Ven. Geshe Kelsang spoke against the 14th Dalai Lama in response to the Dalai Lama’s ban of the practice of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. In November 1996, he said in an interview:

In April of this year (1996), I received many strong requests from Tibetans living in India, and some requests from Western people who have connections with Tibetans, to help them achieve freedom of worship for the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. I received many letters and much information about the ban on this practice.

At the beginning I completely ignored this and I thought I would never involve myself in this Tibetan political problem. Later, I received some urgent faxes from an American lady called Tina, a friend of one Tibetan called Losang Chogyal in India. My assistant contacted Tina through e-mail to confirm that the faxes were authentic. We realized that this information came from India.

Through these letters I understood that HH the 14th Dalai Lama had publicly stated that Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit, and that he had the intention to impose a complete ban on this practice. In order to fulfill his wishes many Tibetans in different areas of India were removing statues and pictures of Dorje Shugden from temples and private houses, destroying them, throwing them in the garbage, burning them etc., and forcibly preventing people from worshipping.

Because of this, so many people in many areas were afraid and experiencing much suffering and disharmony, especially in some of the monasteries. The tension was such that people were beginning to fight with each other, Tibetan against Tibetan.

At that time, I remembered what happened in Tibet under Mao’s regime, with people destroying precious statues, Dharma scriptures and experiencing so many different types of suffering. I thought this present situation in India is very similar to that in Tibet. I was so disappointed and found it difficult to bear the bad news. Then, my mind changed and I developed a strong wish to help these Tibetan people. On the other hand, I thought that if I became involved in these politics I would be criticized by many people and that even my life may be at risk, but finally I said to myself that I must stop self-cherishing and work for the welfare of these people.

First, we organized to publish all the information we had received from India through many different newspapers in the United Kingdom, but no-one would print it. Because it was a story about Tibetans, the newspapers contacted the Tibetan Office to check its authenticity, and of course they denied it. So, because of these problems the members of the Shugden Supporters Community held a meeting and decided to hold demonstrations in the hope that HH would change his mind and withdraw the ban on the worship of Dorje Shugden. After two demonstrations had been held, a delegation from the Shugden Supporters Community formally requested HH to sign an agreement to stop the ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden and to restore freedom of worship to his people who wished to worship Dorje Shugden. He did not sign the agreement.

After the third demonstration, I strongly requested the members of the ISC to stop all political activity immediately. Because I understood that HH would not accept, there was no meaning in continuing. I requested the people in Dharma Centers to forget all these politics and concentrate solely on their Dharma practice.

In January 2008, the Dalai Lama stepped up his efforts to suppress the practice of Dorje Shugden by banning it in monasteries in South India, and his Tibetan government in exile backed this up with a forced signature campaign. Many monks were expelled from their monasteries. The forced signature campaign and ostracism also spread into the lay community. The International Shugden Community was formed in April 2008 as a confederation of concerned individual Western, Tibetan, and other Eastern Dorje Shugden practitioners to oppose this ban and segregation, partly through the method of peaceful demonstrations (after their letters had been ignored). The ISC and the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) were different organizations.

The ISC disbanded when the Dalai Lama later rescinded the ban. For more, please see What is the relationship between the New Kadampa Tradition and the International Shugden Community.