Events in 1998
January 2, 1998
During the inauguration of the debating courtyard of Sera-Mey monastery by H.H. the Dalai Lama, the monks of Pomra Khangtsen, who constitute about 75% of Sera- May monastery, and all of whom rely on Dorje Shugden, are prohibited from attending the ceremony. They are prevented from leaving their rooms and kept under virtual house arrest by the local police under instructions from Dharamsala, who allege that the monks are a threat to H.H. the Dalai Lama's security.
During the inauguration ceremony, there is a large thankha painting of Tha-wo, the monastic protective deity, who looks like Dorje Shugden. H.H. the Dalai Lama, thinking that it is Dorje Shugden, bitterly attacks the practice of Dorje Shugden in his talk to the monks. Later he calls the abbots together and starts to chastise them for displaying the thangkha, until it is pointed out to him that it is not Dorje Shugden.
During this talk H.H. the Dalai Lama announces that the monks have to choose between H.H. the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden.
Tashi Wangdu, president of the Tibetan Regional Council, stated on Swiss TV: “There are governmental and non-governmental gods, To worship gods which are not recognized by our government is against the law.”
January 5-8, 1998
The Swiss TV news program '10 vor 10' features four consecutive news reports on the Dorje Shugden issue.
January 14, 1998
Amdo Lobsang Tenzin (President for Domed Cholkha). Bhu Yontan (President for U-Tang Cholkha) and Ratru Ngawang (President for Dotoe Cholkha, all three representing the United Cholsum Organization or UCO in Dharamsala) and Mr. Jampal Yeshe (President), Geshe Kunchog Gyaltsen ( Vice-president). Lobsang Gyaltsen (International Relations Coordinator) and Ven. Dhondrub (Treasurer) of Dorje Shugden Society, in New Delhi to explore common ground as part of an exercise to resolve the current Tibetan religious crisis.
The UCO representatives asked the Society members for the “immediate closure” of their society. The society members offered that the society existed only to seek religious freedom restored and the ban lifted. Once these two are achieved, the society would automatically cease to exist. Deliberations continued for the whole day. The society pointed out that both H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile govt. had so far ignored all our petitions and personal appeals for redress of their legitimate grievance. "
Jan. 25, 1998
Second Meeting with United Cholsum Organization in New Delhi. The participants were the same as on Jan. 14. At this meeting, the Shugden Society made it clear to the Organization that it is not backed or funded by Communist China. The representatives accepted this fact with open heart. They said they would announce this fact publicly at the proposed United Cholsum Organization's convention in Dharamsala.
Feb. 26, 1998
Third round of meeting between the UCO and Shugden society. This is held between Ratru Ngawang (president of Dhotoe Province) for the UCO and Geshe Konchog Gyaltsen, Chatreng Gyurmey and Lobsang Gyaltsen of Shugden Society. Ratru Ngawang said that both their colleagues at UCO, Kashag and Tibetan exile parliament whom they met, observed that Shugden society is truly blameless in this crisis. It deserves every effort for reconciliation. The matter ultimately rests with H.H. the Dalai Lama, but in view of the rigid stand of H.H. the Dalai Lama, they have met with dead end. Ratru explained that the wishes of H.H. the Dalai Lama are more important than the harmony of Tibetan Society. Asked by Lobsang Gyaltsen if this is also the stand of the UCO, Ratru said, yes, this is also the stand of the United Cholsum Organization.
March: First Week, 1998
Four monks who arrived from Tibet, from the monastery Sog-Shandrung, seek to participate at a public audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. They are told that before they are cleared for the audience they should sign a declaration, saying that they will not worship Dorje Shugden. One of the monks observes that unless H.H. the Dalai Lama personally orders him, he cannot sign such a declaration. After the audience, two give their signature, two don't.
March 22, 1998
Public meeting in Delhi on the religious crisis precipitated by the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Participants, numbering 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 Indian Ecological 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 expressed genuine pain over the religious ban. He said this was a clear attack on Religious Freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. He offered to discuss this issue with his colleagues in the government, to bring it on the floor of the parliament. Dolly Swami noted that as long as Tibetans live in India, their leadership has to live by Indian law. Every Indian leader or academic, who spoke on the occasion, expressed deep sympathy with all those Tibetans who worship Dorje Shugden and offered encouragement.
May 9-11, 1998
The first General Convention of Dorje Shugden Society was held at the India International Centre in New Delhi from 9 to 11 of May. About 100 delegates from various branches in India, USA, England, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Nepal gathered, to review the situation and exchange views on establishing a common plan of positive action.
July 22, 1998
The United Choelsum Organization based in Dharamsala issues announcement for a proposed Tibetan general convention in Dharamsala in August. The theme of the convention is about marginalizing devotees of Shugden in the Tibetan exile community.
