The first time I have ever heard of Dorje Shugden’s name was when I had the fortune to visit Tsem Rinpoche’s house more than a decade ago. I had just gotten to know Rinpoche long enough that he would invite me over to his place. At that time, Kechara House was not established yet. I was shown Rinpoche’s altar and when it came to a prominent statue of a fierce-looking deity riding a snow lion, Rinpoche told me that his name was ‘Dorje Shugden’. I had to ask Rinpoche to repeat and I still didn’t quite catch the name even on hearing his name the second and third time over. I decided not to ask again as that would make me look real stupid.
Not long after, Rinpoche had requested me to research on Dorje Shugden and come up with a writeup after that. In hindsight, the research got me to learn up on Dorje Shugden and it was the first time I came into contact with the controversy. I didn’t know what to make of it initially because the information about Dorje Shugden’s illustrious previous lives just didn’t jive with the idea that he is a harmful spirit. Unfortunately for me, the research never materialized and the person I was working with decided to call it quits as well. Rinpoche had never intended to publish the writeup anyway but he felt that there will come a time when the ban would be over and there would be a lot of people who would want to learn about Dorje Shugden.
Rinpoche never really asked me to practice Dorje Shugden in the earlier years. He kept it a private practice that he would only share with some of his closer students and friends. Hence, he never taught it in public and there were no Dorje Shugden pujas in Kechara at that time. On a personal basis, I really liked Setrap and I think he is powerful and effective but I didn’t feel connected. As soon as I found out Dorje Shugden’s mantra, I started to recite it as a daily practice. At that time, I could not find Dorje Shugden prayers anywhere. Since, I began my Dorje Shugden practice, I felt privileged that I got to connect with an extremely potent and powerful protector. It would take many years before Rinpoche would even share what he knew about Dorje Shugden in a series of private teachings.
Fortunate for me, I got to meet Dorje Shugden face-to-face from very early on. On my earlier pilgrimages to Nepal, Rinpoche had arranged for the pilgrims including myself to have audience with Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche (one of Rinpoche’s teachers) and to attend a Dorje Shugden trance with an oracle from Ladakh. I recall being ushered in a prayer room with walls lined with really old silk thangkas. The oracle was standing facing the altar and away from us as a few monks chanted the invocation verses. When the ritual music and chant reached a crescendo, the oracle suddenly jumped around, screamed and proceeded to strangle himself with a khata. Everybody gasped in horror and a few folded their hands. It was obvious Dorje Shugden had arrived as that little re-enactment heralded his arrival. Strangely, none of the other oracles did that when they entered into a trance of Dorje Shugden.
Fortunate for me, I had met Dorje Shugden a number of time through several oracles over the years. Initially, I was always in fear because I heard he was impatient and particularly wrathful to those with bad intentions or broken samaya. Rinpoche used to tell us cautionary tales of how Dorje Shugden would pick up a monk and throw him aside for breaking his vows and commitments. I was uneasy about that because I am not exactly an ideal practitioner. However, from my experience, I had always encountered warmth, kindness and lot of Dharma wisdom through his pronouncements to me personally.
Fortunate for me, I never had a life-threatening obstacle that Dorje Shugden had to save me from. But I have seen many people being saved from a malevolent spirit or a major financial problem, accidents and so forth. It’s incredible how effective he is! Its just too bad that people who are influenced by the rhetoric of the controversy not see this side of the protector. To this day, I continue to hear miracles happening for those who practice Dorje Shugden and need his assistance very badly. I just can’t see the miracle-maker Dorje Shugden to be a lowly and harmful spirit. Hence, I am really happy to share Dorje Shugden to just about anyone who is open and receptive. He had been extremely kind to me on many occasions and I am sure he would be to many others as well. I am eternally indebted to Rinpoche for introducing me to Dorje Shugden and how Rinpoche’s advice combined with Dorje Shugden’s blessings and protection had changed my life and protected my family all through these years.