Dorje Shugden and Mongolia
The term Mongols commonly refers to the Mongols proper (a.k.a. Khalkha), the Kalmyks, Buryats, Oirats, and Southern Mongols. Ancient Chinese texts trace the ancestry of the Mongolic peoples to Donghu, a nomadic confederation occupying eastern Mongolia and Manchuria.
The growth of the Mongol Empire led the Mongols to settle over almost all of Europe and Asia. Besides successful empire building, the Mongols also carried out military campaigns from the Adriatic Sea to the Indonesian island of Java and from Japan to Palestine (Gaza). Over time, as a result of their conquests, the Mongols became the Padishahs of Persia, Emperors of China, Great Khans of Mongolia and one even became Sultan of Egypt!
By 1279, the Mongols conquered the Song Dynasty and brought all of China under control of the Yuan Dynasty. Although the emperors of the Yuan Dynasty in the 14th and 15th century had already converted to Tibetan Buddhism, the religion did not stick with the Mongols during this period. They returned to their old shamanist ways after the collapse of their empire.
The Gelug school becomes the state religion of Mongolia
Despite the collapse of their empire, the Mongols continued to play an important role in neighbouring Tibet by assisting in Tibetan unification. The activities of the Mongols were conducive to the prominency of the Sakya school and then Gelug, and to the further development of the Tibeto-Mongolian civilisation.
School and state were intertwined and supporting, and the doctrine of reincarnation made it possible for the reincarnations of living Buddhas to be “discovered” conveniently in the families of powerful Mongol nobles.
In 1578 Altan Khan, a Mongol military leader with ambitions to unite the Mongols invited the head of the rising Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, Sonam Gyatso, to a summit. They eventually developed an alliance that gave Altan Khan legitimacy and religious sanction for his imperial ambitions which conversely provided the Buddhist school with protection and patronage.
Altan Khan also gave the Tibetan leader Sonam Gyatso the title of Dalai Lama (Ocean Lama). Altan Khan died soon after, but in the next century the Gelug School spread throughout Mongolia, aided in part by the efforts of contending Mongol aristocrats to win religious sanction and mass support for their efforts to unite the Mongols in a single state.
Tibetan Buddhism thrived in Mongolia until the beginning of the 20th century, where there were some 100,000 monks. It is estimated that a third of Mongolia’s male population were Buddhist lamas then, living in 700 monasteries.
But communism began to take hold in the 1920s and, after more than a decade of failed attempts to wipe out Buddhism, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his Mongolian protege, Khorloogiin Choibalsan, unleashed a brutal purge in 1937, destroying temples and decimating the clergy.
No one knows exactly how many monks and nuns were killed but mass graves uncovered in recent years indicate tens of thousands disappeared between the 1930s and 1960s. Some put the figure at 30,000 killed, with another 10,000 banished to Siberian labor camps. By 1940, institutional Buddhism had ceased to exist in the Mongolian People’s Republic.
The Dalai Lamas
[[File:Khan03Sonam_Gyatso.jpg|thumb|250px|Sonam Gyatso)] Sonam Gyatso was born near Lhasa in 1543 and was recognised as the reincarnation of Gendun Gyatso and subsequently enthroned at Drepung Monastery by Panchen Sonam Drakpa, the 15th Ganden Tripa, who also became his tutor. Sonam Gyatso studied at Drepung Monastery and eventually became its abbot. His reputation spread quickly and the monks at Sera Monastery also recognised him as their abbot.
Since the time of the great Genghis Khan, only people who were of his “royal” lineage were allowed to rule Mongolia. This frustrated many would-be rulers who were not of this line and Altan Khan was the most destructive of these usurpers. He perceived that through the Buddhist faith, he could gain legitimacy by claiming to be a reincarnation of Khublai Khan.
Altan Khan first invited Sonam Gyatso to Mongolia in 1569, but it is said that Sonam Gyatso refused to go and sent a disciple in his stead, who reported back to Sonam Gyatso about the great opportunity to spread Buddhist teachings throughout Mongolia.