August 22, 1998
Announcement from Dorje Shugden Society: “Some reasons for delegates from Dorje Shugden Society to participate in the Convention in Dharamshala”, to set the record straight regarding its non-political nature. The United Cholsum Organization has time and again spread the allegation that the Dorje Shugden Society in Delhi has a connection with Beijing and Taiwan. We require the organization to clarify and substantiate their accusation in the presence of the Tibetan public during this convention. To accuse an innocent person with this type of allegation is the worst and most despicable method to destroy an innocent person's happiness and future within the Tibetan society. Therefore, we would like to ask the United Cholsum Organization to produce hard evidence to substantiate their allegations against the Society...
August 22, 1998
A delegation consisting of 120 members of the Dorje Shugden Society from different parts of India, including women and elderly survivors from Tibet, leave from Delhi to Dharamsala, in order to participate in the convention with the aim to contribute towards reconciliation and restoration of religious freedom in Tibetan community.
August 25: Around 10 PM, 1998
Officer Dawa Tsering called Tibetan public at McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, and told that busloads of Shugden activists have set out from Delhi, to destroy the Tibetan Cathedral, and there after to proceed towards H.H. the Dalai Lama's palace. The Tibetan public, including monks, gathered at the bus station of McLeod Ganj throughout the night, waiting to manhandle the delegation.
August 25: Midnight, 1998
Two Tibetan ministers call on the Sub Divisional Commissioner of Police, alerting the district authorities to the potential ‘law and order’ situation, urging them to detain the Shugden delegations before the situation explodes.
August 26: Morning, 1998
All the 120 delegate members of the Dorje Shugden Society, including many old people and women, were forced to stay back at Samela village, on the outskirts of Kangra town. The delegates were stranded at Samela from 9 am till evening.
August 26: Evening, 1998
The entire delegation was directed by the police to move to the nearby Dehra town into judicial custody.
August 26: 10:30 pm to 2 am
The district administration arranges a meeting between the delegation and the United Cholsum Organization at the police headquarters in Dharamsala under the supervision of the additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) (Mrs.) Anuradha Thakur, attended by the top district police officers.
The Shugden delegation asked the UCO heads, as well as Tibetan exile govt's representative Samkhar Tenpa and Tashi Namgyal, to produce hard evidence, if any, to substantiate their allegation about the Shugden Society being funded by Communist China or Taiwan. In the absence of such evidence, the Shugden delegates added, the UCO should allow them to attend the convention where they will clear the public misconception about the matter once for all. The UCO delegates did not say anything about evidence. They only repeatedly pointed out that the delegates must return back to Delhi as they may be attacked, beaten, and killed by the Tibetans if they proceed towards Dharamsala.
August 27, 1998
Annual Convention of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). at the Tibetan Children's Village (TCV), Dharamsala: H.H. the Dalai Lama, in the course of his opening address, said: “I have imposed this ban for three reasons: (1) Throughout history this worship has been at odds with the Gaden Phodrang ruling government of Tibet, (2) Buddhism, which is very profound, is in danger of degenerating into spirit worship, and (3) worship of Dholgyal (Shugden) creates sectarianism. For these three reasons I have imposed the ban. You, the younger generation, should be careful. It is dangerous. I was informed that more than a hundred worshippers of Dholgyal were coming.”
August 31, 1998
Resolution passed by the UCO convention reads: “Agenda 3: In view of the fact that till date in our society, followers of Communist Chinese and Taiwanese money and means, who under the pretext of (the Shugden) religious conflict, have been engaged in systematic implementation of the enemy's designs and thereby undermine the cause of Tibet. How best these bad elements can be exposed to all. What should be done to stop this?
F.) To make it impossible for those who are engaged in undermining the prestige of His Holiness H.H. the Dalai Lama and our government to get access to 'Clearance for Foreign Travel', admission into schools, old-age benefits, child support system, and aid for the destitute, we will urge that these people are not put on a par with other Tibetans. They should be subjected to scrutiny in the local Tibetan enclaves. It should also be checked whether these people have membership card of their respective provinces. In short, we will urge (the exile Tibetan Govt.) not disappoint the general Tibetan public (By treating those who worship Dorje Shugden against the ban imposed by H.H. the Dalai Lama on par with other Tibetan). Likewise, the local Tibetan freedom movement offices should check whether or not any Tibetan applying for or updating the green book (without which no Tibetan applying for or updating the green book (without which no Tibetan is eligible for any Tibetan exile Govt, benefit programs or foreign aid channelled through the Tibetan exile govt.) has a valid membership card of his on her local (birth) province issued by the local UCO branch.
G.) Furthermore, in all Tibetan enclaves, unless and until devotees of Dorje Shugden voluntarily give up their worship, no one should patronize Tibetan restaurants, shops stores, guest houses etc. run by any devotee of Shugden. "Learning from history, as long as the religion and politics of the Tibetan people survive, each Tibetan should pledge that he or she will never attend any (religious) teachings, or establish any spiritual bond with, any Tibetan spiritual master or reincarnation lama who is related to Dorje Shugden.
H.) Since books, documents, newsletters and whatever literature published by so-called Dorje Shugden Society are nothing other than ideology and activity of communist China, no Tibetan will be allowed to subscribe to, purchase, or read any of the above books or pamphlets. Nor should they be allowed to subscribe to, purchase, or read any issue of the Drang-den (the Truth) and Nyenchen Thang-Lha Tibetan (private) newspaper. If these arrive by mail, they should be returned to the sender.
