regard Shugs-ldan as a guardian honored by those who adhere to the Gelug sect, while members of the Nyingma sect think of Shug-ldan as an enemy, sent against them by the rival sect. But in the villages these sectarian differences are not well understood. In Gyasumdo the lamas are Nyingmapa, yet most of them honor Shugs-ldan as a lineage guardian picked up in Tibet in the past by their patriline.
Claims of violence/discrimination
Claims of violence/discrimination against non-Shugden practitioners
On February 4, 1997, the principal of the Buddhist School of Dialectics, Geshe Lobsang Gyatso was murdered in Dharmasala, along with two of his students. The murders were linked to the Dorje Shugden faction. Kay notes "The subsequent investigation by the Indian police linked the murders to the Dorje Shugden faction of the exiled Tibetan community."
In a small 1978 pamphlet Lobsang Gyatso alluded to a "knotless heretic teacher," which people took as referring to Trijang Rinpoche and his advocacy of Shugden. According to Lobsang Gyatso's biographer, Gareth Sparham, many Geshes and Lamas were outraged about his criticism:
How could a nobody like Lobsang Gyatso, who was neither from an aristocratic family nor the head of a Tibetan region, indeed not even a full graduate of a religious university, dare to criticize in print an important establishment figure? Georges Dreyfus at the time remarked that in pre-1959 Gen-la would have been killed outright for his temerity. Many in the Tibetan community ostracized Gen-la, even though the Dalai Lama had already by that time begun speaking publicly against the Shugden cult. Even the Dalai Lama appeared to distance himself from Gen-la. "He is headstrong and his lack of sensitivity is making trouble," seemed to be his attitude towards Gen-la at the time.
Georges Dreyfus added that "Despite being hurt by the polemical attack, Tri-jang Rin-po-che made it clear that violence was out of the question. Gradually, tempers cooled down and the incident was forgotten—or so it seemed."
The Seattle Times reported that: "The two men suspected of stabbing their victims are believed to have fled India. Five others, all linked to the Dorje Shugden Society in New Delhi, were questioned for months about a possible conspiracy. No one has been charged."
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso denied the involvement of any of his followers in the murder, and condemned the killings.
Claims of violence/discrimination against Shugden practitioners
David Van Biema reports: "Addressing charges of shunning, threats and even physical abuse against Shugdenites, American Dalai Lama adviser John Ackerly admits that 'there have been cases of harassment,' all condemned by the High Lama."
When Dorje Shugden worshippers challenged the ban on these grounds, the TGIE responded: "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." Brendan O'Neill argues that the extreme idolization of the Dalai Lama by his followers only serves to undermine democracy in a future free Tibet.
According to PK Dey, a human-rights lawyer from Delhi, Dorje Shugden worshippers are suffering harassment from the Dalai Lama's followers and his government, citing door-to-door searches and wanted posters as examples. In 1998, Dey stated that he had gathered 300 statements from Tibetans living throughout India who claimed to have been subject to harassment or attack because of their worship of Dorje Shugden.
Chryssides reported that "it is certainly true that, in July 1997, 200 of the Dalai Lama's followers physically attacked Shugden supporters."
Deccan Herald reported on Monday, September 11, 2000:
Three police officers and more than 30 persons were injured in stone pelting incident in Lama camp of Tibetan settlement, Mundgod on Sunday morning. More than 2000 Lamas including 200 women who are said to be the followers of Dalai Lama took out procession under the leadership of Prema Tsering and tried to destroy Shugden temple and started pelting stones on Shugden devotees. Police personnel resorted to lathi charge and later bursted teargass shells.
On July 17, 2008, a large mob of Dalai Lama supporters, who had been attending one of the Dalai Lama's teachings at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, clashed with Shugden protestors after the event, spitting, screaming, and throwing money at them, indicating that they believed that the Shugden protestors were paid by the Chinese government. The New York riot police led the protestors away to safety.
The New Internationalist claims a list of "top ten enemies of the state", the Western Shugden Society a "Ten Most Hated Enemies of the Dalai Lama and Tibet", and the Delhi-based Dorje Shugden Devotee’s Charitable & Religious Society a "10 most hated enemies of Tibet and H.H. the Dalai Lama" but according to a Switzerland TV documentary this list was made after the killings of Gen Lobsang Gyatso and two of his students and the Home Minister of the TGIE, Tashi Wangdi, states that this list of ten people was a "research report", classified as an "internal document" with the remark "at the top: Only for internal use!". According to Wangdi, the parliament had ask the government to do this research in order to know "who these people are." Wangdi says that a parliament member from Bylakuppe passed on this information, "and maybe in that way they became public …".