Altan Khan again invited Sonam Gyatso to Mongolia in 1571 and embraced Tibetan Buddhism. After some hesitation, with followers begging him not to go, Sonam Gyatso’s party set out and was met at Ahrik Karpatang in Mongolia where a specially prepared camp had been set up to receive them. Thousands of animals were given to him as offerings and five hundred horsemen had been sent to escort him to Altan Khan’s court. When they arrived there, they were greeted by over ten thousand people including Altan Khan dressed in a white robe to symbolize his devotion to the Dharma.
In 1578, Sonam Gyatso proclaimed Altan Khan to be the reincarnation of Khublai Khan, and in return, Altan Khan gave the title “Dalai Lama” to Sonam Gyatso. Altan Khan also posthumously awarded the title to his two predecessors, making Sonam Gyatso the 3rd Dalai Lama. Sonam Gyatso also publicly announced that he was a reincarnation of Phagpa while Altan Khan was a reincarnation of Kublai Khan, and they had come together again to cooperate in propagating the Buddhist religion. [[File:Khan04Altan_Khan.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Altan Khan)] Altan Khan had Thegchen Chonkhor, Mongolia’s first monastery, built and a massive program of translating Tibetan texts into Mongolian commenced. Within 50 years, most Mongols had become Buddhist, with tens of thousands of monks who were members of the Gelug order loyal to the Dalai Lama.
Sonam Gyatso’s message was that the time had come for Mongolia to embrace Buddhism, that from that time on there should be no more animal sacrifices, that images of the old gods were to be destroyed, that there must be no taking of life, animal or human, that military action must be given up and that the immolation of women on the funeral pyres of their husbands must be abolished. He also secured an edict abolishing the Mongol custom of blood sacrifices. These and many other such laws were set forth by Sonam Gyatso and were instituted by Altan Khan. According to legend, Avtai Sain Khan was also given a Buddha relic by the Third Dalai Lama to help spread of Buddhism.
Altan Khan died in 1582, only four years after meeting with the Third Dalai Lama. He was succeeded by his son Sengge Düüreng who continued to diligently support Buddhism, and two years later the Third Dalai Lama decided to make another visit to Mongolia. On his way, he founded the monastery of Kumbum at the birthplace of the great teacher and reformer, Je Tsongkapa. By 1585, he was back in Mongolia and had converted more Mongol princes and their tribes.
The Dalai Lama was again invited to visit the Ming emperor, which he accepted, but this time he fell ill and died (in 1588, aged 45) in Mongolia whilst on his way back to Tibet. Altan Khan’s great-grandson, Yonten Gyatso, was selected as the 4th Dalai Lama, thus making him the only non-Tibetan Dalai Lama.
Monks were some of the leading intellectuals in Mongolia, responsible for much of the literature and art of the pre-modern period. Many Buddhist philosophical works lost in Tibet and elsewhere are still preserved in older and purer form in Mongolian ancient texts (e.g. the Mongol Kanjur). Zanabazar (1635–1723), Zaya Pandita (1599–1662) and Danzanravjaa (1803–1856) are among the most famous Mongol holy men.
[[File:Khan05Namkar_Barzin.jpg|thumb|250px|Namkar Barzin)] Namkar Barzin is the second minister to Dorje Shugden after Kache Marpo. He is one of the newest members of Dorje Shugden’s entourage, whose history goes back to around 60-75 years ago. He is not an enlightened being but an oath-bound Dharma Protector, after being subdued as a raging spirit by Domo Geshe Rinpoche and placed under the command of Dorje Shugden.
Namkar Barzin was a Mongolian man who traveled from Mongolia to Dungkar Monastery with only one wish, to be ordained as a monk. He was old and poor but still made the effort to travel a far distance to seek solace.
Unfortunately, when he arrived at the monastery, Namkar Barzin was ill treated by the resident monks because he was merely a penniless old beggar. The monk in-charge rejected Namkar Barzin’s request to be ordained and chased him out. This sincere beggar, who thirsted for the Dharma so much and who had nothing else but the Dharma to depend on, again requested help from four monks who he met outside the monastery. However, to his dismay, he was insulted and beaten up by them.
At that point, Namkar Barzin became enraged and cursed the monks who ill-treated him, saying that they would all die within a year. Much later, this poor Mongolian man was found dead near a place known as Pema Choling. The nomads who lived in that area saw his body and threw it into a river where it got caught between some rocks for days. Herders nearby who saw Namkar Barzin’s body amused themselves by throwing stones at him and making fun of him.
