1. Dorje Shugden is the last incarnation in a lineage of enlightened Masters
Dorje Shugden arose from an incarnation lineage of enlightened Teachers. As the highly realized Master, Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche, said:
You have manifested in different aspects
As Indian and Tibetan Masters,
Such as Manjushri, Mahasiddha Biwawa, Sakya Pandita,
Buton Rinchen Drub, Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen, Panchen Sonam Dragpa, and many others.
Their life stories are explained in the book Heart Jewel. Since his lineage is enlightened, Dorje Shugden is a Buddha too.
2. Dorje Shugden could not be subdued by the 5th Dalai Lama or other Lamas
When Ngatrul Dragpa Gyaltsen, the last human incarnation, manifested as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden (as he had predicted he would do), the 5th Dalai Lama initially developed the mistaken idea that he was a spirit and tried to subdue him through performing wrathful fire pujas. Although he and many high Lamas tried to destroy Dorje Shugden, they were not able to because he is a Buddha. This is explained by Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche in his praise of Dorje Shugden, Infinite Aeons:
Then, although four undisputed powerful Tantrikas,
With concentration, began wrathful rituals to strike you down,
Through the power of having completed Guhyasamaja's two stages,
You would not be silenced, and showed signs of heroism; praise to you!
3. Dorje Shugden’s form teaches the paths of Sutra and Tantra
Dorje Shugden's form teaches the complete stages of the path of Sutra and Tantra, and such qualities are not possessed by the forms of worldly beings.
He appears as a fully ordained monk to show that the practice of pure moral discipline is essential for those who wish to attain enlightenment. In his left hand he holds a heart, which symbolize great compassion and spontaneous great bliss – the essence of all the stages of the vast path of Sutra and Tantra. His round yellow hat represents the view of Nagarjuna, and the wisdom sword in his right hand (like the one held by Manjushri and Je Tsongkhapa) teaches us to sever ignorance, the root of samsara, with the sharp blade of Nagarjuna’s view. This is the essence of all the stages of the profound path of Sutra and Tantra. He rides a snow lion, symbolizing the four fearlessnesses of a Buddha.
Explanation of his remaining features can be found in Heart Jewel, as can the specific enlightened function of each of the thirty-two Deities of his mandala, which are explained in a prayer written by Sachen Kunlo, one of the great Sakya Lamas.
Only enlightened beings display a meaningful aspect that teaches the entire path to enlightenment. Therefore, Dorje Shugden is a Buddha.
4. Dorje Shugden is the incarnation of the five Buddha families
Dorje Shugden is the incarnation of the five Buddha families and appears in five forms that symbolize the five families. These forms are explained in Heart Jewel and are called 'the five lineages of Dorje Shugden'. The principal Deity, Duldzin Dorje Shugden rides a snow lion. Vairochana Shugden is white and rides an elephant. Ratna Shugden is yellow and rides a palomino horse. Pema Shugden is red and rides a turquoise dragon. Karma Shugden is dark red and rides a wrathful Garuda bird. These forms also symbolize Dorje Shugden's attainment of pacifying, increasing, controlling and wrathful actions and his main form as Duldzin symbolizes the supreme attainment – enlightenment itself.
Since Dorje Shugden is the manifestation of the five Buddha families, there is no doubt that he is the same enlightened nature as Buddha Vajradhara.
5. Dorje Shugden is the same nature as Manjushri, Je Tsongkhapa, Mahakala and Kalarupa
Dorje Shugden is the same nature as Je Tsongkhapa – they are the same person performing different functions. Many Dorje Shugden sadhanas state that Dorje Shugden is the embodiment of the “Guru, Yidam, and Protector”, where “Guru” refers specifically to Lama Tsongkhapa. When we practice the sadhana of Dorje Shugden, we are indirectly practising the Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa. Gelugpa practitioners who have a sincere trust in Dorje Shugden will have no difficulty in generating unshakeable faith in Je Tsongkhapa and his teachings.
Both Je Tsongkhapa (‘peaceful Manjushri’) and Dorje Shugden (‘wrathful Manjushri’) are manifestations of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri, as are the Dharma Protectors four-faced Mahakala and Kalarupa. Therefore, they are all the same enlightened nature.
6. Dorje Shugden’s mandala Deities are the same nature as the body mandala Deities of Lama Losang Tubwang Dorjechang
The Deities of Dorje Shugden’s mandala are the same nature as the Deities of the body mandala of Lama Losang Tubwang Dorjechang, who is in essence Je Tsongkhapa.
Lama Losang Tubwang Dorjechang is the principal object of refuge in the blessed Gelug practice of Offering to the Spiritual Guide (Tib: Lama Chöpa), which comes from Manjushri’s Emanation Scripture. In this practice we visualize within his body the thirty-two Deities of Guhyasamaja. These thirty-two Deities manifest as the thirty-two Deities of Dorje Shugden's mandala, indicating that Dorje Shugden is the same nature as Je Tsongkhapa and Guhyasamaja and thus a fully enlightened being.
Of the Deities of the five lineages of Dorje Shugden explained above, the principal Deity is Duldzin Dorje Shugden, who is the manifestation of the aggregate of consciousness of Lama Losang Tubwang Dorjechang. The remaining four lineages are manifestations of Lama Losang Tubwang Dorjechang’s remaining four aggregates. Je Tsongkhapa himself therefore manifests as an enlightened Protector and retinue to protect his Ganden tradition.
