Before Dorje Shugden was widely practised in the Gelugpa tradition, he was enthroned as a Protector of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. The...
Before Dorje Shugden was widely practised in the Gelugpa tradition, he was enthroned as a Protector of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. If one was to examine the Sakya practice of Dorje Shugden, one would quickly realise that for more than three centuries, Dorje Shugden has been viewed as an Enlightened Protector.
In the middle of a whirling palace of black wind… is the Great King with a body red-black in color, one face two hands, the right holds a club aloft to the sky and the left a skull cup filled with blood and a human heart. On the head, a lacquer hat is placed, riding a black horse surrounded by inconceivable emanations to the Dhamapala King Shugden Tsel, together with attendants… – Sakya Kangso, based on an earlier text from the 19th Century
The evidence comes from none other than the Sakya throne holders themselves, who are the holders of the Sakya tradition’s most precious Tantric transmission – the Lamdre lineage. As stated by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche in his work “Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors”, the Sakya reliance on Dorje Shugden began with the supreme Sakya throneholder, the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen (1705 – 1741), who enthroned and worshipped Dorje Shugden as a Dharma Protector, along with Setrap and Tsiu Marpo. These three principle protectors were collectively known as the “Three Kings” (Gyalpo Sum). Another fine example of the Sakya reliance on Dorje Shugden was Morchen Dorje Chang, who wrote praises to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being.
The 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen
In the Sakya tradition, there are two main houses (pho brang) from which a Sakya Trizin (Sakya Throneholder) may arise – Dolma Phodrang and Phuntsok Phodrang. Alternating between the two houses, when a Sakya Trizin enters clear light and his sons are still minors, a child of the previous Sakya Trizin will ascend the throne, thus allowing the young potential-throneholders to mature and receive training befitting a leader of the Sakya tradition.
The Sakya lineage holders are considered to be emanations of Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, and their family lineage is regarded as divine. Practices within the Sakya lineage are transmitted from father to the eldest son, ensuring purity, accuracy and the continuity of the lineage across generations. Similarly, the practice of Dorje Shugden has been passed down within the Sakya lineage for generations.
For instance, the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen passed the practice of Dorje Shugden to his son, the 31st Sakya Trizin Kunga Lodro (1729 – 1783), who was believed to be an emanation of Dorje Shugden himself. During his lifetime, Kunga Lodro composed a Dorje Shugden kangso (fulfilment ritual) to invoke upon the blessings of Dorje Shugden. He also propitiated Dorje Shugden as a fully enlightened being and composed a praise to him. This prayer has since achieved prominence and is still widely used today. Thus, it is safe to conclude that modern-day practice of Dorje Shugden has its roots in the Sakya tradition.
The fact that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being was also confirmed by the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871 – 1935) who wrote,
The Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden Tsel definitively is Avalokiteshvara.
He further quoted from the Nyingma Tantra Rinchen Nadun to definitively establish his point by scripture.
The one known as Dolgyal [Dorje Shugden] is not mistaken on the path to liberation, he is by nature the Great Compassionate One.
With this statement, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen confirms that Dorje Shugden’s nature is that of Avalokiteshvara, a fully enlightened being.
The 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen praised Dorje Shugden as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara
It is very significant that these three Sakya Trizins all relied on Dorje Shugden and referred to him as an enlightened being. The Sakya Trizin is a position equal in rank to the heads of the other major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the Gaden Tripa of the Gelug school or the Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu school.
Thus, their teachings and writings form the spiritual foundation of the Sakya tradition and serve as a guide that all Sakya practitioners can rely on, especially in terms of what they should study and what deities they can propitiate. This also applies to Dorje Shugden seeing that not one but THREE Sakya Trizins believed in him, relied on him and encouraged his practice for Sakya practitioners.
