Geluk tradition and its unique qualities

Button_Eng[On 3rd March, 1986, His Holiness gave the Guru Yoga teaching of Panchen Lobsang Choegyal’s lineage. The following is an excerpt on Dolgyal from that teaching.]

Je Tsongkhapa

Je Tsongkhapa

In the aspirational prayer The Doctrine of the Victorious One with an Excellent Mind, [Lobsang Gyaltenma] by Gunthang Jamphel Yang, it says thus:

“Mahakala, Vaishravana, and Dharma Raja —
By the power of the principal protectors of the three scopes of beings —
And through the power of all other oceanic protectors who are bound by oath,
May the doctrine of ‘the Victorious One with an excellent mind [Tsongkhapa]’ prosper”.

As stated above, the three protectors of the three scopes of beings are Mahakala, Vaishravana, and Dharma Raja. Mahakala, the wrathful emanation of Avalokiteshvara, is the protector of beings of higher level. Vaishravana is the protector of beings of medium level. This is because Vaishravana has a special reason to protect beings who practise pure discipline, although it is true that basically all trans-worldly protectors are pleased by those who practise pure discipline. In the practice of beings of medium scope, the emphasis is on the three trainings, particularly on the discipline. For the beginners, the emphasis is on karma, which requires embracing virtues and abandoning non-virtues. Dharma Raja, often refered to as the one who distinguishes between the sinful and the virtuous, is considered the protector of beings on the beginning of the stage of the path to enlightenment. In the Geluk tradition, the practice of propitiating protectors conforms with the three stages of path. From these three, Mahakala and Dharma Raja are Tsongkhapa’s unique protectors, and from these two, Dharma Raja is his ‘most unique protector’. This being the case, in the Gyumed Tantric College, they always recite the ‘Kyangkumma’ eulogy for Dharma Raja, where as in Gyuto Tantric College, they always recite the ‘Nyurzema’ eulogy for Mahakala. These two monasteries are among the most important monasteries preserving the doctrine of the Geluk tradition, and their contributions for the preservation of Tsongkhapa’s tradition are really commendable. In these two monasteries, they prioritise the study of Guhyasamaja Tantra, and the fact that the study of the Guhyasamaja is still alive is due to the presence of these monasteries. Generally, even among those who gave teachings extensively, there were few who taught Tantra extensively. As such, the lineage of Guhyasamaja is reliably traceable to the lineages that come from these two Tantric colleges. We all should be very grateful to these two monasteries. Mahakala and Dharma Raja are considered the two most important protectors of the Geluk tradition. From among these two, just as it is said that the founder, the unique deity, and the unique protector of Geluk are all emanations of Manjushree, Dharma Raja is, therefore, particularly unique to the Geluk system. Of the ‘inner, outer and secret aspects’ of Dharma Raja, the ‘inner aspect’ of Dharma Raja is even more special, and Tsongkhapa eulogy for Dharma Raja called ‘Kyangkumma’ is in fact a eulogy of the ‘inner aspect of Dharma Raja’.

Therefore, other than these three main protectors, the Geluk tradition on the whole does not need any other protector. Sometimes, I wittily express to others that the Geluk tradition would need a new protector only if there was a request with offerings for prayers with the news of the demise of Dharma Raja. I have reason to express such a concern. For instance, although Lama Lobsang Buddha Vajra Dhara [a term referred to Tsongkhapa in Guru Yoga practice] is not biased towards some and hostile to others, however, on the part of the practitioner, if one were to pray, ‘You are the lama, the deity, the protector’, it makes a difference in terms of the blessing of swift assistance/action that one is bestowed with. In the same way, although on the part of the protector who has transcended the ten grounds there is no biased attitude towards some and hostility against others, and yet, if one were to pray, ‘You are the one who could bestow upon me all kinds of swift assistance’ — the peaceful one, the extensive one, the empowering one, and the wrathful one — it will definitely make a difference. If we were to treat those protectors bound by oath by Tsongkhapa and his direct disciples, such as Jestun Sherab Senge, with the usual ordinariness, and on the contrary, pay attention to a new god, it would not be appropriate. Basically, you must investigate the reliability and the real nature of such new gods rather than impulsively worshipping them. Some individual Lamas have their own unique protectors. It is their individual business and there is no need for us to interfere in their personal business as they might have their own secret reasons for such things. However, speaking for the Geluk tradition in general, although we talk much about the protectors of the three scopes of beings [beginner, intermediate and advanced practitioner] that accord with the general sequence of the paths we practise, if we mistake the east for the west when embarking on these paths, it is not right. In this respect, I have many things to say, and have had many experiences as well. I am talking on this issue out of years of experience gained from many investigations. In short, we should remember the importance of The Three Protectors of the Three Levels of Path. And then, we should remember the importance of the four armed Mahakala and Gonpo Gur, and then Chamsing, one of their obedient retinue.

