Testimony to Shugden Ban

Swiss TV – SF1, 10 vor 10 1998

Geshe Phüntsok Tsültrim, 64 years old:

We had asked our teachers to initiate us into the practice of this deity. Now we have either to act against the words of these great masters or disregard the Dalai Lama’s ban. I deeply regret that I could not have died a few years ago before this ban.

Geshe Lobsang Dönden, 72 years old:

On the one hand we cannot speak to the Dalai Lama. On the other hand, we have no choice but to act against his words. I keep thinking: “If only I were already dead.”


Lobsang Tsültrim’s Story

Many of the exiled Tibetans living in India today used to worship Dorje Shugden, the deity which has now been banned.The Family of sculptor Lobsang Tsültrim owns two cows and a small field in this southern Indian settlement. They are the only ones here who still revere this deity. Two years ago there were thirty-three families such families.

Social pressure is extremely high within the Tibetan communities. Any contradiction of the Dalai Lama is frowned upon.

Lobsang Tsultrim:

Three times a day I have to go check on my wife when she is outside grazing the cows to make sure that nobody has harmed her! We have no friends anymore! Everyone makes life difficult for us. We can’t go on living like this!

Lobsang Tsultrim’s wife:

Just how many times have they thrown stones against our house! A little child sleeps inside. I don’t care if they kill us parents, but I’m afraid that they will harm our child!

Every time I go to work I am scared that they will kill my child or kidnap him before I get back. At meetings they all look at me with contempt. Even old friends. We live in constant fear. We trusted the Dalai Lama. If he does something like this, how far have things gone? We still live in the Tibetan community but we don’t belong there any more! They have excluded us completely.



The Thubten Family’s Story

The outskirts of Old Delhi. The Tibetan settlement. Those who are even worse off end up here. The Thubten family was literally chased out of their residential area.

Mrs Thubten:

About a hundred people attacked us. Had we gone out of our house, they definitely would have killed us.”

Fanatical followers of the Dalai Lama tried to burn down this family’s house. They successfully forced these people who revere the deity now banned by the Dalai Lama to flee. They lost everything. This family are pariahs of the Tibetan Community in India.

Mrs Thubten:

They broke into our house and destroyed everything. They smashed the china. Demolished the TV with stones. Wrecked the fridge. All the windows, they destroyed everything. My husband worked thirty-five years for all this.



Jampel Yeshe’s Story

Victims of attacks by hard line followers of the Dalai Lama find shelter in this house. It is run by an organization of adherents of this deity, Dorje Shugden. In this house they have made a small temple. The organization was founded only after the Dalai Lama did not respond to several petitions. Death threats and insults are the order of the day.

Jampel Yeshe:

I have written many letters to the government in exile of the Dalai Lama. Please, please, allow us to keep relying on this deity. Because I never got an answer, I even wrote to the Indian government.

Jampel Yeshe, the president of this organization, has lived alone in his apartment for the past year. His family has been threatened so severely that he had to take his wife and three children abroad. The following photocopied “wanted” poster hits him the hardest:

Jampel Yeshe:

This is my wife’s name. The names of all my children are listed, including concrete information on what school they attend. These “wanted” posters have been posted everywhere. I assume this is meant as encouragement to kill us. We came to India because of our religion. We gave up Tibet to preserve Buddha’s teachings. That’s why we fled. One simply can’t just wipe away the devotion to this deity!

Our fathers and our mothers died, the Chinese killed them. Though that was terrible, it didn’t strike our innermost being. This ban, however, stabs us right in our hearts. Who proclaimed this ban? Have we come to a point where we are no longer allowed to follow the teachings of the Buddha? From father to son, from generation to generation, from master to master this pure tradition has been passed on.




Swiss TV SF1 Documentary in three parts, available widely on YouTube