Over the years many great Lamas within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition have recognised the immense benefit in propitiating Dorje Shugden as a Dharma Protector. One such great master was His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, famed for his position of Junior Tutor to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and as the heart disciple of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. In fact it was Trijang Rinpoche who recorded down, edited and published his notes from Pabongka Rinpoche’s 24-day exposition of the Lamrim, or Graduated Stages on The Path to Enlightenment. This text entitled Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand is a highly accessible entryway into the corpus of Lam Rim literature. Its use as a meditational handbook has led to its translation into other languages and forms the basis of practice for modern practitioners worldwide.
H.H. Trijang Rinpoche also composed a very special prayer to Dorje Shugden called Dothey, on the first day of the Tibetan Year of the Iron Boar. This prayer is also known as Nyirtoe and is a request for the activity of Dorje Shugden. Composed in such a manner it is perfect for use nowadays, given that most contemporary practitioners simply do not have the time to engage in extensive prayer.
The Dothey calls upon Dorje Shugden to fulfil all our needs as a Dharma Protector. By composing this prayer, Trijang Rinpoche clearly shows his faith in the power and nature of Dorje Shugden. At the same time it shows practitioners just how compassionate Trijang Rinpoche was. It can be said that to ensure modern practitioners could continue relying upon Dorje Shugden just by reciting a few short verses and then receive the benefits of the practice, Trijang Rinpoche composed the Dothey prayer. His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche often asks his students to recite the Dothey in times when they need the assistance of Dorje Shugden.
The prayer begins with the exclamation of the syllable “KYE!”. This acts as an invocation call to Dorje Shugden. The first verse begins with a description of Dorje Shugden as “Manjushri in angry form.” Here Trijang Rinpoche follows and reaffirms his Guru’s teachings that Dorje Shugden is in fact an emanation of Manjushri.
As a fully enlightened being Manjushri can emanate in any form to benefit beings. One of Manjushri’s most famous emanations is the Yidam (meditational deity) Yamantaka. Compared with Manjushri’s usual peaceful and gentle form, Yamantaka has many arms, legs, weapons, is very fierce and even has the head of a buffalo. In the form of Dorje Shugden, Manjushri emanates in a wrathful manner. He is also described as a “hero”, a term for an enlightened being stemming from India, describing a being who has overcome the three poisons – ignorance, hatred and desire, purified their negative karma and overcome all delusion.
Dorje Shugden is also described in the first verse as a “war god”. This does not mean that Dorje Shugden is an actual worldly god of war who helps people kill their enemies. Instead it refers to his role in aiding us in our spiritual battle against the three poisons in our minds, negative karma and our delusions. Dorje Shugden aids us in fighting these negative qualities out of compassion, as all negative external experiences we encounter are ultimately due to our inner negativities. Dorje Shugden therefore is the war god that helps us destroy the real “enemy” which is our own negativities. This imagery of an “enemy” as the embodiment of our negativities is repeated later in the prayer and is a common theme throughout not only Dorje Shugden’s prayers but those of many other Dharma Protectors.
To many, the first verse evokes quite a wrathful atmosphere. However, this wrath has a meaning, just like a worried mother would scold an errant child. It is from a position of great compassion that Dorje Shugden manifests in a wrathful form. Wrath itself has a very swift quality, indicative of Dorje Shugden’s ability to assist us very quickly.
The second verse describes Dorje Shugden’s relationship with sincere practitioners. He is “affectionate” towards those who are “commitment-abiding” and treats them like a parent would their “son or daughter”. Those who abide by their commitments means those who have integrity in keeping vows and commitments. This pleases Dorje Shugden and he is able to look after and aid them. Through keeping vows and commitments strongly, one purifies negative karma and generates merit. This allows Dorje Shugden the ability to have a stronger presence in one’s life, thereby assisting them in their spiritual journey.
Since Dorje Shugden is fully enlightened and has therefore achieved Bodhicitta, he wants to aid all sentient beings. However when practitioners lack integrity, break vows and commitments, this leads to the creation of negative karma. This negative karma can block Dorje Shugden’s ability to help us. Therefore he is described as being pleased with those who have integrity and keep their vows and commitments. In this case when called upon for assistance, he is very swift and efficacious.
In the third verse one visualises a vast amount of tormas. Tormas are food offerings in the form of ritual cakes, usually placed on the altar during pujas or prayers to various deities. Traditionally made from tsampa (roasted barley flour) or oats, they include yogurt, milk, butter, honey, sugar, jaggery and other ingredients.
Tormas are offered to not only receive the resources we need for our spiritual practice but also help to plant seeds in our minds to gain higher attainments, especially those related to Tantra. They are made in various shapes and sizes depending on which deity they are offered to and their purpose. Their shape, size and flower-like decorations all have significant Tantric meaning. In essence they represent attainments gained from meditations on the winds, channels and drops within Tantric practice.
One also visualises a sea of “medicinal blood”. This actually mirrors the water offerings in peaceful prayers with one vital difference. The blood offered is actually the blood of the slain enemy. This “enemy” refers to our three poisons, negative karma and delusions, as mentioned earlier. “Base substances” here refers to other traditional offerings made to Dharma Protectors, such as the five commitment substances. These are:
- Milk: Representative of spiritual nourishment as it is nourishing in nature
- Yogurt: Known as a cooling food, this ‘calms’ energies which may be too wrathful
- Tsampa: An offering of roasted barley floor which is often replaced with oats, it is traditionally considered a very ‘good’ food that anyone can partake of
- Tea: A precious substance in ancient Tibet, it wakens and livens the senses, important when requesting Dorje Shugden for his swift assistance
- Beer: A symbolic Tantric offering which represents Tantric attainments as substances such as alcohol are transformed into inner attainments when consumed
The fourth verse mentions that practitioners “honour” Dorje Shugden with the first portion of “food and drink”. An often overlooked Refuge commitment is to offer the first portion of anything we eat or drink to the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, to remind us to take refuge and also as an offering to generate merit. When practising certain deities, there are food offering prayers to offer the first portion of food and drink to that particular deity directly. As Dorje Shugden is a fully enlightened being, this offering not only fulfils the Refuge commitment of offering food, thereby generating merits but also develops a close affinity with Dorje Shugden in particular. This can be done on a daily basis, and although not a requirement to offer directly to Dorje Shugden, it creates the causes for him to assist us.
The line “we fulfil all that you want” is indicative of the practitioner’s sincerity on their spiritual path. Dorje Shugden does not need anything from us, but does want us to be free of our suffering by gaining Enlightenment ourselves. By practicing the Buddhist path sincerely, from taking Refuge in the Three Jewels, making offerings through to keeping our vows and commitments, we fulfil Dorje Shugden’s want of progressing on our own spiritual path towards Enlightenment.
In the fourth verse, we also call upon Dorje Shugden to listen to our requests and for Dorje Shugden to show signs that our practice has been successful. For those on the spiritual path signs can encourage us to continue our practice. In emergencies or times of need this is even more so. We also request Dorje Shugden to display his encouragement towards our own practice by showing us his “smiling face”.
The fifth and sixth verses exhort Dorje Shugden to protect the Buddhadharma in a few ways – in the manner of a war god, mentioned above, clearing our obstacles, and delivering signs that our Dharma practice is successful whilst also performing the enlightened activities of protecting us and those we are close to. When we request Dorje Shugden to be our “bodyguard” and “watchman” we are actually requesting protection from all people, beings or negative circumstances that could harm us during both the day and the night. As the “cloak” on our back and “staff” at our front, we are requesting that we receive conducive conditions, resources, guidance and support for our practice of the Buddhadharma. As the “bridge” and “stairs” we request assistance in overcoming obstacles in daily life. The next lines request safety when travelling or when we are away from home.
The sixth verse ends with the practitioner asking Dorje Shugden to lift us out of the lowest points of suffering in our lives. This could be a number of situations such as times when we begin to doubt the efficacy of practicing the Dharma. Or this could be worldly in nature, such as severe financial difficulties or issues in relationships with others. Through the imagery of the “doctor” we request him to grant us the insight needed to make the wisest choices during crucial moments, and remember the correct aspect of the teachings that can steer us through challenging circumstances. We also ask for “potent remedy” when poisoned. This poison refers to the three poisons as mentioned earlier, and their accompanying delusions leading to negative states of mind. The most powerful medicine for this is the Dharma. Hence we request Dorje Shugden for the merit necessary to receive further Dharma teachings, which is the antidote to these poisons.
