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DEITY OR DEMON? The "Unmentionable" Feud over Tibet's Dorje Shugden

May 13, 1998 08:28 PM
by David Green

Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

In the Latest Issue On Newsstands Now:

DEITY OR DEMON? The "Unmentionable" Feud over
Tibet's Dorje Shugden

With Stephen Batchelor and Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

Interviews with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and Thubten Jigme Norbu

For 350 years, Tibetan Buddhists of the Gelugpa lineage have been
battling over a protector god named Dorje Shugden-and whether this
spirit is a benevolent deity or an agent of evil. The conflict remained
largely unknown to Westerners until 1996, when disciples of Geshe
Kelsang Gyatso of the New Kadampa Tradition in England picketed
the Dalai Lama (who had asked his followers not to worship Shugden),
accusing him of restricting their religious freedom. In 1997, Geshe
Lobsang Gyatso, a prominent Gelugpa monk, and two of his disciples were
murdered in Dharamsala. Some Gelugpas, the Indian police, and
consequently the international press, have ascribed the killings
to Shugden worshipers.

This special section explores the cultural, religious, and political
sources of an issue that, for Tibetan Buddhists, is integral to the path
to enlightenment. Stephen Batchelor reveals the origins of the dispute
and its role in doctrinal debates waged within Tibetan buddhocracy.
Donald S. Lopez, Jr., limns the tangled trajectory of Shugden worship
with two interviews: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso speaks to Lopez about Shugden
as a buddha; for Thubten Jigme Norbu, brother of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama, Shugden is a malevolent ghost.

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