The Setting Of …

1. The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) — aka Kadampa Buddhism or Modern Buddhism or Kadampa Meditation Centres (KMC)
2. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso — The Founder Of The New Kadampa Tradition
3. Dorje Shugden Controversy — The Background Of A Dispute
4. International Shugden (Buddhist) Community (ISBC/ISC) / Western Shugden Society (WSS) — Who Is Behind The Protests Against the Dalai Lama?

This site aims to give verifiable and accurate information about the setting of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). For further information it is strongly recommended to read research papers or to contact INFORM. Inform mentioned the NKT three times, along with Scientology and other radical groups, in their leaflet Extremism on University Campuses.

New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU)

The New Kadampa Tradition describes itself as Kadampa Buddhism and as a ‘time-honored’ tradition, stating that “Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982-1054)”.

However, Peter Bernard Clarke, a theology professor at Oxford, has characterised the NKT as a “controversial Tibetan Buddhist New Religious Movement (NRM)”. And David Barett has characterised the NKT-IKBU as “deriving from Tibetan Buddhism” and as “one of the newest and most controversial buddhist movements.”

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Recommended Research:

Kay, David N. (1997) ‘The New Kadampa Tradition and the Continuity of Tibetan Buddhism in Transition‘, Journal of Contemporary Religion 12(3) (October 1997), 277-293 (PDF)

Dr. David Kay’s “Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain – Transplantation, development and adaptation” (PDF), London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.

McQuire, Carol (2013), “Realizing the Guru’s Intention: Hungry Humans and Awkward Animals in a New Kadampa Tradition Community” in Spiritual and Visionary Communities: Out to Save the World, Edited by Timothy Miller, Ashgate: 65–82.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Kelsang Gyatso is a Tibetan Buddhist monk, a Gelug trained teacher (scholar) and author of several Buddhist books. According to an NKT YouTube video, he was born on June 4th 1931 in Yangcho Tang, Eastern Tibet and ordained at the age of eight. According to a Tibetan published source, he was born in Toe Ngamring, near Shigatse in Tsang, South West Tibet.

In 1976 he was invited by Lama Thubten Yeshe, a Gelug teacher, to teach at his Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) center, Manjushri Institute, Ulverston, England. After creating a schism in the FPMT he founded the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in 1991.

Some of his teachings, writings and actions, in particular those related to Dorje Shugden, the Dalai Lama, the ordination of monastics, and the “usurpation” of FPMT’s Manjushri Institute have sparked significant controversy.

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Dorje Shugden Controversy

Dorje Shugden / Dolgyal is a “Dharma protector” whose precise nature — worldly Dharma protector, emanation from a Buddha in the form of a worldly spirit protector, worldly spirit, or fully enlightened being — is disputed among adherents of Tibetan Buddhism, especially among its Gelug school.


Dorje Shugden (Wylie: rdo-rje shugs-ldan), “Powerful thunderbolt” or Dolgyal (Dhol-rgyal) is a relatively recent, but very controversial, deity within the complex pantheon of Himalayan Buddhism. There exist different accounts and claims on Dorje Shugden’s origin, nature and function.

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Protests: International Shugden (Buddhist) Community / Western Shugden Society

Since 1996 there have been protests organized at public speaking venues of the Dalai Lama during his visits in ‘western countries’ (USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Australia etc.). The press has widely reported about these – though the articles are often very ill-informed. […]

As Tsultrim Palmo & Carol McQuire have demonstrated in a brief article it can be safely stated that behind the protesters is the New Kadampa Traditon (NKT).

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Self Help Forum & Testimonies

David Cutshaw from the USA, a former member of the NKT-IKBU, created a Yahoo group called New Kadampa Survivors in May 2007. This discussion forum aims to offer help to those previously involved in the NKT, as well as to their families and friends. The NKT tried to undermine the forum by using ‘troll strategies’ and attempted to convince Yahoo to shut it down. Members of the group are lay persons, ex NKT teachers, nuns and monks. Testimonies of ‘NKT Survivors’ have been posted on the buddhism-controversy-blog and the Facebook group New Kadampa Survivor Testimonies.

For a journalistic coverage of former members’ voices, see The One Pure Dharma: The New Kadampa Tradition is controversial—and growing. Why? By Judith Hertog (Tricycle). Michelle Haslam (PhD), a clinical psychologist, wrote a Psychological Report on The New Kadampa Tradition in June 2019 and set up a recovery resource centre site, Recovery from The New Kadampa Tradition, in the same year. Be Scofield wrote Inside Kelsang Gyatso’s New Kadampa Tradition in February 2020.

BBC Documentary »An Unholy Row« (1998)

BBC Documentary »An Unholy Row« (1998)

Current followers of the New Kadampa Tradition and their political wings, the Western Shugden Society (WSS) and International Shugden Community (ISC), portray themselves as “Modern Buddhists”, and the Dalai Lama and mainstream Tibetan Buddhists as “backward traditionalists”. Though a number of journalists have, without investigation, believed and repeated such claims, this picture couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Shugden was the practice of the Lhasa aristocracy and members of the power-hungry Gelugpa monastic hegemony, whose intention was not to share power but rather to maintain and increase it. Then and now, Shugden practitioners see themselves as superior to other Tibetan Buddhist schools and as the sole representatives of the purest of the Buddha’s teachings. Even though these facts are well known to Indo-Tibetan Buddhist experts, they are rarely reported online.
For a brief summary of the actual historical situation see the following essays: Gareth Sparham’s »Why the Dalai Lama Rejects Shugden?« or Prof. Paul William’s »A quick note on Dorje Shugden (rDo rje shugs ldan)«. To get an overview over the current wave of Anti Dalai Lama protests you can read the following interviews: Protests against the Dalai Lama over Dorje Shugden – An interview with Robert Barnett or The Dorje Shugden Conflict – An interview with Thierry Dodin.

Art Work Of A »New Kadampa Survivor«

Be informed before you commit yourself to NKT: Background interview with Thierry Dodin: The Dorje Shugden Conflict.