Is there a violation of human rights or religious freedom?

Who has violated religious freedom?

Response to the dubious accusation of human rights violation against His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

Generally, there are different interpretations of the term religion. Speaking comprehensively, it means any healthy practice that accords with the advice of a particular religious tradition which brings the fruition of promising results after death, and creates mental peace and stability for oneself and the society in this life. This general interpretation can be said for all religions. Thus, giving any kind of advice that is consistent with the practice and philosophy of a particular religion amounts to upholding its tradition and not violating it. For those who claim of belonging to a particular tradition, giving them advice that falls within the tradition cannot be considered a violation of religious freedom, although such advice and philosophy of the tradition may not tally exactly with their prejudicial inclinations. Thus, giving proper guidance to those who deviate from the mainstream of the practice and philosophy of a particular religion is not a violation of their rights, but something that exists within all world religions.

Strictly speaking in terms of those religions that adhere to the principle of Nirvana [the concept of liberation from sufferings], any action that helps them to get closer to and that does not deviate from their practice of the path towards liberation is called a religious practice. Other mundane activities of this life, such as appeasing spirits for this life’s welfare, are not considered religious. Particularly in terms of Buddhism, the genuine religious practice must be understood and described in terms of the two second truths, ‘the truth of cessation’ and ‘the truth of path’. Having become totally disappointed and discontented with the general and the specific sufferings of samsara [vicious cycle of incessant birth], and in order to relieve oneself entirely from all samsaric sufferings, and to actualise within oneself the truth of cessation [a permanent quality of liberation from gross or subtle sufferings], by accepting the Buddha as the supreme guide and the Sangha [any being who has attained the truth of path or cessation is a sangha. It also means a congregation of monastic practitioners numbering not less than four] as the support to rely on, practising renunciation, Bodhichitta, and the view of emptiness and ascending on the five paths to liberation or enlightenment — by correlating every aspect of these practices with ethical discipline, concentration and wisdom — constitutes the real understanding of Dharma or religion in Buddhism.

So, through study, contemplation and meditation on the scriptural teachings of Buddhism, the realisational teachings [of Buddhism] need to be internally actualised within oneself. Thus, by critically analysing and ascertaining the reality of the two truths [the conventional and ultimate], if any practice is consistent with the practice of abandoning the first two truths [the truth of suffering and cause] and embracing the two later truths [truth of cessation and path], and if it is associated with wisdom and method complementing one another, it is called Dharma or a religious practice. Appeasing mundane worldly spirits or aquatic beings [nagas] in order to acquire mere joy or ephemeral success in this life is not religion.

Despite the unimaginable upheavals all Tibetans had to experience due to the brutal Chinese occupation, that we were able to revive the precious Buddha Dharma from the brink of extinction was solely due to the power of the infinite compassion and altruism of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Even more so, the fact that Buddhism has flourished to those parts of the world that had never ever heard of it before is solely attributed to the altruism, charisma, and divine activities of His Holiness; there is no denying this fact that His Holiness’ outreach activities in benefitting millions around the world would equal the activities of Buddha Shakyamuni himself. One of the many activities of His Holiness that are aimed at the revival and revitalisation of Buddhism is his advice concerning the propitiation of Dolgyal. Although Dolgyal proponents accuse His Holiness of violating and depriving them of religious freedom, merely advising and sharing his own experiences does not entail any forceful violation or deprivation of religious freedom since these are simply spiritual advice that guide us and others to practise Buddhism as it should be practised ideally.

If Dolgyal is mentioned in any authentic Tantra of Buddhism as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni himself, or if all the great upholders of Buddhism unanimously approved of Dolgyal’s practice as authentic, it could have been a different matter. On the contrary, remaining controversial from the very onset of his coming into being, Dolgyal’s activities in creating antagonism among different religious traditions of Tibet and leading many into the sinful deprecation of Dharma, his bullying of lowly people, his stories of having killed many high Lamas and officials, are only too despicable. Thus, Holiness’s advice of discouraging people from taking refuge in such a spirit, detrimental to both the Dharma and sentient beings, is only consistent with the general approach of Buddhism, since our Lord Buddha Shakyamuni himself had taught us that once we have taken refuge in the Three Jewels, we should not seek refuge in other mundane worldly gods and nagas.

If we were to accept your argument as authentic, then we also have to accept that beginning from Buddha Shakyamuni, all the past great Indian masters such as Arya Nagarjuna, Arya Deva, Arya Asanga, Archarya Vasubandu etc, and the Lamas of all the traditions of Buddhism in Tibet deprived their direct and indirect disciples of religious freedom since all of them unanimously taught them not to seek refuge in worldly spirits or nagas.

Also, around the time when His Holiness had started advising people against Dolgyal’s practice, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche also advised many that it would be better if social groups such as monasteries did not conduct Shugden’s practice. This is not a bogus claim, but a truth known to most of the senior students of Kyabje Trijang. So, in some way, he also gave advice against the practice of Shugden. During the teachings of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche such as Lamrim teachings, he also advised people against taking refuge in worldly spirits or nagas. Do you also want to assert that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche deprived his students of their religious freedom by advising them against taking refuge in worldly spirits or nagas?

