Thirty five years of training in Buddhism leaves me at a loss to see how NKT can identify the mythological Shugden as a Buddha, beings of complete wisdom and compassion and the ultimate destination of all living beings. My questions to NKT clergy and teachers produce blank stares, quickly transformed into attacks on the 74 year old Dalai Lama.
A description of Shugden and his palace,
“From his shoulders hangs a garland of fifty, freshly severed, blood dripping heads. A human skin serves as his carpet…The southern gate is held closed in accordance with an old tradition that the chokyong Dorje Shugden is waiting at this entrance for the day to come on which he will be allowed to enter the monastery, to succeed Pehar as the chief dharmapala of Tibet…"
Shugden is waiting to replace Tibet's chief Dharma protector, Pehar. Apparently, NKT's purported Buddha has to wait in line for the mundane/worldly task of Dharma protection.
Further details about Shugden include,
"At the time of the fifth Dalai Lama...some of the other incarnate lamas and even the Tibetan Government became jealous of his (Shugden's) life. The priest (Shugden), however, with the help of the supernatural powers he had acquired, was ablt to foil all attempts on his life. At last, weary of the incessant intrigues and complots, (Shugden) decided to leave the world voluntarily...the lama suffocated himself by stuffing a ceremonial scarf into his mouth...Seeing the sign (predicted by Shugden upon his creamation), the disciple fell on his knees and implored the spirit of his teacher not to retire from this world, but to stay and take revenge on his enemies. Soon after this event great calamities befell the provinces of Central Tibet. Diseases raged in towns and villages, which killed people and animals. The Tibetan Government suffered misfortunes repeatedly and even the Dalai Lama was not spared...Astrologers and oracles soon discovered that a vengeance-seeking spirit was the cause of all this trouble...The heavenly abode in which (Shugden) is believed to dwell...is filled with various destroyed beings....There are countless springs overflowing with red and white poison...Human corpses - mummified, fresh, and in decomposition - are lying scattered around. Waves of blood and fat billow tremendously...Inside the palace, corpses of men and carcasses of horses are spread out, and the blood of men and horses streams together forming a lake. Human skins and hides of tigers are stretched into curtains...A great number of various objects and substances is offered to (Shugden) at the time of his worship: heart-blood in which yellow-red bubbles rise one after the other, quivering flowers made out of the organas of the five senses...The strong smelling liquid consisting of brain, blood, and bile, the heep of food composed of the organs of the five senses, hearts, meat, and bone..."
No wonder so few beyond NKT see Shugden as a Buddha.
Are we to aspire to become like Shugden? Effectively, hundreds of millions of Buddhists say no.
Certainly, descriptions of widely accepted Buddhas have nothing in common with Shugden's description. Imagine Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, Tsongkhapa, Manjushri or Avalokiteshvara described in such a way.
Nowhere in Buddhist scriptures is it noted that Shugden is a Buddha.
Perhaps, other Tibetan deities will provide future Buddha material for NKT...
"Pelden Hlamo: Naked black ogress with hanging breasts, wearing human heads strung on intestines. Wearing snakes and skulls. Holding a human skull cup with blood riding on a flayed skin of her son, flapped over a wrathful mule crossing an ocean of blood.
Four Faced Mahakala: Four Gaping faces with bloodshot eyes and skull tiaras. Four powerful arms holding weapons of war. Wearing freshly cut severed human heads. Standing on demons and obstacle makers with a tiger skin skirt.
6 armed Mahakala: Fierce Avalokita black in colour with sharp fangs. Six arms holding various frightening implements like skull mala and cementary knife. Wearing tiger skin, trampling on Ganesha. Fierce, on fire and extremely angry. Holding bloody flayed elephant skin.
Kalarupa: Buffalo headed face with gaping mouth with sharp fangs. Erect secret organ with dark black blue body. Wearing bone ornaments, skull tiara, and freshly severed human heads. Facing his naked fierce consort Camundi riding over a buffaloe molesting a man.
Nechung Pehar Gyelpo: King Pehar with 3 faces and six arms holding various intruments of war such as the bow and arrow. Each face with fangs and bulging bloodshot eyes. Snakes and heads are your ornaments riding on a fierce snow lion. Ready to strike down in an instant any enemies of the Buddhadharma from the land of snows.
Kinkara or Durdak Yabyum: Skeleton couple male and female. On fire, wearing skull tiaras, bearing fangs and adorned with tiger skirt. From your body brilliant fire like that at the end of an aeon serves to burn up all enemies, obstructors and mischief makers."
There is something else peculiar to NKT's main god and purported Buddha, Shugden. Unlike every widely accepted Buddha but like Tibetan worldly demons and spirits, Shugden can be channeled by oracles to speak with us and answer our questions.
An uncle of NKT' founder, Gyatso, was such an oracle and channeled Shugden for NKTites in England during the mid 1990s until Gyatso began his mission to undermine the Dalai Lama, after which Gyatso's uncle rejected Gyatso's delusional theology and returned to India to support the Dalai Lama.
Also, Shugden is propitiated, meaning he is prayed to in order to appease his anger and to control his wrath. (Spirits and demons are propitiated, not Buddhas.) And, while NKT promotes Shugden as an object of refuge, in contrast to how oracled deities are promoted in Tibetan Buddhism.
Shugden, an unique purported Buddha indeed!
NKT's cartoonish Shugdenism combined with NKT's marketing of Gyatso as the 'Third Buddha' compells me to conclude that NKTites wouldn't know a Buddha if they saw one.
Gyatso's Uncle, Shugden Oracle
Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz researched captivating details of Tibetan oracles and dharmapolas in the 1950s (30 years before Gyatso set out on his mission to convert the world to his 'pure' brand of Shugdenism), including intensive collaboration with many officials and clergy, perhaps most notably including 3 incarnate Lamas and witnessing Shugden invocations and possessions of an established Tibetan oracle (see Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities).
There are 2 classes of dharmapolas: high ranking deities who have passed beyond the 6 spheres of existence and those who reside within the spheres inhabited by living beings (known as dregs pa, or the 'haughty ones', because of their fierce demeanor). Shugden resides in the latter category to protect certain Gelug and Sakya doctrines from detrimental inflences from the Nyingma school. This latter category speaks to living beings through oracles who act as their mouthpieces. Shugden died through suicide. A medium, or oracle, for Shugden produces the gurgling sound of a man in the agony of suffocation. Shugden bears the title dgra lha, or enemy god, a title given to deities who protect their worshipers against enemies and help them increase their property.
No wonder The Dalai Lama raises concerns with Shugden, specifically that Shugden worship poses the danger of Tibetan Buddhism degenerating into cult-like spirit worship, presents obstacles to non-sectarianism and threatens the well-being of Tibetan society (see).