What is happening?


View a full chronology of events since 1980.

View detailed reports of discrimination here. 



This page is a summary of the effects of the Dalai Lama's ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden.


More details for all the points below are given on this website and on the official website of the Western Shugden Society and the website of the Dorje Shugden Religious Society. Regular updates are posted at our accompanying blog Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden Blog


(1) In brief

(2) Segregation

(3) Does the Dalai Lama have the right to do this?

(4) Who is responsible for the ban, Yellow Card and resulting penalties for those who disobey?

(5) Does this affect Western Buddhists?

(6) Does this affect Tibetans in the West?

(7) How many people are affected by this ban and persecution?


 In brief

  • Monks and nuns are forbidden to do the practice and are unconstitutionally expelled from their monasteries and nunneries if they do not comply
  • Thousands of Shugden practitioners among the Tibetan lay people are being forced to abandon the practice or lose the support of their government and face orchestrated public humiliation and intimidation
  • People who refuse to renounce the practice are losing their jobs, their children are being expelled from schools, and their travel papers; and their travel papers, which require prior authorization from the Tibetan Government in Exile, are not being issued
  • Statues have been smashed, temples destroyed, books burned, practitioners' houses attacked, and even death threats issued in a persecution that resembles a medieval witch hunt




Today the entire Tibetan population is being forced to hold an Identity Card, the YELLOW CARD, proving that they took the oath swearing (1) not to worship Dorje Shugden, and (2) not to have any material or spiritual relationship with Dorje Shugden practitioners.


This segregates and denies the human rights of both monastics and lay families.


Segregation in the monasteries


Buddhist monks and nuns who do not swear and are not given the Yellow Card are:

  • Not allowed to eat with others
  • Deprived of food. They are not allowed in any of the monastery's kitchens. Even if they receive some external help for their survival, they cannot buy food from the monastery's shop or anywhere in the nearby Tibetan settlements
  • Not allowed to set foot in their main temple,
  • Not allowed to attend the daily monastic gatherings of prayers, rituals and debates
  • Having to be protected by Indian police to attend the sacred yearly Monlam Chenmo Festival, created by their religious founder Je Tsongkapa.
  • Receiving violent threats in the neighbouring Tibetan settlements, cowardly posted during the night

It is forbidden to talk to them. It is forbidden to walk close to them. If you see one of them, you have to deviate your steps to not cross his or her path.

Segregation in the lay community


Lay Tibetans have been made to swear the double oath of not worshipping the Protector Dorje Shugden themselves as well as forsaking all contact with the monastic practitioners.

Those who do not swear and are not given the Yellow Card:

  • Are not allowed to travel in the same taxicab or rickshaw with other Tibetans.
  • Cannot purchase even the most essential groceries (their children cannot even buy candy)
  • Eat in any restaurant
  • Lose their jobs
  • Have their children expelled from school

Definition of Segregation from Cornell: 3 -Segregation -1. enforced separation of groups: the practice of keeping ethnic, racial, religious, or gender groups separate, especially by enforcing the use of separate schools, transportation, housing, and other facilities, and usually discriminating against a minority group.
4 -A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly [.] and the right to equality in public places.
Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. (Cornell University Law School).]


Does the Dalai Lama have the right to do this?


Although the world has been served an image of the Dalai Lama as the religious leader — a Pope of sorts — of all Buddhists, he is not. He does not have any religious authority to do what he is doing. In a general way this is because Buddhism accepts all internal religious beliefs and doesn't harbor the notion of persecuting heresy, and in particular because there is no level of authority in the Buddhist religion to order or implement a religious persecution. 


Who is responsible for the ban, Yellow Card and resulting penalties for those who disobey?


Everything going on now is the direct responsibility of the Dalai Lama. He has been campaigning personally to push the abbots and monks to do the referendum and make others take the double oath.

He is responsible for the persecution because he chose the necessary words to push Tibetans to become the tormentors of their fellow exiles by repeating four calumnies over and over again:

1-The worshipping of Dorje Shugden endangers his life

2-It harms the cause of Tibet.
3-Practitioners assassinated three monks in Dharamsala in the 1990s
4-Practitioners are working for the Chinese to harm the cause of Tibet

To measure how deep the crisis goes, consider the following statement by Ngawang Tenpa, Officer of the Cholsum organization, the largest regional group in Tibetan politics:


"It is possible to think of a time when we will make friends with the Chinese, but with these (Dorje Shugden) people - never."


Does this affect Western Buddhists?


Western Buddhist Centers with a connection to the Dalai Lama have also been signing declarations promising not to engage in the Shugden practice or to allow into their Center anyone who does.


In the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) Handbook, Lama Zopa says:


"All those who offer service or teach in FPMT centers are committed to follow the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As an example, His Holiness has prohibited the practice of the so-called protector, Do Gyel (Shugden), so teachers or others affiliated with the FPMT should not engage in this practice."


This also extends to ordination. From the IMI/FPMT website:

Students considering ordination should also:

  • have had Buddhist refuge for at least five years,
  • have lived with lay vows for at least three years,
  • NOT be a Shugden practitioner,
  • be at least 20 years of age, etc etc

This is even though Lama Zopa says about himself and his teacher, the Founder of the FPMT:


"Of course, Lama and I practiced Dorje Shugden for many years. That was always the main thing that Lama did whenever there were problems to overcome. At the beginning of every Kopan course, Lama always did Shugden puja to eliminate hindrances."