According to The New Internationalist in Clementown, India, "the house of a family of Shugden worshippers was stoned and then firebombed." In October 2008, Radio Free Asia reported that some Tibetan monks had been convicted by the Chinese government for fire-bombing the residence of a Dorje Shugden practitioner, the Shugden deity being "regarded with suspicion by those loyal to the Dalai Lama."
The Tibetan exile government began saying in 2009 that the Dorje Shugden issue is not even religious, that it is entirely political. Samdhong Tulku claimed that Shugden practitioners are tools being used by the Chinese government and is quoted as saying "...it is not a question of religion; it falls under the situation of politics only."
Court case concludes
On 5 April 2010, Justice S. Muralidhar dismissed the writ petition filed by the Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society and Kundeling Lama against the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Dalai Lama. According to the Central Tibetan Administration
In response to the allegations of harassment and maltreatment filed by the Dorjee Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society against the Central Tibetan Administration and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the High Court of Delhi dismissed their writ petition and application.
In an order dated April 5, 2010, Justice S. Muralidhar dismissed the writ petition and application on the grounds that the allegations of violence and harassment were ‘vague averments’ and that the raised issues ‘do not partake of any public law character and therefore are not justiciable in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution.’
Citing the ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’ on Dorjee Shugden practitioners, the Court noted the counter affidavit submitted by the respondents, referring to ‘an understanding reached whereby it was left to the monks to decide whether they would want to be associated with the practices of Dorjee Shugden.’
Closing the doors on the possibility of similar complaints in the future, Justice Muralidhar concluded that the ‘matters of religion and the differences among groups concerning propitiation of religion, cannot be adjudicated upon by a High Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction.’
Chinese government involvement
Raimondo Bultrini documents the Chinese coordination of Shugden activity in the book The Dalai Lama and the King Demon.
Ben Hillman states:
According to one senior lama from Sichuan, the Chinese government naturally allies itself with the Shugden supporters, not just to undermine the Dalai Lama, but because most Shugden worshippers come from Eastern Tibet, from areas that were only ever loosely under Lhasa’s jurisdiction and are today integrated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. Monks who had traveled across these areas note that the central government has allocated a disproportionate amount of funds since 1996 to pro-Shugden monasteries to assist them with construction and renovations. Evidence of local government favoritism toward the pro-Shugden faction began to emerge at S Monastery in 2003 when monks applied for permission to undertake studies in India. Despite equal numbers of applications from all khangtsens, of the 12 monks who were issued travel documents, only one was from an anti-Shugden khangtsen. Similarly, in 2004, one of the monastery’s smallest and (previously) poorest khangtsens began to build an elaborate new prayer room and residence for its handful of members. Financial support had been obtained from Beijing through a network of pro-Shugden lamas with access to officials at the highest level.
According to the Tibetologist Thierry Dodin, "China had encouraged division among the Tibetans by promoting followers of the Dorje Shugden sect to key positions of authority.
Also the Central Tibetan Administration in India has stated that "In order to undermine the peace and harmony within the Tibetan people, China provides political and financial support to Shugden worshippers in Tibet, India and Nepal in particular, and in general, across the globe."  And, in an on-line article published by the Times of India, a source in the Religion and Culture Department of the Tibetan Government in exile is quoted as saying that Dorje Shugden followers "have their people in all Tibetan settlements. We are worried about their sources of funding. It might be China or some other anti-Tibetan elements." 
In December 2012, Lama Jampa Ngodrup, a promoter of the practice of Dorje Shugden, apparently became "the first Tibetan lama to be appointed by the Chinese Government to travel on an official trip abroad to give Dharma teachings." 
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- Bultrini, Raimondo. The Dalai Lama and the King Demon. Tibet House 2013. Phabongka said "What I have done is unjustifiable and in the future, as you have asked of me, I shall take your instructions to heart. I ask your forgiveness for what I have done and written."
