NKT professes that it is the (only) pure lineage of Tsongkhapa's teachings.
However, Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), one of the most prolific Buddhist teachers in history, never taught Shugdenism, a mythology that did not begin until a couple hundred years after his death.
According to Shugden mythology, Shugden emanated as a terrifying spirit from the murder or suicide of a disgruntled individual bypassed in the selection of a previous Dalai Lama. Beginning with Pabongkha less than a hundred years ago in Tibet, Shugen was deployed against those disagreeing with the hegemony of a ultra right wing sect within the Tibetan Gelug school. NKT now leads this tradition, calling its battle The New Kadampa Tradition.
Tsongkhapa did teach, however,
“Distance yourself from Vajra Masters who are not keeping the three vows, who keep on with a root downfall, who are miserly with the Dharma, and who engage in actions that should be forsaken. Those who worship them go to hell and so on as a result.”
About Kelsang Gyatso, founder and patriarch of NKT, the teachers and students of Sera Je Monastery (where Kelsang Gyatso trained for his Geshe degree but did not finish) wrote,
"However, it is a measure of profound sorrow that a so called “Geshe”
Kelsang Gyatso and his English supporters have embarked upon a ruthless smear campaign
to tarnish the International stature of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in the name of alleged
“religious persecution”. It is nothing short of blasphemy in the eyes of the overwhelming
majority of the six million Tibetans.
It is nothing but a crude form of debasing the Dalai Lama for his own selfish ends...We have nothing but pity for your ignorance...Why not mind his own business and do what he likes in his own bigoted kingdom?
These days, [in Kelsang Gyatso] the demonic cloud of overwhelming arrogance displays itself with a mass of deluded pride, like a bat who thinks he is above the sky…. This demon with broken commitments…. burns with the flame of unbearable spite towards the unsurpassed omniscient 14th Dalai Lama, the only staff of life of religious people in Tibet, whose activities and kindness are equal to the sky.
...Kelsang Gyatso who is today a pariah in the
We advise him to accept the fact that he is an ordinary being and stand no chance
whatsoever to challenge the Dalai Lama. He is not even a Geshe. The so called “third
Buddha” is a figment of imagination conjured up by his fawning disciples as
a propaganda tool to attract more people to his centre and that it should not go to his head.
Kelsang himself has transgressed the eight shortcomings of relying wrongly upon his
own spiritual master H.H. The Dalai Lama. According to the circular released by the Sera
Jhe Tsangpa Khangtsen, to whom Kelsang belonged, he had received both sutra and tantric teachings from H.H. The Dalai Lama when he was in Tibet. He had received the fifth Dalai
Lama’s Lamrim Jampel Shalung at the Norbu Linka summer palace and the Kalachakra
Initiation in 1956 from H.H.The Dalai Lama which incidentally was the first Kalachakra initiation by the fourteenth Dalai Lama. As it were, there is simply no question of his not
being a disciple of H.H. The Dalai Lama but he has ignored this aspect and launched a
blistering attack on the Dalai Lama in the name of “religious persecution” along with his
gullible followers. The outcome of all this attempt to denigrate the person of the of Dalai
Lama by Kelsang clearly transgressed his spiritual relationship with the Dalai Lama and
though he has mentioned in his letter that “all of us are destined to go to hell”, we are in no doubt that he will in fact be the
one who will land in hell.
We have therefore stripped him of his membership from our
Sera Jhe Dratsang since the holy scriptures have clearly prescribed to evict such apostates
who will foul the Sanga community’s spiritual purity and serenity and will have a negative
influence for the whole community. Owing to the above reasons contained in the holy Tantric treatises, the Sera Jhe Dratsang’s
Abbot and ex-abbots, Reincarnations of holy Lamas, Geshes, and the House Masters of the
fifteen different Houses unanimously decided to strip Kelsang Gyatso of his membership in
the Sera Jhe Dratsang and his own House had earlier done the same.
His hatred towards the Dalai Lama obscures him from seeing any merit of the Dalai Lama...It is not the fault of the holy Buddha, nor Lama
Tsongkhapa nor H.H.The Dalai Lama but the beholder like Kelsang Gyatso whose demonic instinct get the better of them...He is an object of pity and nothing else.
What’s more, if any one disagrees with his “pure” cult, he gets the boot.