7. The practice of Dorje Shugden was taught by Je Tsongkhapa in Tushita Pure Land
Dorje Shugden arose as the principal Protector of Je Tsongkhapa's doctrine over 300 years ago, at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, who composed the first verse of praise to him. However, the current system of empowerment and worship is more recent and comes from a great Lama called Tagphu Padmavajra. Lama Tagphu went to Tushita Pure Land where he met Je Tsongkhapa and requested a teaching. In response, Je Tsongkhapa lifted up the cloth covering the front of the golden throne on which he was sitting, and the five lineages of Dorje Shugden emerged. Dorje Shugden then transmitted the practice to Lama Tagphu, just as Maitreya had transmitted five major philosophical treatises to Asanga in Tushita Pure Land in earlier times.
Lama Tagphu later transmitted these instructions to Pabongkhapa Dechen Nyingpo, who passed them on to Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe -- spiritual father and son. From Trijang Rinpoche, they passed to our present day Gelugpa Teachers.
8. Dorje Shugden has been relied upon by the highest Lamas, who themselves have been recognized as enlightened
Well-regarded Gelugpa practitioners of Dorje Shugden include the 5th Dalai Lama, Kelsang Thubten Jigme Gyatso 1743-1811 (a tutor to the 9th Dalai Lama), Losang Thubten Wangchuk Jigme Gyatso 1775 – 1813 (head of the Gelugpa in Mongolia), Ngulchu Dharmabadra, the Indian master Shakya Shri Bhadra, the 11th Dalai Lama 1838 - 1856 (who installed Dorje Shugden as the Protector of the Gelugpa tradition), Gyara Tulku Rinpoche, Tomo Geshe Rinpoche (regarded by the 13th Dalai Lama as an emanation of Je Tsongkhapa), Serkong Rinpoche (regarded by the 13th Dalai Lama as Vajradhara),Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche, Pabongkha Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche, Khangsar Rinpoche, Tathag Rinpoche (in charge of the Tibetan Government after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama), Zong Rinpoche, Lobsang Tamdin, Ribur Rinpoche, Khen Rinpoche Losang Tharchin, Lati Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten, Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, Khensur Rinpoche, Khechog Rinpoche, Dagyab Rinpoche, Gelek Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Yongyal Rinpoche, the 14th Dalai Lama (until he was in his forties), Dagom Rinpoche, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gangchen Rinpoche and others.
These Lamas themselves have all been recognized as realized, holy beings, with many thousands of Tantric disciples who revered them as living Buddhas.
The later Lamas were all direct or indirect disciples of the great Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche. The 14th Dalai Lama says that Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche were “wrong” to worship Dorje Shugden, but they have been recognized as emanations of Heruka and Amitabha respectively, and were the principal upholders of Je Tsongkhapa’s Gelug doctrine in their time; so how can they be wrong?
9. Dorje Shugden performs the twenty-seven deeds of a Buddha
The highly realized Master, Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche, composed a verse of praise:
With deep faith I prostrate to you, Vajradhara Dorje Shugden.
Although you have already attained the Buddha ground
And engage in the twenty-seven deeds of a Buddha,
You appear in various forms to help the Buddhadharma and sentient beings.
These twenty-seven deeds, explained in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, range from showing living beings the way to enter the spiritual path to liberation up to guiding them to the final attainment of Buddhahood. Since Dorje Shugden performs all these twenty-seven deeds, it is clear that he is a Buddha.
Some people say that Dorje Shugden has harmed practitioners who have strayed from the Ganden tradition, but there are no examples of this forthcoming, whereas there are many examples of how Dorje Shugden has protected living beings. For example, Dorje Shugden was responsible for the Dalai Lama being able to safely travel from Tibet to India in 1959.
Even today, there are many Buddhist practitioners with their own stories to tell of how they have been protected by this Dharma Protector. Dorje Shugden's name means 'Vajra Possessing Strength', indicating that he has great power and strength to spread Buddhadharma and to help people in these degenerate times.
10. Relying upon Dorje Shugden leads to supramundane results
The difference between a Dharma Protector and a worldly protector is that the former is an enlightened being whereas the latter is not. Worldly protectors have no ability to flourish the Buddhadharma nor to protect Dharma realizations in a practitioner's mind. As a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden’s principal function is to protect our Dharma practice, not to help our mundane affairs.
Dorje Shugden always helps, guides, and protects faithful practitioners by granting blessings, increasing their wisdom, fulfilling their virtuous wishes, and bestowing success on all their virtuous activities. Dorje Shugden does not help only Gelugpas; because he is a Buddha, he helps all living beings.
Dorje Shugden has removed obstacles and created the conditions for the extraordinary growth of Je Tsongkhapa's teachings, and most importantly realizations of those teachings, in this current age. Je Tsongkhapa's doctrine is now spreading to countries throughout the world. For example, any spiritual success enjoyed by NKT and FPMT practitioners is due to the blessings of this Buddha. (Lama Yeshe, the founder of the FPMT, relied sincerely on Dorje Shugden throughout his life.)
Those who rely upon Dorje Shugden know that their spiritual realizations come from his blessings. However, as with a relationship with any holy being, this is something that can only be experienced by someone who relies on him with strong faith over a long period of time, steadily building their connection with him.
Gyara Tulku Rinpoche from Drepung Loseling Monastery wrote a prayer of gratitude, whose sentiments are shared by Dorje Shugden practitioners worldwide:
First you gave me a highly qualified Spiritual Guide
Under whom I studied and practised Dharma.
When through following misleading advice I came close to entering wrong paths,
You immediately hooked me back into the correct path.
O Duldzin, King of the Dharma, I thank you for your kindness.
Your body is the synthesis of all Sangha Jewels,
Your speech is the synthesis of all Dharma Jewels,
And your mind is the synthesis of all Buddha Jewels.
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