Death of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and Emergence of Dorje Shugden
The emergence of the practice is strongly related to Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, a contemporary of the 5th Dalai Lama about whom exist different stories. According to von Brück, there is little documented historical evidence before the beginning of the 19th century and different orally transmitted versions of his origins contradict each other. von Brück traces the root of the link between the death of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and the worship of Dorje Shugden back to "the power struggles of the 5th Dalai Lama and the successful centralization of power in his hands after the death of the Mongol Gushri Khan." According to Mullin, the soul of the murdered monk Dragpa Gyaltsen wandered after his death for some time as a disturbed spirit, who created trouble for the people of Lhasa. The 5th Dalai Lama tried to "exorcise and pacify" him by first asking Nyingma shamans to subdue him, but when they failed he asked Gelugpa shamans who were finally successful. By these measures, the spirit of the deceased Lama was "pacified and transformed" into the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. According to Mumford, the 5th Dalai Lama unsuccessfully tried to subjugate Dorje Shugden through a fire exorcism and "invited the still-wandering spirit to become a Srungma of the Gelugpa order, with result that Shugs-ldan became one of the most popular Srungmas in Tibet. With the encouragement of local Lamas, kin groups all over Tibet took on Shugs-ldan as their lineage guardian."
Mullin continues, saying that the practice was later adopted by "numerous Gelugpa monks who disapproved of the 5th Dalai Lama's manner of combining Gelugpa and Nyingmapa doctrines" and that the 5th Dalai Lama tried to discourage the practice, but "it caught on in many monasteries". According to Mullin, "The practice continued over the generations to follow, and eventually became one of the most popular Protector Deity practices within the Gelugpa school." The practice became even more popular during the late 1800s. During that time, Dorje Shugden "became an all pervasive monthly practice within almost all provincial Gelugpa monasteries, and was especially popular with Gelugpa aristocratic families."
According to Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub, although the Fifth Dalai Lama and others tried to destroy Dorje Shugden, they were not able to because Shugden is enlightened:
Then, although four undisputed powerful Tantrikas with concentration, began wrathful rituals to strike you down, through the power of having completed Guhyasamaja's two stages, you would not be silenced, and showed signs of heroism; praise to you!
According to some Gelug Lamas, there is evidence to show that the 5th Dalai Lama realized he was mistaken in considering Dorje Shugden a spirit, and then composed a prayer praising Dorje Shugden as a Buddha and crafted a statue to show his respect for Dorje Shugden. Concerning whether the 5th Dalai Lama composed a prayer to Dorje Shugden, the 14th Dalai Lama said that "it is difficult for us to prove convincingly whether it belongs to the Fifth Dalai Lama or not." Michael von Brück denies the historical evidence of such a claim, stating "The problem is that this position has no historical evidence, neither in the biography of the 5th Dalai Lama or elsewhere," adding that for this reason the authenticity of the oral tradition cannot be decided.
According to McCune, the story about his being a wandering spirit was said by followers to be disseminated by those who murdered Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, not by his followers who viewed him as the reincarnation of a highly realized being.
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