Dolgyal’s celebration on knowing the day of the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama

Button_EngThe first line at the back of page no. 519 of the Phabongkha’s biography states thus:

“In the seventh month of Hor [Tibetan calendar], when Shidhe Tasur was in Lhasa, one early morning when he was doing his practice, he had vision of a monk possessed by Gyalchen Shugden who then proclaimed joyously in a high triumphal tone‘ It is the thirtieth after the completion of the ninth’. It was spoken twice in a very clear voice. Tasur immediately thought of relating the incident to Dorje Chang [Phabongkha Rinpoche] and set out early for Tashi Choeling and related his experience in detail to Je Lama [Phabongkha]. To that, Je Lama replied that it was not easy to interpret the meaning of the prophecy at the time, and told me to record all accounts of Tazur — including all details such as the month and the day — in order to examine them later.”

Shugden’s early pronouncement of the death of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama as stated in the biography of Kyabje Phabongkha

Shugden’s early pronouncement of the death of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama as stated in the biography of Kyabje Phabongkha

The third line of the back page of page no. 524 states thus:

“As on the thirtieth of that month [30th of the 10th Tibetan month], His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama displayed the deed of passing into the state of emptiness [a Tibetan expression to state that a Lama has died], this incidence clearly brings ascertained conviction in Shugden’s prophecy to Shidhe Tazur as His Holiness did pass away on the thirtieth of October, which comes after completion of the ninth month [of the traditional Tibetan calender]; thus, I have been told [by Kyabje Phabongkha] that the early announcement by the Dharma protector Shugden was related with the day of the demise of His Holiness the [13th] Dalai Lama.”

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[Excerpt from His Holiness talk on Dolgyal on 8th May, 1996 in Dharamsala]

His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama scrutinised many worldlygods who used to enter into people, and restricted many of the mediums from going into trance. However, he did not ban the medium of Trode Khangsar and allowed its god [Dolgyal] to enter the medium. So, Dolgyal was not a god whose entering a medium was forbidden. However, he has his own status. In Tibet, each village has its own land-gods and local spirits, and there is a tradition of propitiating them by only according them the due respect that they deserve as local-gods or spirits, and there is nothing wrong with this. If people were to propitiate Dolgyal by according him the respect of a local-god or a birth-god, I have no objection to that. Just as we have our own rights to be given the respect we deserve in our society, these gods also deserve the same. Limiting the practice in this capacity without altering it is a well-balanced treatment. His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama also held the same policy. However, as the practice of Dolgyal was becoming widespread in Drepung and other monastic seats, he then intervened and opposed that. Yet, he did not completely forbid the mediums of Dolgyal from going into trance.

People call me the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. I am not sure how truly I have lived up to this. However, I am someone who lives on with some interaction with the world of the gods on one side and with humans on the other. Although my knowledge about this issue is not completely a direct and tangible perception, through my own experiences and examinations, I can draw inference from them as well as make proper assumptions. So, if I were to let it go even when I see people going in the wrong direction, I feel it would be a mistake on my part. However, if people did not listen to me even after I had given them my advice, it would not be my failure. Speaking from both political and spiritual perspectives, after having given my advice, it is totally up to the individuals whether they want to believe in what I have said or not. In the advice of Cache Phalu [a renowned work consisting of advice], it says thus:

‘I, Cache Phalu, have given you my hearfelt advice;
Whether to listen or not is entirely up to you.’

In the same way, you are neither being forced to give up Dolgyal nor is there any dictatorial command in this respect. Whether to take my words seriously and listen to them or not is entirely your personal decision. As you need to consider and think for yourself, I have spoken on the issue in great detail.

All of us here understand Tibetan well. As such, in our language, if something is pronounced in a high triumphal tone [Kelsang Thonpoengang], how is it understood? If there is some good news to share or if something is to be shared proudly and confidently, we use the expression ‘in a high triumphal tone’ [when speaking or writing about it]. What does this line ‘it is the 30th after the completion of the 9th’ mean? The meaning of this announcement is well interpreted in the biography of Phabongkha Rinpoche on the back of page no. 519. This is not an announcement of any good news. Gyalchen [Shugden] was speaking in advance of the time when His Holiness 13th Dalai Lama would pass away. This early pronouncement was spoken twice by Dolgyal in a high triumphal tone. Since His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama imposed some restrictions on Gyalchen, announcing the death of the 13th Dalai Lama was a matter of celebration for him. As Dolgyal is someone who had rejoiced the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama, how does this reflect on your perception of him?

