Dugpas

by David Reigle, June 2009

In the early Theosophical writings, H. P. Blavatsky used the term “dugpa” for the various non-Gelugpa orders of Tibetan Buddhism, namely, for the Kagyupa, Nyingmapa, and Sakyapa orders. In doing this, she followed the usage of Western writers of the time. These writers indiscriminately termed all of these orders as “Red Caps,” “Shammars,” and “Dugpas,” or “Dukpas.” Blavatsky additionally used the term “dugpa” for followers of the non-Buddhist Bon religion of Tibet. We know that Blavatsky used the books of these writers because she often quotes them. Indeed, she drew the term “Kiu-te,” a phonetic spelling of the Tibetan rgyud sde that long baffled researchers, from Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet, and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa, published in London in 1876 (2nd ed. 1879). The editor of this book, Clements R. Markham, writes about the dugpas or dukpas in his Introduction:

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