* The Secret Society of External and Internal Enemy Eliminators makes its death threats against the two young incarnations of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (13), Tutor of H.H. the Dalai Lama, and Song Rinpoche (11). Trijang Choktul Rinpoche was forced to stop his traditional studies and leave India.
Choktul Rinpoche, then lived in in western Europe and asked for audience each time, when H.H. Dalai Lama visited Europe. Choktul Rinpoche requested His Holiness' unconditioned, compassionate acceptance to allow him to continue his relation to Dorje Shugden, who has been closely linked with the last three predecessors of the line of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoches. This has been repeatedly refused.
In their last meeting in Europe, in Graz, Austria, in 2003, H.H. Dalai Lama stated his Final Judgement: "If you give up this deity, myself and all Tibetan people will appreciate it very much and our protector Nechung will take care of you and make you more successful and famous than ever. If you do not give up this deity, then your monastic career, like receiving the full monk's ordination and taking Geshe examinations will not be possible. So I leave it to your judgement." Then he concluded the conversation with the English words: "YES or NO?" Choktul Rinpoche, in great disappointment, neither wanting to give up the tradition of his own predecessors, nor wanting to stick out as opponent to His Holiness, chose to change his life-style totally and now lives freely, concentrated in his own Dharma-studies and practices in the USA.
The last of several letter writing campaigns starts with letters coming from all over the world, seeking explanation from H.H. the Dalai Lama, as it affect thousands of Western Buddhists. There is no reply.
September 2, 1998
Two hundred delegates of Dorje Shugden Society from all over India and Nepal conducted a silent and peaceful march in New Delhi against the ban on their freedom of religion, with banners and placards, calling upon the Tibetan exile administration, Dharamsala: "Stop your religious intolerance and discrimination. ...Stop your lies about Dorje Shugden Society, We are being condemned behind our back. Keep politics out of religion."
September 15, 1998
Mr. Phuntsok Nudrub (63), a devotee of Dorje Shugden and resident of Delhi, went to the Foreigners' Registration Office (FRO) in Dharamsala for renewal of his registration Certificate (Stay permit for Tibetan refugees in India). He was interrogated over two days, attended by officers of Tibetan Dept. of Security. The Indian officer asked Phuntsok if he is a worshipper of Dorje Shugden. Phuntsok said yes. On cue from Tibetan officers, the Indian officer observed that “as every other Tibetan, you can either accept H.H. the Dalai Lama or worship Dorje Shugden. You cannot be both.” Phuntsok raised serious objection to this unprecedented interference with his religious faith. Noting that the FRO cannot renew his stay permit unless he gives up the worship, the Indian officer refused extension of Phuntsok’s stay permit.
November 23, 1998
Tibetan organization in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, India, sent a message to Samten Choeling Monastery (Est: 1952), which also houses the memorial stupa of Anagarika Govinda, that the delegates would show up shortly at the monastery to ask the monastic community to give up its traditional worship of Dorje Shugden. Next day, on Nov. 24, when Ven. Umze Thupten (71) heard the news through phone call, he suffered a massive heart attack and died on the spot.
June 10, 1998
The (then) Tibetan minister for the Dept. of Religion and Culture, Ven. Kirti Rinpoche, pays an official visit to Darjeeling Tibetan settlement. Upon the minister's instructions, two local Tibetans including Amdo Tsultrim and Gyalrong Gyatso were sent to the home of Gonpo Dekyi, the widow of Amdo Gonpo, a devotee of Dorje Shugden. They forcibly took away the Vase of Shugden from her home and buried it below the local cemetery. The vase had been consecrated by His Holiness Zong Rinpoche.
December 21, 1998
The president of All India Singsha Bhutia Association, one of the largest Indian Social organizations in Kalimpong, writes to the Dept. of Religion and Culture of Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala on behalf of its Indian citizens:
“We have been hearing that your Dept is raising some sort of objection against a particular deity in our place of worship. If this were true, then it is very unfortunate, for it is against the very nature and spirit of our secular democratic country. Hence, under the circumstances, we would like to request you to kindly refrain from interfering in our place of worship, so that peace and amity will not be disturbed among the followers of all sects of Lamaism.”
December 30, 1998
Upon instructions from the advance party for H.H. the Dalai Lama's visit, the Mundgod Tibetan settlement's office issues a circular:
“To the office bearers, disciplinarian of the monasteries, president of organizations and camp leaders.”
“...in keeping with the spirit of H.H. the Dalai Lama's repeated talks, it is imperative that those attending the teachings should be confirmed non-worshippers of Dholgyal (Shugden). Therefore we have no choice but to announce that keeping this stringently in mind, the respective institutions and organizations should implement this requirement without failure. For this purpose, they should minutely scrutinize the list of attendance to these teachings of H.H. the Dalai Lama. At the same time, the settlement office has prepared special badges for all the monks, nuns and the laity.”