Also, is it allowed for a Buddhist to consider a non-Buddhist deity as an object of refuge and keep a statue of that deity alongside the Buddhist deities on the same altar? If the answer is that it is alright to do so, then can we also disorganise the sequential order of the objects of refuge on the altar by placing the protectors first, then the deities, and then the Lamas since you cannot object to anyone doing so, since raising objections and advising them to do things properly would violate their religious freedom? If your answer is that one needs to place them orderly as prescribed by the Buddha himself since doing otherwise would be against the general practice of Buddhism, the same thing can be said for the practice of Dolgyal which has no authentic source in any of the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. Without any authentic non-controversial evidence or even a single word from Buddha’s own Tantra to prove Dolgyal’s authenticity as an object of refuge, how do you justify your faith in him as an object of refuge?

When Jetsun Milarepa first met Jetsun Marpa Lotsawa, he placed a small scripture [mixed with black magic rituals] that he had brought with him on Marpa Lotsawa’s altar. Instantly, Marpa Lotsawa threw away the scripture, saying that it would bring flu to his altar. Also, when Rechung Dorji Drak [one of the chief disciples of Milarepa] returned from India, he had brought many scriptures from India. When he arrived from India, he presented his scriptures to Milarepa. Milarepa sent him to fetch water from the river. In the meantime, after requesting the Dakinis to take up the scriptures that had authentic sources in the Buddha’s own Tantras, he burnt down the remaining scriptures that were mixed with Non-Buddhist Black Tantras. According to your logic, you have to accept that both Marpa Lotwasa and Milarepa had deprived their chief disciples of religious freedom.

Nowadays, Shugden practitioners seem to circulate documents, write articles creating rumours, and engage in ruthless activities vilifying His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as they try to portray His Holiness as a sanctimonious religious figure, even calling him the fake Dalai Lama. They are doing everything to create an impression that His Holiness is not a reliable teacher for the world, and particularly for the Tibetans who follow him. By doing so, they are directly or indirectly telling us that our refuge in him bears no fruit and that we should not trust His Holiness or seek refuge in him. As His Holiness is worshipped by all the six million Tibetans with the exception of a fewTibetans who follow Dolgyal, isn’t your vilification of His Holiness in such a ruthless, self deprecating and shameless manner not a violation of our religious freedom to worship His Holiness?

Your teacher Kelsang Gyatso [who never got his Geshe degree] had sent numerous defamatory articles against His Holiness to different organisations in the exile Tibetan society, saying that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been betraying the Tibetans, and that the Tibetans should not follow His Holiness. The Tibetans look up to His Holiness as the embodiment of compassion and the manifestation of the Buddha of compassion. When Tibetans are told to disregard His Holiness’ advice and when their supreme refuge is abused publicly in such a despicable manner, does this not violate the religious freedom of those who sincerely worship His Holiness the Dalai Lama? If not, then why is His Holiness’ advice against Dolgyal a deprivation of your religious freedom?

Again, NKT students are forbidden by Kelsang Gyatso and his close associates from displaying pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in their rooms; they are told not to read the books of His Holiness or even speak about His Holiness respectfully. Thus, every aspect of respect for His Holiness is strongly condemned in their centres. By doing so, how do you justify that Kelsang Gyatso is not violating the religious freedom of his students, or not depriving them of the right to practise as they desire?

In Zemey Rinpoche’s yellow book The Nectar from the Mouth of My Heroic Fatherly Master, he cites examples of ten high Lamas and three high ranking officials who had been killed by Dolgyal for practising the Nyingma tradition. Hadn’t Dolgyal deprived them of their religious freedom since according to you, those high Lamas and officials were persecuted by Dolgyal and killed for practising the Nyingma tradition?

Dolgyal practitioners claim that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had instructed His Holiness to propitiate Dolgyal. His Holiness’ failure to comply with this instruction of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as well as his opposition to Dolgyal are now being considered by Dolgyal followers as reasons why His Holiness has breached his commitments to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. There is no truth in this and I will clarify this point further in my other arguments.

However, if it is true that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had instructed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to propitiate Dolgyal, then let me ask you this: It is extremely clear that His Holiness recognises Dolgyal as a perfidious spirit with strained commitments who had fallen out with His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. Thus, Dolgyal is only a silly spirit in the eyes of the Dalai Lama. So, in instructing His Holiness to propitiate what His Holiness believes to be an ordinary evil spirit, how do you not see this as a violation of the religious freedom of His Holiness? According to your logic, you have to accept that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche also violated the religious freedom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

To justify your claim, you have nothing else other than to say that there is no violation here as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had only given him a good advice. This is exactly the case with His Holiness’ advice on Dolgyal. There never was any force at all, nor will there ever be. His Holiness gave them evidence to support his advice on Dolgyal, and the reason for His Holiness for being quite emphatic when advising on Dolgyal is because other than giving reasons and evidence to prove his points, His Holiness cannot use force on anyone. This concept of religious freedom has been implanted in the mindstreams of Tibetan Shugden followers by Shugden’s gullible western followers who thought they could get away with such baseless allegations.