In one of the dreams of the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drupa, a woman appeared to him, wailing in distress as she told him that her brother had died. Gyalwa Gendun Drupa then examined the meaning of his dream. Few days later, he found out that the day the woman related to him the news of the death of her brother coincided with the demise of Jestun Sherab Senge [one of the chief disciples of Tsongkhapa who was entrusted by him as the custodian of his Tantric teachings]. At the time of Jestun Sherab Senge’s parinirvana [demise], Gendun Drupa was in Tsang. As His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama passed away on the 30th of the tenth month [of the traditional Tibetan month], if this [Gyalchen’s early pronouncement of the news] was only an early pronouncement, it should have been spoken with sadness or by wailing in distress. We should consider the meaning of ‘announcing in a high triumphal tone [Kelsang Thonpoengnang]. The biography was not written by me, but by Kyabje Phabongkha’s own secretary Lobsang Dorji. Perhaps he might have not seen the implication of this phrase or maybe he had written this [even when he knew the implication] by keeping up with the legacy of a true writer, relating the truth whatsoever.

Thinking on how he had emerged as a wrathful spirit after falling out with Gaden Phodrang [although Gaden Phodrang, before the Great 5th Dalai Lama, was the name of the Dalai Lama’s institution, the Tibetan government was named as Gaden Phodrang after the great 5th became its spiritual and political leader] in the beginning; how my predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama had imposed restrictions on him in the middle; and how he, in the month of July, gave the prophecy on the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama; I feel that a god who spoke of the demise of my predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama in such a celebratory tone is really silly. Such a god could only be a wrathful worldly spirit; and definitely a very childish one. His Holiness had imposed some restrictions on Gyalchen. He also imposed some restrictions on some activities of Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche and also questioned some of the latter’s activities. Some of them are mentioned in Phabongkha Rinpoche’s biography. As there had been such issues that were not in favour of his own reputation, Gyalchen preferred the death of His Holiness and rejoiced at it. Without even a small bit of consideration for the contributions made by His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama towards the general political and spiritual wellbeing of Tibet, and particularly towards the tradition of Tsongkhapa, Gyalchen was offended by some limited restrictions imposed, by His Holiness, on his propitiation or worship, and had anticipated the demise of His Holiness. Should we Tibetans respect and love the spirit who rejoiced the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama? Was the previous Dalai Lama an enemy of the Buddha Dharma? Had he brought any harm to the doctrine of the Gelukpa? Had he caused impediments to the general wellbeing of Tibet, either politically or spiritually? Or was he someone to whom we should remain grateful and indebted? We really need to consider these things carefully. It is complicated if you were to analyse the issue of Gyalchen in conjunction with history.

Personally, I remember my encounter with Gyalchen in Domo; he would prostrate to me in a manner a tree would fall, with [seemingly] immense respect. I don’t know the reason for such a gesture. As I compare many past and presents events and contemplate, the issue is very contentious. By looking at our society nowadays, whether or not Gyalchen is a spirit with strained commitments is reflected in the disturbances his being creates in our society. On a sudden thought, it may appear to you that I have brought about disharmony in our society; you might also accuse me of meddling with things by doing many unwanted things. However, this is not the case. Who really started this conflict? When Nechung tried to speak to me on this issue of Gyalchen, I told him not to speak anything on the matter as it was sensitive. Thus, I stopped him from speaking on Gyalchen. Actually, Nechung should have brought about his wrath on me for stopping him speaking on this issue. However, as people started going out of their way excessively, there have been changes.

If you had listened to many of my past warnings by giving them importance, it would not have resulted in these difficult circumstances. I would have no objection if people continued the same kind of tradition in which Gyalchen was propitiated by keeping his position limited to that of a land-god or a local spirit. If people had not overtly promoted Gyalchen’s practice, but kept a low profile without being conspicuous about their practice, and if they had not embraced a blatant posturing of Gyalchen’s practice, I would have no reason to address this issue. However, as people started doing many unwanted things [such as promoting the spirit as an emanation of Manjushree, and seeking refuge in it], it was not right on my part to keep silent. I am aware that my speaking on this issue also brings uneasiness for you. However, I have related only truths here. On your part, you should consult historical references about Gyalchen and listen to different stories that people have to tell about him; thus, carefully anlayse this issue from different perspectives and decide for yourself. My opposition to Gyalchen is not something that was initiated on my whim, but for years I have piled up experiences, conducted thorough examinations, and looked into past histories; looking into all of these and drawing inference from this, I have discovered that Gyalchen’s practice is not good at all. After that, I started talking on this to people. Have you all understood? If I did not speak on this, it would be my mistake. However, if you did not listen to me, it would be your mistake, and I should not be held accountable whatever happens thereafter. I am happy that all of you are taking a keen interest on this issue and I am thankful for this. It is also immensely important that all of you give it proper thought and decide properly. If your decision brings you regret later, it might be too late by then.

