The Dudjom Rinpoche Affair

Dudjom Rinpoche was one of the important modern masters of the Nyingma tradition, and a great spiritual teacher. Shortly after his arrival from Tibet, in the early 1960s, he gave extensive teachings in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. These were very popular and he became famous throughout the Tibetan community. But suddenly Dudjom Rinpoche was arrested and jailed in Siliguri, falsely accused by the Dalai Lama’s exile government of being a Chinese spy. As Kundeling Rinpoche notes:

‘This is the favourite accusation of the Tibetan government in exile made against anyone who they perceive as posing a threat to the absolute authority of the Dalai Lama.

‘Dudjom Rinpoche became very popular; he became very famous and that posed a threat to their absolute authority. That is basically what an autocratic system is all about. Except for the leader, nobody can be smarter or more famous or more good looking or more prosperous than that particular person. You can’t outshine your ruler. If you do, you have to be cut down to size.’280

It may also be that Dudjom Rinpoche was not interested in the Dalai Lama’s desire for a union of all Tibetan traditions. In replying to the question ‘If some people have been practising according to one lineage, is it necessary for them to change lineages in order to create unity in the community?’ Dudjom Rinpoche replied:

‘Certainly not. Whatever practice a person is well-grounded in is what he should continue. Part of our purpose is to preserve all lineages as methods for attaining enlightenment. … as practitioners we should sustain our own tradition while respecting and rejoicing in the virtue of other traditions.’281