Did Dorje Shugden help the Dalai Lama escape from Tibet?

[From Helmut Gassner, the former German translator for the Dalai Lama from 1979-1995:]

Another particularly impressive figure of old Tibet was the Dalai Lama’s Chamberlain, Kungo Phala, whom you may vividly remember seeing in the movie Kundun. He was a guest in my home in Feldkirch on several occasions. It was he who in 1959 organized His Holiness’ escape from the Norbulingka summer palace. He sometimes spoke to me about it, perhaps because he was pleased with the progress I was making in my Tibetan language studies. The preparations for the escape were made in absolute secrecy and strictly followed instructions received from Dorje Shugden. I asked him what thoughts were on his mind when he had to make his way through the crowds surrounding the Norbulingka with the Dalai Lama, disguised as a servant, just behind him. He said that everything happened exactly as the Dorje Shugden oracle from Panglung Monastery had predicted. (Panglung Rinpoche now lives in Munich.) In particularly dangerous situations, he felt he was moving within a protected space, his feet seemingly not even touching the ground. I later heard many more accounts about the escape from other people who were personally involved in it, like Trijang Rinpoche’s attendants and monks of Pomra Khamtsen of Sera Mey Monastery, who had been chosen as the Dalai Lama’s personal bodyguards.

Today, in the Dalai Lama’s biography we read that Nechung, the State Oracle while in trance traced the entire escape route from the gates of the Norbulingka to the final destination in India. I heard from those who actually organized the flight that, at the time, the State Oracle’s predictions were treated with greatest caution. The Nechung Oracle has a large entourage of monks and so it was feared that the oracle’s predictions might reach Chinese ears. The only predictions that were repeatedly mentioned were the State Oracle’s calls for “The Lord of the Land of Snow to stay in the land.” Among the officials who helped in the planning of the escape were some who wanted to bring only His Holiness to safety, leaving his family behind. It was thanks to the Chamberlain Phala’s decisive intervention that the Dalai Lama’s entire family made it into exile.

During his first escape from Lhasa in 1950/51, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, while in Yadrung (Tromo) received valuable advice from Dorje Shugden and was moved to write some beautiful praises to him. His Holiness was staying at Dungkar Monastery of the famous master Tomo Geshe Rinpoche who lives mostly in the U.S.A. today. This master’s former incarnation was described by Lama Govinda in his book The Way of the White Clouds. Tomo Geshe Rinpoche is also one of the most prominent masters among those who revere Dorje Shugden. In 1957, Dorje Shugden recommended that the Tibetan guerrilla establish a military base to the south of Lhasa. By 1959, it turned out to be the only route that had not fallen to the Chinese. The Dalai Lama fled along this route. The Dalai Lama’s presence in the free world today bears testimony to the success of this enterprise.

It would have been the State Oracle’s duty to offer the Dalai Lama help during the critical events of 1959. According to all trustworthy eye-witnesses I know and consulted, the State Oracle did not provide any help on that occasion. After the Dalai Lama and his retinue had fled, the State Oracle only found out the following day that he had been left behind. His own escape was later organized by monks from Drepung Monastery. Once in exile, his role lost prominence until the early 1970’s, when that oracle started to quietly persuade the Dalai Lama that he should take his distance from Dorje Shugden. In other words, the origin of Dorje Shugden’s current level of defamation is not the Dalai Lama’s own idea but rather the State Oracle’s, who in his prophesies over the following twenty-five years made Dorje Shugden responsible for all the tragedies that befell Tibet and the Tibetans. (Helmut Gassner, Dalai Lama, Dorje Shugdenpp. 3, 4, & 8, 26 March 1999)