Smear: NKT received bad press from many major publications in the 1990s

Truth: This is true and it caused terrible damage to the NKT's reputation. However, even mainstream media can be prejudiced and inaccurate in their reporting. Virtually all of the bad press came from false accusations spread by the Dalai Lama or his followers in retaliation for the NKT's continued practice of Dorje Shugden and its courage to stand in opposition to the Dalai Lama's ban of this practice.

The articles in the Guardian, Independent and Newsweek that appeared at around the same time were all embarrassingly prejudiced in favor of the Dalai Lama and Tibet House, badly researched, and full of the same hurtful allegations based on the untested assumption that the Dalai Lama must be telling the truth. They were also point for point refuted at the time. These refutations and letters to the editor (and the lawyers) however appear only rarely on the Internet, whereas the articles have been repeated ad infinitum by NKT detractors, given the cloak of respectability by the good name of these publications.

Please find some background to these three articles here:

The Guardian ~ Shadow Boxing on the Path to Nirvana 9th July 1996 by Madeleine Bunting

The Independent ~ Battle of the Buddhists 15 July 1996 by Andrew Bunting

Newsweek ~ Cult Mystery? 28 April 1997 by Tony Clifton.

This widespread criticism of the NKT began in April 1997 with the publication of an injurious article in the journal Newsweek, in which the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman both libelled the NKT and the NKT was not permitted to defend itself. Here are some examples from the article:

In 1991, a senior monk named Kelsang Gyatso established a new Dorje Shugden order based in England and called the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). The NKT soon flourished by promising spiritual rewards for cash -- an unholy sales pitch that helped trigger confrontation with the Dalai Lama's circle.

And another quote:

Shugden followers always believed their god could grant earthly favors, and NKT has richly exploited this belief. Though barely known in the East, the NKT has slickly and successfully promoted Dorje Shugden in Europe. It's the fastest growing Buddhist sect in Britain, where it now has about 3,000 members, a thriving publishing business in London and mansions that double as "Dharma Centers" all over the country. It has also been denounced by the London press and the Dalai Lama as a cult that fleeces its own followers. "Nobody would pray to Buddha for better business, but they go to Shugden for such favors - and this is where it has become like spirit worship," the Dalai Lama told NEWSWEEK. "This is a great pity -- a tragedy."

These lies about the NKT have one source: the Dalai Lama himself. The Dalai Lama has lied to the media about the NKT to weaken us, in the same way that he has tried to weaken the Kagyu tradition over the Karmapa issue and the Gelugpa tradition over the Dorje Shugden issue.

Much of the Western media in the past have shown themselves inclined to believe what the Dalai Lama says without doing much research. This may be because he is part of the establishment and he has a famous brand name, giant PR machine, celebrity status and great deal of money. Whatever the reasons, it has so far been very difficult for the NKT's side of the story to receive a fair hearing. For more details, see:

The history of the New Kadampa Tradition's 'cult' smear, Part 1

The history of the New Kadampa Tradition's 'cult' smear, Part 2

The history of the New Kadampa Tradition's 'cult' smear, Part 3  

See Geshe Kelsang's reply to Newsweek, False Accusations Against the Innocent.


Taking Down the Smears

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A Kadampa is someone who integrates their knowledge of all Buddha's teachings into their everyday lives. Find out more in the booklet Modern Kadampa Buddhism

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