Generally, as it is covered in the topic signs of irreversibility in the fourth chapter of Maitreya’s Abhisamaya Alankara, it is really difficult for us to understand people’s mentality; even more difficult than this is to understand the mentality of gods. It is extremely difficult to hail some of these protectors as trans-worldly and others as worldly. As for Kali Devi, she is not a special protector of the Geluk tradition. Tsongkhapa and his two close disciples did not have any special connection with Kali Devi. The omniscient Gedun Drupa [the 1st Dalai Lama] had a special connection with Kali Devi; thus Tashi Lhunpo, the monastery that he founded, also came to be associated closely with Kali Devi. His reincarnation, the omniscient Gedun Gyatso, was also closely connected with Kali Devi. As he became the throne holder of Drepung and Sera, Drepung then adopted Kali Devi as their protector. Later, many branch monasteries of Sera and Drepung, or other smaller monasteries all around the three regions of Tibet, which consider either of them as their principle monastery, also adopted Kali Devi as their main monastic protector. Thus, many Geluk monasteries began to consider Kali Devi as their monastic protector. Many other smaller monasteries connected with Drepung also came to consider Nechung Dorji Drakden as one of their protectors. Thus, due to their association with Drepung, Tashi Kyil, and Kumbum, their sub-monasteries adopted these two protectors. Anyhow, there is not much point in discussing about them as it is beyond the topic.

In the ‘guru yoga merit field’ for visualisation, you can only place trans-worldly protectors such as Kali Devi and others that you propitiate. There is no special need to place all of them. There would be a great risk of forsaking your own refuge mind if you placed worldly protectors in the merit field. Many of the commentaries often quote from the advice of the 7th Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Kelsang Gyatso, and Phurchok Jampa Ngawang to emphasise that we must never place worldly protectors in the merit field. For instance, the Five King Protectors are protectors unique to me and Gaden Phodrang [the government of Tibet]. However, as they have embraced the outward appearance of worldly wrathful-ones, placing them in the merit field would be a violation of commitments pertaining to the refuge mind. Have you all understood this point? It is said that the Five King Protectors are in truth manifestations of the five forms of Buddhas, and I am sure it must be the case. However, to the appearance of common beings, they are seen as having taken ordinary, wrathful forms. As such, we have to treat them in the same manner when propitiating them; inspired by pre-suppositions about their actual nature, you should not submit your body and mind to them. In the same way, other different kinds of gods should also be treated likewise; as for asking them favour or assistance, you can offer them libation but never offer them your body and mind. There would be great risk if one were to faithfully act on a whim.

[On 8th and 9th of January, 2006, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke on Dolgyal during the 30th Kalachakra teaching at Amravati in south India. The following is an excerpt from that.]

