Appendix 8: The Ban on the Practice of Dorje Shugden: a Chronicle of Events

Early 1950s

The Dalai Lama composes Melody of the Unceasing Vajra: A Propitiation of Mighty Gyalchen Dorje Shugden, Protector of Conqueror Manjushri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings.


The Dalai Lama speaks publicly for the first time against the practice of Dorje Shugden.


18 July 1980

During an address at Sera Monastery (near Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, South India), the Dalai Lama says ‘To summarise my views, I am not saying Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is not an authentic Deity, but in any event, for those who mainly rely on Palden Lhamo or Gyalpo Kunga [Nechung], whether it be a great master or a monastery, it does not bode well to worship Gyalchen.’

The Dalai Lama orders the closure of a small Shugden Temple near the main hall of Sera Monastery. Lamas and senior monks from Sera-Jey and Sera-Mey monasteries have attended this temple. By command of the Tibetan exile government, a small new temple of the Nechung spirit is erected in the courtyard of the monastery, and similarly in all Tibetan settlements.


The Dalai Lama orders the removal of the Dorje Shugden statue from the main prayer hall of Ganden Monastery (in Mundgod, Karnataka State, South India), the main monastery of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. When the Dalai Lama is told that the statue is too large to get through the door, he replies that the statue should be broken into pieces.


The renowned Mongolian Lama Guru Deva Rinpoche, then living in Clementown near Dehra Dun, is forced to leave India because his printing press published a letter questioning the Dalai Lama’s actions regarding Dorje Shugden.

Guru Deva donates his house in Drepung Gomang Monastery to the monastery itself. The abbot of the monastery manages to persuade a Tibetan mob not to destroy the house.

Under increasing pressure from Tibetans in Nepal, Guru Deva is forced to return to Mongolia, where he remained isolated from the Tibetan community until his death in 2009 at the age of 101.

In the past, he had made very generous offerings and donations to the Dalai Lama, the two tutors and the great monasteries of Sera, Drepung and Ganden at a time when the Tibetan exile community was experiencing serious shortages of everything.


March 1996

The only independent newspaper in Dharamsala, known as Democracy is forced to stop publishing. (Dharamsala is the town in northern India where the Dalai Lama lives and where the Tibetan exile government is based.)

10 March 1996

During annual teachings at the Thekchen Choeling Temple in Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama for the first time imposes an outright ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden:

‘Whether outside of Tibet or within Tibet, this Deity is [in] discord with [government Deities] … this is serious in the context of the common cause of Tibet. Therefore unless I remind you once again, there are ones who pretend they have not heard it. It will be good if you comply [with what we are saying] without our having to resort to this last step. It will be the last resort if [we] have to knock on doors. It will be good if [they] can heed without having to resort to this last step. Whether it be a monastery, or the residence of eminent spiritual masters, or private individuals themselves, it will be a different matter if they do not have the interest of the Tibetan cause [in their heart]. If you consider the cause of Tibet, if you agree to the leadership of the Dalai Lama, if you support my part in the [exile] government, your stand should not be otherwise [on this point].’

21 March 1996

During his talk at the preparatory session of Tamdrin Yangsang and Sangdrub empowerments, the Dalai Lama says:

‘Basically the autobiography of the 5th Dalai Lama is explicit on the conflict between the Dalai Lama and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen. The ‘Secret Vision’ is also clear on this. Based on them, the 13th Dalai Lama issued a ban. Many things that remained anonymous during his lifetime, on the part of government ministers as well as the common public, started thrashing about after his death. Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is one of them. I have come to be counted amongst the line of the 5th Dalai Lama. I feel a definite karmic connection with my predecessor. It is my mandate to complete what was in practice during [the time of] the 5th Dalai Lama and my predecessor. This is my responsibility.’

The Dalai Lama then tells any Dorje Shugden practitioner present to leave the temple, barring them from attending the empowerments:

‘We are to participate in the empowerment of Tamdrin [a Tibetan Buddhist Deity]. We require recipients who do not worship Gyalchen … it happens that Dolgyal [Dorje Shugden] relates to Chinese spirits, we actually mentioned him by name in our exorcism based on Tamdrin at the time. Although these exorcisms cannot be relied upon, I had strange dreams [since then]. [Therefore] I do not feel it will be comfortable for worshippers [of Shugden] to be here. That being the fact I have said it is impermissible to have worshippers of Dolgyal in this audience. If acrimony between deities results in disharmony between humans it will be spiritual ruination … This will affect the life span of the spiritual master also.

‘Hence yesterday we decreed that it will not be right for worshippers of Gyalchen to be among our audience … If there are any people unknown to me who have crept into this audience who are nevertheless worshippers of Shugden, it is better for you not to stay among us. If you refuse, not only will it not benefit yourself but in the worst case may even become the cause of shortening the life of the Dalai Lama. If you wish for the speedy death of the Dalai Lama, then I have no objection. If there is anyone who wishes to continue worshipping Gyalchen, it is better that they stand up and leave. If there are no such people, it is alright.

‘… if you private monks and spiritual masters continue making excuses and continue worshipping thus, you shall have a day of regret. Likewise, in the monastic colleges the majority are beyond criticism; I also see that there are some who remain firm. If you can think by yourselves it is good; as mentioned … it will not be good if we have to knock on your doors.

‘This is my responsibility, although some people may not like it … I will carry through to completion the work I have begun. I will not back off because of a few disgruntled individuals. I am determined to implement the conclusions of my careful research and will not let it be.’