Generally speaking, all religious traditions in this world give their followers advice on how to carry on with their practice. These different religious traditions have many different as well as contradictory philosophies. They also have different approaches to their practices. Not all of these religious traditions converge on the same practice and philosophy. Some of them accept the concept of rebirth, some don’t. The concept of a creator is not accepted by Buddhism and Jainism. The law of Karma and rebirth is not accepted by many religious traditions. However, all of these religious traditions have their own reasons to support their beliefs. If having different viewpoints and advising people within one’s own religious tradition on the need to stick to their authentic practice is a deprivation of religious freedom, then, there is no religion in this world that does not violate this freedom. You have to accept that those adhering to a theistic belief deprive the religious freedom of those who do not belief in a creator and vice versa. According to you, those believing in rebirth and karma [Buddhists, Hindus, Jains etc.] deprive the religious freedom of others who follow the concept of a creator with no rebirth and Nirvana [Muslims, Christians, Jews etc]. From among those who believe in the concept of rebirth and karma, Buddhists do not believe in the concept of ‘Atma’ or an independent self, whereas Hinduism strongly advocates this theory. So, do these two religions deprive one another of religious freedom and violate one another’s tradition?

If your assertion of reason behind this accusation is valid, then you have to accept all the arguments that I have set forth. If this logic behind the deprivation of religious freedom is untenable, then, isn’t His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s difference in opinion with Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche on the issue of Dolgyal and his constant oppositions to Dolgyal not your reason/logic for accusing His Holiness of violating your religious freedom? Other than that, there is no evidence of enforcing his advice on anyone.

Every community and religion has its own set of rules and regulations. Going and living separately when people fail to bond with one another and when they cross the limit of tolerance is something that happens everywhere. Do you see them as violating one another’s religious freedom, or as acts of segregation?

Kelsang Gyatso expels anyone who fails to comply with his own sets of obligations and NKT is totally fine with that. However, when Tibetans who were not practising Dolgyal and Dolgyal’s proponents within the Tibetan community had such irreconcilable differences, and because of that as they decided to follow their own beliefs and practices, NKT as well as other Shugden followers feel that there was a mistreatment. Now, how do you justify NKT’s treatments of NKT Survivors [a group of former NKT members who were expelled from its centres] as valid and invalidate our position to cut ties with the Shugden fanatics? In your midst, you do not tolerate anyone who looks up to His Holiness the Dalai Lama or follows him. However, you accuse us of segregation and violation of religious freedom when we decided to live our own world free of people who have betrayed His Holiness, Tibet and the Tibetan. Isn’t that more dictatorial when you make all efforts to push us into living with them and accuse us when we do not heed to your desire? What logical religious or worldly justification do you have to turn against us even when you have absolute freedom to propitiate and propagate Dolgyal as you like.

You have accused us of segregation, saying we have outlawed the Shugden practitioners. Since you have deviated from the mainstream practice of Buddhism by seeking refuge in a worldly mundane spirit, your own actions automatically disqualify you from being Buddhists. This act of yours is similar to putting a noose around your own neck by your own hands and then throwing temper tantrums and accusing others when they tell you to remove it for your own benefit.

No one has been forced by His Holiness or the Central Tibetan Administration to give up the practice of Dolgyal. Those who had given up Dolgyal did that on their own accord. It is true that the general Tibetan public has severed all ties with those who stubbornly cling to Dolgyal. Just as people decide to go separately when they cannot live together peacefully in one house, proponents of Dolgyal and those who are free of Dolgyal’s practice could not live together harmoniously. As such, those who chose Dolgyal over His Holiness were given their own share and they have founded their own separate monasteries. This is totally in line with democracy and consistent with their human rights. Now that they have every freedom of propitiating Dolgyal as they desire, even if they were to spend their whole day beating empty drums until even their hands ache, nobody will complain. What more religious freedom do they need? As a matter of fact, this act amounts to giving them what they desire, rather than depriving them of their freedom to hang on to Dolgyal.

Generally, everyone has every right to choose any religion and practise it. However, once someone is committed to a religious practice, he should remain true to its authentic practice; deviating from the mainstream of any religion amounts to perversion which no religious tradition would allow. In the same way, while claiming to be Buddhists, they promote the worship of a worldly spirit in the name of religious practice, calling the spirit a unique protector of the Geluk tradition, or sometimes even calling it a Tantric deity although they have no authentic source in any valid Tantric or Sutric scripture. Even though historical records clearly reveal that many authentic masters considered Dolgyal a perfidious and a sanctimonious spirit, they crazily try to portray Dolgyal’s practice as integral to Buddhism and promote it rigorously: By doing so, they only contaminate and exploit Buddhism from the very root. Would it be sensible for genuine Buddhists to overlook and tolerate it?

They also engage in ruthless campaigns of bringing defamation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the apostle of Buddhism and the most respected Buddhist on this earth. Thus, many of the Tibetan Dolgyal practitioners have become tools easily accessible for the Chinese Communist officials, who believe in no religion, to carry out their secret plots and vicious campaigns against His Holiness by luring these vunerable Dolgyal fanatics with easy money. At a critical juncture in the history of Tibet, instead of being on our side, by siding with the Chinese and turning against the Tibetan people, they now accuse His Holiness of violating religious freedom; instill fear in those who dare to object to them openly; when their vicious designs do not work, they create any rumour that they could possibly think of. Do any of their activities and attitudes give any impression that they are genuine Tibetans or Buddhists?

Desperate because they could not find many among Tibetans to continue their legacy of Dolgyal, they have recruited small children from poor Nepalese families by luring their families with money. By setting them on the path of worshipping an evil spirit, haven’t they deprived these naïve children of their rights to practise the authentic version of Buddhism, or is Buddhism all about worshipping spirits? While claiming to be new Kadampas and Gelukpas, they put all efforts in promoting a propitiation of a controversial spirit, which only confirms that they do not understand Buddhism at all. All such efforts are only in line with Dolgyal’s distorted prayers to corrupt and exploit the Dharma at length. I wonder why these people are so lured to an extremely narrowed practice even when they could have access to such a comprehensive form of Buddhism that goes much beyond such a fruitless practice? As if the four deities of the Kadampas, and the two protectors of Gelukpa, Dharma Raja and Mahakala, are incompetent, why are they so attracted to Dolgyal?

