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Trans-Himalayan Traditions

From the Kagyu lineage - the story of Milarepa

 - Academy of Wisdom Teaching Eu

The Kagyu, Kagyü, or Kagyud (Tibetan: བཀའ་བརྒྱུདWylie: bka' brgyud) school, also known as the "Oral Lineage" or Whispered Transmission school, is today regarded as one of six main schools (chos lugs) of Himalayan or Tibetan Buddhism, the other five being the Nyingma, Sakya, Jonang, Gelug and Bon. Along with the Sakya and Gelug schools, the Kagyu tradition is classified as one of the Sarma or "New Transmission" schools of Vajrayāna founded during the second diffusion of Buddhism into Tibet (diffusing the so-called "New Tantras"). It is a Red Hat sect along with the Nyingma and Sakya.

Due to the Kagyu tradition's particularly strong emphasis on guru devotion and guru yoga, and the personal transmission of esoteric instructions (Wylie: dam ngag or man ngag) from master to disciple, the early Kagyu tradition soon gave rise to a bewildering number of independent sub-schools or sub-sects centered on individual charismatic Kagyu teachers and their lineages. These lineages are hereditary as well as mindstream emanation in nature.

 

 

Milarepa and His disciples

Among Milarepa's many students were Gampopa (1079–1153), a great scholar, and the great yogi Rechung Dorje Drakpa, also known as Rechungpa.

 

Gampopa

Gampopa combined the stages of the path tradition of the Kadam order with teaching and practice of the Great Seal (Mahamudra) and the Six Yogas of Naropa he received from Milarepa synthesizing them into one lineage, which came to be known as Dagpo Kagyu—the main lineage of the Kagyu tradition passed down via Naropa as we know it today. The other main lineage of the Kagyu is the Shangpa Kagyu passed down via Niguma.

Following Gampopa's teachings, there evolved the so-called "Four Major and Eight Minor" lineages of the Dagpo (sometimes rendered "Tagpo" or "Dakpo") Kagyu School. This phrase is descriptive of the generation or order in which the schools were founded, not of their importance.

  • Together Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa are known as "Mar-Mi-Dag Sum" (Wylie: mar mi dwags gsum) and together these three are considered the founders of the Kagyu school of Buddhism in Tibet.
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