- Bultrini, Raimondo. The Dalai Lama and the King Demon. Tibet House 2013. HHDL states "The previous Dudjom Rinpoche, one of the great Nyingmapa masters, once told me that Shugden was negative for the Tibetan government."
- Kay, David (2004). Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain: Transplantation, Development and Adaptation. London: RoutledgeCurzon. p. 90. "Ling Rinpoche, who was from Drepung monastery, was not a devotee of Dorje Shugden, and at the time of the dispute he naturally sided with the Dalai Lama."
- Bultrini, Raimondo. The Dalai Lama and the King Demon. Tibet House 2013. HHDL states "That same day, when I told my senior tutor Ling Rinpoche, he confessed he was very happy, since he always had harbored doubts regarding the practice. He told me it certainly was the right decision...Ling Rinpoche raised a doubt with Phabongka that was shared by many others. “If we at Drepung start to worship Shugden, isn’t there a risk of a conflict between the two that could bring us harm? Nechung will not be happy,” he said."
- The Dalai Lama And The Cult Of Dolgyal Shugden retrieved Mar. 5, 2014. "In the late 80s', when certain individual lamas began to proselytize its cult, inducting even Western practitioners new to Buddhism, especially in England, he took the step of asking such persons to refrain from attending his initiations and associated advanced teachings, on the grounds that they were not following his advice and so should not take him as their teacher."
- Thurman, Robert. Foreward. In Bultrini, Raimondo. The Dalai Lama and the King Demon. Tibet House 2013. Thurman states "However, the members of the cult are not content with this situation of having to choose between adopting His Holiness the Dalai Lama as their spiritual mentor or ignoring his judgment and persisting in the Gyalpo Shugden worship. They want to force their supposed mentor to adopt their perspective that the demonic spirit is an enlightened being, almost more important than the Buddha himself, and perhaps also rejoin their worship of it, or at least give them all his initiatory teachings in spite of their defiance of his best advice. So, they feel compelled to attack His Holiness, in order to force him to join their fundamentalist version of a Gelukpa outlook."
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- Bultrini, Raimondo. The Dalai Lama and the King Demon. Tibet House 2013. "He wrote back a few days later, attaching some confidential information on Ganchen Tulku and “Nga lama” Kundeling. In March 1998, shortly after we met, these two men were in Kathmandu, Nepal, with other Shugden followers and a member of the Communist Party of the Autonomous Region of Tibet, Gungthang Ngodup, who had come especially from Lhasa. A few days afterwards, wrote Director Ngodup, an adviser from the Chinese embassy in Nepal, one “Mr. Wang,” visited Ganchen’s house. As far as he could determine, the discussion revolved around the type of collaboration to be established between the Shugden followers and the Chinese authorities, including possible financial support. In December of the same year, as reported by the Indian Express and the Tribune, the under-secretary of the Chinese embassy in Delhi, Zhao Hongang, went to the Ganden Monastery in India, accompanied by a devotee from Bylakuppe, Thupten Kunsang, and a monk who had arrived from Sera Mey. In July 1999, also in Kathmandu, other meetings were held between pro-Shugden activists and Chinese representatives. This time, “Mr. Wang” met with Chimi Tsering and other directors of the Delhi “Shugden Society,” Lobsang Gyaltsen, Konchok Gyaltsen, Gelek Gyatso, and Soepa Tokhmey, the society’s treasurer. After the final meeting, a letter was drafted to be presented to the United Front Department of the Communist Party to ask for help in countering those discriminating against Shugden practitioners in India…. In January 2000, after the meeting in Kathmandu between representatives of the cult and the Chinese emissaries, the Nepal National Dorje Shugden Society was born, with an office and a full-time staff of three, paid—according to the Dharamsala Security Services—with Communist Party funds funneled through the Chinese embassy. Ganchen Tulku was on the Committee of Consultants. ….Despite the formal denials of the cult’s practitioners, the common strategy of the Chinese authorities by now was obvious. In 2001 the Chinese ambassador was guest of honor at “The Millennium Conference on Human Rights” organized by the Shugden Devotees Religious and Charitable Society of Delhi and held March 20–22 at the most prestigious venue in the Indian capital, the India International Centre. If the reports of the pro-Shugden convention financed by the embassy were only “rumor” spread by World Tibetan News, the ambassador’s presence at the Millennium Conference was hard to reconcile with his routine duties as a diplomat."
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