30 March 1996

The Private Office of the Dalai Lama issues a decree requiring everyone to stop practising Dorje Shugden, with instructions to make people aware of this through government offices, monasteries, associations, etc.

The then Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (now called the ‘Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile’) passes a resolution banning the practice of Dorje Shugden by Tibetan government employees.

Letters from the Private Office of the Dalai Lama are sent to the abbots of various monasteries in South India:

‘… government oracles [such as Nechung] point towards there being a danger to the health of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as to the cause of Tibet, due to the worship of Shugden. Banning this is also the conclusion reached by His Holiness after years of observation. There is also a rift between Shugden and the two principal deities of the government as well as with Dharmaraja. Moreover, this is a cause for instability within the Gelugpa tradition.

‘Though aware of repeated addresses by His Holiness, there is continued [worship of Shugden] by Tibetan monasteries, and Tibetan incarnate Lamas and Geshes within India and Nepal. In certain cases, far from heeding this address, individuals have actually urged His Holiness to desist from raising this issue since, according to them, this is causing more harm than good in Tibetan communities.

‘ … in his inaugural address to the Congress of the Cholsum [Three Provinces of Tibet] Association, he [the Dalai Lama] referred to his recurrent sore throat, mentioning that it may be an indication that he should stop raising this issue. This indicates that he does not wish to speak about this anymore since no one is paying any attention.

‘On March 4th, at the concluding audience for these Congress members, the Dalai Lama remarked: “It is good that paying attention to my health you have passed a resolution regarding this matter. Danger to health does not exclusively mean armed attack. This type is extremely rare in Tibetan society. If there is continued indifference to my injunctions, then there would not be any point in my continuing to live silently as a disappointed man. This would be a more apt interpretation.”

‘Therefore, under the auspices of all former Abbots, Disciplinarians, incarnate Lamas and Geshes, an announcement should be made of these talks by His Holiness regarding the worship of deities in such a way that no one can have the excuse of not having heard it. In addition, ensure total implementation of this decree by each and everyone.

‘With the additional assistance by the house masters, also ensure the explicit announcement of this decree to all ordinary monks [in the monastery].

‘In implementing this policy, if there is anyone who continues to practise Dolgyal, make a list of their names, house name, birth place, class in the case of students, and the date of arrival in case of new arrivals from Tibet. Keep the original and send us a copy of the list. Please share this responsibility and submit a clear report on the implementation of this circular.’

5 April 1996

The Dalai Lama addresses the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Tibetan Women’s Association to encourage them to take up the cause of the ban and enforce it actively. During this talk, the Dalai Lama is reported as saying that there may be one or two persons willing to give up their life for him, thus emphasising the determination with which he intends to enforce the ban. Although this remark was later removed from the official record of the talk, it is believed that the full talk was videoed by a Japanese film crew that was present.

At 8 a.m. at Ganden Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala, a group of nuns go into the abbot’s chamber and drag a Dorje Shugden statue into the street with a rope attached to its neck. The main perpetrators – Lobsang Dechen, disciplinarian of the nunnery, Tenzin Tselha and Dolma Yangzom – spit at and sat on the statue before breaking it up and throwing the pieces into the town’s garbage dump. This statue had been consecrated by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (the junior tutor of the Dalai Lama), Kyabje Ling Rinpoche (the senior tutor of the Dalai Lama), Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Rato Rinpoche.

9 April 1996

The Tibetan Freedom Movement bans the worship of Dorje Shugden by its members.

14 April 1996

The Guchusum Movement Organisation passes a resolution ban- ning the practice of Dorje Shugden by its members.

All government employees are ordered to sign a declaration to the effect that they do not and will never practise Dorje Shugden.

18 April 1996

The Tibetan Department of Health posts a notice to its doctors and staff members:

‘We should resolve not to worship Shugden in the future. If there is anyone who worships, they should repent the past and stop worshipping. They must submit a declaration that they will not worship in the future.’

19 April 1996

The Toepa Association (Regional Group) passes a resolution declaring Dorje Shugden to be a ‘Chinese ghost’ and banning its practice.

Employees of the Tibetan Children’s Village (in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, North India) are urged to take loyalty oaths.

A decree is sent by the Dalai Lama’s Private Office to all major Tibetan monasteries making it mandatory for administrators and abbots to enforce the ban.

Representatives of the Dalai Lama’s Private Office begin to arrive in the monasteries and Tibetan settlements to apply pressure and to supervise a signature campaign against Dorje Shugden practice.

22 April 1996

The decree banning the worship of Dorje Shugden is officially read out at Drepung Monastery (near Mundgod, South India), and the abbot confirms that everyone must abide by the ban. Drepung Loseling Monastery distributes a prepared form, saying that anyone who does not sign it will be expelled from the monastery immediately. Many monks, including Dragpa Rinpoche, move away to a nearby Indian town rather than give their signature.

That night, on behalf of some frightened Tibetans at Golathala Tibetan settlement near Bylakuppe, a large statue of Dorje Shugden together with smaller images and pictures of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche are driven through the night to the Dorje Shugden Temple in Ganden Shartse Monastery, for safe keeping.

In Bylakuppe, a search party looking for other Shugden images is told by an attendant of the young Lama Dakyab Rinpoche that he has thrown one statue into the lake near Tibetan Settlement No 2. It is reported that many other Shugden statues were thrown into the lake at this time.