A weird disease erupted and spread, causing many herders and their yaks to fall ill and die, including one of the monks who had previously mistreated Namkar Barzin. Once, Namkar Barzin even possessed a victim and clearly indicated how many more people he was going to kill.
Respite only came when Domo Geshe Rinpoche, who was then the abbot of Dungkar Monastery, heard of this bad news and went to tame the angry spirit. After successfully subduing Namkar Barzin, Domo Geshe Rinpoche made him take an oath to protect Dharma teachings and the area where Dungkar Monastery was situated. Domo Geshe Rinpoche also put Namkar Barzin under the command of Dorje Shugden as the second minister of Dorje Shugden’s entourage, where he would be able to collect vast merits and benefit countless sentient beings for infinite lifetimes.
Jaya Pandita (1642 – 1708)
[[File:Jaya_Pandita.jpg|thumb|250px|Jaya Pandita)] A boy with promising signs was born in Mongolia to the royal bloodline of the legendary Chinggis Khan. He would later emerge as a most important figure between the Mongolian and Tibetan worlds, who would come to be among the most significant students of the renowned master Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, and known for having preserved the secret biography (namthar) of this great master.
In his youth, he traveled to Tibet, enrolled into Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and began his monastic curriculum. In 1660, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama bestowed the title ‘Jaya Pandita’ upon the young monk on the auspicious occasion of his ordination. He practiced Yamantaka, Sitatapatra and Guhyasamaja as his yidams and delved into the contemplation of the great treatises while studying the medical treatises. Some of the greatest Tibetan masters of that time were his spiritual mentors, including of course the most illustrious Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.
He would later return to Mongolia and spend the rest of his life translating a great number of important Tibetan texts into Mongolian. Jaya Pandita himself was a great linguist and his exposure to the technical sophistication of the Tibetan written language inspired him to revise the Mongol alphabet, making the Mongol written language phonetically more accurate. This later became the genesis of an independent literary tradition.
Due to political reasons, the written records of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen were tampered with or wiped out in Tibet. However, one of the few surviving documents that details the life and writings of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was preserved amongst the written works of Jaya Pandita, as well as the biographies of his previous incarnations. Not only do these biographies link Dorje Shugden closely to his illustrious previous lives, they also explored the most secret, mystical side of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, revealing for example some of the visions that this master had even when he was still very young. The story of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s transformation into Dorje Shugden, the Protector of the Ganden tradition also fired the popular imagination of the Mongol scholars.
Mongolian scholar Lobsang Tamdin later analysed the meaning of a prophecy that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had received from Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen – that as soon as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen passed away, the Chinese emperor came into the world. This was a clear indication that the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing dynasty was none other than the incarnation of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. He also became famously known as an emanation of Manjushri, with specifically close connections to Wu Tai Shan in China, the abode of Manjushri.
By these writings, the initial diffusion of Dorje Shugden’s practice in Mongolia is inextricably linked to the popularity of these texts. Unfortunately, this tradition of recognizing Dorje Shugden on the basis of his previous lives came to an end in the 19th century. More unfortunately, many scholars today fail to reference these early sources in their contemporary discussions of Dorje Shugden, often leaning more towards the recent discussions of him as a spirit rather than relying on the texts of old which clearly pointed to his enlightened nature.
Present-Day Lamas and Monasteries
[[File:Khan07Khalkha_Jetsun_Dhampa.jpeg|thumb|250px|His Eminence the 9th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Dorjee Chang Jampel Namdrol Choekyi Gyaltsen)] There is no Lama more highly respected and loved within the Mongolian Buddhist community than Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche, in all of his incarnations. (Khalkha is one of the largest regions of Mongolia, and Jetsun Dhampa means “Lord of Refuge”).
The Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Khutuktus are the spiritual heads of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. They also hold the title of Bogd Gegeen, making them the top-ranked lamas in Mongolia. He is to the Mongolians what the Dalai Lama is to the Tibetans.
The first Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa was recognized by the 5th Dalai Lama. Since that time, both have enjoyed a very close relationship that has also contributed to the rapid growth of Tibetan Buddhist lineages and teachings within Mongolia. Today, Mongolian communities throughout the world has as much respect for Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa as they do for the Dalai Lama.
