Following protests by the followers of Dorje Shugden (Dolgyal), an entity associated with the Gelug school, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, during the Dalai Lama's recent tour to the UK, his office has clarified that though the elderly Buddhist monk had for 40 years advised against propitiating Shugden, in the end it is up to individuals to choose whether or not to follow his "counsel".
Dorje Shudgen, is an ancient Tibetan deity, whom the Dalai Lama denounced in the 1970s.
The statement said on the final day of the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday celebrations in Orange county, California, his representatives invited the International Shugden Community to meet and explain what they were accusing the Nobel Peace Laureate of lying about.
"The office is concerned that many among the Shugden protesters may be poorly informed about the issue and the Dalai Lama's stand with regard to it. The office's intention is less to try and convince those who already understand the issue but continue to protest and more to reach out to those who have been misinformed about it," the statement said.
Three senior members of the International Shugden Community came and reiterated their allegation that the Dalai Lama had banned the practice of Shugden. "The allegations," the statement said, "were untrue and followers of the Shugden enjoy all rights and facilities to which the residents of the other exiled Tibetan are entitled. Some monks from southern India who chose to continue their Shugden practice have set up their own monasteries, Shar Ganden Ling and Serpom Dratsang, and these exist in their respective settlements."
"One of the principal reasons why the Dalai Lama advises against this practice is the well-documented sectarianism associated with it. In the past Shugden practice, especially in eastern Tibet, provoked widespread distrust between monasteries, and the Dalai Lama considers this kind of divisiveness and disharmony to be deeply regrettable. Understanding of the Shugden question requires objective study of its nearly 400-year controversial history, especially the way it unfolded in the early years of the 20th century. The Dalai Lama feels a moral responsibility to advise his followers against Shugden practice. In so doing he is following the example of his distinguished predecessors - the fifth and 13th Dalai Lamas," the statement added.