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had received the lineages of Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche in their entirety. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the karmically connected Buddha of the Tibetans in human form, is the most accomplished and the principle disciple of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Trijang Rinpoche passed upon His Holiness all the lineages that he had received from his own masters in their entirety. Just as Arya Deva, the chief disciple of Arya Nagarjuna, was trusted like a second Nagarjuna because he was the chief disciple of Nagarjuna, in the same manner, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the custodian of all the lineages of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, the latter’s disciples who follow His Holiness revere Him as much as they had revered Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, and continue to receive innumerable teachings from His Holiness. However, some unfortunate ones with strained commitments lacked the wisdom to choose His Holiness the Dalai Lama over a mundane spirit; by siding with the Chinese and becoming their puppets, they have not only deviated from the mainstream of Buddhism, but have turned against the very people and the nation who had raised them up. Don’t they know that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had spent his entire life serving Tibet, both in independent Tibet before the brutal occupation of Tibet in 1959 and then in exile after we lost our country? His Holiness’ opposition to Dolgyal began while Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was very much alive, but Trijang Rinpoche did not show any sign of discontentment. However, contemporary Shugden fanatics pretend as if they are doing some service to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche by opposing His Holiness, giving others a false impression that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s main practice was Shugden’s propitiation, where as in truth Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche never considered the propitiation of protectors a pivotal practice of his life. Practising Lamrim, integrating Bodhichitta, renunciation, and the view of emptiness in all his activities while secretly practising Tantrayana in their entirety, and particularly emphasising on the Chakrasamvara Tantra, are the main practices of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Thus, if anyone submits to these misguided Shugden practitioners and seeks refuge in a mundane spirit declared by many past masters as a perilous ghost, it only shows that his/her wisdom to discern is clouded.

Having said thus, to these Dolgyal fanatics, I would like to say the following: While deeply gloomed in your concocted version of ideal practices, you could even go to the extent of calling His Holiness a fake Dalai Lama, disseminating bogus documents and publishing books with the same content. Thus, according to your assertion, you also have to accept that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche served as a tutor to His Holiness while fully knowing that His Holiness was not the real Dalai Lama. And yet, the truth is that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche fully accepted His Holiness the present Dalai Lama as the authentic reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. His autobiography has been translated into English. You should read it and get a sense of how highly Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had held His Holiness. On page no. 216, at the back of Tibetan page no. 86, he states thus:

“On one of his [Kyabje Phabongkha’s] casual talks, I recall him saying thus: ‘If obstacles do not make things difficult, then the present Dalai Lama will definitely equal Gyalwa Kelsang Gyatso [the 7th Dalai Lama who was purely Geluk and one of the most successful Dalai Lamas]. As such, if opportunity arises for any of you to be at his service, you should take up the challenge with absolute altruism and sincerity’. Later, I first served as one of the debate assistants to His Holiness and then got the name of His Holiness’ tutor: Perhaps this might have been a prophecy based on his [Phabongkha’s] clairvoyance.”

Logically speaking, if His Holiness is not the real Dalai Lama, then you are denigrating the lifelong legacy of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche who, according to your assertion, served a fake Dalai Lama as his tutor by believing him to be the true reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. Can you also not realise that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s prominence peaked up due to his association with His Holiness the Dalai Lama? If he were not one of the tutors of His Holiness, where would his prestige would be today? Would it be the same? Also, isn’t it hypocritical that you revere the reincarnation of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, who was recognised by His Holiness, so highly while calling the one who gave him the recognition a fake Dalai Lama?

On the back of the Tibetan page no. 85, Trijang Rinpoche’s autobiography states:

‘In autumn, Kyabje Phabongkha Dorji Chang gave an instruction on ‘The Fifty Verses of Guru Yoga’ and ‘Guhyasamaja Akshobya Vajra Empowerment’ at Sera Tantric Monastery. He also gave the empowerment of ‘The Great WheelVajrapani’ at Hardong Khangtsen [college]. I attended all of them and received the nectars of those teachings that I deeply cherish. His Holiness the great 14th Dalai Lama, the human emanation of Avalokiteshvara who has appeared to liberate sentient beings, the ‘Supreme Guardian of the Land of Snow’, arrived at Lhasa from Domed at the end of the eighth Tibetan month. When His Holiness was officially received at Gangtoed Doegu Thang, I also went there with the Lamas and reincarnate Tulkus of Sera, Drepung and Gaden. By seeing [for the first time] the very being of His Holiness who is endowed with all signs and qualities, I had tasted the nectar that brings liberation upon sight.’

