An idea, anthropomorphized into a repetitively reincarnating celebrity, used by NKT to signify that it is different from mainstream Buddhism and to elevate the importance and wealth of its cult. Shugden is NKT's purported cause.
Shugden's 'existence' is based on what others teach that Shugden taught. And, messages via trance from Kelsang Gyatso's uncle, a renown Shugden oracle who left NKT after Kelsang Gyatso began his campaign against the Dalai Lama.
Shugden's purpose, according to NKT, is to save Tsongkapa's teachings. Ironically, Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), possibly the most prolific Tibetan Lama, never once wrote or taught about Shugden, who according to NKT lived many times before Tsongkhapa, including reincarnating as Tsongkhapa. (Apparently, Tsongkhapa, who began Tibet's largest school of Buddhism, never figured out his real identity. For example, NKT, which insists that it is not a form of Tibetan Buddhism, teaches that Shugden was a Buddha long before Tsongkhapa was born but that Tsongkhapa did not become a Buddha until after his death, never reincarnated and has since resided in Pure Land. And, Shugden existed hundreds or thousands of years before Tsongkhapa was born in order to protect Tsongkhapa's teachings. Confusing indeed.)
Shugden is given all kinds of uniquely powerful characteristics. He is a king and lord. He is the core of Buddhism. He is magnificent. He is wrathful. He is credited with saving souls from damnation. He is credited with murdering, terrifying and haunting disbelievers.
For NKT, Shugden is the go-to political, health care, mental health, financial and wish-fulfilling deity.
"He increases intelligence and memory.
He protects you from dangers and harm.
He clears obstacles and brings wealth.
He brings healing to the body, mind and spirit.
He...grants our wishes quickly.
I would have almost died in a car accident if not for Dorje Shugden.
Dorje Shugden turned my finances around so quickly - it was amazing."
According to one NKT supporter,
"Flooding the whole world with DS is the way to go! YES! Do not under-estimate the power of FAMILIARITY. Once more and more people are exposed to DS and are used to seeing DS's image, they will easily welcome him into their lives and even be receptive to all the precious teachings. Everyone is doing whatever they can to help, contribute and make a difference. This is the way to usher the great King's Return to REIGN!"
Shugden, however, has not written anything under his alleged real name, Shugden. No books, no sadhanas, no letters, no diaries, no speeches, no teachings. There is no credible evidence that Shugden ever protected anything.
Nevertheless, NKT organizes protests, festivals, PR tours, book releases, web sites and Internet blog posts for his protection...since he cannot protect himself.
Perhaps the best-kept secret ever, a few months ago it was announced that Shugden reincarnated decades ago and "is alive and among us today."
Still, nothing from Shugden.
Thousands of years of Shugden lore spun by NKT has yet to produce a single written word from Shugden, especially confounding since Shugden has been here in person again for decades.
Maybe I am wrong. I will continue to look for an authentic teaching of Shugden that has so far been elusive for me, and based on their answers to my questions to everyone I have talked with inside NKT.