23 April 1996

In the main assembly hall at Drepung Gomang Monastery, the abbot announces a strict ban on worshipping Shugden. That evening, the windows of the house of Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche, a prominent devotee of Dorje Shugden, are smashed, and an atmosphere of intimidation pervades the monastery. Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche’s disciples complain to the abbot, but are ignored.

The abbot orders a declaration to give up the worship of Shugden to be signed. Later, two monks from Ngari Khangtsen (part of Drepung Gomang Monastery) arrive weeping at the Dorje Shugden Temple at Ganden Shartse Monastery, explaining that although they do not want to give up their religious belief, they have no choice but to sign this declaration or face immediate expulsion from their monastery. One of these monks leaves his monastery the next day.

25 April 1996

On the orders of their abbot, Achog Tulku, who was in Dharamsala at this time, Ganden Shartse Monastery convenes a meeting to dis- cuss the status of its Dorje Shugden shrine. The meeting resolves not to curtail the religious freedom to practise Shugden.

26 April 1996

A Hayagriva puja group of Sera-Jey Monastery receives a special commission from the Private Office of the Dalai Lama to perform twenty-one days of exorcism by the Deity Hayagriva Tamdim Yangsang, against Dorje Shugden and its practitioners. Bari Rinpoche is asked to preside over the exorcism, and in return the Private Office offers to award him the position of ‘Geshe Lharampa’ (the highest geshe degree) in the following year, with exemption from the Geshe examinations normally required.

Late April, 1996

Zungchu Rinpoche collects signatures agreeing to the ban from Ganden Shartse schoolchildren. When an 11-year-old monk asks what the signed form is for, Zungchu replies that it is a form to find western sponsors for the schoolchildren.

27-30 April 1996

This is a period of great tension in the monasteries of South India. There is fighting between monks from Ganden and Drepung monasteries. At Ganden Jangtse Monastery, a monk is beaten by supporters of the ban and has to be taken to hospital; and windows of the houses of prominent Shugden practitioners are smashed.

1 May 1996

Under armed police protection, Tibetan exile government officials proclaim a decree of the ban at Ganden Monastery.

9 May 1996

Representatives from Tibetan monasteries all over India that trad- itionally practise Dorje Shugden meet in Delhi and resolve not to give up their faith. They submit their first appeal to the Private Secretary of the Dalai Lama.

10 May 1996

In the hope of a dialogue, Shugden practitioners send a petition to the Dalai Lama, followed by further petitions on May 20th, May 30th and June 5th. The petitions are all rejected.

Since then a number of other petitions and letters have been sent to the Dalai Lama, and requests for audiences have been made on several occasions. They have also all been rejected.

10-11 May 1996

The Tibetan Youth Congress convenes, and resolves to implement the ban in every Tibetan settlement. House-to-house searches start, and statues, paintings and other holy objects are burned or desecrated.

14 May 1996

The Kashag (Cabinet of ministers of the Tibetan exile government) releases a statement denying any religious suppression.

15 May 1996

Kundeling Rinpoche, Director of Atisha Charitable Trust in Bangalore, India, organises peaceful demonstrations against the ban. The Tibetan exile government in Dharamsala makes the baseless allegation that Kundeling Rinpoche is a Chinese spy, and a warrant for his arrest is issued. He has to leave the country temporarily because of threats made to his life.

23 May 1996

The Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society (now usually called ‘the Dorje Shugden Society’) is formally regis- tered in Delhi. Documents including Tibetan government decrees relating to the ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden are mailed by the Society to about 75 human rights groups around the world, as well as to Tibet support and cultural groups.

24 May 1996

The Dorje Shugden Society receives a letter dated May 22nd under the name of Kalon Sonam Topgyal, Chairman of the Kashag, announcing that now there will be a complete ban on Shugden practice. The ban emphasises that:

‘… concepts like democracy and freedom of religion are empty when it concerns the well-being of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the common cause of Tibet.’

28 May 1996

The Kashag Secretariat restricts permission for Geshe Chime Tsering – the general secretary of the Dorje Shugden Society – to travel abroad to lead a cultural tour to raise funds on behalf of his monastery, Ganden Shartse.

5 June 1996

During the 12th session of the Tibetan National Assembly held in Dharamsala between May 31st and June 6th the Chairman of the Kashag, Kalon Sonam Topgyal, addresses the assembly as follows:

‘Now, on the matter of propitiation of Dharma protectors, I think we first have to come up with explanations on whether this [ban] infringes upon human rights or not. Therefore, it is clear that no one is dictating “dos and don’ts” to all our religious traditions, including the four Buddhist Traditions and Bön. Anyone in our Tibetan society can engage in the religious practices of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Bön. However, once having entered a particular religious faith, [one has to] conform to the standard practices pertaining to that religious faith; it is not proper, however, for Buddhist monks to enter and practise [Buddhism] in mosques in the name of freedom of religion. This being the case, this [ban] is imposed without infringing upon religious freedom. In particular, since we are a dual-system nation, we have to proceed in accordance with this religio-political structure [of our nation]; it is not proper to engage in whims in the name of religious freedom. In short, the great monastic institutions and those under the [Tibetan exile] administration are not allowed to rely [on Dorje Shugden].’

6 June 1996

An eight-point resolution is passed by the Tibetan National Assembly, imposing a ban on the worship of Dorje Shugden.