The reason why you call His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama a fake Dalai Lama is because of his opposition to Shugden. In that case, His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, according to your logic, was also not the real Dalai Lama because he also opposed Shugden [read Phabongkha’s biography written by his secretary Lobsang Dorji] and restricted Phabongkha’s activities concerning Dolgyal’s propagation. If this were the case, you are only abusing the one who gave the bhikshu [a fully ordained monk] ordination to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche by calling him a fake Dalai Lama. Furthermore, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was recognised as the reincarnation of his predecessor by His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama and Nechung. Although there was another candidate chosen by others from Sera Mey, His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama’s recognition brought much difference in validating Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche of Shartse Monastery as the true reincarnation of his predecessor. Read Trijang Rinpoche’s autobiography and you will know that I am not lying. Also, how do you validate Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as the authentic reincarnation of his predecessor Trijangchup Choephel if His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, the highest authority who recognised Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as the authentic reincarnation of Trijangchup Choephel, was a fake Dalai Lama? Beside, you also have no regards for Nechung, although Nechung, and not Dolgyal, was the one who recognised Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as the reincarnation of his predecessor.

To call His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama a fake Dalai Lama, or NKT’s abusing of him and accusing him of being a dictator amounts to abusing one of the Lamas of Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Both of these two masters had received teachings from His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. Whereas these two masters revered His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama as the true embodiment of Avalokiteshvara, how do you justify your strings of abuses against His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama as honoring these two masters? What benefit is there as you use this precious human life to accumulate the most hideous of sins by abusing such great masters as His Holiness the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lama in the name of defending a senseless cause, or as undeserved loyalty to some Tibetans who have no wisdom to discern what real Buddhism is? When these people had deserted their own Lama and their own nation, do you feel they can lead you towards liberation and not desert you when you go penniless?

When His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, who was one of the Lamas of both Kyabje Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche, was about to leave his body, knowing this in advance, Dolgyal celebrated by announcing the date of His Holiness’ demise in a triumphal, high pitched tone [mentioned in Kyabje Phabongkha’s biography written by his secretary Lobsang Dorji]. Considering the contribution of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama for the Buddha Dharma and the people of Tibet, is it sensible for Dolgyal to celebrate the demise of His Holiness when the whole of Tibet was mourning in anguish? If you are genuine followers of Kyabje Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche, how could you not consider Dolgyal a real enemy of the Buddha Dharma when he celebrated the passing away of the highest Lama in Tibet who was also a Lama for both Khabje Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche? Or do Dharma protectors celebrate when a very high Lama dies? For this reason, Dolgyal is certainly not a spirit who has genuine faith in Dharma and compassion for sentient beings.

If you look into the Nya Volume [པོད་ཉ་པ] of Phabongkha’s work, you will come to see different kinds of letters Kyabje Phabongkha wrote to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other masters. He refers to His Holiness as his root master on the Tibetan page no. 3. At the back of the Tibetan page no. 5, he writes thus:

‘The welfare of the Buddha Dharma in its entirety in this whole world under the sun and the prosperity of sentient beings depend only on whether you live long or not. To validate this point, we have numerous scriptural sources and valid reasonings that can tangibly ascertain this fact; not only this, even a foolish child would easily see this common truth. However high the hideous activities of beings that you tame may surge up, may your armour of altruism become even stronger, and thus, may you bestow upon us an indefatigable promise to live for countless of eons infinitely, such that those words [of promise] become the supremely-adorned wheel to serve as the source of great bliss for all of us: May you hold us with infinite compassion.’

How do you reconcile these two contradictory thoughts in you, one that highly revere Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche, and the other that abuses His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama?

Although it is true that Dolgyal’s birth as a wrathful spirit was triggered by his falling out with His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama, however, speaking of this very reason to establish that Dolgyal intentionally arose as a protector is untenable. There is no story of any protector whose arising as a protector was associated with a fall out with his/her root spiritual master. In the biography of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama, Dolgyal’s hex is quoted as the main reason why Desi Sonam Rabten, the principle minister of the 5th Dalai Lama, came to the end of his life. In his biography, His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama refers to Desi Sonam Rabten as someone who had been extremely kind to the Geluk tradition. Thus, thinking about Dolgyal’s persecution of Desi Sonam Rabten, it makes it untenable for us to accept him as a Geluk protector. The same biography also speaks of Dolgyal conjuring his hex on the 5th Dalai Lama, his own root guru. Such evidences only confirm that Dolgyal is a perfidious spirit, and not a Dharma protector. If Dolgyal were a Dharma protector, why did His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama perform wrathful exorcism on him in the begining? Why did Trichen Ngawang Chokden expel him from Gaden in the middle, and how could Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk, the 8th Panchen Lama, and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama consider him a vicious spirit?

Although Dolgyal fanatics insist on his being a protector of the Geluk tradition, His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama’s auto-biography only relates the story of Dolgyal’s birth as a vicious spirit. Being a contemporary of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen, who was also one of his students, it is highly improbable for His Holiness 5th Dalai Lama to make a false entry in his auto-biography. For 46 years since the wrathful exorcisms [in 1675] on Dolgyal by His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama and other eminent masters, Dolgyal was unheard of until he went to Dakchen Sonam Rinchen in 1721. The reason why Dolgyal was unheard of for long was either because he became totally insignificant and powerless after the wrathful exorcisms for that long, or he must have died and taken a new life in another samsaric realm, and but was born again as a perfidious spirit by the force of his past distorted prayers.

That Dolgyal appeared again even after the wrathful exorcisms was not because of his power and realisation, but because, although he was temporarily liberated from his pathetic birth as a spirit and stopped from his vicious activities of causing harm on others, he was not a suitable recipient of the compassionate blessing of those remarkable Lamas who performed exorcisms on him. This was because he did not have the unstained relation and karmic connection with them to be subdued and led by them into the faultless path of enlightenment.