The sacrilege he was
committing by banning the photos of the Dalai Lama and even the utterance of his name in
the premises of his cult kingdom. It is an unheard piece of news which every Tibetan will
condemn with the severest indiction. The motivation behind this act was, he was now
planning to wean away innocent, unsuspecting, young minds towards his cultist school
called the “New Kadampa Tradition” which imposes a ban on Tibet’s Spiritual and
Temporal leader the Dalai Lama and thus undermine his authority even in the exile
In his apparent
ecstasy, he even disowns being a Tibetan and works against the very people where he was
(referring to Gyatso)...Possessed by a terrible demon, without shame, embarrassment, or
modesty, he doesn't have even the slightest care or concern for any
of the commitments of the three vows [pratimoksha, bodhicitta, and
tantric] which he undertook.
He continuously broadcasts blatantly shameless mad pronouncements,
attacking with baseless slander His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose
kindness for us, the people of Tibet, has been greater that the
Buddhas of the three times. These unimaginable statements which
defame the name of His Holiness have created an urgent adverse
situation which no Tibetan can tolerate.
Therefore, all those connected with Sera Je College, lamas and
tulkus, abbots, former executives, senior and junior geshes, together
with the leaders of the individual khangtsen [regional houses], all
together, in agreement, with one voice, hereby proclaim that on this
day, August 22, 1996, Kelsang Gyatso, the one with broken commitments
and wrong view, is cast out with the "ritual nine expulsions," and is
thereby banished from this place, and the being a part of the rule of
This means that we request all of our brothers and sisters, the
Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, to completely sever any
relationship with him. Concerning the practice of worshiping divine
protectors at this Monastery in particular, the protector who was
directed by the previous great masters to advise, command, and look
after our Monastery is the Dharma protector Dregpa Chamsing [Dregs Pa
lCam Sring). Aside from this protector there has traditionally been
no worship of Dolgyal [Dorje Shugden]."
The Australia Sangha Association wrote,
"According to our information the robed members of this group have not taken monastic vows as defined by the Vinaya which, as I am sure you know, is the collection of teachings by the Buddha that articulate the moral discipline to be followed by the ordained community.
The Sangha is a 2500 year old institution which has always kept the Vinaya rules as its core practice. It is this moral code which is the foundation of Buddhist monasticism and adherence to it is what defines a person as a Buddhist monk or nun. It is the most important thing that we as monastics from different traditions have in common and is what enables us to come together under the auspices of the WBSC and ASA to celebrate our shared commitment to the Three Jewels.
Members of the NKT who wear robes do not follow this tradition. They have taken 5 precepts including a vow of celibacy and make 5 additional promises to behave in a manner consistent with Dharma and spiritual practice. This is indeed an admirable and praiseworthy commitment and we do not wish to imply that such practitioners are anything other than sincere and genuine in their devotion to the path. However it must be emphasised that this is not a monastic ordination according to the teachings of Buddha.
These precepts are said by their teacher Kelsang Gyatso to derive from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra and he clearly states they are different from those found in the Vinaya. According to him a monk or a nun becomes a Bhikhu or Bhikhuni 'merely by holding these ten vows of ordination and developing a strong realisation of renunciation that is ever present in the mind.'
This definition has nothing in common with the traditionally accepted understanding of ordination and confuses the notion of a Bhikhu or Bhikhuni in the spiritual and conventional sense. From earliest times a 'true Bhikhu' has been one who realised the Dharma. However all Buddhist traditions, while fully understanding this, have always insisted on the necessity for the conventional Sangha to hold Vinaya vows properly received in accordance with the prescribed rituals.
The opinion of the ASA is that for NKT members to represent themselves to the public as authentic Buddhist monks and nuns is wrong and misleading."
These conclusions, mirrored by consensus of valid Buddhist teachers, establish that Kelsang Gyatso and his followers violate Tsongkhapa's wonderful teachings.
This is not to say that most of what Kelsang Gyatso writes in his books westernizing Buddhism is invalid. NKT's defense that Buddhist teachers have supported Kelsang Gyatso's books does not mean that any of them supported Kesang Gyatso's anti-Tsongkhapa enterprise. Furthermore, what Kelsang Gyatso writes and his followers read is rarely practiced by them.
As recommended by Sera Je Monastery, the followers of Kelsang Gyatso are advised to seek legitimate teachers. Tsongkhapa's paraphrased teaching may apply,
"Those who worship (Kelsang Gyatso) go to hell and so on as a result.”
Fortunately, there are vastly superior ways to learn about and practice Buddhism than with NKT.