I have many reasons to advice you against the practice of Dolgyal. One reason is that I am someone who is trying to follow the path taken by the Great 5th Dalai Lama; irrespective of whether you approve of it or not, it is one of my reasons. Another reason is that I have pursued this with concern for the doctrine of Lama Tsongkhapa. The sublime saviour Lama Tsongkhapa had written eighteen volumes of impeccable teachings. All of the inconceivably great instructions of the Sutras and Tantras contained in his teachings are something that a Geluk practitioner can show off to others outwardly, and cherish them as truly precious jewels inwardly. Leaving aside these eighteen volumes, if you consider a wrathful controversial protector as very important, you are actually disgracing your own tradition; it is a matter to be ashamed of. If you have genuine concern for Tsongkhapa’s Geluk tradition, it is important for you not to mistake the object of cherishment that forms the basis of your concern. If you consider the ability to recite the rite of ‘Guru Yoga’ and propitiating Dolgyal as core essential wealth of the Geluk tradition, it is not only a grave mistake, but a silly one. However, it would be remarkable and great if you were to cherish and preserve the eighteen volumes of Tsongkhapa properly.

[From 24th till 27th of Dec. 2007, His Holiness taught on Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen’s ‘Guru Yoga’ to devotees from Mongolia. During the teaching, His Holiness also spoke on Dolgyal. The following is an excerpt from that.]

Among the protectors, Mahakala, Vaishravana and Dharma Raja are the most important; these three are trans-worldly beings. The four directional king protectors are placed on the four directional clouds on top, adorning the ‘bountiful tree’; they are not placed on the petals of the lotus: henceforth, worldly protectors are never placed in the merit field. There goes a story of a man who placed his land-god in the merit field of ‘Guru Yoga’ and presented the thangka to Panchen Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, who then commented that it would have looked better if a precious gem was placed instead of the land-god. Recently, when I gave a teaching in Italy, I was told that Gangchen Lama and some other Shugden advocates had freely distributed to the audience pictures of the ‘guru yoga merit-field’ in which Dolgyal was depicted as the chief of all protectors. It appears that nowadays they have conceived a new version of the ‘Guru Yoga merit field’. The next day, Tromthog Rinpoche had to clarify about the picture to the audience. If no clarification was made, people might have considered the picture they had received as a genuine merit field. Kelsang Gyatso in England is said to have announced that they had elevated Dolgyal to the status of a tantric deity. If Dolgyal was a tantric deity, they would also need an authentic system of tantra on Dolgyal. There would also need a systematic practice of accomplishing Shugden that originates from a Shugden tantra. Shugden’s practice would also need to be associated with the practice of integrating the three experiences into the practice of the three Buddha bodies since a genuine tantric deity would need all of these.

[On 9th Dec, 1997, His Holiness gave a talk on Dolgyal to the public at Sera Monastery in south India. The following is an excerpt from that.]

As we speak of the Three Jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the Sangha in this context should be the trans-worldly ones; no worldly-wrathful beings are included in it. Let alone others, even the Five King Protectors who are unanimously accepted by all the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and who are free of any controversies are not included in the Sangha. All of the four schools accept them as genuine protectors bound to oath by Guru Padmasambhava. However, as they are worldly-wrathful-beings, it is not only inappropriate, but forbidden for Buddhists to consider them as our object of refuge. As such, it is wrong to consider a wrathful being —recognised by many reliable Geluk masters as a spirit with strained commitments, or as a pathetic king-spirit, or as a demon — to be an object of refuge. So, as we speak of the two ‘red and black protectors’ of the Tibetan government, Kali Devi (who is one of them) is sometimes referred to as ‘the one who has transcended the worldly but appears as worldly’. However, just as it is said in her eulogy that ‘she is one who has transcended all the ten grounds and totally pacified anger’, we consider her to be trans-worldly. The red protector Nechung Dorji Drakden is one who has taken an appearance of a worldly wrathful-form, and does not belong to the Sangha. Whatever the obscured truth might be, it is important for us to be consistent with the advice pertaining to the refuge mind and ensure that our object of refuge is not a wrong one. Have you understood properly?

