His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

 His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa,is the head of the 900 year old Karma Kagyu Lineage and a guide to millions of Buddhists around the world.  Currently, the Karmapa resides in his temporary home at Gyuto Monastery in India after making a dramatic escape from Tibet in the year 2000.  Karma Triyana Dharmachakra is his North American seat.  

Learn More About the Karmapa

Helpful tip!  Did you know that the Karmapa has his own podcast?  You can download "Selected Talks on Buddhism and Meditation by the Karmapa" in your favorite podcast app, or visit the podcast site to listen online.  

On the Kagyu Lineage

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 to Tibet.

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.


Marpa 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 Dhakpo Kagyu.

Gampopa 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.

This information borrowed from