Is This True Religious Freedom?
Since 1996, there has been an illegal ban placed on the practice of Dorje Shugden. Ever since then, there have been many who suffered because of this religious embargo. This ban has caused families, and friends to split and not be able to have any form of communication and it has caused a lot of distress to both Tibetans and non-Tibetans for no reason other than their practice Dorje Shugden.
It is definitely retrogressive and backward to have such things to be happening in this age and time. We are already in the 21st century yet, the actions of this religious ban is more reminiscent of the dark ages.
In the following passages we see some of the points that reveal how unethical the ban on Dorje Shugden is.
When the ban was made known to the public, Gelug monastic communities were forced to split, and monks were coerced to give up their practices. Monasteries like Gaden and Sera monastery were forcibly divided and monks who were not willing to give up their Dorje Shugden practices unfairly expelled. H.H. the Dalai Lama shockingly was the one who personally instigated the purge, and He inflamed the monasteries even more by stating that monasteries must definitely throw out Shugden monks otherwise He will not be pleased.
Or view the video on the server at:
Surely the actions and directions of H.H. the Dalai Lama itself is clear proof of a religious ban. If there was no ban being imposed, why would there be a need to throw the monks out of the monasteries which were their only homes? Why marginalise them? Whether a monk gives up on the practice of Dorje Shugden or not, should be a personal and voluntary decision and not one made under duress. Yet the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) forces the monks to swear out of the practice. It only shows how bigoted CTA is, how they try to harm Dorje Shugden practitioners, and push them to the limits. Many monks had no choice but to disrobe.
Or view the video on the server at:
Or view the video on the server at:
How is it justifiable for people to say that there is no ban when in 2008 the monks from Gaden and Sera monasteries were forced out and had to no choice but to form new monasteries, Shar Ganden and Serpom Monastery, under the protection of Indian law just so that they can continue with their Protector practice. Some people might argue that with Shugden monks being able to form their own monasteries and be independent, it can only mean that there is no ban because if there were to be a ban, these monks will not be able to form their own monasteries. However, when we think on a deeper level, we will see that there is actually no reason for these Dorje Shudgen monks to break away from their mother monasteries to form a new monastery to do their practices. It is from the fact that these monks do not have that form of freedom that forces them to go on a separate way to keep their practice. In addition, the formation of Shar Ganden and Serpom was not due to the good graces of the CTA but because of the rights provided under Indian law. Had it been up to them, the CTA would criminalise the Protector practice as they eventually did in 2014.
To add salt to the wound, these monks that are Dorje Shugden practitioners are denied the Geshe Lharampa degree (the equivalent of a PhD. in Buddhist Philosophy) regardless of how qualified they might be. This is because existing Gelug universities refused to issue Geshe degrees to Shugden monks as a means discouraging the protector practice.
Shugden monks were denied even basic needs such as education. It was only through the hard work, compassion, effort and diligence of dedicated high lamas and monks of the Dorje Shugden tradition, that the new Gelug Buddhist University in Mysore was established in the year 2015, enabling Shugden monks to complete their monastic education. This new Buddhist University today is the alternative higher learning monastic institution that issues certificates to qualified Geshe from Shar Ganden and Serpom who were previously prohibited from undertaking the Geshe Lharampa training due solely to their Shugden practice. In this way, the pure tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa is being kept alive.
With H.H. the Dalai Lama being a practitioner of Buddhism and a key figure that many people look up to, you would think that there would not be any form of discrimination from Him. Yet, in all teachings given by H.H. the Dalai Lama, you will see that on the application or registration forms for the event, they place information saying that Dorje Shugden practitioners are not allowed to join the programs. It just leaves one to wonder why there is such blatant discrimination. Essentially, what the Dalai Lama and organisers are saying is that you may be a criminal, a person of ill morals or you may even be a satan worshipper and you’re welcome to attend the Dalai Lama events, but you cannot be a Dorje Shugden practitioners.
If it is true that the practice of Dorje Shugden is really so bad, why does the Dalai Lama in his compassion not allow Shugden worshippers in so that they are able to learn and turn away from the supposed ‘evil’ practices of Dorje Shugden? It clearly shows not only that there is discrimination against Dorje Shugden practitioners, but also that ban and marginalization is totally opposite to what H.H. the Dalai Lama is supposed to be upholding. If there was no ban and if there is no effort to marginalize a community of Buddhist simply because of their protector practice, then surely everyone will be allowed to join the teaching by H.H. Dalai Lama and organisers will not have the clause in their application form.
