Smear: NKT is an offshoot of the FPMT
Truth: The NKT is not an off-shoot of the FPMT. Geshe Kelsang was not asked by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa but by his (and Lama Yeshe’s) Teacher, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, to become resident teacher of Manjushri Institute in 1977.
This has been said in public by both Geshe Kelsang and Lama Zopa. The latter said that he and Lama Yeshe both wanted Geshe Kelsang to be the Teacher but Lama Yeshe felt that a request would be successful only if it came from Trijang Rinpoche. Geshe Kelsang later said that at the time he never even knew of the existence of FPMT and was responding to a request from his Teacher.
The original root of both the FPMT and the NKT is the teachings of Trijang Rinpoche because he was the main Teacher of both Lama Yeshe, the founder of the FPMT, and Geshe Kelsang. This is where the similarity ends. If you compare the presentation of the teachings of both traditions, and the internal organization and politics, they are quite different. The NKT is not an off-shoot of anything but a continuation of the mainstream Gelugpa tradition.
Geshe Kelsang’s words, Santa Barbara USA, February 2nd 1996
“When I was in India I received an invitation from Manjushri Institute in England through Lama Yeshe, who was my very close friend in Tibet. He and I were from the same monastery in Tibet and we had the same Teacher. He wrote to me and requested me please to go to England and give Dharma teachings. I received this invitation but I didn’t answer for two months. At that time it was difficult for me to say yes due to certain commitments to local Tibetan people, and also I thought how could I teach as I could not speak English? I had no confidence. Lama Yeshe was very clever; he went to visit my root Guru Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, and requested him to ask me to go to England to teach Dharma. He knew if my root Guru asked me, then I would agree to go.
I received a letter from Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang saying that I should accept this invitation to go to England to teach at least three subjects -- Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhishattva's Way of Life, Chandrakirti’s Guide to the Middle Way, and Lamrim teachings -- and then I could return to India. I went to see him and asked him precisely whether I would be able to benefit people and would there be any good results? He gave me a lot of encouragement and gave many predictions that there would be great results. So I was very happy and accepted. In 1977 I arrived at Manjushri Institute in England. It was a very big old house with maybe 10 to 15 residents. It was very dusty and dirty, and very cold. For me it was very unusual.
Soon after I arrived I started to teach Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, which took almost one year. Then I gave extensive Lamrim teachings, and after that I taught Guide to the Middle Way. So altogether it took almost three years to complete my commitment and I was very happy to return to India. My root Guru Trijang Rinpoche was there and he was very old; my mother and my many spiritual friends were there. Lama Yeshe also accepted my returning to India, so I nearly returned to India. But then the Manjushri Institute community people strongly requested me to stay. They made many promises, saying they would practice purely, undertake responsibility for whatever I wanted, and respect my wishes. Everyone signed a letter requesting me to stay, and some cried. Lama Yeshe’s invitation had finished but there was a new invitation from the community, now much larger with maybe 40 to 50 students. Everyone signed this invitation with many promises. So I accepted. Then gradually I became a subject of the English Queen. I hope later to become her Minister so can I help Tibetan people have their freedom! I’m joking. This is my story.”