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THE SHUGDEN MOVEMENT

"The Shugden movement is organized around Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a Gelugpa monk who founded The New Kadampa Tradition in 1991 and set himself up as head of it in London...Kelsang is challenging the Dalai Lama's moral authority on the international stage." (Mike Wilson, Schisms, murder, and hungry ghosts in Shangra-La. (internal conflicts in Tibetan Buddhist sect), Spring 1999, Association for Religion and Intellectual Life)

In 1997, Newsweek explored the ritualistic murders that police believe were committed by Shugden worshipers, and spoke with Kelsang Gyatso, founder of NKT - the international Shugden organization leading attacks against the Dalai Lama.

"Three members of the Dalai Lama's inner circle were brutally slain on the night of Feb 4 in a bedroom just a few hundred yards from His Holiness's exile residence in the northern Indian city of Dharmsala. The next morning monks found the Dalai Lama's close friend and confidant 70-year-old Lobsang Gyatso, dead on his bed. Two young monks, Nagawang Lodoe and the Dalai Lama's Chinese-language interpreter, Lobsang Nagwang, died within hours of the attack. Each victim had been stabbed 15 to 20 times, leaving the walls of the small monk's chamber splattered with blood. Police believe it was the work of five to eight attackers...The savagery of the attack immediately steered police to search for fanatics of some kind. So did the death threats that followed against 14 more members of the Dalai Lama's entourage. Now Indian police believe the murders were committed by an obscure Buddhist sect that takes its name and inspiration from a minor but ferocious Tibetan deity: the Dorje Shugden...The Shugdens worship a god who is often depicted wearing necklaces of human heads - symbols of conquered vices and transgressions. He is a sword-wielding warrior figure, riding a snow lion through a sea of boiling blood...Dorje Shugden has had an underground following among Tibetans obsessed with doctrinal purity for centuries. "It would not be unfair to call Shugdens the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism," says Thurman (Robert Thurman, Ph.D., Columbia University)...in 1991, a senior monk named Kelsang Gyatso established a new Dorje Shugden order based in England and called the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). The NKT soon flourished by promising spiritual rewards for cash-an unholy sales pitch that helped trigger confrontation with the Dalai Lama's circle. Through a spokesman, Kelsang insisted to NEWSWEEK that his followers had nothing to do with the grisly murders in Dharmsala and that their idol's "wrathful aspect" is only symbolic: "Even if my best friend did the murders, I would condemn it," he said...Nonetheless, the followers of the NKT have painted a hostile portrait of the Dalai Lama that is unrecognizable to mainstream Buddhists-indeed, to millions around the world who revere the Nobel Peace Prize winner and champion of Tibet...Above all, the Shugdens are angry that the Dalai Lama is promoting dialogue between the Yellow Hats and another major branch of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingma, or the Red Hats. The Shugdens consider it a sin even to talk to Red Hats, or to touch Nyingma religious works. The police believe that one of the reasons the men were killed was that the old sage, Lobsang Gyatso, was a particularly active intermediary between the Dalai Lama and the Red Hats. His obituary describes him as an outspoken critic of Yellow Hat conservatives. And in an interview with NEWSWEEK earlier this month, the Dalai Lama expressed his worries about the Dorje Shugden. "That cult is actually destroying the freedom of religious thought," he said..."Shugden appeals to crazies by offering instant gratification," says Thurman. "Once you get involved, you're told you have to devote your lives to the cult, because the god gets very angry if you don't attend to him every day. It's really bad stuff, the way they're draining money out of people."

For more information about the murders, click here.

Newsweek also wrote,

"NKT founder Kelsang has publicly retreated from his confrontation with the Dalai Lama. Through his spokesman he told NEWSWEEK that the NKT had abandoned its demonstrations last July alter realizing they were less and less appropriate." (thus, promised to end by April 1997)

However, this has turned out to be a false statement from Kelsang Gyatso of NKT. Over the past year, for example, NKT has shadowed the Dalai Lama around the world organizing protest rallies and Internet sites against the Dalai Lama, more robust and even less appropriate than NKT's campaign in the 1990s.

The extent, if any, of NKT's involvement in the 'Shugden murders' described in Newsweek remains unclear. Kelsang Gyatso's denial of any involvement is suspect because at the same time Kelsang Gyatso promised that his days of attacking the Dalai Lama were over. In fact, they have never been as active as they have been in the past year (2008-2009).

Kelsang Gyatso admonished Newsweek for not calling him Geshe, assuring Newsweek that he has this degree. This was false also (unless his self awarding a Geshe degree counts; Kelsang Gyatso's ordination procedures varies significantly from established requirements as well). The monastery where Kelsang Gyatso was training for his Geshe degree dismissed him for his unethical and unscrupulous actions.

In the court room, juries are told that if a witness misleads once, it can be assumed that they will mislead again. In this case, 2 false assurances were made, increasing the likelihood of additional false assurances. Kelang Gyatso's false assurances combined with his behavior against his clergy, students, Buddhists, Buddhism, Tibetans and the Dalai Lama virtually establish his lack of credibilty on any subject.

 

Editors Note:
NKT's advertisments stating that "everyone is welcome" to attend its events, meditation centers and festivals are false. Although NKT' claims to be a non-profit organization (pursuant to NKT's applications to government agencies) and because NKT receives public funds from taxpayers, NKT denies access to its centers and events by banning many NKT clergy and students who questioned NKT procedures and scandals. (this should jeopardize NKT's non profit status and government subsidies) A recent essay on this web site was an example of an individual banned by NKT who paid for an event but was called a couple weeks later and promised a refund because further participation with NKT was banned (click here). Banning a citizen whose property taxes help non profit organizations like NKT vis a vis subsidies or no assessments for property taxes levied for NKT properties may be illegal.