Some of you might think that the propitiation of Dolgyal brings success and money. It is wrong to consider someone precious simply for bringing in some money. This is a sign that you do not really understand the essence of Buddhism. Some might think that my opposition to Dolgyal is inconsistent with their religious right and that I have deprived them of their religious freedom. On the contrary, opposing Dolgyal is one way of protecting religious freedom. As it is stated in Jamyang Khentse Choeki Lodoe’s letter to Jigme Dhamchoe Gyatso, unfortunate incidents [of destroying images of Padmasambhava, burning Nyingma scriptures, converting Nyingma monasteries into Geluk, etc] took place not only in the Kham region, but also in Tsang, Lhokha and many other regions in Tibet. Even after coming into exile in India, we have had such unfortunate incidents. Many people who had witnessed such unfortunate events are still alive now. Shugden practitioners claim that a Geluk practitioner who dares to embrace other traditions such as Nyingma and Kagyu will be reprimanded by Shugden, and that such an ecumenical approach to practice would cause the displeasure of Lama Tsongkhapa. Although Lama Tsongkhapa would not be unhappy about it at all, such misleading talks are circulated. They also assert that Gelukpas do not need to rely on others. If the reason behind that is because Tsongkhapa’s eighteen volumes cover all aspects of Sutra and Tantra in their entirety and that there is nothing that his teachings lack, it is a valid reason. However, threatening them with dire consequences if they embraced other teachings of Kagyu and Nyingma in the thought of preserving the purity of Tsongkhapa’s teaching is very silly, and something that would be held up to ridicule. For me, dealing with Dolgyal’s issue is my contribution to the revitalisation of the Buddha Dharma in general, and specifically towards the preservation and refinement of Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition. Some seem to accuse me, pointing out that my stand on this issue is detrimental to Tsongkhapa’s doctrine. However, I genuinely feel I am revivifying Tsongkhapa’s tradition, upgrading it to its original luster. It would be good if Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition, which is impeccable from both inside and outside, remains as such for long time. Nobody can ever find even a tiny segment of fault in Tsongkhapa’s impeccable works of eighteen volumes. Nobody has ever really found any fault in them since the last 600 years, and nobody will ever find any in the future. However, people snub the Geluk tradition for its involvement with a perfidious god. What good is there for Tsongkhapa’s tradition by associating it with this controversial spirit? You must think properly and not resort to foolish persistence, ignorantly betraying yourself and becoming an object of others’ pity.

[On 10th Sept. 1998, His Holiness gave a speech to the attendees of a meeting that involved Tibetans from all the three provinces of Tibet. The following talk about Dolgyal is an excerpt from that speech.]

Just as past Kadampa masters would speak of being pure from inside and out, the Geluk tradition, as established by Lama Tsongkhapa and his spiritual heirs, is also something that is really pure from inside and out. This tradition does not consider propitiation of gods and aquatic gods as important. Machen Pomra, Tsongkhapa’s own land-god, was given a place outside Gaden Monastery and was not kept inside. Being the god of his birth place, although it occurs to us that Tsongkhapa should have given Machen Pomra special privileges, he had not done that. As someone from Amdo, although Tsongkhapa should have given special attention to Machen Pomra, however, being a bikshu following Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, he never considered worldly gods as important. Not only that, he was also not interested in appeasing the Chinese emperor at the time; when he was invited by the Chinese emperor, he sent Jamchen Choeje on his behalf. These are signs of Tsongkhapa’s genuine attitude as an outstanding follower of Buddha Shakyamuni. Tsongkhapa was never swayed by any of the eight worldly thoughts. Machen Pomra, being the land-god of Tsongkhapa’s birth place, had followed him [from Amdo in Eastern Tibet to U-Tsang in Central Tibet], but Tsongkhapa only gave him a cairn [a dwelling for a worldly god] outside Gaden Monastery; he did not consider Machen Pomra as a sacred object of veneration. This should be the genuine approach of Geluk practitioners.

