Header image header image 2  
anti-Buddhist?

 
 
SHUGDEN, A WORLDLY SPIRIT TO CONTROL

NKTites/Shugdenites have published a barage of web pages and blog posts attempting to validate Shugden worship and further attack the Dalai Lama for considering Shugden not a Buddha but a worldly spirit propitiated (appeased) to control his wrath.

These announcements are placing great emphasis on Pabongkha (1878-1941) for his elevation and deification of Shugden worship (paranthetically, for deployment to harm and destroy the property of Buddhists deemed inadequate by Pabongkha).

Regarding NKT's claim that Shugden is a Buddha, a recognition accepted by few Buddhists, one of NKT's most prolific apologists offers some guidance, which, however, supports what most Buddhists understand who know about Shugden (only a very small percentage of the world's Buddhists are engaged in this NKT debate or consider Shugden a deity) - that Shugden is an angry worldly spirit subject to and needing control.

Presented 3/19/09 by the NKT apologists, Pabongkha wrote,

"I have written this at the request of Shugden, because in the past there was a tradition of Sogde (srog gtad) to Shugden but later neither the tradition nor the text could be found—they have become like flowers in the sky—so Shugden has asked me two times to write a new initiation text. I have passed on the practice of initiation (dbang) to some disciples in accordance with my own experience, and (a text) has been written as a seed for (a detailed text). But only that would be not reliable and something like an illegitimate son. Therefore, I explained it in detail to my master Tagphu Dorje Chang and presented this draft to him. … He took that draft and wrote his text down, combining this seed text with his own vision. Tagphu commented about the five types of Shugden, the respective colors etc, the offerings to be arranged, thus at the time of initiation the large Lamrim text should be there on the altar, a cakra representing one’s life, damaru, dorje etc. The practitioner has to utter the life generating words of Vajrabhairava and to make torma offerings. … The initiation can be given to somebody who has received initiation into Vajrabhairava and keeps the commitments connected with it. … Though there are so many different traditions and philosophies in Tibet, only this tradition of Tsongkhapa is the supreme, the top of the victory banner, the most complete, the essence of the teaching. … To bring Shugden into one’s own service is a very powerful blessing. In order to receive this initiation the disciples visualize themselves as the yidam (Vajrabhairava) and as such invoke and control Shugden. The dharmapala (Shugden) is presented to the disciples as the one who abides by their commands."

Thus, Pabangkha claims that a Shugden tradition was LOST AND COULD NOT BE FOUND (until Shugden spoke with Pabonkgha, yea right) and that Shugden is to be BROUGHT INTO ONE'S SERVICE TO INVOKE AND CONTROL SHUGDEN.

Neither of these descriptions apply to Buddhas. It is lunacy to apply 'bringing into one's service to invoke and control' to Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara (emanated in the Dalai Lama), Manjushri, Padmasambhava, Atisha, Tsongkhapa, the Dalai Lama....any Buddha or any revered Lama.

'Bringing into one's service to invoke and control' applies to worldly spirits. Furthermore, Gyatso's uncle was Shugden's oracle (Buddhas do not speak through oracles, spirits do).

Interestingly, according to Pabongkha and contrary to weird NKT folklore, Pabongkha's Shugdenism was not derived from his lineage but by the voice of Shugden.

 

Editor's Note:
Elsewhere, the NKTite who published the above quote from Pabongkha asserted that Shugden is not a spirit, contradicting Pabongkha and most other Tibetan Buddhists. Responding to this assertion, someone wrote,

"The first people to worship this spirit saw that it was a spirit. They called it a gyalpo spirit by name including it in the group called the three gyalpos along with but below Tsiu Marpo and Setrap. They invoked it in spirit seances such as those that took place at Manjushri centre in the ’90s. Buddhas do not possess spirit mediums.

The view that this spirit is a spirit is both older and far more widespread than the belief that it is transworldly. Even Phabongkhapa taught that it had the appearance of a worldly spirit and as such should not be taken as an object of refuge. He also taught that this ‘protector’ killed people and did them harm, as did Trijang Rinpoche and other lamas that worshipped this spirit.

Lamas such as Dardo Rinpoche who acted as officiating lama during oracle seances was the main informant and lama of Nebesky-Wojkowitz who in his book “Oracles and Demons of Tibet” classes this protector as a worldly spirit.

The Dalai Lama’s view that this protector is a harmful spirit is shared by many lamas such as Ngawang Yonten Gyatso and others quoted above. The minority view that it is enlightened has only ever existed on the fringes of Tibetan Buddhism, but even here no one has taught that it is a Buddha in the same way that Shakyamuni or Maitreya are Buddhas until Kelsang Gyatso started lying to his cult members and teaching about this protector in a way that is at odds even with his own lineage.

Kelsang Gyatso’s teaching on this protector are a sham claim and the only reason he has got away with it is because his students are all deeply ignorant of Tibetan religion and culture.

To learn more about the dishonesty of the the NKT cult please watch the BBC documentary “An Unholy Row” found on the following website: http://www.tibetonline.tv/shugden_issues.html"

An essay about the BBC documentary An Unholy Row and NKT's pretense can be found here.

This typical comment from NKT reveals its Shugden dilusion,

"Your belief that Dorje Shugden is a spirit is based on one or two people’s views, principally the Dalai Lama’s. This is only their opinions and they are demonstrably wrong."

Quite the contrary actually. The fact that Shugden is a spirit, and harmful anger god, is accepted by millions, and they are demonstrably right. The Dalai Lama learned about Shugden's nature in the early 1970s from substantial history, literature and research.