I also want to talk a bit about His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. Personally, I do not feel strong faith and respect for him. However, I had dreams of His Holiness on roughly three occasions, and in all of them I was seeking his counsel. I feel great love and affection for him, but the kind of strong respect and faith that I have for my spiritual masters do not arise in me for him. However, I feel we all remain greatly indebt to his kindness. If you look into his activities, he did not give extensive teachings. Through sources who had heard from him, I came to know about his reason for that: His Holiness thought that as there were many political activities he was responsible for, giving extensive teachings would result in many becoming his disciples, but with strained commitments [for failing to comply to his political directives]. Therefore, he said that he was limiting his religious teachings. However, he gave extensive formal teachings and many tutorial classes when he was in Mongolia.

The preservation of scriptural and realisational-teachings of Buddha Dharma should be done by means of study and practice respectively, and practice in this context refers to the three trainings in general, and particularly the training in discipline as the root. As such, every year after the ‘Great Prayer Festival’, His Holiness gave ‘the vows of sramana’ [vows for the novice] and ‘bhikshu’ [full ordination] to huge numbers of aspirants, totalling in thousands. At present, if you look at the names of the senior Geshes of our time, majority of them have their names starting from Thupten. For example, the name of Gen Nyima [one of the most renowned scholars from Drepung Monastery] is Thupten Phulchung. He received his ordination from His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. Thus, by imparting the vow of novice and bhikshu to thousands, he had contributed immensely to the realisational-teaching since its root lies in ethical discipline. As the scriptural teachings need to be preserved by means of education, although he himself did not teach extensively in Tibet, His Holiness brought about restoration to the quality of monastic education; he closely examined the scriptural understanding of the scholars from the three monastic seats through examinations and pioneered a new tradition of allowing only the top scholars to enter into the line of thrones that ultimately leads to the Gaden Tripa’s position: Thus, based on their examination results, they were allowed to ascend the throne of either of the two Tantric Colleges [Gyuto and Gyumed]. Those who already had become the abbot of either of these two colleges but were not competent scholars were restricted from going any further. The first person to become the Gaden Tripa after His Holiness’ close scrutiny through examinations was Geshe Yeshi Wangden from Drepung Loseling. He was publicly more by the name Geshe Ami. In the supplication prayer to the lineage masters, I saw the name Geshi Ami. Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche [the previous one] as well as others told me that His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama pioneered the tradition of allowing only excellent scholars to ascend the successive thrones that would ultimately lead to the throne of Gaden Tripa. So, he told me that after restricting the not so learned abbots from ascending the throne, the first excellent scholar to become the Gaden Tripa was Tripa Yeshi Wangden. Henceforth, only excellent scholars, whatever their realisations might be, could ascend the throne to Gaden Tripa; this was made possible by His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. I feel this is a very valuable thing for us.

I was told that His Holiness was strict with the government officials, and would pose a very serious outlook in front of them. Therefore, the government officials really feared him. However, he was really close to the monks in the great seats who were very proficient in their scriptural understanding. Gen Nyima and many others shared this with me. Such scholarly monks received his affection and attention, and had easy access for asking his advice, seeking clarifications [on technical points in scriptures], and requesting for divinations. I think this is very precious and worth cherishing. He went to Mongolia, India and China in 1920, and in the same year, he initiated many plans of sending Tibetan children to study in England. In his counsel given in the Water Monkey Year, he relates how one should rule a country; what his own basic thoughts were; his perseverance to bring about political changes; and failures to succeed in his initiatives. This counsel also reflects his sadness over failures despite his strategic planning and multiple endeavours. He had worked very hard to protect the Tibetan territories, its people, and Tibet as a nation.

After my escape into exile, I met Pomda Rabga who was then living in Kalimpong. He had many things to share with me about His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. Although it is not something known widely, he shared the following with me: ‘His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama had come out with a plan of assembling people from Kham and providing them with means to safeguard their own territories from infiltrations, instead of sending soldiers from U-Tsang. However, Lungshar, the then Tibetan military chief, told him that in the past, many of government troops sent to Kham from U-Tsang had created much chaos and grievances in those areas. He then told His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama that it would be difficult to predict the possible outcome if people in those areas were given weapons to defend themselves as things could become more complicated’.

His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama had thought very broadly. If the people of Kham, especially in the border areas, were given authority to defend their own territories, and had we relied on them, given them responsibilities and trusted their capabilities, perhaps history would have turned out differently. However, this did not happen. His Holiness also had plans of recruiting some promising intelligent children of officials in Kham so that they could be given good education; this again did not succeed. His Holiness then wrote to the monasteries in Kham to strengthen relations with them. Although I am not sure if these accounts are there in his biography, Rabga shared them with me. These accounts really stuck to me from the time they were relayed to me. My predecessor had really strived hard and thought very extensively for Tibet. Therefore, someone who would rejoice the demise of such a kind leader is definitely not a sacred being.