The Karmapas

the masters of Karma Kagyu lineage

Karmapa means "Master of Buddha Activity". The Karmapa Lineage was established at the beginning of the last millennium, and the Karmapa is the longest-standing incarnating leader of one of the four leading schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karma Kagyu Line.
The NALA and KKPL endowment funds are under the auspices of the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thay Dorje and Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche, whose examples and teachings we follow and support the spread of this timeless wisdom they represent. Here we bring you a translation of the biographies of each Karmapa from the official website of the 17th Karmapa www.karmapa.org. Who could bring better information about his previous incarnations than Karmapa himself, so all texts are from 17th Karmapa web side
 https://www.karmapa.org/karma-kagyu/lives/
"Any brief moment, any time at all that one could use as an opportunity for dharma practice, one must use."
  • It is said that while still in his mother’s womb, the baby could be heard reciting the mantra of Chenresig

  • He could tell of his previous incarnations.

  • During his travels through the monasteries, his party saw many miracles made by Karmapa.

  • He received the entire transmission of the Kagyu lineage, the Six Yogas of Naropa, the collections of the Drubtab Kuntu, and many other references.

  • He recognized his nephew Mipham Chokyi Lodo as the incarnation of the 14th Shamar Rinpoche.

  • Thanks to his efforts, after 170 years, the formal recognition of the reincarnations of Shamarpa has been re-established.

  • He tried to negotiate a peace in China with the Dalai Lama.

  • He was forced to leave Tibet due to the situation with the Chinese.

  • He transferred the most valuable objects that have been preserved in Tsurpu Monastery.

  • in Rumtek he built the "Center for Teaching and Practicing Dharma Pal Karmapa Densa Shhedrup Chokhor Ling."

  • He visited Europe, America and Canada. Thanks to him, people in the West had the opportunity to see the Black Crown ceremony for the first time.

  • Under his guidance, the Karma Kagyu lineage spread throughout the world.

  • He built the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI) in New Delhi.

  • In India, he focused on the reconstruction of temples and meditation centers, the distribution of Buddhist texts and the spread of the Dharma.

  • He died on cancer on November 5, 1981. Even though he had died, for three days he remained in the Tugdam, a state of meditation.and his body showed unusual features, it did not disintegrate during the ceremonies, but shrunk.in the middle of the ceremony, a huge rainbow surrounded the sun, even though the weather was clear and dry. 

"It is essential that non-material values are supported, to help us cultivate balanced and beneficial human beings."
  • * 6.5.1983
  • Trinley Thaye Dorje means Limitless Unchanging Buddha Activity
  • His activity combines traditional values and modern issues.
  • Karmapa escaped from Tibet in 1994
  • Karmapa resides in Delhi, India
  • On March 25, 2017, he married Sangyumla Rinchen Jangzom ("Precious Prosperity GatheredP)
  • On August 11, 2018, Karmapa and Sangyumla’s son Thugsey was born
  • Karmapa’s activities include: empowering young people; meeting international leaders in the fields of spirituality, peace, conflict resolution, and education
  • He also creating videos and articles to promote peace and prosperity in our world.
  • Karmapa defines education as “knowledge that offers compassion and wisdom”.
  • Karmapa says that “It is essential that non-material values are supported, to help us cultivate balanced and beneficial human beings.” 