The seventh verse begins with “raise banners on the high points”, representative of the banner of victory, symbolic of Buddha Shakyamuni’s triumph over Mara, meaning over all delusions, and afflicted existence. The sound of the conch shell is said to dispel negativities but more importantly represents the spreading of the Buddhadharma. Therefore here we are requesting Dorje Shugden’s assistance to inspire others towards the Buddhist path through our own practice and transformation, and as such request Dorje Shugden to protect and spread the Buddhadharma.
The following line mentions being the “victor” in a “debate”, being the “winner” and raising “banners of greatness”. These are requests to Dorje Shugden for success in all our endeavours, especially against all odds when we engage in work that is beneficial to others or trying to preserve and spread the Dharma.
The imagery of the “enemy” once again appears in the final verse, this time described as “vengeful” and the exhortation is made to Dorje Shugden to kill it. When the three poisons, delusions and negative karma are destroyed, one’s self-cherishing mind or ego is destroyed. This is our true enemy, sometimes described as the inner enemy. We exhort Dorje Shugden to kill this inner enemy as it is the cause of our delusions, negative karma and all sufferings we face, that are described as “obstructers” to our spiritual evolution.
The verse continues with an appeal to “Liberate those holding wrong views”. Wrong views here refer to opinions or views that deny the world exists as how Buddha Shakyamuni explained, such as that the law of cause and effect (karma) does not exist or that reincarnation does not exist. This also includes the view that spiritual progress is not important or even necessary, and that living a worldly life is a more worthy use of our time. Dorje Shugden as an emanation of Manjushri is more than capable in helping to overcome these wrong views. The words “Prevent ill luck and ill omen” refer to the creation of conducive circumstances. This prevents us from encountering negative situations in which we are more likely to generate or perpetuate more negative karma.
The last two lines of the prayer are extremely poignant and summarise the rest of the prayer well. We ask Dorje Shugden to provide conducive conditions with which we can have the most advantages in our spiritual journey and work as possible. We also ask Dorje Shugden to avert those disadvantages that could foil progress on our spiritual path and day-to-day work. The last line entreats Dorje Shugden to fulfil his role as an enlightened Dharma Protector by removing obstacles and creating conditions so that all objectives are fulfilled.
Even though this prayer is short it comprehensively requests Dorje Shugden to fulfil all our needs for not only worldly concerns but also our spiritual progress towards Enlightenment as well. By reciting this prayer composed by H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, contemporary practitioners are able to make a strong connection with Dorje Shugden, at the same time, reminding one of the spiritual path. This ranges from realising one’s true enemy is the self-cherishing mind, or ego, the three poisons, our delusions and negative karma; practicing the path by having integrity in holding our vows and commitments; and inspiring others through our own transformation. Reciting this prayer daily will definitely bring all the benefits that Dorje Shugden has to offer practitioners, leading to a positive and beneficial change in our lives.
Request for Activity of Gyalchen Dorje Shugden
Requested by Rakra Rinpoche, H.H. Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Rinpoche wrote this on the first day of the Tibetan Year of the Iron Boar
Manjushri in angry form,
You are the hero in terrifying role.
Main of my powerful war gods,
You are the mighty Dorje Shugden.
Affectionate when cultivated,
You treat the commitment-abiding like son (or daughter).
Powerful when beseeched, your ferocity is swifter than lightning.
When angry at the enemy, you obliterate him to the seventh generation.
We honour you with the first part of food and drink; we fulfil all that you want.
I am calling you from my heart; lend me your ear.
I practice you all the time; show me sign that I have succeeded.
Protect the command and the Teaching; show me your smiling face.
Be the war god in my protection; be my messenger and servant.
Be the fort of my protection; be the storekeeper of my people and possessions.
Be the day’s bodyguard; be the night’s watchman.
Be the cloak on my back; Be my staff in the front.
Be the bridge over water, and stairs on the rock.
Be those who see me off; be those welcoming me.
Raise me if I fall; if I forget, remind me.
Be the doctor when I fall sick; if poisoned, give me potent remedy.
For me, raise banners on the high points; blow conch-shell in cities.
If two equals debate, you should make the victor;
If two equals wrestle, you should determine the winner.
If two equals wager, you tip the winning edge;
If two equals compete in greatness, raise banners of greatness.
Kill the vengeful enemy; subdue obstructers.
Liberate those holding wrong views; prevent ill luck and ill omen.
Introduce me to a hundred advantages; foil a thousand disadvantages.
Remove obstacle of my hopes; fulfill all objectives.
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