The Setting Of …
1. The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) / Kadampa Buddhism / International Kadampa Buddhist Union
2. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso — The Founder Of The New Kadampa Tradition
3. Dorje Shugden Controversy — The Background Of A Dispute
4. Western Shugden Society / International Shugden Community — Who Is Behind This Organisation?
This site aims to give verifiable and accurate information about the setting of the New Kadampa Tradition. For further information it is strongly recommended to read research papers or to contact INFORM.
New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU)
The New Kadampa Tradition describes itself as Kadampa Buddhism and as a ‘time-honored’ tradition, stating that “Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982-1054)”.
However, Peter Bernard Clarke, a theology professor at Oxford, has characterised the NKT as a “controversial Tibetan Buddhist New Religious Movement (NRM)”. And David Barett has characterised the NKT-IKBU as “deriving from Tibetan Buddhism” and as “one of the newest and most controversial buddhist movements.”
Kay, David N. (1997) ‘The New Kadampa Tradition and the Continuity of Tibetan Buddhism in Transition‘, Journal of Contemporary Religion 12(3) (October 1997), 277-293 (PDF)
Dr. David Kay’s “Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain – Transplantation, development and adaptation” (PDF), London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.
McQuire, Carol (2013), “Realizing the Guru’s Intention: Hungry Humans and Awkward Animals in a New Kadampa Tradition Community” in Spiritual and Visionary Communities: Out to Save the World, Edited by Timothy Miller, Ashgate: 65–82.
Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Kelsang Gyatso is a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Gelug teacher (scholar) and author of Buddhist books. He was born in Tibet in 1931 and ordained at the age of eight. In 1976 he was invited by Lama Thubten Yeshe, a Gelug Tulku, to teach at his FPMT center Manjushri Institute, Ulverston, England. After a schism with the FPMT he founded the New Kadampa Tradition in 1991.
Although Geshe Kelsang Gytaso was described by some followers as the “Third Buddha, because he has restored the essential purity of Buddha’s doctrine and shown how to practice it in extremely impure times” and is described nowadays as “a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism”, he is seen as controversial as well.
The Sangha of his order in Sera Je monastery issued a formal “Declaration of Expulsion” on August 22, 1996 expelling Geshe Kelsang from his monastery.
Dorje Shugden Controversy
Dorje Shugden is a deity whose precise nature — enlightened tutelary deity (Yidam), bound worldly Dharma protector (Dharmapala) or an evil and malevolent force is disputed among adherents of Tibetan Buddhism, especially its Gelug school.
Dorje Shugden (Wylie: rdo-rje shugs-ldan), “Powerful thunderbolt”; also known as Dhol-rgyal) is a relatively recent, but very controversial, deity within the complex pantheons of Himalayan Buddhism. There exist different accounts and claims on Dorje Shugden’s origin, nature and function.
Western Shugden Society / International Shugden Community
The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is mainly behind the world wide media campaign against the Dalai Lama and is orchestrated under the label Western Shugden Society (WSS) and recently International Shugden Community (ICS). The founder of NKT, Kelsang Gyatso, urged his followers: “[…] To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted. Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need. …”
Current followers of the New Kadampa Tradition and their political wing, the Western Shugden Society, portray themselves as “Modern Buddhists”, and the Dalai Lama and mainstream Tibetan Buddhists as “backward traditionalists”. Though a number of journalists have, without investigation, believed and repeated such claims, this picture couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Shugden was the practice of the Lhasa aristocracy and members of the power-hungry Gelugpa monastic hegemony, whose intention was not to share power but rather to maintain and increase it. Then and now, Shugden practitioners see themselves as superior to other Tibetan Buddhist schools and as the sole representatives of the purest of the Buddha’s teachings. Even though these facts are well known to Indo-Tibetan Buddhist experts, they are rarely reported online. For a brief summary of the actual historical situation see Sparham’s »Why the Dalai Lama Rejects Shugden?« or Prof. Paul William’s »A quick note on Dorje Shugden (rDo rje shugs ldan)«.