All incarnations of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa are strongly remembered for the pivotal role they have played in bringing Buddhism to Mongolia, causing it to grow and keeping it alive to this very day. They have become leaders of the country in their own right, with some of them even leading the country in secular and political affairs.
The Fourth Jetsun Dhampa, of the 18th Century, rose to fame for creating many Buddhist images and texts, making many offerings in his life and for establishing numerous monastic institutions for learning with specialties in debates and meditation. Jetsun Dhampa also had a connection with the very famous Amarbayasgalant Monastery in Mongolia, having built temples in the area. After he passed away, his remains were also enshrined here.
With a special aptitude for grasping the many teachings of both Sutra and Tantra, this incarnation was known for both strong commitment to his personal practice and for creating the foundation for Gelug teachings to flourish throughout Mongolia.
Jetsun Dhampa’s contribution to these canons of texts was unique for the references he made to Shambhala in the texts he composed. Shambala is known to be one of the places where Dorje Shugden resides, while Jetsun Dhampa’s previous incarnation Taranatha was very famous for having mastered the Kalachakra Tantra and frequently passing on the initiation.
The Kalachakra practice is very closely associated with Shambhala for it is believed that the Tantra was first taught there by Shakyamuni and strongly preserved there. The prayers written by Jetsun Dhampa call upon this connection that Dorje Shugden has with Shambhala, thus helping practitioners to create an affinity with this deeply spiritual place and its realized beings.
In recent times, the Jetsun Dhampas continue to maintain a very close and mutually supportive relationship with the many incarnations of the Dalai Lamas. The 9th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Khutuktu Jampal Namdol Chökyi Gyaltsen (1932 – 2012), was installed by the Dalai Lama as the head of the Jonang lineage. Furthermore, the current Dalai Lama and 9th Jetsun Dhampa spent much of their childhood together, studying under the same tutors, playing, and at family gatherings. It was probably from this long-standing relationship that Mongolia and Tibet have enjoyed a strong friendship and that Buddhist practices have been able to spread so quickly and firmly among Mongolian communities.
Lobsang Tamdin (1867 – 1937)
[[File:Khan08Lobsang_Tamdin.jpg|thumb|250px|Lobsang Tamdin)] Lobsang Tamdin, a Mongolian scholar and master, was a lineage holder of many practices. He became especially known for collecting many important texts written by Mongolian and Tibetan masters throughout his life. He was also known for having composed rituals to Dorje Shudgen.
Lobsang Tamdin began his studies first in Ganden Monastery, Ulanbataar (Mongolia) where he mastered the Sutras and Tantras. This was also where he received his ordination vows. While he was most renowned for his academic contribution to Dharma and the many comprehensive texts he authored (compiled in 12 volumes, including important texts from other masters, historical accounts of the birth of various monasteries, the history of Buddhism in India, Tibet and Mongolia, and rituals and prayers of Dorje Shugden), Lobsang Tamdin is also remembered for certain miracles he performed in his lifetime, including the spontaneous manifestation of two stupas inscribed with mystical letters.
Lobsang Tamdin’s works include Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s biography and a book on Dorje Shugden’s reincarnation lineage. In his account, Lobsang Tamdin stated that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen took rebirth as the Kangxi Emperor of China who was widely believed to be the emanation of Red Manjushri. He also authored various other works related to Dorje Shugden, including a propitiation text and praise to Dorje Shugden.
On top of everything that he personally authored, Lobsang Tamdin made a remarkable contribution to the vast collection of Buddhist texts by documenting all the lineages of transmissions to practices which he received, based upon the canon of teachings and commentaries already existing at the time. This is very important for it traced the ways in which practices had been passed down from one master to another, thus validating the authenticity of each practice and teaching. Validating the lineage of any practice is an especially important point in Buddhism so as to ensure that the practice received comes unbroken across the generations of teachers and can be traced back to its original, most authentic source.
One particularly noteworthy documentation was that of the Dorje Shugden bepum, for which Lobsang Tamdin located and noted the transmission for almost all texts within that collection. This document continued to be referred to and held in high esteem by many masters after him and is a central reference text to all the most important Shugden texts.
Delgeruun Choira is the traditional seat of Zava Damdin Rinpoche, a lineage of lamas whose stature was almost as great as the Bodg Khans of Mongolia. The previous incarnation was a famed scholar, yogi, healer and mahasiddha who wrote 16 volumes of commentaries to Buddhist Sutras and Tantras as well as many ritual texts.