Generally, gods or deities are of two types, worldly and trans-worldly. Mahakala and Dharma Raja were Tsongkhapa’s main protectors in his lifetime. Together with them, he entrusted Vaishravana with the responsibility of protecting his tradition. These three are trans-worldly protectors. Apart from them, Tsongkhapa never took any interest in worldly gods. The Five King Protectors are worldly deities, and whatever their true nature might be, as emanations of the five kinds of Buddhas or not, they have the external appearance of wrathful worldlygods: Thus we should only treat them as worldly wrathful-gods. We propitiate the two Red and Black as these two are protectors of Gaden Phodrang [name for the erstwhile Tibetan government]. However, we do not propitiate Nechung by considering him as a sacred object of refuge. All the Dalai Lamas, especially me, have a unique connection with Nechung. However, as Nechung is a wrathful worldly-being, I accord him only the respect a wrathful being is due and propitiate him with the same attitude. As far as Nechung Dorji Drakden [Nechung’s full name] is concerned, being one of the Five King Protectors, he is considered a genuine protector by all the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. However, all of the Five King Protectors are attributed the respect they deserve as wrathful worldly-beings, although they are not considered objects of refuge. Dolgyal is not only a wrathful worldly-being, but a controversial one, considered a spirit with strained commitments by the Great 5th Dalai Lama; a perfidious king-spirit by Trichen Ngawang Chokden Yongzin Yeshi Gyalstsen, Thuwuken Chokyi Nyima and Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk. Many Sakya Lamas also considered him as a spirit that needs to be fed with ritual cakes: Thus, he was not considered an object in which to take refuge. However, Dolgyal practitioners in England hail him as a Tantric deity and consider worshipping him as essential part of the Geluk tradition. I have explained to them that this is not the case. There are also many others with similar kind of misconceptions.

Although many of them take to the street demanding religious freedom, this is not an issue about religious freedom. If the Dolgyal proponents declare that there are not part of the Geluk tradition and pioneer a new religion in this 21st century, it is their right to do so and I have no objection at all. However, my argument is that so long as they maintain their identities as Buddhists and Gelukpas, they have to practise what is consistent with the Geluk tradition, and not being true to this is unacceptable. If they were to accept that they do not belong to the Geluk tradition, or declare themselves as another unique Geluk with an aberrant practice, or even consider themselves superior than Geluk, I have nothing to protest against. What is repugnant to me is their deviance from the mainstream Geluk tradition and practice while still claiming to be strictly following the guidelines shown by Tsongkhapa and his two spiritual heirs. This is not a matter of religious freedom; it concerns the right to propitiate a spirit within Tsongkhapa’s own tradition. In this context, the spirit is a controversial one, recognised as a perfidious being with strained commitments, or as a demonic being, or as a pitiable king-spirit. Considering such a spirit as sacred is an inconsistency against which I have been raising my objection.

Contemporary Dolgyal practitioners threaten Geluk practitioners of dire consequences if they practised any Nyingma or Kagyu teachings as doing so would invite Dolgyal’s rancor. If someone who is totally contended with Tsongkhapa’s teachings on philosophical views, deeds and meditation after having thoroughly studied Tsongkhapa’s impeccable works, and because of that if he does not find it necessary to embrace the teachings of Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya, this is a different matter. However, if Geluk practitioners were to back off from receiving teachings of others schools for fear of being reprimanded by Dolgyal, it is definitely a deprivation of their religious rights. If anything obstructs a Geluk practitioner from becoming a non-sectarian ecumenical practitioner, it is an unfortunate barrier. There are hundreds of protectors, worldly and trans-worldly, in all of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. However, it is important for us to think and understand how these protectors are propitiated. Although we seem to consider the ritual of Fulfillment and Revival in connection with the protectors as important, there is no coverage of this ritual in the Tantric treatises of Vajra Bairava, Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara that belong to the Tantric teachings of the new translation tradition. In the Kalachakra Tantra, there is an extensive coverage of the different kinds of channels and subtle wind energies, but nothing about the ritual of Fulfillment and Revival in connection with protectors. The essence of Tantric practice is the yogic practice associated with Tantric deities; performing rituals of Fulfillment and Revival in connection with Dharma protectors is not an essential practice. However, there is a widespread practice of performing the ritual of Fulfillment and Revival — offering libation and reciting verses for swift action — in connection with the protectors. I asked Sakya Dhaktri Rinpoche and many others from other traditions if there is any protector of the Sakya or other traditions who would be angered if any of their followers embraced the Geluk tradition, or if there is any protector of the ‘Old Translation Tradition’ [Nyingma] who would reprimand anyone from its own tradition for embracing any teaching from the ‘New Translation Tantric Tradition’ such as the Tantra of Relieving from all the Lower Births? There was not a single instance of any such account. However, Dolgyal is the only one who is said to reprimand the Geluk practitioners with punishments if they embraced any teaching beyond their own tradition. Since Dolgyal becomes an obstacle for mutual appreciation and faith in others’ teachings, within the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, I am against Dolgyal.

[On 27th Dec. 1986, His Holiness gave an empowerment of Guhyasamaja to around two thousand devotees at Drepung Monastery in south India. At that time, His Holiness also touched upon the issue of Dolgyal. The following is an excerpt from that talk.]

Generally, I am glad that there is much emphasis on the study of classical treatises here, with students studying them rigorously for so long. Although there had been some difficulties concerning Dolgyal, I am happy that you all have done well by taking interest and initiative on the issue. In regards, I would like to thank you today.

In my opinion, I feel that the real quality of Tsongkhapa or his tradition must be understood and presented in terms of his eighteen volumes. We really need to understand Tsongkhapa’s positions on critical and technical contentious aspects of Sutra and Tantra to uphold and hoist the unique profundity of his teachings. Without any knowledge of the precious teachings of Tsongkhapa, if you were to prove the uniqueness and profundity of the Geluk tradition on the basis of upholding the supremacy of a controversial spirit, it is pathetic. If you have special love and inclination towards the Geluk tradition of Tsongkhapa, it is important for you to properly recognise the basis for this love and know how to pursue this love effectively— it would be good if your pursuit is based on wisdom.

[On 7th March, 1991, His Holiness gave an empowerment of Avalokiteshvara at Thekchen Choeling Tsuklagkhang in Dharamsala. The following is an excerpt of his talk on Dolgyal at that time.]

If you were to examine this [Dolgyal’s] practice properly, you will realise that it is not a good one and is detrimental to the general well-being of Tibet as a nation. Basically, of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Shugden’s issue relates only to the Sakya and Geluk tradition. This practice seemed to have been carried on for sometime in the past by some from the Sakya tradition. However, as far as the Geluk tradition is concerned, although its association with Shugden was limited to only a few individuals in the past, it seemed to have picked up later. For instance, in the biography of Changkya Rolpai Dorji, Thuwuken Choeki Nyima, a student of the former and his biographer, recollects Changkya Rolpai Dorji explaining to him about how Changkya’s own teacher Trichen Ngawang Chokden who — during his term as the Gaden Tripa or the hierarchal head of Geluk — destroyed the spirit house that was constructed within the premise of Gaden Monastery, thus restricting the practice of Dolgyal that some monks in the monastery seemed to have taken up. From then onward, Dolgyal was completely banned in Gaden Monastery. Trichen Ngawang Chokden, a pure Geluk Lama with no history of any association with the Nyingma practice, was the tutor of the 7th Dalai Lama. This incident of his putting restriction on the practice of Dolgyal is not a false story.

I would like to remind you here again, as I often do, that the Geluk tradition is often referred to as the tradition of the new Kadampa. New Kadampa means a tradition that follows the legacy of the past Kadampa masters. The Kadampa’s emphasis on the seven aspects [four deities and three teachings] of its practice is really remarkable. They did not practice deities of different kinds, but they have Buddha Shakyamuni as the founder of Buddhism; Avalokiteshvara as the deity of compassion; Arya Tara as the deity of swift assistance; and Acala as the deity that pacifies obstacles. Past Kadampa masters used to say that in future, it may happen that not being satisfied with Atisha’s teachings of the three scopes of Lamrim and the four kinds of deities, people might elaborate it by adding more deities and protectors, thus leading to the degradation of the Kadampa tradition— this prophecy appears to have come true.

