Frequently asked questions
Who is Dorje Shugden?
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, the Enlightened Buddha of Wisdom. He arose as a Dharma Protector about 350 years ago especially to protect Nagarjuna’s Middle View, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa. He is often considered to be a Protector of the Gelugpa lineage but actually, he protects all sincere Dharma practitioners equally.
What is a Dharma Protector?
A Dharma Protector is a being who manifests in a particular form with the particular function of averting obstacles and providing conducive conditions for our spiritual practice. There are two kinds of Dharma Protectors: Enlightened Protectors who are emanations of Buddhas, and unenlightened / worldly Protectors.
What is the difference between an enlightened Dharma Protector and an unenlightened / worldly protector?
The difference between an Enlightened Dharma Protector and a worldly Dharma Protector is that the former is a Buddha whereas the latter is not. Many of the Dharma Protectors who are most commonly relied upon are Enlightened Beings, such as Dorje Shugden, who is an emanation of the Buddha Manjushri.
Enlightened Dharma Protectors’ principal function is to protect our Dharma practice, not to help our mundane affairs. Famous Enlightened Dharma Protectors are Palden Lhamo (an emanation of Tara), Six-Armed Mahakala (Avalokiteshvara), Four-Armed Mahakala, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden (Manjushri), and Setrab Chen (Amitabha). The most famous of the unenlightened Dharma Protectors is Nechung / Pehar. These unenlightened Protectors are usually worldly beings who were oath-bound by Lamas to stop causing harm and to serve and protect the Dharma instead.
Why are Dharma Protectors so important?
When we are engaging in spiritual practice, obstacles and distractions will arise that may disturb our practice. Thus, it can often be difficult to fulfill our commitments or engage purely and deeply in Dharma practice.
Dharma Protectors are a very important part of our practice as they help to remove immediate obstacles to our spiritual progress. They also provide conducive conditions for us to accomplish our spiritual aspirations smoothly. For example, they can help to avert physical problems such as illnesses, accidents, financial difficulties, and bring about the resources we need such as sponsorship, resources and spiritual friends to support our practice.
Dorje Shugden has removed obstacles and created the conditions for the extraordinary growth of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, and most importantly, the realization of those teachings. Lama Tsongkhapa’s doctrine is now spreading swiftly to countries throughout the world and touching the lives of many who have been able to learn the teachings and put them into practice to effect great transformation in their lives.
How can Dorje Shugden help me? What are some of the benefits of doing Dorje Shugden’s practice?
Dorje Shugden is very swift in his help and can assist you in any aspect of your life, for your highest benefit. He can help to:
- Alleviate financial difficulties and health problems
- Bring greater peace, clarity and stability to your mind
- Clear your mind so that you are able to handle difficult situations with more focus and wisdom for positive outcomes
- Grant you wealth and all the resources you need for a successful life and spiritual practice
- Protect you from dangerous or life-threatening situations
- Protect you against negative interferences such as spirit disturbances, negative energies or black magic
- Improve your intelligence, memory and wisdom
- Clear obstacles so you can focus on your Dharma practice without any interruptions or difficulties
- Open your mind to gain a deeper understanding of the Dharma teachings. Then, you can apply and practice them to bring improvements to your life
Can Dorje Shugden protect me from harmful spirits?
There are many types of protection one can receive, depending on the spirit or malady, but one of the most powerful is relying on an Enlightened Dharma Protector, such as Dorje Shugden.
Dorje Shugden’s rites, rituals, prayers, meditations and protective mantras are hailed as one of the best. This practice is excellent to do daily to bless our environment and bestow peace, as it is very effective. You can download a picture, keep it in your home or office, and ask for sacred protection. Many can attest that Tibetan protection is ancient and powerful. Daily prayers and invocation to Dorje Shugden also bless the environment and bestow peace to all beings in that area.
I am not very spiritual or spiritually inclined. How can Dorje Shugden still help and would he?
Of course Dorje Shugden will still help you; he helps all beings equally, just as the sun shines on all. He can help you on the most basic level of clearing your immediate problems (financial, health, relationships, family, harmony, business, legal matters, etc.).
On a higher level, Dorje Shugden helps you develop a stronger spiritual practice to bring more peace and wisdom into your life.
What does Dorje Shugden get in return for helping me?
Dorje Shugden does not require anything from us and does not “get anything back” from us.
