By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 25 May 2014
The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest Tibetan organisation in exile, condemned and rejected as “baseless allegations” and “fabricated assaults”, statements against the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama by followers of Dorje Shugden.
“Assertions made by the Shugden followers like the Dalai Lama is not allowing religious freedom and calling him — ‘liar’, ‘false lama’, etc, are totally baseless and have no real grounds to show for,” said a press note by the President of the TYC Tenzing Jigme.
Jigme said that the Dalai Lama has never banned the following of Shugden — the spirit of the Shugden propitiators.
“The Dalai Lama has advised on the propitiation of the Shugden, and if one chooses to follow this spirit then he or she is free to do so. Members of the cult today continue to exercise their choice and practice the propitiation of the spirit freely in various parts of the world, therefore is no ban or denial of religious freedom. Attacking the Dalai Lama with unsubstantiated claims only provoke Tibetans who revere and love their leader.”
The followers of the spirit, said to be that of a monk dating back to the 17th century, held demonstrations against the Dalai Lama during his recent visits to the US and European countries, accusing him of “restricting religions freedom” and “persecuting the followers” of the spirit.
Although he himself once propitiated this spirit, the Dalai Lama now discourages people from following this “fierce spirit”, also known as Dolgyal. He renounced the practice in 1975 after discovering the profound historical, social, and religious problems associated with it.
In 1997, following the Dalai Lama’s criticism of the worship of the spirit, three people close to His Holiness were murdered near the Dalai Lama temple in McLeod Ganj. The victims were Venerable Lobsang Gyatso, the director of Buddhist Dialectics Institute, and a close associate to the Dalai Lama, and his two young disciples. Indian police concluded that followers of Shugden were behind these murders.
Earlier this month, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), based in Dharamshala, India, condemned the protests against the Dalai Lama, and said they were organised mainly by non-Tibetans who are linked to a cult associated with the propitiation of Shugden.
Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the CTA then said, “Their allegations of human rights abuses against those Tibetans who propitiate this spirit are baseless.”
Sangay charged the followers of the spirit with doing the bidding of the Chinese government.
A group following Shugden welcomed the Norwegian government’s decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama due to pressure from the Chinese government earlier this month.
The TYC also charged the group with being linked to the Chinese government, saying that the group’s appreciation of the Norwegian government not meeting the Dalai Lama clearly indicates Chinese government influence on the cult.
Jigme further says, “As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has gained popularity and at the same time the reality of the situation in Tibet been exposed, China views him to be a threat to their illegal occupation of Tibet. Therefore, the Chinese government is ready to join hands in cahoots with followers of the Shugden and fund their anti Dalai Lama activities.”
He stated that these recent incidents in North America and Europe were troubling, and that Tibetans all over the world and in Tibet are concerned, and all stand behind their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Tibetan Youth Congress had adopted a series of resolutions for policy directives to be pursued on this issue in 1996. Since then the members of the TYC worldwide have been actively involved in educating Tibetans and non-Tibetans on the issues surrounding Shugden worship.
TYC will hold a special session on this issue during their 45th Working Committee Meeting later this year.