Instead of being protected by the CTA , the CTA criminalizes their own people just because of their religious practices. On 20th May 2014, the CTA published a list titled, “List of Dolgyal followers who protested against His Holiness the Dalai Lama in US and Europe” on their official website. In the list, are names and details of 20 Tibetans who legally demonstrated against H.H. Dalai Lama in Europe and USA, which is merely exercising their rights. The full names and pictures of these people were published and made available to the public and at the same time the CTA constantly propagandized that Shugden practitioners were traitors of the Tibetan cause knowing that by posting these details the Tibetan community will do something against those on the list. Some of the protesters, even details like their house address were published.
How can the CTA be regarded as fair and democratic and reliable government when the Tibetan people they govern live in fear merely by practicing their faith which is supposed to be protected by the CTA? It is in no way correct to have any citizen treated like a criminal just because their choice of religion.
Due to all these posters and ‘Wanted List’, the Tibetans who practiced Dorje Shugden still live in fear as they were maligned by their own government to be traitors of the people. This is another method the CTA deploys to push innocent Tibetans to give up their Dorje Shugden practice if they do not want their family to be harmed. It is utterly wrong for any government to be pushing their citizens about their choice of religion. It is like saying that because of the colour of the skin of a citizen they can be punished and ostracized. How can control and be punished for the conditions there were born into or something they are supposed to have the right to? Only the most oppressive and dictatorial regimes act against citizens because of their religion.
There have been many instances where Dorje Shugden practitioners were attacked both physically and on the social media for their practices. If there is really religious freedom, will attacks on monks and lay people be happening? There is not doubt that this discriminations and attacks are happening. The question is why isn’t the CTA supposedly a democratic government or H.H. Dalai Lama, supposedly an icon of peace and tolerance. Saying anything to stop these ongoing abuses? The simple reason is the CTA hopes that these peer pressure that is being exerted on Shugden people regardless of whether they are peaceful or violent will make Shugden practitioners abandon their faith. And so the CTA are blind to these abuses.
If there is truly no ban, why do we hear news of people breaking into a Lama’s house to attack monks in the residence? On the 27th December 2013 at 4.00am an assistant to His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche (one of the lineage lamas to Dorje Shudgen practices) Gen Chonze, was making water offerings in Trijang Ladrang in Shar Gaden Monastery. Gen Chonze was then 84 years old and had been serving Trijang Rinpoche’s previous incarnation and the current incarnation for over 60 years. Gen Chonze is a simple monk and has resided in Trijang Ladrang most of his life. While making the offerings he heard a loud bang on the gate. Thinking that its practitioners coming to make prayers he then opened the door only to see five masked and gloved men armed with knives barging in to attack him. Gen Chonze had no enemies and the only reason he was attacked was because of his Shugden practice and yet the CTA insists that there are no ban and persecutions of Shugden people.
These violence and abuses against Shugden lamas and laypeople are not limited to physical violence. Almost daily Dorje Shudgen practitioners receive hate messages and threats and abuses. Why is there such hatred when the Shugden practice does not harm anyone? If the CTA claims that the Tibetan people have religious freedom, then situations like this should not be happenning. There wouldn’t be hatred fuelled by the CTA against others because of their religious practice. Hatred towards Dorje Shugden practitioners is not only only by Tibetans, but also by Westerners whose love of the Dalai Lama is being used to fuel hatred against Shugden worshippers by cunning propaganda.
Monasteries and temples are places for worship. Thus there is absolutely no excuse or sense for anyone to be going there to attack monks just because they do Dorje Shugden practices. How is it right for the CTA to be paying people to create violence against Dorje Shudgen practitioners when they instead sponsor all monasteries regardless of the Protector of the monastery if indeed the CTA us truly about preserving the lineage of what Buddha had taught. Why is it that only monasteries that do not practice Dorje Shugden get funding for their works? Does not Dorje Shudgen monasteries teach the Buddhadharma as well? The only reason for them to not give Dorje Shudgen monasteries funding is because the CTA hopes that without any form of funding, these monasteries will have no choice but to close down and not continue with their practices of Dorje Shudgen.