As a fully Enlightened Being, he helps us unconditionally, out of his great compassionate wish to free us from suffering. The only thing he would like for us is to improve our minds to become better, kinder people.
Is Dorje Shugden a Buddha?
Yes he is. His previous incarnation is the Buddha Manjushri, who was one of the main disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. He is therefore a fully Enlightened Being.
Why does Dorje Shugden look so fierce?
In Buddhist iconography, wrathful expressions denote a very fast and powerful energy. It is likened to the “fierce” but compassionate energy of a mother who shouts at her child if she sees him playing with fire or about to harm himself.
Dorje Shugden’s expression of fierceness is symbolic of his very swift and efficacious ability to destroy obstacles for Dharma practitioners and come to our aid very quickly. Underneath the fierceness, everything that Dorje Shugden does is out of total compassion.
Can I be harmed in any way from doing this practice?
It is impossible for any Enlightened Being like Dorje Shugden to harm anyone. He abides totally in compassion and wisdom, and would never do anything to harm any being.
Has Dorje Shugden emanated as other forms before?
Yes, prior to arising as a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden manifested as many renowned and highly respected Lamas including:
- The Indian Mahasiddha Biwawa
- Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen (one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s closest disciples who built Gaden Monastery)
- Panchen Sonam Drakpa (an erudite scholar and debate master, whose philosophical texts are still being studied in the monasteries today)
- Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (a highly respected Lama who was often compared to the 5th Dalai Lama).
What are the other forms of Dorje Shugden and what do they do?
There are five principal emanations of Dorje Shugden:
- Dorje Shugden, the principal figure who represents consciousness. He bestows wisdom and shows the way to higher attainments.
- Vairochana Shugden or Shize, who represents form. He purifies negative karma and obstacles.
- Ratna Shugden or Gyenze, who represents feeling. He brings increase of all that is good.
- Pema Shugden or Wangze, who represents discrimination. He brings peace of mind.
- Karma Shugden or Trakze, who represents compositional factors. He helps to overcome delusions and combats the strongest negative, harmful energies.
What are oracles and how are they related to Dharma Protectors?
Oracles are specially trained people who can take trance and serve as a medium for Dharma Protectors. This means that the essence or energy of the Dharma Protector can enter and use their bodies as a vessel to speak to us directly. Therefore, we can receive enlightened and accurate advice to make the right decisions to support our spiritual path in our daily lives.
Where did Dorje Shugden’s practice come from?
Dorje Shugden arose as the principal Protector of Lama Tsongkhapa’s doctrine about 350 years ago, at the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, who composed the first verses of praise to him.
However, the common lineage and practice that is being followed throughout the world today is more recent and comes from a great Lama called Tagphu Pemavajra. Tagphu Pemavajra had the special ability to astral travel and one day, he travelled to Tushita Heaven, the celestial abode of the Buddhist saint Lama Tsongkhapa. There, he requested the Buddhist ascended master Duldzin Drakpa Gyeltsen to expound the mystical teachings and practice of Dorje Shugden.
For the first time ever, Dorje Shugden’s full entourage and mandala emanated out from under Lama Tsongkhapa’s throne. Dorje Shugden then transmitted the practice directly to Tagphu Pemavajra, just as the Buddha Maitreya had transmitted five major philosophical treatises to the master Asanga in Tushita Heaven in earlier times.
Tagphu Pemavajra later transmitted these instructions to his disciple Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, who wrote the Melodious Drum, the lineage practice prayer, and passed it on to Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe who wrote a commentary on the prayer. From Trijang Rinpoche, who was also the junior tutor to H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, the teachings were passed to many renowned Gelugpa teachers. Today, these teachers are teaching all over the world.
Is this a secret practice that requires initiation?
No, it is not secret. You do not require any initiation or empowerment to recite some of the prayers and Dorje Shugden’s mantra.
Can I practice Dorje Shugden even if I have not received the practice, initiation or empowerment from a lama?
Yes, you can. It is good to request an initiation (permission) or oral transmission from a qualified Lama if possible, as you will also receive the lineage blessings of this practice.
More advanced practice would require guidance and permission from a qualified teacher but you can already start to create a profound connection to this Protector by reciting prayers and his mantra, and praying sincerely to him.
How can I start doing Dorje Shugden’s practice?