Maitreya says thus:

‘Even if the king of gods caused rainfall,

Seeds that are decayed would not bring any fruition.

Likewise, even as Buddhas continue to appear,

Bereft of good fortune, we do not experience anything good.’

However, the wrathful exorcisms did not go futile because they made Dolgyal powerless for 46 years. Although the biography of the 5th Dalai Lama mentions that the smell of burnt bodies filled the air, this neither proves the death of Dolgyal nor disproves it. If Dolgyal did not die then, most likely he must have fled to a distant place and remained there for long. If he had died then, he must have taken another birth in the middle before returning back with a new of birth as a perfidious spirit. As for people smelling dead bodies at the time of the exorcisms, it could have been of Dolgyal himself or his retinue of vicious spirits who had died at that time.

When Dolgyal re-appeared afterwards, fire rituals performed at the site of the Upper Chamber and the eight memorial stupas [built in memory of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen] after they were destroyed prevented him from going back to Drepung. As he did not have anyone who would take care of him at Sera and Gaden, he went to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery since it occurred to him that as it was the monastery of his root master Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, he might find some who would welcome him there: However, the eight aspects of Vaishravana stopped him from entering Tashi Lhunpo Monastery; thus, he fled to Sakya. When Dakchen Sonam Rinchen asked who he was when they first met, he repied: ‘I am the perfidious spirit of Geden [Geluk]’. Since then, Dolgyal came to be associated with the Sakyas, but was never propitiated at large.

In the past, except few individuals who might have propitiated Dolgyal, Dolgyal was never propiated by the Gelukpas. On the contrary, Dolgyal’s propitiation was restricted by many eminent Geluk Lamas in the past. He remained unattended by the Gelukpas until Dakpo Kelsang Khedrup, from whom Kyabje Phabongkha received his practice of Dolgyal, Sokpo Lobsang Tamdin/Tayang [1862-1937] and Kyabje Phabongkha [1878-1942] came into being. For more than 250 years, from the time of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s death in 1656 until the beginning of the 20th century, Dolgyal remained totally rejected by the Gelukpas. For all those years, instead of being accepted by the Geluk and protecting this tradition, it appears that Dolgyal took a long sleep only to wake up after 250 years, and claimed of being a Geluk protector. Now, in your defense, are you going to say that Nechung told Dulzin Dakpa Gyaltsen not to worry about the Geluk tradition and go to sleep as Nechung himself was fully capable of protecting Tsongkhapa’s tradition? [Dolgyal’s story as believed by his followers goes by this assertion that Nechung had motivated Panchen Sonam Dakpa to arise as a Geluk protector as Nechung himself was busy with protecting the Nyingma tradition.] If you truly have any sensible answer for this, it is time to speak with valid reasoning and scriptural sources, instead of bluffing about Dolgyal’s bogus story and wrongly accusing and abusing His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Here, I would like to say this:

Those deeply bewildered people with strained commitments,

Although they have every freedom to propitiate their demonic spirit,

They continue to dessiminate rumours of having been deprived of this right.

Isn’t it pathetic that they have forsaken a genuine Lama, only to embrace a perfidious spirit?

If Dolgyal were a protector of the Geluk tradition, other traditions will not consider him a demonic spirit. He will also not harm those who propitiate him for their failure to offer him libation or a ritual cake. He will also never lead his gullible followers to the erroneous sins, of forsaking and denigrating their master, which is the worst of all sins according to Tantra. Also, if Dolgyal were a protector of the Geluk tradition, how is it that presently, many of his followers are either failed monks, or people who have not only snubbed the advice of His Holiness but gone completely against him, or those who have submitted themselves fully to the ‘Communist Regime of China’ which is responsible for the destruction of the Buddha Dharma in Tibet? Without any inkling of what his gullible worshippers are up to, and with no sense of compassion for their actions that will definitely land them in the most horrendous hell, Dolgyal seems to be satisfied with the limited respect he gets from his worshippers. Also, Dolgyal does not seem to mind the degradation of the Buddha Dharma, with his followers reducing it to the practice of worshipping spirits. Although Buddhism is ideally a systematic practice to lead us up to enlightenment ultimately and that Buddha Shakyamuni, its founder, is revered above all in this religion, Dolgyal fanatics hail Tsem Tulku as a hero and display a picture of him on their official website, sitting on a throne in his own centre in which the altar has a Dolgyal statue towering above a smaller statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. Such despicable acts only prove that they are not Buddhist, but are only interested in corrupting Buddhism with their limited and dismembered knowledge. Looking at things from many angles, Dolgyal’s perfidious nature will definitely come to light to anyone with a rational mindset.

Dolgyal fanatics insist that His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama had composed a prayer to Dolgyal, and claim that the wrathful exorcisms were performed on Dolgyal only to ascertain the latter’s greatness. They further claim that His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama even crafted a statue of Dolgyal by his own hands. However, looking at historical evidence to prove them, it is clear that they have no source for such stories, either in the biography of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama, or in the biography of any reliable historical, religious figure of the time. On the contrary, His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama’s biography relates how Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen died of an illness and how he was born as an evil spirit. It also speaks of how wrathful exorcisms were performed on him after all attempts to subdue him peacefully did not work. If Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen intentionally arose as a protector of the Geluk tradition, then as this story is of great importance, why isn’t there anything about it in the biography of His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama?

