Kagyu Lineage

The Kagyu Refuge Tree
THE KARMA KAGYU LINEAGE OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM traces its origins to Shakyamuni Buddha through Marpa the Great Translator, who three times traveled to India to bring back authentic Buddhist teachings to Tibet. His teacher, Naropa, received the lineage transmission from Tilopa and so on, back to the Buddha himself. Marpa’s most famous student was the greatest yogi in all of Tibet, the renowned Jetsun Milarepa, who passed the teachings on to Gampopa, who in turn transmitted the teachings to the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Since then, the Kagyu Lineage has been headed by a succession of reincarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa. The line of the Karmapas is said to be self-announced, because each incarnation leaves a letter predicting his next rebirth. All great Kagyu teachers regard His Holiness Karmapa as the embodiment and source of all of the blessings of the lineage.

  • Vajradhara
  • Tilopa (988-1069)
  • Naropa (1016-1100)
  • Marpa Lotsawa (1012-1097)
  • Jetsun Milarepa (1052-1135)
  • Gampopa (1079-1153)
  • The First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193)
  • Drogön Rechen (1148-1218)
  • Pomdrakpa (1170-1249)
  • The Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1203-1283)
  • Drubtob Urgyenpa (1230-1300)
  • The Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339)
  • Gyalwa Jungtönpa (1296-1376)
  • The Fourth Karmapa, Rolpe Dorje (1340-1383)
  • The Second Shamarpa, Kachö Wangpo (1350-1405)
  • The Fifth Karmapa, Dezhin Shegpa (1384-1415)
  • Rinchen Zangpo (Ratnabhadra) (c. 1400)
  • The Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Donden (1416-1453)
  • Bengar Jampal Zangpo Paljor Döndrup (1427-1489)
  • The Seventh Karmapa, Chodrag Gyatsho (1454-1506)
  • Sangye Nyenpa, Tashi Paljor (1457-1525)
  • The Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje (1507-1554)
  • The Fifth Shamarpa, Könchog Yenlag (1526-1583)
  • The Ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje (1555-1603)
  • The Sixth Shamarpa, Chökyi Wangchuk (1584-1629)
  • The Tenth Karmapa, Choying Dorje (1604-1674)
  • The Seventh Shamarpa, Yeshe Nyingpo (1631-1694)
  • The Eleventh Karmapa, Yeshe Dorje (1676-1702)
  • The Eighth Shamarpa, Chökyi Döndrub (1694-1735)
  • The Twelfth Karmapa, Changchub Dorje (1703-1732)
  • The Eighth Situpa, Chökyi Jungne (1700-1774)
  • The Thirteenth Karmapa, Dudul Dorje (1733-1797)
  • The Tenth Shamarpa, Chödrub Gyamtso (1742-1792)
  • The Ninth Situpa, Pema Nyinche Wangpo (1774-1853)
  • The Fourteenth Karmapa, Thegchog Dorje (1798-1868)
  • The First Jamgön Kongtrül, Lodrö Thaye (1813-1899)
  • The Fifteenth Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje (1871-1922)
  • The Eleventh Situpa, Pema Wangchuk (1886-1952)
  • The Second Jamgön Kongtrül, Palden Khyentse Öser (1902-1952)
  • The Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981)
  • The Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (1985-)