Zava Damdin Rinpoche arises from a new generation of eminent young lamas who remain devoted practitioners of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden in spite of the unlawful ban on this deity. Actually, because of lamas like Zava Damdin Rinpoche, the practice has continued to see enormous growth around the world and in countries such as Mongolia which has long held a strong historical and religious connection with Tibetan Buddhism. Given Zava Damdin Rinpoche’s busy schedule, it would appear that there is no shortage of Mongolian Buddhists wishing to continue with the 350-year-old Shugden practice and the many other teachings of this lineage.
The current Zava Damdin Rinpoche picks up where his previous reincarnation left off and continues to work for the benefit of all sentient beings, bringing the Buddhadharma to millions across Mongolia and around the world.
[[File:Khan10Guru_Deva_Rinpoche.jpg|thumb|250px|Guru Deva Rinpoche)] Guru Deva Rinpoche, an incarnation of one of the 84 Siddhas, Bundasheri Tulku Guru Deva, was born in Mongolia for the sole purpose of creating “great benefits for the Dharma and all sentient beings”.
He was a highly qualified Lama, having traveled to Tibet at the age of 20 and studied in the great monastic university of Drepung under great masters like Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Gonsar Rinpoche, mastering both Sutra and Tantra.
Guru Deva Rinpoche is known for his significant contributions towards the building of the palace of the Dalai Lama in India as well as the re-establishing of the three great monastic universities – Ganden, Sera and Drepung – in India, after the exodus from Tibet. He also helped to establish many other monasteries and temples as well as accommodation for the refugees in India.
When Buddhism was revived in Mongolia in 1992, Guru Deva Rinpoche personally helped in the restoration of temples, statues and scriptures. In addition, he saw to the restoration of accommodation and facilities for the monks and the people of Mongolia, and also played a role in reviving the education of the monastics. In all these efforts, Guru Deva Rinpoche worked extensively, untiringly and in a complete manner to benefit sentient beings, right to his old age.
Sadly, this great holy being was forced to leave India and Nepal and retire to Mongolia after he protested the Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden. He remained, until his death in 2009, isolated from the Tibetan community amongst whom he had lived and shared and spread the Dharma for the benefit of all beings.
The advent of widespread Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia began in 1578 when Altan Khan, a Mongol military leader with ambitions to unite the Mongols invited Sonam Gyatso of the rising Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to a summit. They formed an alliance that gave Altan Khan legitimacy and religious sanction for his imperial ambitions and that provided the Buddhist school with protection and patronage. In the next century the Gelugpa School spread throughout Mongolia.
Today it is estimated that the majority religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism at 53%. Having survived suppression by the Communists, Buddhism among the Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Mongols is primarily of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. And without the Dalai Lama’s political influence in Mongolia, the practice of Dorje Shugden in Mongolia is thriving and well.
Images of Dorje Shugden in Mongolia
[[File:DS-at-Mongolian-Temple.jpg|thumb|centre|350px|Dorje Shugden stone carving at Amarbayasgalant Monastery)] [[File:33_thumb.jpg|thumb|centre|350px|Dorje Shugden statue in Amarbayasgalant Monastery)] [[File:11_thumb.jpg|thumb|centre|350px|Dorje Shugden statue in Amarbayasgalant Monastery)] [[File:12_thumb.jpg|thumb|centre|350px|Dorje Shugden Thangka in Amarbayasgalant Monastery)]
[[File:Dsmongolia01.jpeg|thumb|centre|350px|Dorje Shugden statue in Delegriin Choiriin Khiid Monastery, Mongolia.]]
Images of Dorje Shugden Monasteries in Mongolia
[[File:Dsmongolia03.jpg|thumb|centre|350px|Dorje Shugden Chapel in Amarbayasgalant Monastery)]
Videos of Dorje Shugden in Mongolia
Amarbayasgalant – Monastery with Dorje Shugden in Mongolia
Oracle Dorje Shugden ceremony of protector possessing in Ulaanbaatar
Dorje Shugden in Tibet and Mongolia
Dorje Shugden Monastery Amarbayasgalant – Mongolias Ancient Hidden Gem