Header image header image 2  

NKT Distorts Pabongkha Too

Pabongka's (1878–1941), or Phabongkha, collected writings have been published in 11 volumes plus a supplemental volume.

All banned, of course, by Kelsang Gyatso inside NKT. They are not to be read even though Kelsang Gyatso boasts that he is successor to Pabongka's lineage.

Pabongkha's collected works have been examined by Dr. Joona Repo, who earned his Ph.D. in Tibetan religious history and transation of Tibetan Buddhist texts. Dr. Repo published several peer-reviewed articles about Pabongkha.

It is to be expected that NKT will respond alleging that what Dr. Repo published, or anyone else publishes, is all lies. At NKT, only Kelsang Gyatso tells the truth.

Some excerpts:

"Phabongkha is undoubtedly a highly contested and perhaps often misunderstood historical figure...As an important lineage holder of the Dorje Shugden cycle of teachings within the Gelug tradition, he has been reviled as a sectarian spirit-worshipper by some and lauded as a pivotal guardian and interpreter of Tsongkhapa’s lineage by others.

The controversy surrounding the deity, who has today been abandoned by most Gelugpas, has already been documented in several important seminal studies by scholars such as Georges Dreyfus and Donald Lopez.

What is definitely unique, however, is how this Gelug-protectionism manifested in the belief that Shugden would specifically shield the lineage from being “corrupted” by “the views and tenets of others” through engaging in often very wrathful activities. Thus apart from the usual functions of a protector, Shugden perhaps also became an attractive deity figure for those disposed to sectarianism.

Phabongkha did undoubtedly play a seminal role in the dissemination of the practices of Vajrayogini and Shugden in the twentieth century.

The cycle of teachings related to Cakrasaṃvara was the single most important subject of Phabongkha’s writings...The majority of Phabongkha’s compositions on the Cakrasaṃvara cycle, however, relate to Vajrayoginī Naro Kechari, a form of Cakrasaṃvara’s consort Vajravarahi...It is interesting to note that although Phabongkha mentions Cakrasaṃvara, Guhyasamāja and Vajrabhairava, the three principal meditational deities promoted by Tsongkhapa, numerous times in his Liberation in Your Hand, Vajrayoginī appears to get no mention.

Phabongkha’s controversial Shugden material is all collected into the seventh volume of the set...Interestingly, out of the complete collection of Phabongkha’s writings, only five are concerned exclusively with the propitiation of Dorje Shugden: two texts related to the life-entrustment, or rather life-initiation, of the protector, an extensive and middle-length fulfillment ritual and a presentation of related explanations and ritual activities.

Phabongkha’s actual contribution to the body of Dorje Shugden literature was therefore relatively small when compared to those of his students, specifically that of Trijang Rinpoche, who carried on Phabongkha’s lineage by composing nine separate texts uniquely devoted to the protector...it is also important to bear in mind that Trijang Rinpoche, in the colophons to his Shugden works, in keeping with the concept of lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, often cites Phabongkha as the source of the teachings which form the basis of his writings.

While the two main deities focused on in Phabongkha's Collected Works were Cakrasaṃvara and Vajrayoginī, the two main deities on which Trijang Rinpoche's Collected Works focus are both pure vision teachings stemming from the Tagphu incarnation lineage: Shugden and Tārā.

Despite the epithets that Phabongkha used in relation to Shugden in his works, he was not exclusively focused on Shugden as the only protector worthy of writing on.

Pehar is a protector of the Tibetan Govern-ment hailing from the Nyingma tradition who through his minister, Dorje Drakden, makes himself manifest through the Nechung Oracle a human medium who in turn functions as the primary state oracle. Shugden likewise manifests through human mediums, relegating his outward ranking to that of a worldly deity in the eyes of most Tibetan Buddhists, as en-ightened protectors are generally understood not to take possession of mediums, an activity reserved for worldly spirits and protectors. Shugden's actual nature as a manifestation of Manjuśrī is likewise highly contested by most Tibetan Buddhists.

Phabongkha’s many compositions on Vajrayoginī do not mean that he had a calculated plan for the practice to become an institutionalized central facet of the Gelug tradition.

Dreyfus goes on to say that although Phabongkha did not introduce these deities into the tradition himself, but rather received them from his teachers, it is his unprecedented promotion of these “secondary practices” by making them “widespread and central to the Geluk tradition and claiming that they represented the essence of Tsongkhapa's teaching" which made him innovative.

Dreyfus also repeats, specifically in relation to Shugden, that Phabongkha "transformed a marginal practice into a central element of the Ge-luk tradition. This transformation is illustrated by the epithets used to refer to Shukden".

It is almost impossible to estimate the popularity of Shugden in the various regions of Tibet and Mongolia before the twentieth century. The major difference with these earlier teachers and Phabongkha, however, was the latter's popularity, which resulted in a wider dissemination of anything he taught, often to an audience of politically and religiously influential figures.

While Phabongkha's teachings certainly diffused the practice of Vajrayoginī, as well as Dorje Shugden, making them more popular amongst Gelug practitioners in Central Tibet and Kham than they were before, apart from upholding the traditional view of Vajrayoginī being Tsongkhapa's secret meditational deity, it is unclear to what extent he saw these practices as “central” to the Gelug teachings at large.

...while Phabongkha was undoubtedly extremely close to Shugden, he was one of at least several important protectors that Phabongkha propitiated.