19 June 1996

The Tibetan Women’s Association sends a letter to Ganden Tripa, the head of the Gelug Tradition:

‘We heartily appreciate and praise that many monks and monasteries have obeyed H.H. the Dalai Lama’s speech against Shugden. We do our best against Geshe Kelsang, some geshes and Westerners. They did protest. You must reply to letters and books written by them. This is the only best way to solve the Tibet issue.’

June 1996

A retired Tibetan minister, Mr. Kundeling, is stabbed and badly wounded at his house. At a meeting in Dharamsala a few days before this, he had mentioned his concern about the course of this new policy of the exile government.

July 1996

A Tibetan Democratic draft constitution for a future free Tibet is amended to read that no judge or juror can be an adherent of Dorje Shugden.

During the preparation for a Kalachakra initiation in Lahul Spiti, the Dalai Lama’s female oracle Tsering Chenga alleges that some thirty members of the Dorje Shugden Society will attack the Dalai Lama during the initiation. Elaborate security measures are taken and searches are made, but it is shown to be a false prophecy and a false alarm. No one from the Dorje Shugden Society is present.

7 July 1996

Geshe Losang Chotar from Sera-Jey Monastery burns a thangkha [religious painting] of the wrathful aspect of Dorje Shugden that came from Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.

8 July 1996

A Public Notice is posted in Dharamsala:

‘On July 8th, at 9 a.m. there will be the preparatory rite for the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara [Buddha of Compassion]. And on July 9th there will be the actual empowerment. However, those who worship Dolgyal [Shugden] are not allowed to attend this empowerment. By order of the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama.’

11 July 1996

In the Tibetan community in Shillong, Meghalaya, ten Tibetans (eight men and two women) are expelled from the Tibetan Youth

Congress and Tibetan Women’s Association for refusing to give up their religious faith in Dorje Shugden.

13 July 1996

Samdhong Tulku, Speaker of the Tibetan National Assembly, talks to local Tibetan dignitaries in New Delhi. He advises them not to use pressure or violent language when persuading Tibetans in the Delhi area to give up the practice of Dorje Shugden, but to ask them to choose between Dorje Shugden and the Dalai Lama.

13-14 July 1996

In Mundgod, South India, over 700 monks, devotees of Dorje Shugden, conduct a peaceful protest against the suppression of Dorje Shugden. Eleven monks from Serkong House of Ganden Jangtse Monastery participate in the march. As a result, these monks are expelled from their college.

On August 6th, in the name of the Tibetan settlements in Mundgod, the Tibetan government sends a letter to Ganden Jangtse Monastery expressing appreciation for the expulsion of the eleven monks.

14 July 1996

In a closed meeting held in Caux, Switzerland, the Dalai Lama speaks to the legislative members of the Tibetan exile community in Switzerland. An extract from his talk reads:

‘Everyone who is affiliated with the Tibetan society of Ganden Phodrang government, should relinquish ties with Dolgyal. This is necessary since it poses danger to the religious and temporal situation in Tibet. As for foreigners, it makes no difference if they walk with their feet up and their head down. We have taught Dharma to them, not they to us. …

‘Until now you have done a good job on this issue. Hereafter also, continue this policy in a clever way. We should do it in such a way to ensure that in future generations not even the name Dolgyal is remembered.’

16 July 1996

The Dalai Lama speaks on The World Tonight, BBC Radio:

‘I myself, in early age, I also did practise this. I was also a worshipper of the Deity [Dorje Shugden]. Then about 20 years ago I found through my own investigation, not suitable. So therefore, you see I also started some restriction. Then, beginning of this year, once more I repeated this. This time our exile parliament and many big monasteries made some effort. That is why a few individuals here and there complain.’

17 July 1996

A resolution is passed by the Tibetan National Assembly (proposed by Yonten Phuntsog and seconded by Tsering Phuntsog):

‘8: In essence, government departments, organizations, associations, monasteries and their branches under the direction of the Tibetan exile government should abide by the ban against the worship of Dolgyal … however, if a person is a worshipper of Dolgyal, he should be urged not to come to any teachings such as Tantric empowerments given by H.H. the Dalai Lama.’

Mid-July, 1996

A 70-year-old widow, Mrs Chogpa, from the Rajpur Tibetan settlement near Dehra Dun in Uttar Pradesh, is harassed beyond tolerance by local Tibetans including her immediate neighbours. Helpless against abuse by so many people, she is forced to sell her home, kitchen, and small vegetable garden for a fraction of their value, and takes shelter in Tibetan Camp No 1 in Mundgod, Karnataka State.

25 July 1996

A letter is sent to various monasteries recruiting monks for the Buddhist School of Dialectics in Dharamsala. One of the four qualifications required is: ‘4: The candidate should not be a worshipper of Dolgyal.’

29 July 1996

900 monks from Sera-Mey Monastery conduct a peaceful demonstration against the ban on Dorje Shugden.

Samdhong Tulku, Speaker of the Tibetan National Assembly, gives a speech to monks gathered in the assembly hall of Sera Lachi, saying during the speech: ‘… Dorje Shugden and Nechung [state protector] are both Bodhisattvas who have reached high grounds.’ This is an example of contradictory statements made by members of the Dalai Lama’s government at this time.

August, 1996

An organisation calling itself ‘The Secret Society of Eliminators of the External and Internal Enemies of Tibet’ makes public its death threat against the two young reincarnations of high Lamas who rely on Dorje Shugden: Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (aged 13) and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche (11). An extract reads:

‘Anyone who goes against the policy of the government must be singled out, opposed and given the death penalty … As for the reincarnations of Trijang and Zong Rinpoche, if they do not stop practising Dolgyal and continue to contradict the words of H. H. the Dalai Lama, not only will we not be able to respect them but their life and activities will suffer destruction. This is our first warning.’