If you have an image of Dorje Shugden, you can set up an altar if it is convenient. You can also make daily offerings such as flowers, light, incense, food or whatever you find pleasing. If it is not convenient for you to have an altar, you can start his practice simply by downloading and reciting any of the prayers that are available on this website. Or, you can recite his mantra anytime, anywhere:
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
The most important part of doing Dorje Shugden’s practice is to have a sincere and pure motivation.
How can I do the practice if I don’t have much time?
You do not need much time for this practice. Simply recite a short prayer (below) and the mantra. You can also recite just the mantra at any time, anywhere and as many times as you like.
Whenever you have more time, you can recite the longer prayers (which can be downloaded from the prayers section of this website) and / or recite more mantras. Most importantly, generate a good motivation and have strong faith that Dorje Shugden will help you.
By just recollecting you for an instant,
Outer and inner obstructions are dispelled,
O powerful Dorje Shugden’s five families,
Bestower of the four activities,
To the Dharmapala and entourage, I bow down.
Mantra: OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
What happens if I miss doing the practice when, for example, I am ill or traveling?
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, the Enlightened Buddha of Wisdom. He arose as a Dharma Protector about 350 years ago especially to protect Nagarjuna’s Middle View, as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa.
He is often considered to be a Protector of the Gelugpa lineage but actually, he protects all sincere Dharma practitioners equally.
I already have a Dharma Protector practice so why would I need to do Dorje Shugden’s practice?
Dorje Shugden has manifested specifically at this time to assist practitioners in this day and age. As obstacles and distractions become much greater at this time, Dorje Shugden’s practice is very effective to help us clear these obstacles. His practice is complementary to all our practices and there is no conflict or overlap at all.
You should continue your existing Dharma Protector practices, but you can also add Dorje Shugden’s practice to your daily prayers. You can add his prayers in after your normal Protector prayers, or simply recite his mantra.
Can I still do Dorje Shugden’s practice if I am already doing other spiritual practices?
Yes, there is no conflict or problem in adding Dorje Shugden’s practice to what you are already doing. You can also put images of him on your altar alongside images / statues of other deities and / or Buddhas. However, if you already have a Lama and have already been advised to do certain prayers, you should maintain what you have already been taught.
If you wish to do Dorje Shugden’s practice (or any other practice for that matter) on top of what you have already been advised, do seek the advice of your Lama as he will know what practices would be most suitable and beneficial for you.
Will Dorje Shugden harm you if you stop doing his practice?
No. As he is a fully Enlightened Buddha, he will never have any motivation to harm any being.
Which high lamas practice Dorje Shugden?
Many of the highest Lamas today – who have been recognized as highly realized, Enlightened Beings themselves – have been well known for relying upon Dorje Shugden. Well-known and highly esteemed Gelugpa practitioners of Dorje Shugden, past and present, include:
- The 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso
- Losang Thubten Wangchuk Jigme Gyatso (head of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism in Mongolia)
- Ngulchu Dharmabadra
- The Indian master Shakya Shri Bhadra
- The 11th Dalai Lama (who installed Dorje Shugden as the Protector of the Gelugpa tradition)
- Gyara Tulku Rinpoche
- Domo Geshe Rinpoche (regarded by the 13th Dalai Lama as an emanation of Lama Tsongkhapa)
- Serkong Rinpoche (regarded by the 13th Dalai Lama as Vajradhara)
- Dagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche
- Pabongka Rinpoche
- Trijang Rinpoche
- Ling Rinpoche
- Khangsar Rinpoche
- Tathag Rinpoche (in charge of the Tibetan Government after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama)
- Zong Rinpoche
- Khen Rinpoche Losang Tharchin
- Lati Rinpoche
- Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey
- Khechog Rinpoche
- Lama Yeshe
- Dagom Rinpoche
- Lobsang Tamdin
- Ribur Rinpoche
- Geshe Rabten
- Dagyab Rinpoche
- Gelek Rinpoche
- Lama Zopa
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
- Yongyal Rinpoche
- The 14th Dalai Lama
- Gonsar Rinpoche
- Gangchen Rinpoche and others
Where can I find out more information about this protector and his practice?
There is plenty of information available on this website, including a wealth of articles, images and videos. There is also a very helpful forum which encourages plenty of discussion and where you can ask any questions you may have about Dorje Shugden and his practice.