Despite its popularity in the West, the New Kadampa Tradition or NKT was involved in a public dispute with the HH the Dalai Lama which began in 1996.
The problem came from the fact, Kelsang Gyatso placed great emphasis on the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.
According to the NKT, “A Dharma Protector is an emanation of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva whose main functions are to avert the inner and outer obstacles that prevent practitioners from gaining spiritual realizations, and to arrange all the necessary conditions for their practice”.

Kelsang teaches that the deity Dorje Shugden is the Dharma protector for the New Kadampa Tradition and is a manifestation of the Buddha. The spirit Dorje Shugden is depicted as a “wrathful, sword-waving deity with big ears and menacing fangs” or as “a …warrior figure riding a snow lion through a sea of boiling blood”.
In his left hand he holds a heart, which symbolises great compassion and spontaneous great bliss… His round yellow hat represents the view of Nagarjuna, and the wisdom sword in his right hand teaches us to sever ignorance… Dorje Shudgen rides a snow lion …and has a jewel-splitting mongoose perched on his left arm, symbolising his power to bestow wealth on those who put their trust in him… His wrathful expression indicated that he destroys ignorance, the real enemy of all living beings, by blessing them with great wisdom.

The NKT venerates Dorje Shugden as its protector deity.


His HolinessThe Dalai Lama, has rejected and spoken out against this practice. He has described Shugden as an evil and malevolent force, and not at all representative of the Buddha. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has also raised the issue many times of other Lamas before him also placing restrictions on worship of this spirit.
After he made these statements public in 1996, some followers of Dorje Shugden protested against the Dalai Lama in London, accusing him of suppressing their religious freedom. This group of protestors also followed His Holiness to many different events, where they would shout disrespectful slogans outside the venue.  In actual fact his Holiness the Dalai Lama has never restricted anyone from the NKT attending his teachings. He has however said that if people continue to hold Dorjee Shugden in reverence and worship what he believes to be a malevolent spirit, he would prefer they didn’t attend his teachings. He has also advised Westerners who are new to Buddhism, to consider carefully the implications of becoming involved with the New Kadampa Tradition  although he fully respects freedom of choice.

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