8 August 1996

Tibetan school children are taught for the first time a new song called Tibetan Cause, which includes the lines:

‘All Tibetans, listen to the advice of the Dalai Lama and rely on pure protectors. This is the Tibetan cause.’

4-6 October 1996

The Board of Gelug Teachers in Europe (19 members) meet and resolve to request an audience with the Dalai Lama to discuss this issue. The audience is denied, with a letter from the Private Office of the Dalai Lama stating, ‘You have nothing else to say apart from taking care of the 18 volumes of Je Tsongkhapa’s works.’ Since then the members of the board feel too intimidated to meet again.

The Dorje Shugden Society meets with abbots from Sera, Drepung and Ganden monasteries in New Delhi. The abbots request an audience with the Dalai Lama to discuss the issue. The audience is denied, like all such previous requests by the Dorje Shugden Society.

7-8 November 1996

The house of retired schoolteacher Mr. Losang Thubten is attacked and set on fire, with his daughter and another relative deliberately locked inside. Fortunately they all survive.

In an audio tape published earlier by the Dorje Shugden Society Mr. Thubten had given a number of historical accounts showing blatant injustice in the actions of the Tibetan exile government.

11 November 1996

In Dharamsala a notice is posted banning Dorje Shugden practitioners from attending a Guhyasamaja empowerment to be given by the Dalai Lama.

19-21 November 1996

The Dalai Lama visits Tibetan monasteries at Mundgod, South India, doing so without the traditional request, which is unprecedented for a Dalai Lama.

In the hope of more conciliatory speech by the Dalai Lama, Dorje Shugden practitioners call off a proposed peace march. This cancellation is publicised in the local newspaper, and the organisers also personally call the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of Karwar to assure the authorities of this goodwill gesture.

The Dorje Shugden Society in Delhi sends a delegation to request an audience with the Dalai Lama in the hope of reconciliation during this visit. But the Dalai Lama’s Private Secretary, Mr. Lobsang Jinpa, tells the delegates that there is no point in the delegates seeing the Dalai Lama if they do not want to give up their practice of Dorje Shugden.

On November 20th there is a monastic debate examination. Members of both Ganden Shartse and Jangtse monasteries (approximately 2,000 monks) participate. The programme begins at 2 p.m. and lasts until 7:30 p.m., and at about 6 p.m. the Dalai Lama speaks. Excerpts from this talk include the following:

‘When I was visiting Sera Monastery [in Bylakuppe, November 15th-18th], a representative of Shartse and Jangtse monasteries called on me, formally inviting me to visit these two monasteries. I playfully asked them about the recent demonstrations against my officers.

‘This time I will visit Shartse. In the future, however, if this monastery continues to practise Dorje Shugden and build images of this Deity, then I must decline to visit Shartse. In that case they should not invite me, nor will I come even if invited.

‘Likewise, in Tibet in the future, if any monastery practises Dorje Shugden, they should not entertain any hopes of inviting me, and even if invited, I shall not feel comfortable accepting such invitations.

‘Likewise if there are still people who feel they cannot give up this practice and who feel they will continue to practise Dorje Shugden, I do not see any benefit for them to remain under the auspices of the Ganden Phodrang Tibetan government.

‘You might feel that by publishing letters, pamphlets etc. against this ban, that the Dalai Lama will revoke this ban. This will never be the case. If you take a hard stand, I will tighten this ban still further.’

After these pronouncements, the Dalai Lama stands up from his throne and, pointing to the left and right, asks ‘Which is Shartse and which is Jangtse?’ Then, pointing towards the Shartse section, he continued: ‘I warn you, elder monks of Shartse. You must not say one thing and do another. The elder monks should change their mind, and guide the junior monks.’


6 June 1997

An amendment to the Tibetan constitution is made:

Original Version: ‘The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court should be a Tibetan national, and in a court of law … need not be referred to … .’

New Version: ‘The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: The Chief Justice and the two other justices of the Supreme Court, in addition to being a Tibetan national, should not be a devotee of Gyalchen Shugden and in a court of law … need not be referred to … .’


January 1998

Tashi Wangdu, president of the Tibetan Regional Council, states on Swiss TV:

‘There are governmental and non-governmental gods. To worship gods that are not recognised by our government is against the law.’

2 January 1998

During the Dalai Lama’s inauguration of a new debating courtyard of Sera-Mey Monastery, the monks of Pomra Khangtsen (a section of the monastery), who constitute about three-quarters of the monastery and who all rely on Dorje Shugden, are prohibited from attending the ceremony. Under instructions from the Tibetan exile government in Dharamsala, these monks are prevented from leaving their rooms and kept under virtual house arrest by the local police. The Tibetan exile government allege that the monks are a threat to the Dalai Lama’s security.

During the inauguration ceremony, there is on display a large thangkha painting of Tha-wo, the monastic protective Deity, who looks like Dorje Shugden. The Dalai Lama, mistakenly thinking that the Deity is Dorje Shugden, bitterly attacks the practice of Dorje Shugden in his talk to the monks. Later he calls the abbots together and begins to chastise them for displaying the thangkha, until it is pointed out to him that it is not of Dorje Shugden.

During this talk the Dalai Lama announces that the monks have to choose between the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden.

5-8 January 1998

The Swiss TV SFI news programme ‘10 vor 10’ features four consecutive daily news reports on the Dorje Shugden issue, entitled Dalai Lama: Discord in Exile. These reports reveal the suffering and conflict within the Tibetan exile community caused by the ban on Dorje Shugden practice, as well as the hypocrisy of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile government in seeking to suppress evidence of its persecution of Shugden practitioners.

22 March 1998

There is a public meeting in Delhi on the ‘religious crisis precipitated by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama’. Participants number about 200, including Shri Rathi Lal Prasad Verma, Member of Parliament (BJP Party), Mrs. Dolly Swami, President of Delhi Mazdoor (Laborers), Prof. Dr. P. R. Trivedi, Chairman of the Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment, Shri Dev Anand Mishra, prominent Human Rights Activist, Prof. Ashwani Kumar, Faculty of Law at Delhi University, and other dignitaries. Mr. Rathi Lal expresses genuine pain over the religious ban. He says this is a clear attack on religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. He offers to discuss this issue with his colleagues in government, and to bring it on the floor of the parliament. Dolly Swami notes that as long as Tibetans live in India, their leadership has to live by Indian law. Every Indian leader or academic who speaks on the occasion expresses deep sympathy with all those Tibetans who worship Dorje Shugden, and offers their encouragement.

23 March 1998

In Tages Anzeiger (Switzerland’s largest newspaper) the Dalai Lama says:

‘I think that this Shugden-worship has been for 360 years like a painful boil. Now I have – like a modern surgeon – made a small operation that hurts for a moment but is necessary to solve this problem.’

19 May 1998

A letter is sent from the Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama, signed by Tenzin Topgyal, Assistant General, and directed to all Tibetan ‘Settlement and Welfare Officers’ in India:

‘Concerning monks and nuns who wish to travel to foreign countries, after obtaining recommendation letter from the local settlement and welfare officer on the strength of authorisation letter from their monasteries, after these are received at this office, (this office) has to obtain authorisation from the Cabinet Secretariat after verifying whether or not the candidate meets the following requirements …

‘3. Attestation from their monastery and the abbot, that neither the host, whether private or organisation, as well as the invitee is a devotee of Dolgyal, that neither the host nor the invitee has any connection with Dolgyal.’

This requirement directly contravenes Article 13(2) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12(2) of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and Article 18 of the Tibetan Constitution adopted by the Tibetan exile government.


13 January 1999

The Dalai Lama pays a visit to Trijang Labrang (in Ganden Shartse Monastery), the residence of His Holiness the late Trijang Rinpoche (1900-1981), his root Guru. At a gathering of the Labrang’s monks, the Dalai Lama says:

‘… during my visit to Switzerland, Lobsang [Chief Steward of Trijang Labrang] asked that the current Choktul Rinpoche [the Dalai Lama’s recognised reincarnation of Trijang Rinpoche] be allowed to worship Dorje Shugden like his predecessor, without a decision through the dough ball divination. He also told me that the ban on Shugden practice is causing widespread suffering to everyone, and that it should be revoked. This is ridiculous talk. My reason for banning the Shugden Protector is in the interest of Tibetan’s politics and religion, as well as for the Gelug tradition. In our face-to-face meeting, I also told Rinpoche to understand that we may be meeting each other for the last time.’

During this private audience with the Dalai Lama, Ven. Choezed-la, the eldest official at Trijang Labrang, humbly points out that the religious ban has created an unprecedented atmosphere of hostil- ity against both Shartse Monastery and Trijang Labrang, which is not very different from the atmosphere of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. He requests that, to end the suffering within the Tibetan public arising from this atmosphere, the Dalai Lama would kindly consider revoking the ban. To this the Dalai Lama angrily replies,

‘There will be no change in my stand. I will never revoke the ban. You are right. It will be like the Cultural Revolution. If they [those who do not accept the ban] do not listen to my words, the situation will grow worse for them. You sit and watch. It will grow only worse for them.’

14 January 1999

During the first public address of a visit to Drepung Monastery, the Dalai Lama touches briefly on the Tibetan issue, and dwells on his ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden. An excerpt reads: ‘The Dorje Shugden Society plays games with me wherever I go. They have published an announcement. They think that I will back off. That I will never do. If not in this life, a successor will be appointed to sustain this ban.’

15 January 1999

In Mundgod, representatives of the Dorje Shugden Society call on Mr. Pema Choejor, Tibetan Minister for the Department of Security in Dharamsala, and Mr. Khedrup, Secretary of the same depart- ment. The Society’s representatives, in their face-to-face meeting, explain their situation in detail. Excerpts include:

‘The exile government has already taken away both our political rights and religious rights. The Tibetan public has been induced to hate us even more than [they hate] the Chinese, with discrimination, defamation, abuse and baseless allegations. This has gone on for three years now. From our side, time and again, we have approached the Dalai Lama and the exile government through personal representation and delegations, as well as numerous petitions. To this date, however, there has been no sympathetic solution from the exile government’s side. Today the Dalai Lama spoke out so angrily, violently and so abusively against us, and our faith in front of the entire settlement.

‘According to you, the practice of Shugden in Tibetan society harms the well-being of the Dalai Lama and the cause of Tibet. We do not have any intention to undermine the well-being of the Dalai Lama; at the same time we cannot compromise our religious principles for the sake of political expediency.’