Accounts of Dolgyal’s story came into being about 250 years later, and not before. Ideally, if it were true, it would have been written at the time of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s death. Dakpo Kelsang Khedrup, Kirthi Lobsang Thinley and Sokpo Tayang were the ones who started calling Dolgyal ‘the protector of the Geluk tradition’. This definitely happened due to Dolgyal’s deception and also because the activities of those Lamas came under the influence of obstacles. In short, Dolgyal’s story only appears to have been concocted. Thinking in terms of history, it is very clear that Dolgyal can never be considered a protector of the Geluk tradition.

In Zemey Rinpoche’s yellow book, Reting Rinpoche and Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk are cited among others who they claim of having been killed by Dolgyal. Reting Rinpoche, during his regency after the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama, was the one who gave permission to Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche to travel to Kham and other regions to give teachings. Kyabje Phabongkha’s biography, written by his secretary Lobsang Dorji, speaks of how His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama restricted the teaching activities of Phabongkha Rinpoche due to the latter’s propagation of Dolgyal. In the letters written to Reting Rinpoche, Kyabje Phabongkha wrote ‘sincerely, your’s student’ which indicates that Kyabje Phabongkha received teachings from Reting Rinpoche and held him very highly [read volume no. 8 of Phabongkha’s work]. Kyabje Phabongkha’s biography narrates the names of Lamas from whom he had received teachings, together with the accounts of different teachings. Both Reting Rinpoche and Tadrak Rinpoche are there among the names of eminent Lamas from whom Kyabje Phabongkha had received teachings. It appears that these two Lamas and Phabongkha were teacher cum student to one another. Thus, Reting Rinpoche was also one of the Lamas of Phabongkha Rinpoche. Is this the way Dolgyal protects the Dharma by killing the very Lama whose kindness made Kyabje Phabongkha’s teaching tours to many regions in Tibet possible? Should Kyabje Phabongkha’s students rejoice when Dolgyal killed Reting Rinpoche, one of the Lamas of Kyabje Phabongkha? This is a widely accepted belief among the Shugdenpas and is also mentioned in Zemey Rinpoche’s yellow book in which Reting Rinpoche is mentioned among ten great Lamas persecuted by Dolgyal for practising Nyingma teachings. Besides, what is really wrong with a Gelukpa practising Nyingma teachings? If indeed something is wrong with this, it should be expressed with valid modes of reasoning, and not by threatening to kill those who embrace other traditions, particularly the Nyingma.

Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk [the 8th Panchen Lama] was the reincarnation of Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen [the 4th Panchen Lama], the principle teacher of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen. The reason why Dolgyal is believed to have taken his life was because he embraced the Nyingma teachings. Although some may justify this by saying that these were done in order to depict the greatness of Dolgyal’s powers, there are other ways to show his power than killing some of the most renowned Buddhist masters. Although there are examples of Ralo Tsawa destroying other practitioners by using his Tantric power, those were done in order to display the greatness of the teaching of Yamantaka, not because other masters practising other traditions were wrong in their practices. Although all the teachings of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism are authentic, it is always possible within all of these four schools to find some Lamas or monks whose individual practice of path and view are not totally consistent with the mainstream of Buddhism. However, this does not mean that the traditions they practise are wrong. Even within the Geluk tradition, they are so many whose views of emptiness are not consistent with Tsongkhapa’s version. However, the only proper way to rectify their mistaken views is by imparting the right view, definitely not with threats and persecutions. Beside, how would you justify Dolgyal killing [according to Zemey’s yellow book] Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk, the reincarnation of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen’s root master, Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen? In your good sense, how would you credit Dolgyal for rejoicing the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama who was the reincarnation of the Great 5th Dalai Lama, another root master of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen? In our view, there can be no stronger reason than these two to charaterise Dolgyal as an evil spirit of strained commitments, although they are innumerable reasons that all point to his viciousness.

If exploitation of Dharma was the main reason for killing those Geluk Lamas who practised Nyingma — although embracing Nyingma teachings could never be justified as corrupting the purity of the Geluk tradition — and if indeed this were true, then those Geluk purists whose views of emptiness were inconsistent with Tsongkhapa’s authentic version should have also been persecuted because their holding of wrong views corrupted the purity of Tsongkhapa’s tradition. Or is it that all Geluk purists understand emptiness perfectly? Because of creating such impressions and fear in people’s mind, many people from other traditions snubbed Tsongkhapa’s tradition. They are many among other schools who considered Kyabje Phabongkha a devil in the guise of a monk who had appeared to eradicate the Nyingma tradition. Some wanted to receive Geluk teachings, but were skeptical of receiving the lineage of Kyabje Phabongkha. Nyingmapas and Kagyupas unanimously consider Dolgyal a perilous spirit. How would it appear in their eyes when the very evil spirit they despise so much is hailed as an emanation of Manjushree by some Geluk practitioners? Does this uplift the respect and image of Tsongkhapa’s tradition in the eyes of other schools? By bringing down the prestige of Kyabje Phabongkha and the Geluk tradition, do you think that Dolgyal has contributed to the survival and proliferation of the Geluk tradition?