When Tsongkhapa introduced the new tradition of Kadampa, by establishing Atisha’s mind training teachings for the three scopes of beings — the quintessential teachings of all the three types of Buddha’s own Sutras — as the foundation, and with emphasis on Guhyasamaja, the king of Tantra, Chakrasamvara and Vajra Bairava as the three most important deities to be practised, other Tantric teachings from all the four levels of Tantrayana, all of them devoid of any fallacy, were added. Thus, the complete form of Tantrayana with rituals of mandalas and others were introduced. The emphasis on Tantra according to his tradition is on the combined practice of the three deities, Vajra Bairava, Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara. As Jestun Sherab Sengye [one of Tsongkhapa’s principle students] and others continued Tsongkhapa’s tradition of Tantrayana with the establishment of Tantric colleges, they had only Mahakala and Dharma Raja as protectors. Even Kali Devi was not there as their protector. Such a practice with those two protectors was wonderful. So, if you look back into how the Geluk tradition came into being, this is how it originally started. With the passage of time, people started adding more and more to the tradition, initially founded by Tsongkhapa, as if it were insufficient, although there was no inaccuracy or insufficiency with it. It is difficult to say and is something that needs to be looked into more closely to see if such additions added momentum to Tsongkhapa’s Geluk system or were simply degrading and disgracing his new version of the Kadampa tradition. So, if you want to be a pure Geluk practitioner, your deities are Vajra Bairava, Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara, and your protectors are Mahakala, Dharma Raja and Vaishravana. These three protectors are Tsongkhapa’s protectors for the three scopes of beings. This is wonderful. None of the Five King Protectors or Nechung has any integral involvement with the Geluk tradition. Even Kali Devi wasn’t involved. So, if we were to be very strict on the actual tradition of Geluk, this is how it should be. Have you understood? As there are many new faces in the audience, I thought it would be helpful to remind you about Dolgyal’s issue here.

[On 8th May, 1996, His Holiness gave an extensive talk to a huge audience consisting of Tibetans from all sections of the Tibetan society. This is an excerpt from that talk.]

The tradition of the former Kadampa masters is really pure from inside and out, virtuous throughout from the beginning to the end, impeccable and invincible. Seeing the risk of degenerations in the future, they had predicted that there would come a time when Atisha’s teachings on the paths of the three scopes of beings would appear as insufficient, and by adding some new Tantric practices with them, Atisha’s tradition will become adulterated and this is exactly happening now.

As far as Tsongkhapa is concerned, based on Atisha’s version of Lamrim teachings or the old Kadampa tradition, he added the practice of the Highest Yoga Tantra such as Vajra Bhairava, Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara and Kalachakra, pioneering a tradition that unites the quintessential teachings of both Sutra and Tantra. Tsongkhapa’s teachings never included any unusual deities. His teachings are impeccable, withstanding any adversaries, and are totally devoid of any fallacy. He introduced a new Kadampa system which is beyond any inadequacy. In his great treatise on the graduated paths to enlightenment, citing an instruction of Geshe Potowa, Tsongkhapa reiterates that just as Buddha Shakyamuni always attributed all our inconveniences and sufferings to the law of Karma, we should look at our sufferings from this perspective. Although Lord Buddha interpreted everything on the basis of the law of karma, and not on superficial reasons such as mistakenly building a house [facing the wrong direction] or on a date with a bad omen, many of our own usual patterns seem to be causing the Buddha Dharma to decline. Our practice is not only inconsistent with the general system of Buddhism, but also contributes to the degeneration of the Buddha Dharma. It is not only against the tradition of the old Kadampa masters, but also deviates from Tsongkhapa’s tradition, thereby contributing to its degeneration. Tsongkhapa’s own Land-god Machen Pomra, who had followed him all the way from Amdo to U-Tsang, was given a cairn just outside the premises of Gaden Monastery. Tsongkhapa did not allow him a place inside his own chamber as if he was something very special.

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