It follows that Dorje Shugden’s practice is not a minor practice, because the 31st Sakya Trizin felt strongly enough about the benefits of Shugden practice to compose an extensive kangso text to propitiate the deity. A Sakya Trizin would not spend the time, energy and effort to compose such an extensive supplicatory text if the practice had little benefit.
Considering the status of the author and the fact that the Sakya Dorje Shugden kangso is still widely used to this day, it further follows that the practice definitely bears results and is effective.
The Life and Times of the 31st Sakya Trizin Kunga Lodro
His Holiness the 31st Sakya Trizin Kunkhyen Ngawang Kunga Lodro was born in 1729 at Sakya Monastery. He was the descendent of the Khon family bloodline and his father was the reigning 30th Sakya Trizin Ngawang Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741), who had enthroned Dorje Shugden as a Dharma Protector of the Sakya school. His mother was known by the name Sonam Wangmo.
The Three Protectors of Sakya (Gyalpo Sum) can be seen on the bottom right of this thangka.
It is widely believed that Sakya Trizin Kunga Lodro was himself the emanation of Dorje Shugden. He is also believed to have been an incarnation of the great Sakya pandit, Buton Rinchen Drub and Shakya Shri, a Kashmiri pandit. Both of these great masters are included in the line of Sakya masters who are part of Dorje Shugden’s lineage. One of Shakya Shri’s predecessors, an Indian master named Jetari, was also Atisha Dipamkara’s guru.
As was customary for nobility, his own father bestowed upon the young Kunga Lodro several long life initiations, a Guhyasamaja initiation in the tradition of Arya Nagarjuna and transmissions of Manjushri’s mantras. He was then given the auspicious name Ngawang Kunga Sonam Drakpa Lodro.
He then received the traditional education of reading, writing and memorisation of various texts under the guidance of his father. He also received from his father various initiations and transmissions such as those of the Drubta Gyatsa collection of a hundred sadhanas and the Sakya Kabum, which is the collected works of the Sakya tradition. In addition, he received initiations and transmissions from the 33rd Ngor Khenchen Namkha Samdrub (1696-1754).
Upon the demise of his father, Kunga Lodro ascended the throne as the 31st Sakya Trizin in 1741. He continued with his studies with particular emphasis on the Lobshe transmission of Lamdre teachings with many great masters including the 30th Ngor Khenchen Jampa Sonam Pelzang (1689-1749) and the 34th Ngor Khenchen Pelden Chokyong (1702-1760).
A close-up of ‘Gyalpo Sum’. They are Setrap, Tsiu Marpo and Dorje Shugden.
When he turned 14, Namkha Samdrub bestowed upon him the lay vows and gave him the name Ngawang Kunga Lodro Tenpai Gyaltsen. He later received novice vows from a lama named Khenchen Wangchuk Puntsok, who also gave him the name “Sangye” which was to be added to his existing name. Along with these masters, he also studied at the feet of Nesar Kunga Lekpai Jungne (1704-1760), the 37th Ngor Khenchen Mingyur Gyeltsen (1717-1751) and Zhalupa Yeshe Drakpa Pelzang.
Kunga Lodro became famous for his erudite mastery of the Lobshe Lamdre and he taught this to numerous students. He was invited to teach at a number of monasteries, including Tsedong, Tubten Serdokchen and Ngor Ewam Choden. As a prolific author, his written works were collected in seven volumes. This veritable scholar also composed a 149-page Tibetan-style manuscript detailing the Sakya rituals of Dorje Shugden. In his biography, Kunga Lodro wrote that Nesar Dorje Chang had written several texts on Dorje Shugden. He was also aware of Morchen Kunga Lhundrub’s practice of Dorje Shugden. Based on his writings, it appears that Kunga Lodro had combined the five forms of Dorje Shugden with the main figure called Duldzin or Vinayadhara.
Kunga Lodro also composed a wrathful torma offering to Dorje Shugden called “Swirl of Perfect Sense Offerings”. This ritual was later used by His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche as part of his “Melodious Drum Victorious in All Directions”, possibly the most well-known Dorje Shugden kangso used today. Thus, the source of some modern-day Dorje Shugden practices can be traced to the Sakya lineage. The text written by Kunga Lodro can also be found in the latest edition of the Dorje Shugden bebum, published by His Eminence Lama Gangchen Rinpoche.
In the kangso, Dorje Shugden is invoked from the Protector temple at Mugchung, which is located in Sakya Monastery
According to his descendent, the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen, it is stated that Kunga Lodro would once again take rebirth as the 37th Sakya Trizin Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899).
Thus, the Sakya throneholders since the time of the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen were Dorje Shugden practitioners especially the 31st Sakya Trizin Kunga Lodro, the 32nd Sakya Trizin Wangdu Nyingpo, the 33rd Sakya Trizin Pema Dudul Wangchuk, the 35th Sakya Trizin Tashi Rinchen, the 37th Sakya Trizin Kunga Nyingpo and and the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen.
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My son Indranil has severe chest pain and spine pain, right opposite the chest area. He has bad headaches, fogginess, depression, breathlessness for past 6 years. These are so debilitating that he has no energy or urge to do anything. How can he be healed? Pl. Bless him.
Answer from Pastors
Dear Santosree Rath,
I'm very sorry to read about the health problems that your son has been facing. From a Buddhist perspective in these instances we should always do two things. The first is to seek professional medical help, as the illness can be treatable with modern medication if it is diagnosed. This will lead to your son being able to live a normal healthy lifestyle.
From the spiritual side, the psychical illness is caused by negative karma from previous lives. This negative karma manifests in this life as an illness. So, with Buddhism there are many methods of purifying this negative karma so that it no longer affects your son.
If your son is old enough, you can teach him the prayers and mantras and he can engage in the practice himself. Otherwise if he is young, you should try to teach him the mantra which he can recite for healing. The key to this practice is consistency. It should be done every day with great faith and trust is Shize and you will see that he helps you. He is a Buddha so only wants the best for people, when we make a connection with him through prayer and mantra recitation, he is able to help us.
This practice also helps to create the karmic causes for any medical treatment done to be as effective as possible. That is why you should visit your local medical healthcare professional to get the best treatment for your son as well. I hope this helps. Thank you.
May I know if I can just chant DS mantra "Om benza wiki bitana soha" 108 times per night at my bedside before I go to sleep? Or, just keep chanting the mantra any time of the day whenever I have the time (eg: on the way to work) and not working? Its hard for me to be in front of an altar all the time. Will it be OK with DS?
Answer from Pastors
Thank you for your question. Yes, you can recite the mantra to Dorje Shugden at any time of the day, as long as you are in a respectful place (for example, not in the washroom). Usually mantras are recited in front of one's altar as part of a daily practice. However, if you do not have enough time to do this, you can of course recite the mantra whenever convenient.
Mantras are usually recited together with visualisation as part of a daily practice. This would be most beneficial but due to time constraints of a modern lifestyle, this can be hard to do. So of course, you can recite mantras whenever you can.
As Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being, he will not be angered if you don't recite his mantra in front of the altar. In fact, Dorje Shugden acts out of compassion for all sentient beings, therefore whenever you recite his mantra, you are making a divine connection with his energies. This is something that is very beneficial and can be done any time. I hope this helps. Thank you.
I wish to be initiated where do I need to go. I reside in India after reading I have this urge to be intiated. Can you please guide me to a master who can take me as his pupil.
Answer from Pastors
Dear Rohit Sinha,
Thank you for your question. There are many lamas throughout India that can help you with this. You can contact Serpom Monastic University in Karnataka State as they are one of the biggest monasteries in India that practises Dorje Shugden. They should be able to provide you with current and up=to-date information about which lamas can help you in this regard, follow this link to their website for their contact details: http://serpommonastery.org/uncategorized/contact/
Hi. I'm very new to D.S. mantras and prayers. I'm not new to practice that opened me up the way I cannot deal with nasty energies mentally. I'm dealing with the size of anger, jealousy, control, nastiness, being very in a bad way judgmental, envy, that I didn't know ever existed. And I don't want to hear that I must learn to control my reactions. I can't. I basically can't. What the moment arrives I can't stop it. I'm ruining my life, my relationships. Interesting enough that I have those emotions to my partner! Perhaps because no-one else is this close?