To these representations, the exile government officials respond:

‘We understand your difficulty. We will convey your grievance clearly to the Kashag in Dharamsala. What you say is true, but since the ban comes from His Holiness, we are put into a very difficult situation. H.H. the Dalai Lama is taking a rock-like stand, and if you also take an equally rigid stand, we [the exile government] are caught helpless in between.’

First week of May, 1999

In an informal meeting of local Tibetan organisations in Darjeeling with a new representative Officer of the Dalai Lama, these groups unofficially announce to the local Tibetan people that henceforth no one is permitted to invite any member of the following three local monasteries to any Tibetan gatherings or Buddhist festivals in the area: Samten Choeling Monastery (established in 1952), Tharpa Choeling Monastery (1922) and Kharshang Monastery (1919). All three are Gelug monasteries that follow the practice of Dorje Shugden.

24 July 1999

An anonymous poster appears in Tibetan settlements in Nepal, reading:

‘The Mahayana Gelug Monastery in Kathmandu sent around 152 monks to Pomra of Sera-Mey and Dhokang of Ganden Shartse monasteries.’ The posters go on to ask Tibetan families in Nepal not to send children to these monasteries, because these monasteries practise Dorje Shugden.


12 September 2000

Around 3,000 Tibetans descend on Dhokhang Khangtsen at Ganden Shartse Monastery, attacking the monastery and its monks with stones and bricks.

14 December 2000

The Delhi High Court directs the Delhi Police Department to investigate complaints of torture of Dorje Shugden practitioners by agents of the Dalai Lama.


During this period many Shugden practitioners escape from India and Nepal to various other countries as refugees. Other Shugden practitioners choose to stay in India, but in places where there are no supporters of the Dalai Lama. However, members of their families and relatives who still live within the Tibetan communities continue to suffer.


14 February 2006

In Lhasa, Tibet, a statue of Dorje Shugden is forcefully removed from Ganden Monastery and destroyed along with a statue of Setrab (another Buddhist Deity) by a few monks in the Nyakri section of Ganden Monastery. Unrest occurs inside Tibet due to strong denouncements by the Dalai Lama at a Kalachakra empowerment (in India), and because of sending people to Tibet with the mission to spread allegations that the Deity Dorje Shugden is harming Tibetan freedom and is a danger to the Dalai Lama’s life. The houses of practitioners of Dorje Shugden and their relatives are attacked.

19 July 2006

In Lhasa, Tibet, the house of a family of well-known Dorje Shugden practitioners is attacked by four Tibetans wearing masks and claiming to be the Dalai Lama’s messengers. The only person in the house at that time is their 20 year old son, who is tortured by having his fingers cut off. He is threatened that next time they will cut his hands off and then they will cut his head off if his family doesn’t listen to the Dalai Lama.

3 October 2007

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) issues a directive to the Tibetan Reception Centre not to issue referral letters to those Tibetans coming from Tibet who continue to practise Dorje Shugden.

It also reiterates that the Charter of the Monastic Discipline of the Gelugpa Sect, adopted in 2006, ‘categorically forfeits the enrol- ment of monks who continue to propitiate Shugden in all Gelugpa monasteries.’

9 January 2008

In a speech at a Tibetan monastery in South India, the Dalai Lama says with reference to Shugden monks:

‘These monks must be expelled from all monasteries. If they are not happy, you can tell them that the Dalai Lama himself asked that this be done, and it is very urgent.’

He says that ‘Dorje Shugden devotees are supported by the Chinese and so there is no need for them to be in exile, they can go back to Tibet (under Chinese rule)’. He calls for ‘an ‘‘open referendum’’ to decide if the majority of the Tibetans want to coexist with devotees of the deity.’

October 2008

The Tibetan Association of Western Massachusetts, USA, is closed down because some of its members are Shugden practitioners.

30 May 2009

Two young monks are admitted to hospital for treatment after sustaining an unprovoked attack that took place around 11.30 pm outside Serkong Khangtsen in the Tibetan colony near Mundgod, India. The victims, Lobsang Damchoe and Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, are both tulkus (reincarnate lamas) recently enrolled in Shar Gaden Monastery, and known Dorje Shugden practitioners.

The six attackers, supporters of the Dalai Lama’s anti-Shugden policy, admit to planning and carrying out the attack. Their monastery, Gaden Jangtse, makes no comment; the attackers are not punished but supported by the chairman of the local Tibetan Representative’s office. The Indian police are informed of the attack, but make no arrests.

21 June 2009

Meeting with the Tibetan Women’s Association and other organisations in Dharamsala, Samdhong Rinpoche – then Chief Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile – says that the Chief Minister does not have ‘the freedom to work in accordance with usual practice.’ Instead, he must ‘work within a structure where the Dalai Lama’s will was absolutely most important.’ The Chief Minister’s ‘key obligation was to predict the Dalai Lama’s unsaid ideas and strive for their realisation.’ During the same meeting, Penpa Tsering, head of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, says that only someone who agrees with the Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way’ approach could be appointed as Chief Minister.

29 July 2009

Radio Free Asia (Tibetan section) accuses Shugden practitioners of being responsible for abducting three people, together with some goats and sheep, in Markham, Tibet. Two of them – Woeser Rinpoche’s father and a 13-year-old boy – were victims of a recent flood, and the third, Tenzing Thakpa, was seen alive and well, travelling in Lhasa and to India.