Phabongkha’s teachings on Vajrayoginī and Shugden were perhaps not intended for a mass audience, and would explain why he did not mention Vajrayoginī, traditionally considered a very secret practice, at the large gathering where he taught Liberation in Your Hand. Indeed the nature of the transmission of the Shugden life-entrustment and teachings themselves already place certain re-strictions on the full-scale public diffusion of the practice. While the main rituals associated with the deity - the extensive and middle-length fulfillment rituals, like the fulfillment rituals of most other Gelug protectors, can be practiced on the basis of having received a Vajrabhairava initiation, in order to fully enter the practice of the approach, accomplishment and various activities of the deity one must not only receive a Vajrabhairava initi-ation, but furthermore on the basis of that one must engage in a full retreat of serviceability, along with concluding practices such as a burning offering, receive the Shugden life-entrustment, keep all vows and pledges, and engage in any given practice commitments. Although there is again nothing particularly different about this process when compared to other protectors, what is out-standing, however, is the nature of the life-entrustment of the deity, which can only be received by a group of a maximum of “a few” disciples.

Receiving the life-entrustment is of course important for a serious practitioner, but was clearly restricted, and those who were able to receive the Shugden life-entrustment from Phabongkha were thus largely restricted to his closer students, or small groups of followers. This tradition seems to have been closely followed by Trijang Rinpoche, as is apparent from his autobiography. Although Trijang Rinpoche mentions giving the life-entrustment several times, these were given to a maximum of three people at a time, often only one or two.

Phabongkha was certainly not unique in the Gelug tradition in promoting practices with questionable links to Tsongkhapa’s original teachings.

Phabongkha certainly considered his relationship with Shugden as being extremely close. However, he never promoted Shugden as the sole protector of Tsongkhapa's tradition. If he had truly put tremen-dous importance on the diffusion of the practice, it could be argued that he would have composed far more texts himself over the years, instead of leaving a large amount of the work to his student. Instead it appears that Phabongkha’s few Shugden works were composed over a period of around fifteen years or so- more than enough time to compose a larger body of work.

The growing popularity of Dorje Shugden was undoubtedly aided by the composition and printing of Trijang Rinpoche’s texts on the practice, which represented a major portion of the growing body of works on the protector.93 Trijang Rinpoche's writings clearly complement Phabongkha's works but it appears from his autobiography that he was not responsible for any wider or more public dissemina-tion of the practice. Indeed, as has been noted, Trijang Rinpoche was selective in his conferral of Shugden life-entrustments and teachings, suggesting that the wider popularization of the practice appears to have been undertaken by some of his direct students.

Following Trijang Rinpoche’s Shugden works, perhaps the most important are those of Zemey Rinpoche who further composed several texts on the deity, such as retreat instructions, praises, and of course the infamous 1975 Sacred Words of the Competent Father-Guru, more commonly known as the Yellow Book, which caused an uproar due to its sectarian, primarily anti-Nyingma, accounts that subsequently led to the current controversy over the deity. Sacred Words, according to Zemey Rinpoche, was composed based on incidental oral accounts heard from Trijang Rinpoche.95 It is important to note that by this time the cult of Shugden was in the early stages of becoming internationally diffused to a growing mass of devotees by Phabongkha’s, and especially Trijang Rinpoche's students.

This conception of a Phabongkha-Vajrayoginī-Shugden triad appears to have taken place during the latter half of the twentieth cen-tury and is not traceable to Phabongkha or even to Trijang Rinpoche. It is possible that the designation of this systematic three-fold group-ing as the central facet of Phabongkha’s teachings by modern schol-ars and others, may have been informed to a certain extent by the modern praxis of some of the pro-Shugden followers of Pha-bongkha’s lineage, especially the New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU), who David N. Kay notes, “formulate the Buddhist path in terms of the dictum ‘one guru, one yidam and one Dharma-protector’”, and who strongly emphasize the practices of Vajrayoginī and Shugden within this framework.

The conferring of Shugden initiations, or life-entrustments, to large gatherings of people, instead of a small group of select disci-ples, is not uncommon today in both Tibet and abroad, and the com-plete exclusion of other central practices such as Vajrabhairava from the ritual repertoire by some teachers are symptoms demonstrating drastic changes in the tradition espoused by Phabongkha. Vajrabhairava, after all, was not only one of Tsongkhapa’s main practices, but self-generation as the deity was prescribed by Phabongkha as the basis for propitiating Shugden.

Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-1656) is the historical figure believed to have arisen as Shugden after his death."

Pabongkha and Trijang limited Shugden initiations to a few well prepared students. Kelsang Gyatso and NKT sell Shugden initiations to large groups of ill prepared neophytes.

Tsongkhapa never heard of Shugden.

Shugden was invented after the death of Tsongkhapa, Shugdenism becoming only a small orthodox anti-harmony sect.

No one ever protested against the Dalai Lama for requesting that Shugden worshipers not receive Buddhists initiations from the Dalai Lama until Kelsang Gyatso.

No one made such a life and death stuggle for Shugden until Kelsang Gyatso.

Kelsang Gyatso did not explode Shugden until he abandoned Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama in 1991.

Kelsang Gyatso's Shugden is a fabrication used to attack Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, and as exposed by Reuters December 2015, in concert with China.

As Kelsang Gyatso stated in 1998, Shugden is politics.