Although all of you Western Shugden fanatics are amateurs who are in no position to comment on such technical matters, your main motivation behind calling His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama a fake Dalai Lama is because of his strong opposition to Dolgyal. In that case, you also have to accept that the Great 5th Dalai Lama was also a fake Dalai Lama. However, don’t you know that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen received teachings from His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama? Both his and the Great 5th Dalai Lama’s autobiography state that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen received innumerable teachings from His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. Both Kyabje Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche had received The Great Sealed Secrets as well as the Words from the Mouth of the Gentle Manjushree [Lamrim Jamphel Shelung] of His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Both of them had taught Lamrim Jamphel Shelung to their disciples and had revered His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama as they would revere a Buddha. Now, how do you see yourselves as their followers when you have absolutely no respect for their direct [the 13th Dalai Lama] and indirect Lamas [the 5th Dalai Lama and Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk]? Your teacher Kelsang Gyatso had received the whole teaching on Tsongkhapa’s great treatise of Lamrim from His Holiness the Dalai Lama when His Holiness taught Lamrim for two months at Dharamsala in 1969. Gen Lamrimpa Jamphel Tenzin, a hermit who wrote two books defending His Holiness’ position on Dolgyal, writes in one of his books that he remembered sitting next to Kelsang Gyatso at the teaching which was concluded by a White Tara initiation. Perhaps it is the tradition of Kelsang Gyatso that you are now keeping up to by trying to portray as if you have nothing to feel grateful to the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. Your deceptive compaigns on your ability to impart Buddhism, free of the Tibetan tradition, is truly keeping in line with Kelsang Gyatso’s legacy. Sometimes, I genuinely feel sorry for the ‘Western Dolgyal Fanatics’ because when you first got interested in Buddhism, you had better dreams. But now, you are on the side of those who have betrayed their own country, people and Lamas, and yet, you still cling so tightly on to them. Would this truly do you any good?

Now, you might ask those of us who comply with His Holiness’ the Dalai Lama’s advice, ‘how do we view Kyabje Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche?’ Although we do not blindly accept each and every of their words, we do hold these two masters in high esteem and have no disrespect for them at all. Both of them are our lineage masters and we will try to revere them like Buddhas. However, we just do not accept one tiny portion of their activities — that considers Dolgyal as a genuine Dharma protector — which we believe happened due to lack of merit from our part; however, there is no contradiction in upholding their other activities and teachings with deep respect and in following them. If you look at how Atisha held his teacher Dharmamati Survarnadvipa in the highest esteem despite having different philosophical views [Atisha held the Prasangika while Dharmamati Survarnadvipa held the Chittamatra view] and how Tsongkhapa maintained his devotion and faith in his teachers who had held ‘the Views of Bod Ngarabpa’ that he himself challenged emphatically, there is no real contradiction. In his commentary The Golden Rosary of Excellent Instructions [Legshed Serki Trengwa] to Hari Bhadra’s text Illuminating the Meaning, when Tsongkhapa thoroughly scrutinises some defaulted views of several Indian Buddhist masters by citing scriptural sources and using valid reasonings, he refers to their inconsistent views as ‘Words of scholars who did not comprehend at length’. Basically, it is the tradition of Buddhism, particularly the Nalanda tradition that we Tibetans follow, to examine teachings or instructions thoroughly by using logics and scriptural sources to validate their authenticity. However, when His Holiness followed this tradition while examining the truth about Dolgyal, Shugden’s ardent followers could not digest this. For them, they find no difficulty in literally accepting all the words of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Phabongkha, but find it difficult to go in line with His Holiness’ advice based on his more than forty years of experience. For them, let alone accepting His Holiness’ advice, even trying to examine his words on Dolgyal is unacceptable: However, they don’t see any difficulty in blindly believing in the words of the two Kyabje Rinpoches. Whereas it is commonly understood that even Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings — that contain definitive as well as interpretable points — should not be accepted blindly, but through thorough investigation, their minds have become so rigid when it comes to the words on Dolgyal by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Phabongkha which they accept blindly. This is basically because they do not truly believe in facts and logic, but are simply tempted by obsession to believe in what they have been blindly led into.

All the Buddhist traditions in Tibet are categorically classified into the old and the new translation teachings. Thus, due to this division, there are differences in the usage of technical philosophical terms as well as the emphasis on particular deities or instructions. However, fundamentally, all of them were taught by the Buddha himself and have the same root in the Nalanda tradition. Just as we have different individuals who emphasise different deities or practices, the same is the case with these different traditions. However, all of them are based on the same basic approach of Buddhism: None of them deviates from the teachings of the four noble truths, the two truths, renunciation, Bodhichitta and the view of emptiness. Sadly, gloomed by their own bewilderments, Shugden fanatics claim to be true Geluk practitioners and hail a spirit to the level of a Buddha, a Tantric deity and Gelukpa’s unique protector, although they knew well that the same spirit is considered by other schools as a devil; how good is this for the legacy of Tsongkhapa’s tradition? A sensible practitioner will think twice before clinging to a false view adamantly and diving down the steep with full force with both eyes closed. Isn’t it pitiable how ignorance, attachment and pride betray them, and yet they do not see this? I once heard a story of an old lady who won a lottery of several thousand dollars, but because she was unreasonably and foolishly so frustrated for not getting the small amount of change that they failed to return to her, she tore the lottery and got no money at all. In a similar manner, these Shugden practitioners have given up a much bigger opportunity by the lure of promises given by some treacherous Tibetans and a perilous spirit who has derailed his own path to enlightenment.

Written by a Tibetan Buddhist bhikshu with sincere wishes to help others on the wrong path.

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