Because NKT threatens legal actions against its critics from time to time, it may be instructive to review a lawsuit filed early 2008 in India.
Shugdenites, nominally represented by (Petitioners) the Dorje Shugen Society in New Delhi and Kundeling Rinpoche (aka, Nga-Lama, Lobsang Yeshi Rinpoche), filed a lawsuit against the Indian government, the state government of Himachal Pradesh, The Dalai Lama and Samdong Rinpoche. The Dorje Shuden Society was formed in 1996 to serve sick and needy individuals of any caste, creed, race, sex etc through the Tibetan system of medicine and to preach the philosophy of Buddha and Shugden. Kundeling Rinpoche is purportedly the 12th reincarnation of the the first Kundeling Rinpoche. Samdong Rinpoche is the minister of the Tibetan government in exile.
The Petitioners claim that The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile are violating Indian law pertaining to religious freedom.
In effect, the Petitioners claim that the Indian government is ignoring enforcement of its own law since The Dalai Lama or any one else in the Tibetan government in exile have yet to be indicted or arrested. Accordingly, the Petitioners have filed a civil lawsuit seeking the court to direct The Dalai Lama and Samdong Rinpoche to cease violating Indian law and to pay for the Petitioner's expenses incurred by their lawsuit.
The Petitioners claim that, "Legend has it that the Dorje Shugden, a human being who lived in the 17th century, was the strongest contender for selection as the Fifth Dalai Lama, but was foully murdered. His spirit then emerged and took the role of a Dharmapala, who vowed to protect the Gelugpa traditions...the Fifth Dalai Lama declared a Sect called the Jonongpa as heretical and waged a relentless war against them and nearly exterminated them...The Kagyupa tradition, too, bore the brunt of forceful conversions and persecutions."
The Petitioners claim that The Dalai Lama is "merely the temporal head of the Gelugpa...the senior-most Lama, or priest, is the Ganden Tripa, who is the spiritual head of this tradition." The Petioners ignore that the Ganden Tripa does not endorse Shugden worship but instead supports The Dalai Lama. For example, the 100th Ganden Tripa said in 1996, "If it (Shugden) were a real protector, it should protect the people. There may not be any protector such as this, which needs to be protected by the people...The act of pronouncing one's strong faith in worldly gods is no different from publicizing your faults and downfall in your adherence to "the advice or refuge-seeking."...This demonous act of ignoring the advice of His Holiness on spiritual and temporal ground intended for the benefit of Tibetans and masterminding certain detrimental activities in finding slightest differences to your view clearly signifies ones lack of patriotism. Does the sour reality of governmental official needing police and security to escort them on their visit to the monasteries, centers of peace and religion, not become a cause for shame and embarrassment to the Tibetans in general and the monastic centers in particulars? Thus, it is timely to stop this strife by being aware of the grave outcome and essence less nature of this root of disagreement." In 2003, the 101st Ganden Tripa said, "I did not do the practice of this protector."
The Petitioners claim that The Dalai Lama's counsel regarding Shugden dating back to 1976 is a SCAM to divert public opinion away from 1) the withdrawal of funding the Tibetan government in exhile from the US Central Intelligence Agency in the mid 1970s, and 2) The Dalai Lama's decision to seek Tibetan autonomy from China rather than continue to stand for an independent nation.
The Petitioners claim that they sent a written plea to the Prime Minister of India on 12/14/07 but have not yet received a reply.
To prevail, the petitioners will have to prove their case, i.e., prove their claims and calcuations of their litigation's cost. For example, they will have to prove that
- Kundeling Rinpoche is the 12th reincarnation of the first Kundeling Rinpoche
- Shugden is a valid deity and is supported by the Ganden Tripa, spiritual head of the Gelugpas, the sect the Petitioner's claim to represent
- The Dalai Lama and Samdong Rinpoche are violating Indian law (and explain why the Indian government apparently disagrees)
- The US CIA acted as claimed
- The Dalai Lama as head of the Tibetan government in exile, temporal head of the Gelugpa (as they claim) and spiritual guide in Tibet (as they claim) is acting illegally in these capacities vis a vis Shugden
- Their Shugden legend (see above) is true
- The Dorje Shugden Society serves sick and needy individuals of any caste, creed, race, sex etc through the Tibetan system of medicine
Required witnesses for the Petitioners would likely include experts in reincarnation, Buddhism, characteristics of a Buddha, Shugden, oracles, rights of the Tibetan government in exile, Indian law, CIA funding, etc. The Petitioner's court room antics could easily look like a farce. Certainly, its claims are - a lawsuit based on legend, yet another bogus CIA conspiracy, the preposterous allegation that the Indian government is ignoring its duty to its citizens, and gross speculations/hallucinations over Shugden reincarnations and Buddhahood.
Of course, these witnesses and any fact witnesses for the Petitioners will be cross examined by the Court and attorneys representing The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan government in exile and the Indian government, who all may introduce their own experts.
On May 10, 2008,a group of 10 Tibetan non-government organizations condemned the lawsuit and requested, “In the event of any untoward incident occurring in relation to the security of His Holiness, we all are equivocal in our belief that it will be then only (Dhoegyal) Shugden supporters to be blamed for” and urged the Indian government to further “beef up security around His Holiness the Dalai Lama”."
August 8, 2008, a French television station broadcast an interesting video of the Shugden controversy, including an interview with one of the Petitioners. Kundeling Rinpoche blames the killing and destruction by the Chinese during the 1950s on The Dalai Lama's concern with Shugden (although The Dalai Lama did not arrive at this concern until the 1970s) and prefers the relative calm now under the authoritarian repressive rule of the Chinese government, which has outlawed public Buddhist practices. Kundeling Rinpoche replied, “I approve the Chinese presence in Tibet. What we are living with the Dalai Lama today shows how authoritarian his theocratic regime must have been in the past. It was much more violent than what Tibetans are living today under Chinese rule...If we had to live with him (The Dalai Lama), we could have possibly been crucified." The news cast covers the brutal murders of 3 monks loyal to to The Dalai Lama by Shugdenites. (to watch the news broadcast, click here)
If the Petitioners lose their lawsuit, will they have to pay the expenses of those they are suing?