This suppression of religious freedom and private belief amongst Western practitioners is even more ironic and tragic given that about 70% of their lineage Gurus were renowned Dorje Shugden practitioners! Where is their lineage now? It seems to start and end with the Dalai Lama (who is, interestingly enough, placed alone and above all the other great Lamas on the lineage Guru page, including his own teachers). The Dalai Lama is clearly destroying the established and ancient spiritual lineage not only of Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners but of Westerners too.


This February, the Dalai Lama sent the FPMT Centers the same referendum as in India with the two questions about (1) whether they reject the Protector Dorje Shugden and (2) whether they support Dorje Shugden practitioners.


This so-called "poll" does not lead to actual physical persecution as the Dalai Lama has no political power in the West to back it up (though, he does control the disbursement of considerable financial resources to these centers). But causing Westerners to swear that they are going to discriminate against others based on their religious faith is not only non-Buddhist, but creates disharmony and mistrust between the many European and American FPMT Buddhist Centers and the many Western Buddhist Centers who do rely upon Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden.


Many Dorje Shugden practitioners in the West, both Westerners and Tibetans, have been forced to remain anonymous for fear of becoming a target of the Dalai Lama's criticism and developing a bad reputation. They are falsely accused of being demon-worshippers, Chinese agents, sectarian cult members, and so on. Because of the Dalai Lama's unquestioned reputation in the West, the media have often believed him over the explanations of Dorje Shugden practitioners, and so have portrayed Dorje Shugden practitioners with a negative bias.


Does this affect Tibetans in the West?


Many Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners in the West fear the Dalai Lama's followers, both in Asia and the rest of the world, with good reasons.


The Tibetan communities in the West have already implemented some type of segregation, even before the taking of the oath. For example, in April there was a demonstration at Colgate University against the Dalai Lama's actions. One of the monks who attended was recognized by members of the American Tibetan community as the brother of a restaurant owner. People stopped attending that restaurant, which will soon be forced out of business.


On April 26, 2008, at Ganden Lachi monastery, Mundgod, South India, Thupten Lungrik, the minister of the Department of Education (of the Tibetan government in exile) gave a public speech to the monks and lay people:


"Every Tibetan must know that the Shugden society has filed the case against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In New York, during the demonstration by western Shugden devotees, some Tibetans took part. All Tibetans must identify them." 


On May 4, 2008, an urgent meeting against Shugden devotees was held in Dharamsala. Samdhong Rinpoche [the Dalai Lama's principal aide] said that Shugden devotees are staging demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama in many places; and that it is not the right time to demonstrate. The discussion on the writ petition filed by the society in Delhi High Court was taking place. Some Tibetans volunteered to attack the Shugden society and its members.


How many people are affected by this ban and persecution?


This is a widespread religious tradition. There are an estimated one million Tibetans in the Tibetan areas of China that rely upon Dorje Shugden as the Protector of Je Tsongkhapa's wisdom tradition. There are many other Dorje Shugden practitioners in Mongolia, India, Taiwan, Nepal, Switzerland, the US, the UK, and so on. All of them are affected directly or indirectly by this ban and, if nothing is done to stop it, a well-loved, peaceful and ancient tradition of Buddhism will be destroyed.

Political Leader

dalai lamaDalai Lama

The Hypocrisy

Follow the story of the Dalai Lama's 30-year political campaign to destroy a centuries-old spiritual tradition taught to him by his own Spiritual Guide, and the efforts of those he's hurting to stop him:

Brief summary
- What is happening
- What is the Western Shugden Society (WSS)?
- Detailed reports of discrimination from inside India and elsewhere

The Dalai Lama's position
- A Great Deception
- Praise to Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden by the Dalai Lama
- In the Dalai Lama's words

Why is this happening?
- Why is this religious suppression taking place?
- Are the Dalai Lama's reasons valid?

Efforts to restore religious freedom
- Geshe Kelsang's open letter
- The ban is illegal and unconstitutional
- Press reports and videos
- Dorje Shugden Devotee's Charitable and Religious Society
- Dalai Lama sued for repressing religious freedom
- A conflict with a solution
- Announcement from Serpom Norling Monastery

Analysis of situation
- Sectarianism
- Can the Dalai Lama ever make a mistake?
- Is the Dalai Lama the only spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism?
- Theocracy or democracy?
- Spirit worship or authentic Buddhist practice?
- Freedom of worship
- The Dalai Lama's justifications
- Analysis by Dalai Lama's translator (PDF)
- What would Thomas Jefferson think of the 14th Dalai Lama?
- Book Reviews
- Videos

Evidence and first-hand accounts
- Chronological background
- Discord in exile documentary
- Political motivations for the ban
- Summary to date from Tibetan exiles
- Other

Ongoing persecution 2008-2010
- Recent vote sticks and call for help
- Forced signature and ID card campaign
- Persecution of monks at Sera Monasteries
- Public humiliation and explusion of monks
- Letter to Indian Prime Minister regarding abuses
- Letters from Dorje Shugden Devotees
- Urgent appeal from Sera Monasteries
- Support from Indian police
- Western Shugden Society letter to Sera monasteries
- Western Shugden Society letter to TGIE
- Heartfelt request from monks in Mundgod
- More discrimination planned around the world
- Letter from an FPMT monk
- Other
- What you can do

Related Sites

Dorje Shugden