In the video below, it clearly shows violence against monks in Gaden Monastery (Dokhang house) as they were performing prayers and puja to Dorje Shugden. The mob which consisted of paid Tibetan threw stones at monks even as they did their monthly prayers. This mob was organized by representatives of Dalai Lama in Mungod, South India. Clearly Dorje Shugden practitioners are being treated like criminals. Many of those monks were physically hurt.
Or view the video on the server at:
Due to the ban on Dorje Shugden, there are many lay people as well who have been affected by the ban. Either they are similarly placed on a ‘Wanted List’ or the CTA imposes such pressure on their families they literally become disowned by the family. All these are happening only because the non-Dorje Shugden people are afraid to be associated with Dorje Shudgen practitioners seeing that it is a crime just to be associated with a Shugden believer.
Many times, when Dorje Shugden people meet even their closest childhood friends, they would be shunned and avoided. For fear of being associated with Dorje Shugden practitioners. Any association with Dorje Shugden practitioners, could lead to people being suspected and questioned.
In the videos below, you will see how some of the Tibetans are being denied their basic rights just because they practice Dorje Shudgen.
Or view the video on the server at:
Or view the video on the server at:
Constantly we see evidence of separation between non-Dorje Shugden practitioners and Dorje Shugden practitioners. Why this is necessary is so that Dorje Shugden practitioners will be singled out from the crowd. This is done in order for the public to easily target those whom the CTA accuse of being against H.H. Dalai Lama and the CTA with the motivation that the public will then take actions against Dorje Shugden practitioners to stop them. Usually with these kind separation the public would coerce the Dorje Shugden practitioners to give up their practices in various ways including violent means. Stones would be thrown into their homes, and people would break in to beat them, and so on.
Another example of CTA sponsored discrimination can be seen in Sera Jey Monastery where there is a rule requiring monks to wear a badge to declare that they do not practice Dorje Shugden. Why create such a differentiation if there is no ban to the practice?
Why isolate Shugden monks and expose them to more danger unless it is to punish them?
Often when one walks around the Tibetan settlements in India, they will be able to see notices saying that Dorje Shugden practitioners are not allowed to enter their premises. Due to this, Dorje Shugden monks are forced to go well out of the way just to get basic necessities and provisions. This makes the lives of Dorje Shugden practitioners much harder and more troublesome when it is already difficult.
This ban is not just making the lives of Dorje Shugden practitioners more difficult in this way, but in medical clinics and hospitals, there are notices that do not allow Dorje Shugden practitioners to enter. Being a non-Tibetan, we may not understand why the ban is so serious, yet from this we can tell that even the most basic of healthcare are being withheld some Tibetans just because of their religion. Thus, the Tibetans who practice Dorje Shugden will have to go to Indian clinics or hospitals to receive medical help. Often these medical services cost more than healthcare that are provided in the Tibetan settlement camps. Thus, for the poorer Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners, they are excluded from any form of healthcare. This shows that even from the most basic necessity that the government should be providing are denied just because these people are Dorje Shugden practitioners.
Being a government that claims to looks after their citizens, CTA has been grossly dishonest towards the Tibetans living in exile. In the constitution, it is clearly stated that every Tibetan has a right to their religion. However, the CTA undermine what they are supposed to be upholding by directing government departments to prohibit Shugden people from working in their department. Why does the CTA claim that there is religious freedom, when it is seen everywhere that Dorje Shugden practitioners are suppressed throughout all Tibetan areas?
For the full constitution, please see here.
The CTA has also done nothing to stop letters that incite violence or hatred against Dorje Shugden practitioners. If there is no ban and there is religious freedom like what the CTA has claimed, why are they not doing anything to stop these violent threads and acts against Dorje Shugden practitioners? This is especially so if H.H. the Dalai Lama were to speak against such undharmic acts. Yet, neither H.H. the Dalai Lama or the CTA have addressed the problem and instead keep saying that Dorje Shugden practices are bad.
Below are the pictures to the letter from Unite Front of Tibetan People saying that need to teach Dorje Shugden practitioners both lay people or ordained members a lesson.
Below is another letter from Global Tibetan Volunteers For the Truth that show the kind of hatred that Dorje Shudgen practitioners receive.