Dusum Khyenpa

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"The knower of the three times, past, present and future"
  • He received the tantric teachings of Kadampa, Vinayu, Kalachakra, the teachings of "the path and the fetus," Hevajra, shamatha, and vipassana.
  • Dusum Khyenpa was given Kagyu teachings by Gampopa; he gave him the Hevajra-empowerment and teachings, and shamata and vipashyana instructions.
  • It is said that at the age of fifty he attained enlightenment through the practice of dream yoga
  • his realization corresponded to the fourth level of Mahamudra, which is known as “beyond meditation”
  • The first holder of the symbolic black crown of the vajra, made of dacian hair.
The 2nd Karmapa 
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"This boy would become the next lineage holder."
  • At the age of six, he learned to read and write on his own.
  • Based on the prophecies of the 1st Karmapa,  Pomdragpa recognized him as the second Karmapa, thus establishing the first line of reincarnated lamas in Tibet.
  • He specialized in the teachings of Mahamudra from Saraha and Gampopa and received  entire Kagyu transmission
  • The communal recitation of this mantra  OM MANI PEME HUNG became customary in Tibet thanks to him.
  • In Kham, Karma Pakshi built new monasteries, restored old ones, and engaged in intensive meditation practice.
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"May we constantly practice day and night, The supreme path of unity, devoid of errors."
  •  At the age of three he renewed his assertions by making himself a black hat and again declaring himself to be the Karmapa.
  • For the eleven years he studied the complete teachings of the Kagyus and Nyingmas 
  • He built monasteries and meditation centres as well as bridges.
  • He wrote numerous texts and commentaries, preserving many of the teachings
  • The Shamarpa line began when Rangjung Dorje gave Khedrup Dragpa Senge a Red Crown which was an exact replica of the Black Crown worn by the Karmapas.
" Om mani peme hung hri.“
  • He sitting up at his birth, and speaking – this time choosing to recite the mantra of Chenrezig, Om mani peme hung hri.
  • At six he took refuge vows and the lay precepts.
  • At the age of eighteen he was ordained a monk 
  • He travelled widely through Tibet and China, teaching disciples.
  • From the time he awoke until nine in the morning, he performed his spiritual practices. From then until noon he gave instructions in dharma. At noon he performed prostrations and walking meditations.
  • he was a vegetarian and established this as the basic diet of his camp.
 “I am the Karmapa – Om mani peme hung hri“
  • This Karmapa was a famous traveller, teaching throughout Tibet, Mongolia and China, where he was invited by the Emperor, Tai Ming Chen, who became a student 
  • He attempted to establish nonviolence as the norm of social and political behavior. He also created protected reserves for wild animals.
  • He was the first holder of a material duplicate of the black crown, which was made for him by the Chinese Emperor Tai Ming Chen.
  • From this time on, the ceremony of the black vajra crown has become an integral feature of the dharma activity of the Karmapas.
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 “I’m the unborn, free from all names, places, and I am the glory of all that lives. I shall lead many to liberation”.
  • At age three, he met Ratnabhadra, and received the full Kagyu transmission. At age six, he composed several tantric rituals..
  • He strongly concentrated on developing a consistent Kamtshang liturgical system to supplement the meditative tradition of the Kagyu school, and wrote many Kamtshang sadhana rituals.
  •  He also developed a new style of recitation and chanting.
  • He receive teachings through visions of Nagarjuna, the great philosopher, Milarepa, and Padmasambhava. 
“There is nothing in the world but emptiness. People may think there is substantiality, but they are in error. For me there is neither birth nor death.”
  • At aged four, Chodrag Gyamtso was given a series of empowerments
  • At eight, he was given the Kagyu teachings.
  • He went through an intensive period of study at Kham.
  • At age seventeen he entered into a period of seven years of meditation
  • He went on to teach and give empowerments throughout Tibet, and to write many texts and commentaries, in particular on the theory of perception.
  • Wherever he went, several thousand students travelled with him in tents, following a path of study and meditation.
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Is said to have opened his eyes  after bith and said “Karmapa”.
  • He moved to central Tibet where he spent twelve years in meditation and study with famous scholars
  • For three years, studying the treatises of Maitreya, Dignaga and Dharmakirti as well as the principal texts of Nagarjuna and Candrakirti and tantras and other Indian works on the Mahayana and Vajrayana approaches to Buddhism.
  • He went on to write a great number of substantial philosophical treatises and important texts on Mahamudra
  • He composed the Guru Yoga of the Four Session.
  • He also ventured into the fields of poetry, painting and sculpture and was an example of austerity and simplicity.
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It is said that he, too, sat up at birth and declared “I am the Karmapa!”. 
  • At the age of six, Wangchuk Dorje was enthroned by Shamar Rinpoche.
  • He also received refuge and bodhisattva vows and the empowerment of Amitayus as well as many other teachings.
  • He received comprehensive training and the complete Kagyu transmission.
  • He spent time in intensive meditation retreat and authored important texts for the practice of Mahamudra, which are still in use today.
  • He taking steps to improve the living conditions of the people.
  • He was regarded as the secular leader of Tibet as well as a great religious leader. 
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  • He was identified and, at the age of eight, officially enthroned by the sixth Shamarpa
  •  At the age of twenty-one he was ordained a monk and entered into intensive meditation.
  • He received comprehensive training and the complete Kagyu transmission.
  • Karmapa travelled throughout Tibet, teaching and promoting the welfare of the people
  •  As his life, the 5th Dalai Lama, had become the official ruler of Tibet.The ensuing sectarian persecution severely weakened the Kagyu doctrine in Tibet, and placed the Karmapa in such a difficult position that he was forced to leave the country.
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  • It is said that as a young child he had many visionary experiences that he told to his relatives
  • Most of his childhood he spent at Tsurphu, where he received the transmission of the lineage and oversaw the restoration of the monastery.
  • He fulfilling a prophecy of Padmasambhava’s, recorded in the scriptures, to the effect that the 11th Karmapa would hold certain Tercho lineages.
  • 11th Karmapa’s consummate spirituality communicated itself both through his teaching and the miraculous quality of his activity
  • He passed away at age twenty-six.
  • It is said that when he was just two months old, Changchub Dorje declared that he was the Karmapa.
  • Katok Tsewang Norbu, the famed Nyingma meditation master, instructed him in some Nyingma doctrine and Changchub Dorje in turn gave him teachings on the six yogas of Naropa.
  • The Karmapa set out on a pilgrimage to Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and India accompanied by Shamar Rinpoche,
  • The Karmapa and the Shamarpa set out for their journey to China, the Karmapa gave teachings and empowerments, especially that of Vajrapani as they traveled.
  • The Karmapa contracted smallpox and passed away. 
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