Claim: The Dalai Lama has Banned Dolgyal Shugden Worship
Response: His Holiness has never ‘banned’ Shugden worship; he has only advised against it, leaving it to the individual to decide whether he/she follows this advice. Claims of so called ‘banning’ are based on repeated and deliberate mistranslations of the Dalai Lama’s speeches by Shugden worshipers. In fact, there isn’t a Tibetan word for ‘ban’ and, when asked to provide genuine evidence of this supposed ‘ban’ by the Dalai Lama, Shugden worshippers have failed to do so.
Supporting Info: 1] Is There a Ban on the Practice of Shugden? 2] Columbia University’s Robert Barnett on Shugden Protests
Claim: The Dalai Lama’s Advice Affects “Four Million People”
Response: Independent academics state this estimate is “greatly exaggerated” and that His Holiness’ advice has the potential to affect around 30,000 people worldwide. Meanwhile, Shugden worship is practiced and promoted in Tibet, China, India and the West, where these very demonstrators freely worship the deity without restriction.
Supporting Info: How Many are Affected by the Dalai Lama’s Advice on Shugden?
Claim: The Dalai Lama is “Restricting Religious Freedom”
Response: For the last 300 years, the principal function of Shugden practice has been to prevent open minded Tibetan Buddhists from studying outside their own sect’s teachings. In other words, Shugden’s function is ‘restricting religious freedom’. Far from restricting freedom therefore, His Holiness is actually promoting it. For genuine restriction of religious freedom with regard to Shugden worship, it is to Chinese occupied Tibet we must look for it is there where Tibetans are imprisoned and have even died, merely for speaking out against the practice.
Supporting Info: 1] What Human Rights Issue? 2] Whose Religious Freedoms are Violated?
Claim: The Dalai Lama Refuses to Enter Into Dialog with Shugden Protesters
Response: From the very first demonstrations in 1996, offers of dialog have been made by the Office of Tibet. The NKT/ISC cancelled the first meeting. Subsequently, on each of three occasions when dialog was offered, the NKT/ISC presented their Tibetan counterparts with the exact same list of demands that His Holiness must either accept unequivocally or suffer the consequences. In other words, the NKT/ISCs requests for ‘dialog’ have simply been instances of issuing demands and threats. Recently, in early 2015, independent negotiators offered to intercede on the NKT/ISC’s behalf to help eradicate any discrimination in the Tibetan exile community, in return for an end to the protests. NKT/ISC senior negotiators rejected the offer outright.
Supporting Info: 1] Is the Dalai Lama Refusing a Dialog with the Shugden Followers? 2] UPDATE: NKT/ISC Refuse Dialog Offer
Claim: Demonstrators are “Independent Members Of An International Coalition Of Shugden Practitioners”
Response: Despite the globetrotting facade of Tibetan supporters, and the name ‘The International Shugden Community [ISC]’, the demonstrations are run, financed and overwhelmingly populated by members of a hyper wealthy British Buddhist cult, the New Kadampa Tradition [NKT] which arose in the early 1990s, the brainchild of a renegade Tibetan monk, Kelsang Gyatso. The NKT provide planning, food, transport, accommodation, leadership infrastructure and the vast majority of troops for demonstrations. Frequently, demonstrators at different international locations from London to Sydney are the same people.
Supporting Info: 1] The New Kadampa Tradition and the anti-Dalai Lama Protesters 2] The International Shugden Community (ISC) Claim of Widespread Support 3] 2007: UK Government Parliamentary Questions Concerning Cultish Behaviour in the New Kadampa Tradition 4] OFFICIAL: New Kadampa Tradition = Western Shugden Society
Claim: “Shugden Worship is a Simple Prayer, Like the Lords Prayer, for Developing Love and Compassion.”
RESPONSE: Shugden is considered an evil spirit by the overwhelming majority of Tibetan Buddhists in the East and the West and his worship seen as akin to voodoo ritual. Even according to Shugden worshipers own admissions, for centuries Shugden has inflicted madness and death on his enemies. One of their publications, the Yellow Book, openly brags that the spirit caused the deaths of thousands of innocent Tibetans in the 1950s. HH Dalai Lama has spoken of his concern that Shugden propitiation reduces Buddhism to the level of spirit worship
Supporting Info: 1] Is Propitiation of Shugden Just a “Simple Prayer, Like the Lord’s Prayer”? 2] Excerpts from “The Yellow Book” by Zimey Lobsang Palden 3] 3 Reasons why Dolgyal Shugden Worship is Harmful
Claim: The Dalai Lama is Lying
Response: The NKT/ISC are not clear what they mean by this. Experts believe it may refer to HH Dalai Lama advising followers that Shugden is a “spirit of the dark forces” [The NKT/ISC and Chinese Government promote the view that Shugden is a Buddha] Shugden’s mundane status however, has been confirmed by generations of hierarchs; it is this difference of opinion that appears to be the basis of the lie allegation.
Supporting Info: 1] Historical References from Geluk Hierarchs 2] “Concerning Dolgyal with Reference to the Views of Past Masters and Other Related Matters”
Claim: Shugden Worshipers are Dying Because of Their Beliefs
RESPONSE: This is a total fabrication. No evidence that a single devotee has died for such reasons exists. On the other hand, the above mentioned Yellow Book lists dozens of people, lamas and public officials, murdered by Shugden by name. In 1997, a senior student of HH and two of his understudies were murdered by Shugden devotees. The perpetrators were identified by Indian police but fled into Tibet. Despite Interpol’s issuing an international arrest warrant, the Chinese Government have refused to extradite them. Again, while not a single Shugden devotee has been imprisoned or died for his beliefs, opponents of the practice are now routinely imprisoned within Tibet, indeed a number have died as a result.
Supporting Info: 1] Shugden Worshipers Are NOT Dying for Their Beliefs 2] Whose Religious Freedoms are Violated?
Claim: Shugden Worshipers are Persecuted for Their Beliefs
Response: There is some minor discrimination by individuals against devotees in the Tibetan exile community. However, this is not because of their religious beliefs. It is because a small number of Tibetans have joined with Western demonstrators to criticize and condemn HH Dalai Lama, in complete accord with the wishes of the Chinese. Recent observer reports from Tibetan communities in India have confirmed that, each time the NKT/ISC demonstrate against His Holiness in the West, this results in a palpable upturn in feelings of resentment and division within these communities. In short, the principle cause of any discrimination is the demonstrations — the perceived persecution is caused by these rather than being because of individuals’ religious beliefs.
Supporting Info: 1] The “No Admittance to Shugden Followers” Signs 2] Whose Religious Freedoms are Violated?
It should also be noted that, while not a single Shugden worshiper has been jailed for their beliefs, it is now a crime within Chinese controlled Tibet to discourage others from worshiping Shugden and the authorities have recently embarked on a policy of jailing those who do so — See 1] Whose Religious Freedoms are Violated?
Claim: “The Allegation That Demonstrators Are Paid by the Chinese Is Untrue”
Response: This is a classic ‘straw man’ claim: very few people have suggested demonstrations are “paid for” by the Chinese. What has been claimed repeatedly is that the demonstrations have China’s ideological support and are a premeditated part of China’s strategy to attack and undermine HH Dalai Lama in the eyes of the world. Definite confirmation of this, long held suspicion came in 2015 when a leaked Chinese Government document confirmed a deliberate policy of using the issue to defame HH Dalai Lama. The aims and methods of the NKT/ISC and the Chinese Government are therefore in total accord and the two groups aligned.
Supporting Info: 1] Chinese Government Links to Shugden Protests; 2] ICT: China’s new directive on controversial Shugden spirit in Tibet in bid to further discredit Dalai Lama 3] THE TIBETAN REVIEW: Shugden protesters criticized for advancing China’s agenda on Tibet 4] Columbia University’s Robert Barnett on Shugden Protests
Claim: Shugden Monks are Being Thrown Out of Monasteries and Made Homeless
Response: When it was learned that China was using Shugden to divide the Tibetan community, public group worship was removed from monastic programs; monks continued to be allowed to propitiate Shugden in private. Not satisfied with this, Shugden monks began agitating for the return of the practice for all, despite the overwhelming majority happily siding with HHDL. Finally, a referendum to decide the issue was agreed upon by all. With the outcome in HH Dalai Lama favor, the minority Shugden followers were provided with brand new, purpose built monasteries where they now follow their chosen path with complete freedom.
At no point have the NKT/ISC provided a single piece of independently corroborated evidence to support their claim. Struggling to prove their claims, they have even provided film of poor Burmese monks as supposed ‘evidence’.
Supporting Info: 1] Are Shugden Monks “Refugees”? 2] Where is the Evidence for the Protester’s Claims?
Claim: The Protesters Claims are Genuine And Have the Support of the Public and Human Rights Organizations
Response: The NKT/ISCs campaign has from the very beginning relied on deliberate deception to achieve its aims. From 1996, when followers set up bogus, seemingly independent human rights organizations to support their claims, down to the present day, where NKT activists recently manufactured a tweetstorm of 40,000 fraudulent anti Dalai Lama tweets in one hour, the NKT/ISC have relied on deception and lies to gain public support for their cause, even dressing as monks to create the illusion of Buddhist monastic support. Both Amnesty International and the Indian High Court have investigated allegations of human rights abuses of Shugden practitioners and, in both instances, rejected the claims.
Supporting Info: 1] Where is the Evidence for the Protester’s Claims? 2] BCB: NKT/ISC Faking Tweets to Defame Dalai Lama 3] THE INDEPENDENT: “Battle of the Buddhists”, July 1996 4] Are The Protesters Real Buddhist Monks?
Claim: The Dalai Lama Is “The Worst Dictator in the Modern World”
Response: Through combining deliberate mistranslation of the term ‘advise against’ with gross exaggeration of numbers supposedly affected, along with the false allegation that monks have been rendered “refugees”, the NKT/ISC and the Chinese Government have, in one voice, claimed HH Dalai Lama to be the modern equivalent of Adolf Hitler and his treatment of the Tibetan peoples akin to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. In this way, the NKT dupe their own followers into protesting and, along with the CCP in Beijing, deliberately work to turn public opinion against the Nobel Peace Prize winner.