The Yellow Book also chronicles injuries, unending disasters and 23 assassinations at the hands of Shugden against those straying from a sect of Gelug fundamentalists. Interestingly, the Yellow Book describes Pabongkha's recovery from strange dreams and poisoning caused by Shugden after Pabongkha abandoned Nyingma teachings and dedicated himself "to practice and propagate pure Gelug tradition free of defilements." Accordingly, Shugden serves to harm and murder enemies of fundamentalism but will protect those who promote fundamentalism. According to the Yellow Book, Pabongkha's conversion occurred after Chinese troops had entered Tibet, which would have been during the 1950s.

A sampling of neutral academic researchers about Shugden worship:

1. Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz (Prof. at the University of Bern, Swiss) refers to the main propagator of that practice, Pabongkha Rinpoche, as a "religious fundamentalist".

2. Martin Mills (Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Religion, University of Aberdeen), stated “in defence of the deity’s efficacy as a protector, [the Yellow Book by Zemey Rinpoche] named 23 government officials and high lamas that had been assassinated using the deity’s powers."

3. Anthropologist Stanley Mumford stated Dorje Shugden is “extremely popular, but held in awe and feared among Tibetans because he is highly punitive.”

4. Prof. Goeffrey Samuel Samuel (Director of Cardiff Humanities Research Institute) stated Pabongkha Rinpoche was a "strict purist and conservative", who "adopted an attitude of sectarian intolerance" and "instituted a campaign to convert non-Gelug gompa (monasteries) in Kham to the Gelugpa school, by force where necessary."

5. David Kay stated "...and in response to the Rimé movement (ris med) that had originated and was flowering in that region, Pabongkha Rinpoche (a Gelug agent of the Tibetan government) and his disciples employed repressive measures against non-Gelug sects. Religious artefacts associated with Padmasambhava — who is revered as a 'second Buddha' by Nyingma practitioners — were destroyed, and non-Gelug, and particularly Nyingma, monasteries were forcibly converted to the Gelug position. A key element of Pabongkha Rinpoche's outlook was the cult of the protective deity Dorje Shugden, which he married to the idea of Gelug exclusivism and employed against other traditions as well as against those within the Gelug who had eclectic tendencies."

6.From Tales of Intrigue from Tibet's Holy City: The Historical Underpinnings of a Modern Buddhist Crisis, Lidsay McCune wrote,

"In 1973, three years before the Dalai Lama made his public condemnation of Shukden, a senior Gelukpa monk named Dzemé Trulku Lozang Penden (1927-1996) published an account of Dorjé Shukden called “Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father” (Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung). In recent times, this text has simply become known as the “Yellow Book.” In it, Dzemé Trülku details various acts of retribution perpetrated by the deity against those monks and laymen who have offended him. One example of this is the case of Fifth Paṇchen Lama, who Dzemé Rinpoché claims incurred Shukden’s wrath by adopting Nyingma practices. The author attributes these anecdotes to the oral teachings of his and the Dalai Lama’s tutor Trijang Rinpoché (1901-1981), the “intelligent father” of the text’s title. Many of the monks and laymen mentioned as victims of Shukden’s wrath were Gelukpa practitioners who “tainted” their practice by adding to it various rituals of the Nyingma variety. Three years later, having abandoned his own propitiatory practices, the Dalai Lama announced his disapproval of the deity. Naturally, there are many Shukden proponents who claim that he made his disavowal out of fear of incurring the deity’s wrath. And there has indeed been some concern among his followers for the well-being of the Dalai Lama following his denunciation and subsequent ban of Shukden worship."

7. David Kay states that Trijang Rinpoche (1900-1981), one of Pabongkha Rinpoche's famous disciples, had a more moderate view on other traditions than Pabongkha, nevertheless "he continued to regard the deity (Dorje Shugden) as a severe and violent punisher of inclusively orientated Gelug practitioners."

Shugden followers have one researcher who seems to support their view, Ursula Bernis. Her work is neither published by any academic publisher nor is it accepted among scientists. No research on this subject uses her work as a source.

 

Editor's Note:
A recent note helps explain this matter,

"The reliance on harmful spirits for apparently positive ends is as old as Tibetan Buddhism itself. Worldly spirits, seen as harmful and malevolent, are said to be bound under oath by great masters and then act to protect traditions and institutions from being harmed or corrupted.

There are hundreds of these worldly spirits and all lamas great or small have relied on them to some degree.

The problem with this particular protector is that the function it is said to serve runs in opposition to the inclusive and non-sectarian aims of the Dalai Lama. It was said to attack and kill members of the tradition it is sworn to protect if they take teachings from other traditions. There are also stories of it attacking people of other traditions out of a purely sectarian motivation.

Sectarian loyalties amongst worldly protectors are not that uncommon, but as these protectors are generally shared by all traditions, their apparent intolerance of other traditions cannot get that far. This protector has been cast in a much more exclusive role, especially since it became the favoured protector of Phabongkha, who used it to promote his own sectarian views.

The problem has been exacerbated by the promotion of this protector, not to just a worldly spirit like so many other protectors of Tibetan origin (enlightened protectors like Mahakala and Shri Devi are of Indian origin and mentioned in the tantras) but to an emanation of Manjushri. This leads to people treating it like a Buddha and an object of refuge. This is the biggest problem, as it leads to a degeneration of Buddhist practice.

Worldly protectors are usually treated as lower than the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and made to submit to the demands of the lama. This one became more important for some of its followers and was put in a place capable of harming even the high lamas that practiced it. Some followers of it said that Phabongkha was almost killed by it until he agreed to do as it demanded.

These are the reasons the Dalai Lama and many other lamas now advise against worshipping this protector."