24-28 August 2009

The 40th Tibetan Youth Congress Working Committee Meeting resolves ‘to confront’ Dholgyal (Shugden) followers for ‘creating problems in Tibetan Struggle and in Community’ and to ‘meet in person those who take responsibility of Dholgyal organisation (Dorje Shugden Society) and will elucidate (sic) to give up their worship …’

September 2009

Gaden Trisur Lungrik Namgyal, the 101st Ganden Tripa (‘Throne Holder of Ganden’, the politically appointed head of the Gelug Tradition), completes his seven year term of office. He resigns from Gaden Shartse Monastery, and joins the pro-Shugden Shar Gaden Monastery saying that he will not give up his Dorje Shugden practice.

December 2010

A letter by Geshe Tashi Tsethar of Drati Khamtsen, Sera-Jey Monastery, to ‘the public, ordained and laity of Tibetan and Himalayan regions’ explains ‘why [you] are not allowed to share religious and material relation with Dhogyal or Shugden worshippers’, reiterating that the Dalai Lama had said this in 2008, and that if you go against this ‘you will face a root downfall of the Secret Mantra vow not to rely on malevolent friends.’

January 2010

Byllakuppe, India: A gigantic poster appears and stays for month on the wall outside the ‘Milk Centre’ of Sera Lachi – the administrative headquaters of Sera-Mey and Sera-Jey monasteries – stating: ‘We do not sell milk, tea and so on to those who have no identity cards of taking oath (not to share religious or material ties with Shugden devotees). Shugden devotees and those who are related to them are urged not to come to buy milk, tea and so on.’

This identity card includes the oath ‘… NOT to propitiate Dorjee Shugden and NOT to have any associate (sic) with the followers of Shugden.’

January 2010

Sera-Mey Monastery, South India: a poster is put up that reads: ‘We have opened the Western Union Money Transfer (Agency) under the water tank near Sera-Mey Library. Those who are related to Dhogyal (Dorje Shugden) are not welcome.’

20 February 2010

As an example of the polarising effect of the Dalai Lama’s ban against Dorje Shugden within Tibetan society, over 60 of 100 guests at a wedding in New York City leave because Dorje Shugden practitioners have been invited. They say they do not want to break their pledge not to associate with Dorje Shugden followers.

26 February 2010

The Chushi Gangdruk Organisation (a political association of former Tibetan guerillas) in New Delhi hand the Dalai Lama a letter stating that it has never associated with Shugden believers since 1996, and vows to continue this in the future.

March-April 2010

Article 6 of the Lithang (a region of Tibet) Association’s rules and regulations states: ‘… there is no discrimination among Sakya, Gelug, Nyingma and Bonpos, or with practicing Muslims or Christians. Nevertheless, the association requires members, as Tibetans, who are able to single-pointedly follow HH the Dalai Lama. However, if you worship Dhogyal or Shugden you cannot establish any bond with this association – this is the primary condition of the association …’. Reports are received of persecution against Shugden practitioners in Lithang.

May 2010

The Chushi Gangdruk Organisation of New York USA meets the Dalai Lama and informs him that it has removed members who believe in Dorje Shugden and, for ‘the happiness of His Holiness’, vows to disassociate with Shugden believers in the future.

3 June 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal: a young Tibetan refugee who is a Shugden practitioner, is refused entry into India on the recommedation of the Tibetan Reception Centre, which is controlled by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile


The Dorje Shugden Society reports of continuing religious persecution and segregation of Shugden practitioners and their families, including children at school. The Dalai Lama’s ‘war’ against Shugden practitioners is fueled by recent rumours promoted by the Dalai Lama’s supporters that such actions as harming Dorje Shugden practitioners, destroying Shugden monasteries, stupas and religious texts are not negative, but accumulate merit towards the Dalai Lama’s long life!

January 2011

The Dalai Lama speaking in South India angrily says, ‘Dorje Shudgen harms the Tibetan Government of Tibet’ and expels several high Lamas including the ex-Abbot of Gyumay Monastery who had written to the Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Samdong saying it was illegal, morally wrong and against the Vinaya to cut off all worldly and spiritual association with Dorje Shugden practitioners, even though he personally is not a practitioner.

February 2011

In a meeting with Thai Buddhists in Dharmsala, the Dalai Lama says ‘Buddha was wrong’, and that he does not rely on Buddhist scriptures.

10 March 2011

The Dalai Lama dissolves the Tibetan government-in-exile, creating the ‘Tibetan Organization’ of which he is still the head. Although the world believes he is resigning from political power he still rules behind the face of the Tibetan Organization and makes all the decisions.

11 July 2011

During the Kalachakra Empowerment in Washington DC USA the Dalai Lama bans Dorje Shugden practitioners from attending, although he now says that ‘it is up to the individual’ whether or not to worship Dorje Shugden.

9 May 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal: Eight Tibetans from Chatreng, Tibet, are refused Special Entry Permits into India by the Indian Embassy, following recommendation by the Tibetan Reception Centre. Chatreng is an area of Tibet where there is strong practice of Dorje Shugden.

23 August 2011

The Abbot of the Namgyal Monastery (the Dalai Lama’s private monastery), who has travelled with the Dalai Lama to the USA, calls an emergency meeting of the Lithang Organisation of New York. As a result of this meeting the decision is made to expel automatically any member found having any association with Shugden practitioners.

6 January 2012

In teachings in Bodh Gaya, India, the Dalai Lama continues to reiterate his ban against the practice of Dorje Shugden.

A record of the Dalai Lama’s continuing persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners is maintained in the ‘Chronicle of Events’ on: