Are Buddhsist Racist

Read my one & only interview in the New Statesman

What is Racism?


Race can be defined as:

"A classification system used to categorise humans into distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”


Racism can be defined as:

“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”


When a group of people are labeled according to a certain religious belief or affiliation and their access to public services, jobs, livelihoods and social freedoms are denied or restricted on the basis of this belief or affiliation this is racism.

Justifying Religious Segregation

On Saturday, July 26th 2014, the former Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government, Samdhong Rinpoche addressed the staff and students of Suja TCV School (75km from Dharamsala) on the issue of Dorje Shugden.

I have reproduced the English translation of this talk from another website in case it was removed from public view. My thanks go to the translator of this text, which has been approved as an accurate translation by various Tibetan scholars and a Canadian graduate of the FPMT Tibetan translator training course.

As you can see from the talk below, Samdhong Rinpoche clearly admits that there is widespread segregation within the Tibetan exile community. He confirms that the sole cause for this segregation is the advice of the Dalai Lama on the issue of Dorje Shugden Buddhists.

He further claims that it would be against Human Rights laws for the government or the Dalai Lama to intervene in this situation to protect Dorje Shugden Buddhists from being discriminated against. This is a complete misunderstanding of Human Rights laws.

In actuality the government and any state actor, such as the Dalai Lama, have a legal obligation to intervene and protect Dorje Shugden Buddhists. To gain a clearer understanding of human rights and their application to this issue click here.

Rather than intervening it is clear from Samdhong's talk that the only resolution acceptable to the government and the Dalai Lama would be for Dorje Shugden Buddhists to either stop their practice or cease to "stick around".

The shocking truth is that while the Dalai Lama praises the abolition of segregation in the US he actively supports segregation in the Tibetan exile community.


The translation of Samdhong Rinpoche's talk is as follows:

To the ordained sangha members, the staff members of Suja TCV School led by the Director and the Principal, and the beloved school children who have assembled here. As was clear from the announcement made earlier, in consideration of a special purpose, students from three schools, namely Gopalpur TCV, Upper TCV , as well as this school, have gathered here for this address, aimed at clarifying some points.

Earlier, the plan for me was to arrive here at the end of the previous month. However, due to some health issues, I couldn’t make it then, for which I ask for your forgiveness. The topic for clarification and discussion here today came up in connection with an event put up by the organizers of the recently concluded program of giving Introduction to Buddhism by His Holiness the Dalai Lama held at the Upper TCV School for the benefit of a large number of Tibetans.

During that time, the organizers had also arranged an event where they requested the Honorable Sikyong and the Honorable Speaker of Tibetan Parliament to speak on the perspective, stand, and policy of the Central Tibetan Administration concerning the issue of Dholgyal.

At that time, both the Honorable Sikyong and the Honorable Speaker had spoken at depth and length on the topic, and the program concluded with a question and answer session wherein the students had asked a variety of questions. Among them, five questions were directed to the Speaker, and six to the Sikyong.

So, a total of eleven questions were asked. However, from among those questions, there were six to which we need to pay attention. These six questions may vary in syntax and choice of words, but, in essence, they all seem to imply that the questioners had some reservations regarding propriety and justification of the steps taken by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration on this issue.

If you ask, how? Some of the questions point to this: The Dholgyal issue, these days, has taken on a political twist with the People’s Republic of China (henceforth, PRC) making use of it. Therefore, if we confront and challenge this issue with renewed rigor, wouldn’t this have an adverse effect on the unity of our people?

Another one says: If, in the future, the force and influence of them (Dholgyal followers) persistently remain after the Tibetan issue is resolved, isn’t there the danger of Tibet becoming divided along the same lines as that of India and Pakistan upon partition?

One questioners asks if the discrimination meted out to them is justified. Particularly, in the eyes of the student-questioner, it appears to suggest that the Dholgyal followers are discriminated against in the society. The questioner cites such instances as children in schools belittling and disliking fellow students when they discover about their association with Dholgyal, and some restaurants and shops posting notices to the effect that Dholgyal followers are not welcome in their premises.

The questioner even uses the English term “social discrimination” and wonders if the above instances do amount to social discrimination. One questioner asks if it is not our obligation to give religious freedom to every person.

Another one uses the English term “secularism” and asks if, like in the case of India, it is not binding on us to give freedom to profess or propagate any religion. Such were the six questions. During the program, the addresses apparently went on quite long that it was already time to conclude the session. Later, when arrangements were made to clarify on those points, the audience had already begun to disperse.

However, it is deemed necessary to make clarifications on these points, and thus this meeting of ours here today is convened. Therefore, in the address today, I will be touching only on the contents of those questions.

We will not have the opportunity to present the background information on the Dholgyal issue, nor there time for that. Let’s assume that you already knew about them. If do not know, then there are several conveniently readable books that are results of research undertaken over a long time.

The Central Tibetan Administration has published several books for educating and enlightening people on this issue. There are also introductory books written and published by individuals as well as private committees specifically formed to undertake researches into this.

Recently, there was a book written by an editing committee constituted from the Great Monastic Seats of Learning of the Gelug Order located in South India. If you look at these books, you will have a clear understanding.

Today, I have come here on my personal capacity, not as a representative of the Central Administration or any particular group or section. Therefore, I shall relate my personal views and the course of happenings as they actually occurred. Yesterday, when I carefully listened to the entire recordings of the students’ questions, I experienced a mixture of both happiness and sadness.

The reason for why I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness is as follows: It has been several years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has admonished us on this Dholgyal issue. His Holiness began giving the admonishments in the year 1975/1976, and has since been following up on this with extreme clarity.

Not only this, numerous individuals and organizations such as the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, and several great masters have also made repeated clarifications. Despite all this, we still see unresolved concerns and seeds of doubts in the minds of younger generation.

That, too, the generation of youths who are currently enrolled in schools, thus not a generation of youths without education. That, too, among the youths who are enrolled in schools, in and around Dharamsala, such as those run by the TCV organization and the Central Tibetan Administration.

This makes me a little uneasy and surprised. This cannot be blamed on the students. This is due to the lack of a clear and effective guidance from the responsible personnel, the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, and the teachers and staffs of the schools. Due to this lack of guidance, the concerns and doubts in the minds of students remain unresolved.

On top of this, the rigorous attempts of the Dholgyal followers in exploring various means to project false propaganda has begun to take effect on the youths. Seeing this, it is but natural to generate fear and a strong feeling of unease.

Previously, a responsible Tibetan visiting from the US also told me of this, that the thinking of several young Tibetans in the US seem to be affected by the false propaganda carried out by the Dholgyal followers, in that there are many young Tibetans who take some exception to the approaches of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration in this regard.

This person also told me that some of them even tend to be not so responsive to others’ efforts to clarification. But then, when I think of those living in the US, I can kind of sympathize with their situation.

They have almost no other source of information than the social media. They have no access to a person-to-person exchange and discussion. If one depends solely on the social media, then definitely the online sites managed by the Dholgyal followers are far more numerous, forceful, and widespread.

In contrast to that, it is quite clear that we, on our side, do not have as many sites presenting our viewpoint. When this issue was first raised in India, unlike in the US, it would have been pertinent for us to have and should have made clarifications. So, from that point of view, to witness that there still are lingering doubts and concerns on this issue is a sad sign. That gave rise to a feeling of sadness.

Earlier, I told you that I had a mixed feeling of happiness and sadness. You may wonder what might be the reason for happiness over this. The fact that those students decided to bring out their doubts and concerns, and seek clarification at the right opportunity, and did not keep their doubts buried inside, is a very good thing, I thought.

Whatever the issue at hand may be, it is always very important to table them for open discussion. Unless you do that, the responsible personnel would not be able to know what the students have in their minds. If they do not know, then the opportunity to clarify on them would also be not there.

So, I recognize the students’ asking those questions as a righteous behavior. Therefore, I congratulate the questioners. In the future, too, whenever you have similar doubts and concerns, you should not merely carry them in your minds, but must seek clarification and guidance from whoever may be available for that. In the event you do not find them, these days there are many books, websites, as well as many other mediums of information. You could go through them, and, I think, it would be good if your doubts are resolved through that. So, this is the background information.

If you asked what our impressions are about the contents of the aforementioned five/six questions, then here it is. The number of questioners is just a few students. From the factual point of view, as I mentioned, those were the contents that emerge from those questions. However, if you ask, what does that indicate?

It indicates that you cannot establish no other students had similar questions in their minds. It indicates that you cannot establish it was only those students who had such questions in their minds. For, it takes someone to have some courage and training to be able to raise questions in a big gathering, others cannot.

So, I think, the questions from the six people indicate that it is possible for there to be, and there may actually be, similar doubts and concerns in the student community. There may be many others who have similar thoughts, concerns and doubts. It is possible that the students engage in similar conversations among themselves.

Therefore, it is important that we should address their doubts and concerns and give clarifications. Otherwise, if this is left unattended to, naturally there is the danger of giving rise to more concerns and doubts, instead of things becoming clearer. Because of that, when the TCV Administration and the organizing committee for the Introduction of Buddhism asked me to address these points, I was able to see a definite need for that.

With these backgrounds, I would now summarize the themes to address here, this way: The questions put forth by the six students may vary in their syntax, delivery, and clarity. However, when one looks thoroughly into their contents, one may sense the underlying mental feelings associated with them.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has, for long, been giving valuable guidance concerning this Dholgyal issue. In response to the guidance, the Central Tibetan Administration, the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, different monasteries, non-governmental organizations, and individuals have taken many steps and made many efforts.

I think that those questions make it clear that some people have the feeling that, among those steps and efforts, there may be some that are slightly unfit, unsuitable, and inadequate. Summarizing the meaning of this, it is clearly reflected in them that some feel that there have been some violations of the human rights and religious freedom of the Dholgyal followers.

Second point, there seems to be the feeling that the manner in which the Central Tibetan Administration and the general Tibetan community relate to the Dholgyal followers is wrong, and that there is some discrimination in the society.

Third point, there seems to be the feeling that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration are not making enough efforts to build unity between the general Tibetan population and the Dholgyal followers, or that their efforts do not go far enough to achieve that.

Lastly, that the unity is important, and, in the interest of unity, objection to/disapproval of/rejection of the worshipping of Dholgyal should be toned down a little. There is the feeling that between the two, i.e. benefits accrued from objecting/disapproving/rejecting the worship of Dholgyal and benefits accrued from forging unity, the latter is more important and that objection to/disapproval of/rejection of the Dholgyal worship is not that important.

From the way I understand, the backdrop of the six questions is kind of subsumed into the above four points.

These four points do not convey new concerns and doubts that are affecting the thought of the present youth. From early on, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave repeated guidance on the Dholgyal issue and the Central Tibetan Administration followed up on them with steps and efforts, the Dholgyal groups have engaged in false propaganda concerning these points.

Lots of incidents took place in the society. Therefore, taking stock of all of that, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (henceforth, ATPD) formulated, on June 6, 1996, an eight-point resolution, adopted through general consensus, which lays down guidance for the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, the general public and the individuals on how to deal with the followers of Dholgyal.

This is talking of some 19/20 years ago. Still, the complications continued to persist thereafter. Because of that, on Sept. 17, 1997, another 11-point resolution was adopted through general consensus.

If one carefully reads the introductory section and the articles of the above two resolutions, one will find that the above four points of concerns and doubts have been thoroughly addressed in those resolutions. Therefore, anyone who harbors such concerns and doubts should study the aforementioned 8-point and 11-point resolutions adopted through general consensus by the ATPD.

I have hope that things will become clear through that. All those resolutions are important ones that deal with the public mentality and behavior. Due to the lapse of a long time since, it is possible for these resolutions to have slipped away from the memory of the public.

Therefore, I think that it would be good to read them time and again and let the students read them and explain to them. Since these are resolutions that have been adopted after thorough debates in the Assembly, each statement and paragraph in them carry significant meanings. You will be able to find them among the records of the Assembly.

The same goes with the books written about the Dholgyal. When the students read them, things will become clear to them. The reason why I make reference to these written records is that, since they are in written form, they can be read over and again. They are terse and comprehensive, and thus they may relate to many doubts and concerns.

What we will be hearing live here may or may not be retained by all, and it is possible that people may forget half of them by the time the session is over. Therefore, instead of making references to long treatises, I have referred to two compact resolutions, with the thought that it will be more convenient for you to go through them and benefit from them.

Of the four points that I brought out, the first relates to whether the actions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration, several governmental/official and non-governmental/official གཞུང་འབྲེལ་དང་གཞུང་འབྲེལ་མིན་པའི་ groups, the monastic institutions do indeed infringe on the Basic Human Rights and Religious Freedom of the Dholgyal followers.

To this, I hold that such an accusation is a false one. I can decidedly say that all of our actions, over the time, have not infringed upon their rights, either directly or indirectly. This is not a case of suspecting that we might not have infringed. For, the question of whether or not an infringement has occurred is a legal question. Not just that, it is also an administrative and social question.

These need to be looked into carefully. They have been using an English term. I have not seen this rendered into Tibetan. Most of their propaganda are made in English and other western languages. What they have claimed in these propaganda materials is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has ‘banned’ the worshipping of Dholgyal. They have used this English term. In Tibetan, this English term translates to ‘making something not permissible’.

All that His Holiness has done is raise objection to the worshipping and disapprove/reject དགག་བྱ་དང་བཀག་འགོག་གནང་བ་ it. He has not issued an arbitrary decree saying that the Dholgyal worshipping cannot be done.

Therefore, he has not banned the practice. We have to understand this clearly. If he has banned it, how come the Dholgyal worshippers are carrying on with the worship? Not only are they carrying on with the worship with freedom, they even have the liberty to deride him, to carry out demonstrations against him wherever he pays a visit, and to express opposition by being in close physical proximity to him.

All these clearly demonstrate that His Holiness has not banned the worship; he has not issued any decree banning the practice. Look at the addresses that His Holiness has given over the time.

He admonishes us that we would be better off if we do not undertake the worship; that the current approach to the worship goes against the precepts of taking Refuge into the Triple Jewels; and that it (the worshipping) brings down the standard of Buddhism.

He also admonishes that it (the worshipping) undermines the harmony among the different Orders of Tibetan Buddhism, and adversely affects the Tibetan cause and unity of Tibetan people.

So, His Holiness has only offered the admonishment that it would be better not to engage in the worship. He has never asked us to terminate the worship from now onwards. If one listens to the words of His Holiness, he has, from the beginning, said that it is his duty to give advice to people, and that whether or not people listen to him is up to them.

On some occasions, His Holiness conveys this by quoting Khache Phalu, saying: “The heart advice of Khache Phalu has been given; it is now up to you (the listeners) whether to heed or not.” Many of you may have certainly seen His Holiness quoting this. These are all captured in written records. I am not making them up.

To tell you of a recent happening, on the 10th of this month (July, 2014), in Ladakh, during the preliminary teachings leading to the Kalachakra empowerment, His Holiness said, “If there are Dholgyal worshippers in the audience, I ask you not to stay for the empowerment. I have always asked you not to carry out that worship, but it is up to you if you listen or not. Nothing is being forced upon anyone. That is individual liberty. However, if you are a worshipper and still insist on receiving any tantric empowerment from me, then it would only cause degeneration of the sacred commitment (samaya), on the part of both the master and the disciple.”

When we take this above address into consideration, he never says that one cannot carry out the worship. All he says is that it is not good to carry out the worship and that whether one heeds the advice or not is up to the individuals.

Besides that, given the current socio-political situation, there is no way that His Holiness could impose a ‘ban’ on anything. This is something that we need to know very clearly. So, the freedom to choose to listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama is left with the Dholgyal followers themselves.

This freedom of theirs is never compromised. On the contrary, if you look at the physical and verbal actions of the Dholgyal followers, then it becomes quite clear that it is them who have transgressed the Human Rights and Religious Freedom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration, and the monastic seats of learnings.

Basic Human Rights is a general theme. Regarding the question of engaging in Dholgyal-worship or not, when someone suggests not to engage in the worship, the Dholgyal-worshippers interpret this as a violation of their freedom to worship. Since the worship or non-worship (of anything) comes under the question of Religious Freedom, it would, at the first glance, appear that any suggestion to the effect of not engaging in the worship might inflict harm on the undertaking of the worship. It is possible for someone to harbor such suspicion.

However, this situation needs to be studied thoroughly. Looking from the perspective of international law, where might the topic of Religious Freedom fit in? There is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Within that Universal Declaration, the Article 18 deals with, what we might call in Tibetan, ‘Religious Freedom’. In that Article, it deals with freedom related with three things. They are ‘thought, conscience, and religion’. What do all humans have equal right to freedom of?

They have the freedom of harboring any thought. They have the freedom of conscience. The have the freedom to have faith in any religion. So, these three freedoms are lumped together. It is not just about religion.

In terms of the nature and extent of this right, this “includes freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance, and the freedom to change his religion or belief.” The freedom to change religion is also included within this right to religious freedom. So, the right to denounce or praise a particular religion, and based on that, the right for any individual to change ones’ particular religion are included within this right to religious freedom in the Universal Declaration.

So, no one is keeping any individual from worshipping Dholgyal. One may offer guidance. That’s all. When they (Dholgyal worshippers) meet together and engage in the propitiation rituals with the accompaniment of horns, trumpets, drums, and cymbals, there is no one to create any hindrance. When you go to South India and observe the activities of the breakaway Shar Gaden and the breakaway Ser-med Pomra, you will witness how they have, in the past, and still do, in the present, go about their activities with even more pomp and show than the main monasteries.

In that, no one, neither the public nor the administrations, is meddling with them. They engage in very rigorous propaganda campaign, and they are able to do that due to the fact that they have freedom, not otherwise. To that, we are not causing even the slightest of hindrances. Instead, when they demand that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should stop publicly disapproving/rejecting the Dholgyal worship, that act is an attempt to violate the religious freedom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

On our part, we are not demanding that they stop their propaganda campaign. It is them who stage demonstrations demanding that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should cease to make disapproving statements on Dholgyal worship.

So, look who is violating religious freedom, they or we? It is very important for us to understand this clearly.

Besides, the right to freedom of religion is not an unconditional right. It is always a conditional right. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it says, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind…” It also says, “No distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs…”

So, as much as the Dholgyal followers have the right to freedom of religion, so do His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans have the same right. Thus, there has never been any violation of their right to religious freedom. If at all there has been any case of violation, then it is His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the rest of the Tibetans who have suffered the violation. And this fact can be verified both legally and politically, and this can be proven true. That’s what I want to say here.

Also, we are living in India, and if we want to raise an issue related to religious freedom in India, we would need to do so in accordance with the Constitution of India. In the Constitution of India, the issue of religious freedom is dealt with in Article 25. If one looks at the subsets 1, 2, and 3 and their implications under the above Article, one will see the provisions on religious freedom in this Article 25. The right to freedom of religion in the Indian context is linked to so many conditions. It is not a right without any conditions attached to it.

At the outset of the Article, the following conditions are attached to the right: “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part…” Only after fulfilling these conditions, it goes on to say, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” If, under the pretext of religious practice and religious rites and rituals, someone were to disrupt the public order.

Take, for example, the Dholgyal worshippers. At this present time, they are the biggest cause for public and administrative unease. In terms of contravening morality, the Dholgyal followers have terrorized, murdered, beaten, and tortured people and continue to do so. If one looks at these acts, they have contravened morality.

As to whether or not they have disrupted the health condition, it relates to the specifics of the particular situations. For instance, if they persist in their present activities, they are liable to be banned under the law and regulations of the Government of India. In particular, if we look at their ways and activities from the perspectives of the western world, it would be hard for them to defend their status as a religious group. Rather, theirs could be considered a Cult.

The centers of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso operating in England had been, on several occasions, suspected to be leaning towards such an organization by the British Government. They have since introduced some changes in the organization to avoid complications. It is slightly settled nowadays.

If one reads Prof. Bob Thurman’s articles, one would see very clearly how the New Kadampa is either a Cult already, or at least leaning towards it. If it becomes one, then it would be liable to a legal ban under the provisions of the Indian law. It cannot escape such a liability.

In the subsets 1 and 2 of Article 25 of the Constitution, it is written that “Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law…” It is also written that nothing in the Article shall “prevent the State from making any law (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.” For instance, in the customs of many Indian religions, they discriminate people on the basis of caste and color, and stipulate that such and such caste people are permitted to enter a temple and such and such people are not.

Likewise, they make similar discrimination with regard to education, stipulating that such and such caste people can study this and that, while others cannot. There are also the religious custom of discriminating certain caste and color as untouchable. All these customs have not been granted under the right to freedom of religion. They have all been banned under law.

For instance, discrimination in granting or banning entry to temple has been banned under law. What does this indicate? This makes it very clear by law that in regards to any incident that violates public order and morality, it is legal to intervene, control, and regulate such occurrences.

This is the situation under the Constitution of India. However, we have never sought any such intervention, control, and regulation. If we take the Charter of Tibetans-in-exile into consideration, Article 10 deals with the issue of religious freedom. In that section, the first statement says, “All religious denominations are equal before the law.” Even allowing that the worship of Dholgyal constitutes a denomination of its own, it would have the same footing as those of the non-worshippers.

Therefore, it is not permissible for one to violate the right of the other. On our part, we do not violate their rights. On their part, there have been attempts to violate the rights of others. If the ATPD were to intervene on those attempts, they are entitled to do so under the provisions of Article 12 of the Charter. Since it states, “Subject to any law imposing restrictions in the immediate and ultimate interest of the Tibetan people and for the benefit of the public”, it is a matter that can be legally intervened into.

This has not happened so far. However, in the future if the ATPD decides to pass law and regulations concerning some of their (Dholgyal followers’) activities, the ATPD is legally capable of doing that.

To summarize the first point, I may say that, ever since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has guided us on this Dholgyal issue, he has never engaged in a single act that violates the Basic Human Rights and Religious Freedom of the Dholgyal followers. If any of you have such concerns and doubts to this effect, I wanted to make it clear that such concerns and doubts are baseless.

However, there is no reason for you to believe me by this mere statement of mine. It is possible that some of you may already not believe me. On this globe, whenever there is a violation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom, who should you approach for its protection?

On the international level, there is the organization of Amnesty International. When one witnesses such violation, one has to appeal to the Amnesty International. In India, there is the National Human Rights Commission.

So, in India one has to approach the above National Human Rights Commission. For the protection of these rights, one has to turn to this Commission in India.

In the year 1998, the followers of Dholgyal did approach the Amnesty International. Soon afterwards, the Amnesty International carried out a thorough investigation. At the end, Amnesty International came out saying that in Tibet there are several cases of violation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom that the organization was able to verify.

However, in the exile community, particularly with regard to the Dholgyal followers, they have not been able to verify even a single incident where the violation of Human Rights and/or Religious Freedom has taken place.

So, the international organization told the Dholgyal groups in clear terms that the organization could no longer pursue with their allegations. All this is a widely known fact, well documented in written forms; there is nothing secret and classified about this. If you look at these documents, it will be clear to you.

Later, in the year 2007, they also appealed to the National Human Rights Commission in India. In that appeal, they have specifically brought up the case of the 16 new arrivals from Tibet who were denied admission into one of the Great Monastic Seats of Learning. Usually, the Reception Committee (for the new arrivals) would eventually issue a recommendation letter to the individual new arrivals for admission into either a school or a monastic institution.

Such a letter would specify that the individual in question is interested in joining a particular house-group within a particular monastery or monastic seat, and would request, on his/her behalf, for acceptance into the said organization. It would be the same for any particular school or any monastic institution belonging to any religious order, irrespective. However, the Reception Committee did not give this group of individuals the recommendation letter for admission into the Great Monastic Seats of Learning (of Gelug Order).

They were all told that they could be issued recommendation letter for any school of their choice, but not of the Great Monastic Seats of Learning. The reason why they could not be given a recommendation letter for those Monastic Seats is because the Charter of the Gelug Order that the dge-ldan bstan-bdag lhan-tshogs (the Central Authority of Gelug Order) had promulgated lists the requirement that anyone seeking admission into any Gelug monastic institution must be unassociated with Dholgyal worship or must have terminated such previous association.

This requirement could not be nullified by the Central Tibetan Administration in exile. In general, monasteries, schools, and universities have the freedom to come up with their own admission requirements.

One cannot challenge them on the ground of one’s rights. Whatever rules and regulations an organization may have laid down is governed by the procedure of making rules and regulations of the respective organization. Thus, the Reception Committee could not issue a recommendation that goes against the Charter of the Gelug Order, and so they didn’t.

This is an isolated case they (the Dholgyal followers) had picked on, and there were other allegations they have made and continue to make. For instance, that their children were dropped from schools, that people were not allowed into the hospitals, etc. None of these were substantiated. If one looks at the debate proceedings and the written records of the ATPD, all these allegations would be clearly proven false. Not a single one has truth.

The National Human Rights Commission in India has undertaken a thorough investigation over these allegations. The Reception Committee and related Departments received orders for enquiry. Over and above these, the Commission itself carried out thorough investigations.

Finally, the Commission released reports, dated Dec. 19, 2007, saying that they had not found a single case of violation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom, and, therefore, no decisions could be taken, and no confirmations could be issued to the allegations they had made.

No one can accept the claim that the conclusions drawn by both the Amnesty International and India’s National Human Rights Commission are false. If one insists on the unreliability of the above conclusions, one could and should approach higher courts of justice. But they have not done that. The reason for this is that their allegations were baseless.

The conclusions drawn by these organizations were not biased, rather they were arrived at after thorough investigations.

That is why, when I decidedly said that there were no violations on our part, it was based on the conclusions drawn by these organizations that have legal authorities. If anyone wants to expose the truth of these conclusions, one must approach the higher courts of justice and have one’s allegations verified.

Instead, if one continues to create scenes in the alleyways and allege that one’s rights are being violated, then that is, in clear terms, telling lies, and making baseless and unreliable charges. So, therefore, these incidents should not be a cause for concern and doubts. That is one thing I wanted to let you know.

The second point is that people have a feeling that they (Dholgyal worshippers) are being discriminated against and are meted out unfair treatment. On this allegation, there are things that we need to understand clearly.

For instance, no hospitals, stores, restaurants, etc. that are run by the Central Tibetan Administration have ever stated that the Dholgyal followers are not welcome into their facilities. Nor have they put up any posters to that effect. There have been no discrimination whatsoever from the part of the Central Tibetan Administration.

From the Reception Committee based in Nepal to the Reception Committee in Dharamsala; from the point of arriving at the Reception Committee in Dharamsala to the point of receiving audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; from there to the point of being sent to schools—all are being treated same as any other Tibetan would be.

This includes those who come openly declaring themselves as Dholgyal worshippers. None is discriminated against. They are given the same facilities and same health care. They are given recommendation letters to enroll into schools. It is possible there may be some among them who are still continuing in those schools.

However, when privately owned restaurants and stores carry signs that say the Dholgyal worshippers are not welcome, then that is the freedom of the owners. That is their Fundamental Human Rights. Although I do not clearly remember which order of Article it is, there is definitely the provision for the right to privacy.

Under that right, anyone can express their mind of being not receptive of someone. That is their fundamental right. There is no way we can violate that. For instance, when one is staying in a big hotel, one finds several message signs hanging on the door knob to choose from. One of the signs say ‘Do not disturb’. If one does not wish anyone to enter the room for a time being, one could put up that sign on the outside.

That is not a case of discriminating against anyone. Be it a room service or a caterer, for the time being the sign keeps them away. At some monasteries and monastic institutions, when they put up signs that say the ‘Dholgyal followers are not welcome for ordering propitiation rituals or for making donations’, that is exercising their lawful rights; that is not at all a case of unlawfully violating the rights of others.

Let alone that, in the hospitals, people infected with contagious diseases are quarantined and not allowed to meet with other people. That is not violating the rights of anyone. Instead, that is being done for the benefit of both the patients and others who might, otherwise, contract the disease.

They (Dholgyal followers) are deceptively mixing the two concepts of ‘Social discrimination’ and ‘Social boycott’. Social discrimination is one thing, and social boycott is a different thing. The Dholgyal followers are mixing the two together in an attempt to mislead people. When they are affected by social boycott from others, they claim that they are being subjected to social discrimination. In actuality, this is not at all a case of social discrimination. Everyone has the right to engage in a boycott.

Above and beyond that, boycott is the best method of non-violently confronting and protesting an unbecoming action. Mahatma Gandhi, in his struggle for independence and several other causes, saw the method/s of non-cooperation/civil disobedience and boycott as the best possible option/s and therefore resorted to it/them. Gandhi-ji gave ‘boycott’ a new name in ‘non-cooperation’.

Non-cooperation and boycott have a similar connotation. Therefore, in the Tibetan society, when you see the owners of stores, restaurants, monasteries put up signs saying ‘Dholgyal followers are not welcome’ at the entrances, in order for them to keep away from having any social and spiritual fellowship with the Dholgyal followers, they are merely exercising their lawful rights and not usurping the rights of the Dholgyal followers. This we have to understand clearly.

In our Tibetan society, we engage in several forms of boycott. The non-governmental groups such as the Tibetan Youth Congress often promote measures of boycotting Chinese products, irrespective of whether they are successful in making a difference.

As far as I can remember, on several occasions, they had campaigns of damaging Chinese thermos and burning Chinese blankets, etc. Even though no one really succeeded in stopping the buying and selling of Chinese products, they did make efforts towards that end. Those measures were not a case of discrimination against the Chinese businessmen and Chinese producers. That was not social discrimination, only a social boycott.

We take up such measures because we consider them relevant and just, not because they are irrelevant and untruthful. In particular, what the followers of Dholgyal and the international community need to know is that there would be no way anyone could bother them if they were to carry out their Dholgyal worship privately and in a low-key fashion.

The main reason for the social boycott of Dholgyal worshippers is not because they carry out that worship; such a reason is rarely used. Instead, the main pressure for the boycott comes from the fact that they engage in slander campaigns against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and openly oppose the guidance of His Holiness. That is what is making people uneasy about them and difficult to accept them.

On the other hand, if someone were to carry out the worship quietly, who would even notice that? The main reason for social dislike and anger is their criticism and opposition to His Holiness.

Therefore, to suggest that existing distance between the social boycotters and the Dholgyal groups is not good is not at all tenable. If one feels that both the supporters/approvers and detractors/ disapprovers/ revilers མཚན་སྨད་མ་ཞུ་མཁན་དང་ཞུ་མཁན་གཉིས་ of His Holiness the Dalai Lama could be treated at par, then such thinking is definitely a grave mistake, I think.

For instance, in the schools, if the rest of the students were to bully and despise a student who worships Dholgyal, then that is unacceptable. On the other hand, if the other students choose to distance themselves from that student, then, I think, there is nothing wrong with that. There is no reason for anyone to be physically close to each other.

Just as one would distance oneself from someone with contagious disease, likewise keeping distance from someone who has incurred a breach of trust/samaya with His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be advisable for the benefit of both the parties involved. There will be no harm from such a choice.

Since there is no way any violation of the rights of any concerned party could take place by following the present mode of conduct of the Tibetan society and the Central Tibetan Administration with regard to the Dholgyal followers, I personally feel that there has been not a single wrong in this.

The third point is that people have the feeling that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Monastic institutions, and Central Tibetan Administration have not made any effort for building unity between those who worship Dholgyal and those who do not. I don’t think that is at all the case. Nor do I personally believe that there has been either inadequate effort or negative efforts in this regard.

If you ask for the reasons to feel this way, they are as follows: There is no time limit imposed for amendment in one’s action with regard to Dholgyal worship. Nor is there anyone to འགྲིག་གི་མི་འདུག་གསུང་མཁན་denounce you once have made the amendments accordingly.

If a Dholgyal worshiper were to discontinue the worship and choose to return back to a monastery or to the society, he/she could do that any time. Once you have returned back, there would be no one to denounce you and ostracize you on the grounds that you had engaged in the worship previously.

This is borne out by the reality on the ground at any one of the Great Monastic Seats of Learning. It has been around 30 years since disapproval/repudiation/rejection of Dholgyal was made public. Even if someone comes forward these days and pledge to make amendments, admitting their mistake, these Great Monastic Seats of Learning will still certainly accept them. If one were to admit mistake and pledge amendment in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama today, he would kindly accept your request. He would never reject you, saying this is too late in coming.

So, the door for them to return back to their alma maters and mainstream society is always open, not closed. Not only are the doors open, the act of returning upon making amendment is something anyone should be able to achieve. Anyone should be able to accomplish this.

In view of one’s future prospect, both worldly and spiritual prospects, if one insists on not leaving the Dholgyal, and if, faced with the decision of choosing between one’s guru and a spirit, one chooses the spirit, that is really unreasonable. So, the fact that, upon making the amendment, one is welcome anytime to return back to one’s old community and feel treated equally is the most open road to unity and the best road to unity.

This is how I think. To date, there has not been a single case at the Great Monastic Seats of Learning, etc. where someone who had earlier engaged in the worship and later made amendments is subjected to denouncement and ostracizing. There are many individuals who are still reeling in uncertainty. Since there is no time limit imposed for them to make amendments, there is no such thing as being too late for a decision, or missing a deadline.

So, from our part, there has been a considerate thinking in place. Particularly, on the part of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he has put forth a very clear picture, backed by scriptural sources and reasoning, of what are the harm and benefits, respectively, that one may accrue from Dholgyal worship or otherwise.

If anyone is a sensible person, there is nothing in that presentation that one cannot give a favorable thought to, or that one finds no direction which way to think. Therefore, there has not been any lapse, at all, on our part by way of either making inadequate efforts or negative efforts towards building unity. This can be clearly sensed.

It seems that there are some who feel we should make some concessions to the Dholgyal worshippers who are unable to stop the worship so that they could return to the mainstream society. Particularly, there are some who feel that there could be a way to make some kind of compromise and reach an understanding between those who worship Dholgyal and those who do not.

For instance, in that meeting (at TCV), one of the questioners wondered if some kind of agreement might be struck (with the Dholgyal worshippers). This same suggestion had appeared before and has appeared this time also.

In general, if the other one is a human being, one would expect him/her to be able to be made to understand. Those who could not be brought to an understanding thus far, what additional things are left that might be done, what additional information might be given to bring them to an understanding. Is there any? We should think over this.

If there are people who want to make efforts in bringing about an understanding between the Dholgyal worshippers and the Central Tibetan Administration, what are you going to bring on the agenda for discussion, as an effort to this end?

On our part, it is an easy job to come up with a clear demand. That is to ask them to stop the worship of Dholgyal. On the very day that they stopped the Dholgyal worship, they could readily enter into the old community. There would be no need for them to have the backing of an influential person; there would be no need for a reference person. All they do is to declare that they stopped the worship.

If one asks if there is any way by which they could receive acceptance without having to stop the Dholgyal worship, then, decidedly, the answer is that there is none.

If one were to hypothetically allow for that, then that would mean all of our previous claims of harm accrued from the worship would have been baseless; all those would have to be withdrawn. So, there is nothing that could be compromised and harmonized here.

So, it comes to the same thing as I mentioned earlier. I may conclude this point on that same note.

Supposing someone asks the following question: For the purpose of forging unity between those who haven’t stopped Dholgyal worship and those who have stopped the worship, is there a way by which a Dholgyal worshipper could be accepted to continue with the worship? Then, what would be the response on our part?

Getting rid of its roundabout way of asking, this question, in simple terms, amounts to the following: Would it be okay to carry on with the worship? Could we accept the worshipping of Dholgyal?

If this were to be the case, then all the guidance that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been giving us thus far would come to nothing. Therefore, if one thinks that may be there is a way by which such a unity could be forged by both sides budging a little to make room for each other and give the Dholgyal worshippers the okay to continue with the worship, then there is no room for such an immunity.

The option is only between continuing and discontinuing the worship. If they stop the worship, then the sky would be cleared of clouds and the ground cleared of dust. There would be no more inconveniences.

If they insist on continuing with the worship, then it is not a feasibility at all for those who have discontinued the worship and those who continue the worship to live in one community through a fellowship of engaging in spiritual and social activities together; they cannot continue to live together like water mixed with milk.

Therefore, unity and Dholgyal worship are two options to choose from, not something that could go together hand-in-hand. This should become clear in our minds without any lingering concerns and doubts.

If that does not happen, then there is the danger of remaining unclear on so many other things.

Among the questions asked before, there was one that says that the PRC is extending support to the Dholgyal worshippers, in all nations, by all the three means of manpower, finance, and technology, and that there is danger of Tibet dividing into two at the time when the question of Tibet is resolved, like it happened in the case of India and Pakistan. So there was this thought expressed there.

Such a thought is fueled by extreme speculation which has no backing of any reason or reality on the ground. In the first place, what is the percentage of people worshipping Dholgyal, both in and outside Tibet? It is a very small percentage. Majority of the people coming to the demonstrations are paid a daily wage for their participation.

In Tibet, too, the number of people worshipping Dholgyal is dropping on a daily basis. From among the worshippers, too, the majority of them make the outward show of a Dholgyal worshipper solely for the sake of protecting their livelihood, work, position, etc. There is a very little number of those who carry out the worship from the depth of their hearts.

When they claim that they have some 4 million followers, this is an utter exaggeration. Let alone 4 million, there may be hardly one hundred thousand of them in actuality, I think. Besides, currently we are going through a phase of period when the Dalai Lama-led Tibetans and the PRC look at each other as adversaries. So the present support for the Dholgyal groups from the PRC is a reflection of that phase of relation.

However, in the future, if His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the PRC reached some agreement and the day arrives for the Tibetan issue becoming resolved, then the support of the PRC to the Dholgyal groups would not be forthcoming, nor would it be deemed necessary. There would be no purpose to gain from such a support then.

On that day, it would be easily clear how many of them worship from the depth of their hearts. Therefore, such a spate of concern and doubt is extremely exaggerated. One of the Tibetan sayings goes: If you tell a lie big enough as a mountain, you may get truth the size of a yak.

The above is an instance of reposing hope in such a belief. So, the above speculation is just a case of someone being carried over by their exaggeration, which has no basis, whatsoever, in reality.

Besides that, whatever activities the Dholgyal followers are undertaking, be that inside Tibet or outside of it, they are all baseless and contrary to truth. There is not a single one that has truth in it. The most spoken out allegation they make is that they are denied religious freedom.

As related earlier, I have elaborately exposed this allegation of theirs. They allege that they are being unjustifiably discriminated against. I have fully explained the situation which shows that is not the case.

If they have the desire to live together in the society, the door is always open. Be that in private and public life, organization and group life, the door is always open. I have explained this clearly.

That they cannot divide Tibet into two parts in the future is obvious beyond doubt. This is something that anyone can comprehend. Therefore, I think it would be better off if we can clear our thoughts completely of the above concerns and doubts.

When I speak of clearing our thoughts of them, I am saying so on the basis of reason and truth. I am not saying that because this is our position and is faultless, or that that is their position and, therefore, is faulty. This is not a statement of discrimination.

Point by point, if we closely investigate who is reasonable, who is lawful, and who has truth, it should be verifiable. If one has no desire to investigate, but insists on remaining biased like that of a soiled pot, then there is nothing that could be done.

If the few Dholgyal followers insist on their current stand, saying they do not intend to change from their present behavior and that they do not intend to accept reason and truth, then that is a case of foolish stubbornness. There is hardly any way to respond to that. Such things are better off to be left unattended.

By leaving them unattended, even if some of them breakaway from the mainstream society, it is more beneficial both to the Tibetan cause and our ultimate situation. If they continue to stick around, it is not going to be any more beneficial. Not just that, if they continue to stick around, as a result of that there is going to be great harm both in the short term and long term as well as in the ultimate. This is very clearly evident. I can say this without mincing any words.

Now, as per the program schedule, my time is up. So, I will stop here. For the remaining time, if you have any questions to ask or doubts to be clarified, I ask you to be frank and open. Thank you.

(Following the above address, Samdhong Rinpoche responded to the questions asked by the students present there).

©2014-15 Are Buddhists Racist - The author asserts copyright over all content of this publication unless otherwise stated.

For any legal notices or media enquiries please email: