How did Dorje Shugden come into being?

Introduction and Lineage
How did Dorje Shugden come into being?
The Symbolism

The Benefits of Dorje Shugden’s Practice
The High Lamas who Practice Dorje Shugden
Places to Worship Dorje Shugden

Dorje Shugden’s Prayers
FAQs – Part 1
FAQs – Part 2

Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen

The plan for the “birth” of Dorje Shugden began during the time of Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen. He was the great disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa and was reputed to be a very pure and steadfast holder of the Vinaya. Nechung, a worldly spirit, was oath-bound by Guru Rinpoche, the 8th century Indian master, to be the general Dharma Protector to protect the Buddhadharma. It was Nechung who requested Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen to make a promise to protect Nagarjuna’s priceless Middle view, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa.

At one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, Nechung emanated as a white dove and flew continuously around the teaching hall. After the teachings ended, Duldzin stayed behind, as he could see through the dove’s disguise. He requested Nechung to reveal himself and asked him what he wanted. Nechung transformed into a young boy dressed in white and told Duldzin that the precious teachings that Lama Tsongkhapa had given of Nagarjuna’s Middle view required special protection. Then Nechung asked Duldzin to become the Chief Protector of these teachings. Duldzin promised that he would, and Nechung said that when the right time came, he would remind him of this promise. After Duldzin completed building Gaden Monastery, he went into retreat in a cave and passed away there.

Several lifetimes later, Duldzin reincarnated as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. During an audience with Nechung, who spoke through an oracle, Nechung reminded Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen about his promise. At first, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen could not recall such a promise. Then, Nechung gave him some blessed rice to eat to help him remember. Upon eating the rice, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen remembered his promise instantly and agreed to fulfil this promise; to ensure that Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings would spread and grow.

However, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was very gentle and did not have any anger at all in his mindstream to manifest as a wrathful Dharma Protector. Understanding this, Nechung told Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen that he would orchestrate a situation for the wrath to rise within him. Only then would Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen be able to arise as the Dharma Protector.


The Death of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen

Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen lived during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama. There was political and religious conflict at the time. To unite the country, the Dalai Lama was placed on the throne, given the title “Religious-King and Holder of the Buddhist Faith” and had supreme political and religious authority over Tibet. Tremendous effort was put into establishing the position of the Dalai Lama during these times of uncertainty, and into eliminating oppositions and potential threats. One such threat was Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was perceived as a threat because:

  • He was also nominated as a potential reincarnation of the 4th Dalai Lama
  • He was later confirmed as the incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa, who had been the tutor to the 3rd Dalai Lama
  • He held equal status as the 5th Dalai Lama, and they were both students of the 4th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen
  • His Dharma knowledge and pure spiritual practice was often regarded as equal to that of the Dalai Lama
  • He was more popular than the 5th Dalai Lama, and had more students and received more offerings than the 5th Dalai Lama.

His growing popularity and influence caused continued tension and jealousy among the Dalai Lama’s followers. The Dalai Lama’s ministers were very concerned for the security of His Holiness’ position among the Tibetans. To secure the Dalai Lama’s and their own positions, the ministers plotted the demise of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, without the knowledge of the Dalai Lama.

Sonam Rabten, the principal executive of the Dalai Lama and his protégé, Norbu, tried many times to assassinate Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, but failed. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen simply did not have the karma to be killed. When they tried to poison him, nothing happened. By Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s attainments, he was able to simply dispel the poison from his body. When they tried to stab him, eyes would appear on his body where he was stabbed, and stare back at them.

Out of compassion and commitment to his promise to become a Dharma Protector, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen told them that the only way he could be killed was if they were to suffocate him by stuffing a khata down his throat. His assailants then managed to kill him that way.

After his death, official documents concerning Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s previous incarnations were tampered with; Butön Rinchen Drub and Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s names were removed from Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s lineage prayers. The position of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was officially diminished. In addition, Sonam Rabten and Norbu killed members of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s family and seized their property and land.  They also issued a ban on the search of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s reincarnation, after they had dismantled his residence in Drepung and relocated his reliquaries The ban has lasted to this day. All the above was recorded in the autobiography of the 5th Dalai Lama.

(Source: The Great Deception by the Western Shugden Society and

Manifestation of Wrath

At the time of his death, a slight amount of fierce energy resembling wrath arose in Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen and this enabled him to arise as the wrathful Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden. Thousands attended Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s funeral. However the funeral pyre could not be lit for his cremation ceremony. During the funeral, the 5th Dalai Lama finally heard what had happened and that it was his own people who had killed Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. With great dismay, he wrote a prayer which expressed his great remorse for what had happened and praised Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s qualities. This was sent down to the funeral and read aloud by one of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s assistants.

After this was read, the funeral pyre immediately caught fire. From the fire, a large plume of smoke arose and covered all Lhasa in the shape of a large, black hand. Great disturbances arose throughout Lhasa. Livestock and crops died, there were earthquakes, the weather was turbulent and chaos prevailed. This was due to the cumulative negative karma accrued by those who had plotted to murder a High Lama.

The 5th Dalai Lama also experienced difficulties and inauspiciousness. Many began to fear that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had become an angry spirit and powerful rituals to pacify and destroy him were conducted. However, all efforts were in vain. Nothing could destroy this ‘spirit’ because he wasn’t one. He had actually manifested as the great Dharma Protector: Dorje Shugden.

Enthronement as the Dharma Protector

The 5th Dalai Lama finally realized the gravity of the situation and understood that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had not taken rebirth as a vengeful spirit but had arisen as a Dharma Protector. He deeply regretted the attempts to destroy what he thought was a spirit, and recognized Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Dharma Protector in whom he would take refuge.

The Dalai Lama then wrote an official proclamation and prayer, recognizing Dorje Shugden as an undisputed Dharma Protector and a direct emanation of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. He also constructed Trode Khangsar as a place of worship for Dorje Shugden which still exists in Tibet to this day.

Prayer by the 5th Dalai Lama to Dorje Shugden


Though unmoving from the sphere of primordial spontaneity,
With wrathful turbulent power, swifter than lightning,
Endowed with heroic courage to judge good and bad,
I invite you with faith, please come to this place!

Robes of a monk, crown adorned with rhinoceros leather hat,
Right hand holds ornate club, left holds a human heart,
Riding various mounts such as nagas and garudas,
Who subdues the mamos of the charnel grounds, praise to you!

Samaya substances, offerings and torma, outer, inner and secret,
Favorite visual offerings and various objects are arranged.
Although, previously, my wishes were a bit dense,
Do not stop your powerful apparitions, I reveal and confess!

Now respectfully praising with body, speech, and mind,
For us, the masters, disciples, benefactors and entourages,
Provide the good and avert the bad!
Bring increase like the waxing moon in spiritual and temporal realms!

Moreover, swiftly accomplishing all wishes,
According to our prayers, bestow the supreme effortlessly!
And like the jewel that bestows all wishes,
Always protect us with the Three Jewels!

(This prayer can be recited by anyone at anytime, and does not require any initiation or empowerment)

The 5th Dalai Lama also crafted a famous statue of Dorje Shugden with his own hands.
This statue was originally placed in Trode Khangsar but now can be seen to this day in
Gaden Phelgyeling Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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5 Responses to “How did Dorje Shugden come into being?”
  1. Diamond Girl says:

    It is brilliant to have this section on the website. It really allows someone who is new to this website a simple way to learn the necessary and important information about Dorje Shugden. Just reading this section a new person can develop faith and begin practising without difficulties.

  2. Sarah says:

    This explanation, written in a clear and simple manner, has helped me to understand the true story behind Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s murder. He was the victim of political intrique which has lasted to this day. However, I believe that truth will prevail. Dorje Shugden will be recognised as an enlightened being and will be fully vindicated.

  3. Sarah says:

    This explanation, written in a clear and simple manner, has helped me to understand the true story behind Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s murder. He was the victim of political intrique which has lasted to this day. This starter kit will help new people to understand the facts and develop faith in Dorje Shugden.

  4. vajrastorm says:

    The explanation in this section together with that in the earlier section on His Lineage have clearly and unmistakably shown that Dorje Shugden is the great and uncommon Dharma Protector who has arisen to fiercely protect the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa at all times and especially now, in degenerate times like these,when the precious teachings of Tsongkhapa, most importantly his teachings on Nargajuna’s Middle View, are in grave danger of being lost. Think, if that were to happen, how terrible will be the negative impact on all sentient beings’ pursuit of ultimate peace, happiness and enlightenment.
    In the section on Dorje Shugden’s lineage, we read that Duldzin(meaning ‘holder of the Vinaya’: how aptly the name fitted him)Drakpa Gyeltsen, one of the ‘Great 3 Disciples’ of Lama Tsongkhapa, had promised an emanation of Dharma Protector Nechung that he would arise as a Dharma protector to protect the Middle View of Nargajuna as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa. All three Drakpas – Duldtzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, Panchen Sonam Drakpa and Tulku Drakpa Gyelsen – had unwaveringly devoted their lives to commitment and devotion to the Dharma and to making the teachings and lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa flourish everywhere and endure for all time.
    It was Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, who, in his lifetime, fulfilled the promise made by Duldzin to arise as a Dharma protector. He arose as the uncommon Protector Dorje Shugden.
    Furthermore, the Fifth Dalai Lama himself was led by Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen(through his wrathful manifestations of terrible disasters in Tibet following his death) to officially and publicly acknowledge that he had arisen as Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. The Fifth Dalai Lama’s beautiful poem and prayer to Dorje Shugden, construction of a temple to him as well as making a statue of him are further undeniable evidence that he had accepted Dorje Shugden as an emanation of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

  5. Bird says:

    Ok, I see that you love so much Dorje Shugden so tell me, how can he be a fox a beautiful woman and man at the same time? Magic, even with your whole practice you are completely blind. I’m sorry that you have to learn this from some one who`s not a Buddhist.Hh the Dalai Lama told you already to stop and you still dont lesson. You keep lying to sentient beings and to your selfs maybe you like fire.

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