And actualy, why can I tolerate something in my friend bit cannot in my partner or his friends?
What kind of Karma is that? What am I dealing with?
A friend recomended D.S practice. But what do I ask for? How do set up an intention? And what actualy Om Vajra Wiki Witrana Soha means?
Sorry if I sound ridiculous and should just read up the internet..
Answer from Pastors
Thank you for your question. In Buddhism we believe that we all have such emotional tendencies and that we react in different ways to different people in various situations. This is mirrored in secular psychology. However in Buddhism we have very effective methods to overcome these tendencies so that we can get along with people and have a better control over our own emotions. When people tell us we need to control our tendencies, this is easier said than done and most of the time we think that we cannot because it is just too hard. But stopping these tendencies takes time and practice, because they are so ingrained into our minds.
In Buddhism, this is achieved through meditation of which there are many forms. But luckily, the practice of Dorje Shugden not only calls upon his energies to transforms our lives but is itself a form of meditation. As for what karma you are dealing with, actually you shouldn't view it as what kind of karma that you are dealing with, but that you are in fact just dealing with karma. According to Buddhist philosophy we have all had countless previous rebirths and the actions we took in those lives affects us now because they have become tendencies. So these tendencies are a manifestation of our karma. That is why Buddhism places strong emphasis on controlling our body, speech and mind, so that we can overcome these tendencies and not let them affect our future.
Dorje Shugden's practice is perfect for this. You can begin the practice by reciting the short prayer here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/starting-on-dorje-shugdens-practice. And then recite as many mantras as possible. There is an explanation of the meaning of the mantra and the visualization here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/dorje-shugdens-mantra. You use the recitation of the mantra and the visualization as the object of your meditation. You may find this hard to do at first, but over time with consistent practice, you will see that your mind will start to become calmer and you are able to handle whatever life throws at you in a more balanced way. What's more, creating a connection with Dorje Shugden will help to make your life obstacle free as that is one of the benefits of his practice.
When most people engage in his practice, they want something or ask for something, like the clearing of obstacles, etc. But what you are after is something more higher, it is the ability to control your mind from negative emotions so that your life can improve, which is a very good intention to have. You can just say to yourself "through this practice may I be able to control my thoughts and disturbing emotions be lessened" before you begin the practice. This will be a very good way to set the intention or motivation when engaging in the practice. I hope this helps. Thank you.
May I know if it is still fine to recite without being in front of an altar? Also, what if I am unable to visualise while reciting as per taught in this post?
Answer from Pastors
Yes, it is acceptable to recite the prayers and mantras without being in front of the altar. Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being and will hear your prayers no matter where you are. However, it is advisable to recite your prayers in front of your altar, because you altar acts as a physical connection with the enlightened beings. At the same time, you can make physical offerings before you engage in the practice, generating more merit which is something we all need, both in our every day life and our spiritual path. That being said, sometimes it may not be conducive to recite in front of an altar, therefore you can recite wherever you are.
As for the visualisation when reciting, it is ok if you cannot visualise at first. You can just recite for now, but as you get used to the practice, you can start by learning the visualisation part by part. That would be extremely beneficial. It is said to make the most of out any practice you should engage your body, speech and mind. You engage your body by sitting down to recite, not engaging in any other activity, you engage your speech by reciting the prayers, and you engage your mind when you do the visualisations. This is the best, but even if you cannot visualise, you are still engaging you body and speech, which is also very beneficial and will generate the spiritual merit and remove obstacles that are part of the practice. I hope this helps.