For the Tibetans who have chosen not to give up their Dorje Shudgen practices, they are being denied a citizenship from the Tibetan government. With this, there are many things that they are not able to do. For example, they will not be able to vote in the recent Sikyong (leader of CTA) elections. The selection of the leaders is something that affects all citizens, yet because these Tibetans are Dorje Shudgen practitioners, they are precluded.
These Tibetans are not allowed to vote because they do not have proof of Tibetan citizenship vide a Green Card issued by the CTA. When they do not have a green card, they are not allowed to do many things that include getting documentations to travel commonly known as the ‘yellow pass’ (similar to a passport). These are all because they are Dorje Shugden practitioners. By right, these Tibetans should be able to become citizens of the country they are in instead of being refugees all their lives which is how the CTA wishes them to remain. Without a Green Card, they cannot do anything.
Yet, this is the case with all Dorje Shugden practitioners in the Tibetan settlements. It will be a problem for Shugden practitioners to travel anywhere when they do not have the “No Objections” letter from the CTA which is required for any Tibetan to travel abroad. The reason for CTA to do this is because they do not want Dorje Shudgen practitioners to be able to travel out so that they will have the chance to spread the teachings about Dorje Shugden, and they do not want to let the rest of the world know how much Dorje Shudgen practitioners are suffering.
Even for monks, before their monk identity cards are being issued to them, they will have to swear saying that they do not practice Dorje Shugden. Without these identity cards, it would be difficult for the monks to travel overseas to teach. This is because they will not be able to obtain a religious visa to start teaching in the other countries. These are all tactics that the CTA use to stop the practice of Dorje Shugden from spreading overseas. It is just really sad to see such things happening as it is very clearly a form of religious oppression, and it is not what a government should be doing towards their own citizens.
In conclusion, this ban on Dorje Shudgen does not only affect Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners, but it affects all Dorje Shugden practitioners.
Just take for an example, when a man in the audience during a talk by Samdhong Rinpoche in New York City, USA, asked a question alluding to unfairness towards Shugden practitioners, he was stopped immediately and taken out of the hall. This man in the video is not Tibetan and yet we see how the ban has spread to affect even those who are rightful citizens of a democratic country. It shows how the CTA has influenced others to oppress Dorje Shudgen practitioners as well.
Or view the video on the server at:
Even for myself, as a Singaporean, who is not fully exposed to the severity and depths of the discrimination. I have received abuses online, and people calling me a Chinese as if that is a negative thing. How is anyone suppose to change when the race and religion is something that they are born with. It makes no sense how some westerners that supports CTA and some Tibetans act towards Dorje Shugden practitioners no matter where they are from.
Even in Singapore, there are temples like Thekchen Choling that openly display notices saying that Dorje Shugden practitioners are not welcome in their premises. Yet, Singapore is a country that promotes religious freedom and racial harmony. For major events in Singapore, all representatives of the 8 major religions in Singapore would gather together to celebrate and offer prayers. But here we see a Singaporean organization discriminating against Singaporean citizens on the instructions of the CTA. Where is the sense in that and how can that be allowed to persist?
Because of the Dalai Lama and CTA’s influence I was chased out from a shop located at Fu Lu Shou Shopping centre all because I asked if they were able to help me make a acrylic cover for a Dorje Shugden image that I had. I was cursed and chased out of the building. This is all because of the ban of Dorje Shugden. The funniest thing is that I am not even in a place that is filled with Tibetans. I am in my own homeland and in a shop that is owned by Singaporeans.
Even in my neighbouring country Malaysia, evidence of the ban towards Dorje Shugden practitioners can be seen abundantly. It is just unfair for someone to be judge based on what they practice as their religious choice. We are all human beings that can make our own choices, so why is someone’s choice more superior to the choice that we make? Why is it that we cannot practice Dorje Shugden without being cursed. Everything that is happening and people who are suffering are all because of this unethical ban that has been imposed.
For more interesting information:
- To Sum It Up
- The Dalai Lama Speaks Clearly About the Dorje Shugden Ban
- Will the Dalai Lama agree with this?
- Badge of Shame
- Dorje Shugden people
- They want to kill me
- Why Hide and Attack A Monk?
- I pray to what I want to
Please support us so that we can continue to bring you more Dharma:
If you are in the United States, please note that your offerings and contributions are tax deductible. ~ the tsemrinpoche.com blog team