Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen (1359 – 1413)

September 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Biographies


What immediately comes to mind when we hear or see the name, Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen, are two things – he built Ganden Monastery, which stands to this day, and he offered it to his Guru, Lama Tsongkhapa.

These two great deeds alone would be enough to illustrate what kind of Lama and disciple this extraordinary individual was.

Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen was well known for being a great holder of the vinaya (the monks’ vows), or pure morality. It is said that he held his vows so purely and his monkhood that his body smelled of clean, fragrant flowers. This is why they called him “Duldzin” – “dul” means vinaya; and “zin” means hold. Thus, a direct translation of his name means “Holder of the vinaya”.

He was considered as an emanation of Lama Tsongkhapa himself, as his attainments were said to be of Tsongkhapa’s equal. In this case, Duldzin emanated as a direct disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa in order to play the role of “Teacher and Student”. This arrangement enabled Dharma to be brought to many others.

It was Duldzin who raised the funds needed to construct Ganden, the first and greatest Gelugpa monastery in Tibet. He also personally oversaw the construction of Ganden until its completion. Upon its completion, Duldzin offered the monastery to his Guru, Lama Tsongkhapa.

Duldzin was so highly respected among the Sangha that he was offered the position of the first Ganden Tripa (Tsongkhapa’s successor or throne holder) after Tsongkhapa’s passing. However, he turned down the offer. He chose instead to dedicate the rest of his life to upholding these precious teachings. It was with this incredible devotion and commitment that he made a promise to arise as an “Uncommon Protector” to preserve and guard the lineage of his teacher, Tsongkhapa.

This promise was made to Nechung, a worldly spirit subdued by the 8th Century Indian Master Guru Rinpoche to be the general Dharma Protector of the Buddhadharma, who appeared in one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings as a white dove.

It was said that one day while Lord Tsongkhapa was giving teachings in the Ganden prayer hall among a vast assembly of Sangha, a white dove appeared and flew about the prayer hall, creating a disturbance. It even hovered above Tsongkhapa’s head.

After the teachings, Tsongkhapa descended from the throne and retired to his quarters. Duldzin recognised that the dove was not a mere dove, and remained behind to investigate.

Then the dove, who was actually Nechung, transformed into a young boy dressed in white and spoke to Duldzin. He requested Duldzin to become an “Uncommon Protector” of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings on Nagarjuna’s precious philosophy of the Middle Way.

An ‘Uncommon Protector’ is not a general protector but one who arises specifically to protect something. In this case, Nagarjuna’s Madyamika view, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa.

Duldzin promised Nechung that he would do so. Nechung then said, “Don’t forget your promise, I will come back to remind you.” Then the boy left.

Later, after he had completed building Ganden Monastery, Duldzin went into retreat in a cave and passed away.

Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen is the Drakpa incarnation that began the lineage of the uncommon and most powerful Protector, Dorje Shudgen.


How did Dorje Shugden come into being?

July 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Starter Kit

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.

(Source: http://www.dorjeshugdenhistory.org/trode-khangsar-7.html)

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 http://www.dorjeshugdenhistory.org/trode-khangsar-6.html)

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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