The Kagyu Lineage traces its origin back to the historic
Buddha, Shakyamuni through Marpa, the great translator
and yogi, who brought the unbroken lineage from India
Marpa The Translator
Marpa first trained as a translator under Drogmi Yeshe (993-1050),
and then traveled three times to India and four times
to Nepal in search of buddhist teachings. He is said
to have studied with a hundred and eight masters and
yogis, but his principal teachers were Naropa and Maitripa.
Tilopa and Naropa
From Naropa, Marpa received the lineage of tantric teachings
called the Four Special Transmissions (bK'a-babs-bzhi):
the yogas of 1) illusory body and transference of consciousness,
2) dream, 3) luminosity, and 4) inner heat. Naropa obtained
these teachings directly from Tilopa (988-1069), who
in turn had received them from two original sources,
called the direct and indirect lineage. The direct lineage
and original source of the teachings was Buddha Vajradhara.
The indirect lineage comes from four main teachers of
Tilopa called the four special transmission lineages." Both Tilopa
and Naropa are some of the greatest panditas, scholars,
and siddhas, accomplished saints, of Nalanda, the famous
Buddhist university of ancient India.
brought these lineages to Tibet, passing them on to
his primary disciple and lineage holder, Milarepa (1040-1123),
the most renowned and accomplished of Tibet's tantric
yogis, who achieved enlightenment in one lifetime. Milarepa
held the lineage and tradition of the Practice Lineage.
Some of the other great students of Marpa were Ngog
Choku Dorjey, Tsurton Wangey and Meton Chenpo, who held
the Marpa's tradition of the Teaching Lineage. This
is how the two great systems of the practice lineage
and the teaching lineage were founded in Kagyu lineage.
The great master Gampopa (1084-1161), also known as Dakpo
Lhaje, and Rechungpa (1084-1161) were the principal
students of Milarepa. Gampopa was prophesized in the
sutras by Buddha. He pioneered in establishing the framework
of the lineage by unifying Milarepa's Mahamudra lineage
with the stages of the path tradition of the Kadampa
lineage. This lineage and tradition is known as the
had three heart disciples: Düsum Khyenpa, Phakmo Drupa
and Saltong Shogom. Düsum Khyenpa (1110-1193), also
known as Khampa Usey (literally, the "white-haired
Khampa"), became known as the First Karmapa, who
established the Karma Kagyu lineage.