The Kagyudpa School of "Yoga" in Tibet is based on the famous SIX DOCTRINES  (Chos-, Drung-, Dus-, Pahi-, Zin-, bRis) as expounded by the four famous saints, Tilopa (975 A.D.), Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa (1052 - 1132 A.D. ). This school emphasizes the metaphysical aspects of "SUNYATA", or the unqualified void which means undifferentiated unity, a unity between subject and object resting completely in itself.


The concept was taken over by the early Vajrayana from the traditions of the SUNYAVADINS and has remained an essential undercurrent in the spiritual life of the Buddhist TANTRAS in Tibet.


The Kagyudpa School developed a special system of meditation as practised and propagated by the four Siddhas Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa.


The MAHA-MUDRA meditation teaching was imparted to Tilopa by the celestial Buddha Dorje Chang (Dharma-Kaya-Vajra-Dhara), the Divine Guru of the Kagyudpa Sect.  Tilopa conveyed it orally, as an esoteric doctrine, to his disciple Naropa, the great pandit and yogi who was once the Kulapati or Chancellor of Nalanda University.


THE SIX DOCTRINES (Chos-Drung) of Naropa are as follows:



The doctrine of the Inner Fire



The Doctrine of the Illusory Body



The Doctrine of the Dream State



The Doctrine of the Clear Light



The Doctrine of the Intermediate State



The Doctrine of the Transference of consciousness



Naropa transmitted the doctrines to Marpa, the great yogi and scholar-translator, a native of Lhobrag in Tibet. Having attained perfection  in meditation,  devotional practice and the study of the sacred texts (Sutras). Marpa introduced the doctrines to Tibet for the first time.


Marpa was followed by his famous disciple Milarepa whose fame as a great saint and yogi spread throughout the length and breadth of the Mahayana Buddhist world of those times. The great yogi Naropa once remarked in praise of Milarepa: "Just like the sun which lights up the mighty mountain tops, there is one "Thos-Pa-dGah" (Meaning Milarepa) in the dark northern country of Tibet, before whom I bow down.


The main subject of Milarepa's spiritual practice is the "Yoga of the Inner Fire" Marpa gave him the manuscript of Tummo together with Naropa's mantle as a symbol of spiritual authority. He had unloosened the knots of his own being. This being with meditative visualization and brought to its perfect fulfillment in ultimate integration (is) the light of united wisdom.


Milarepa's chief discipline was the great saintly scholar Cho Je Gampopa (Mnyam-Med Dhak-po-lHa-rje). He had the first Karmapa, Dhusum Khyenpa, as his disciple. By virtue of his attainment of the past, present and future and has given indications of being an avatara of Avokiteshvara.




The Bodhisattvas deny themselves Buddhahood in order to partake in a dedicated struggle for the deliverance of living beings from the ills and sufferings of this world and to guide all beings on the Path. True to this lofty ideal the Bodhisattvas are dedicated to the promotion of the highest good of humanity, irrespective of the magnitude of the self-sacrifice required of them. Many means are adopted by the Bodhisattvas, for the happy and speedy realization of their cherished object. The Karmapa, an incarnation of the greatest Bodhisattva, Avokiteshvara, adopted the practice of giving Darshan of the famous Vajra Mukut (Sacred Crown) which has the power of conferring "Deliverence at Sight" to all living beings beholding it. The original Crown or Hat is said to be woven from the precious hair of an many as a hundred thousand "Dakinis" or heavenly beings and was offered to Dhusum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa, who sanctified and blest it with the indescribable, miraculous, quality of "Deliverence at Sight". The sacred duty of giving "Darshan" of this Vajra Mukut, whenever possible, has devolved on successive Karmapas to this day.


A very short historical account of the Karmapas is given here. The Karmapas in their earthly lives, in the past, present have preserved and practised the principle of their faith, and they still show the right path to their followers.




The Karmapa line began in 1110 A.D. The first Karmapa, Dhusum Khyenpa of Dresod (East Tibet) established monasteries in Eastern and Central Tibet,  including Tsurphu where all the Karmapas stayed until recently. The present Karmapa is the 16th in the line.




The Karmapas have been famous for their erudite scholarship, integrity of character and excellence in human form. They loved and cared for the spiritual salvation of all beings. They were equally honoured and followed in their faith by Kings, Lamas and the laity in the Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian communities. The names of Karma-Pakshi, Rangchun Dorje and Karmapas like Dezin Shekpa and others are well known to every devotee of Tibetan Buddhism.




Mighty rulers like Kublai Khan of Mongolia, the emperors of old China, the Khakan of Karakorum, and the emperor of Toghan Tomur, respected the Karmapas and listened to their teachings. Sometimes they even abandoned their plans of conquest on the advice of the Karmapas. Rulers invited the Karmapas time and again and wanted them to stay with them as spiritual gurus. The rulers of Sikkim, Bhutan and Ladakh also showed a great religious devotion for the Karmapas.




His Holiness the Dalai Lama both in the past and in the present has recognized the Karmapas, including the present one, as the supreme head of the sect. In fact, the Karmapas of the Black Hat group have always enjoyed his good will in their task of leading their followers to the goal of liberation, peace and tranquility in the religious surrounding of their monasteries. The monasteries were and still are, the field of their spiritual activities.




It has been a traditional practice peculiar to all avatares of the Karmapas to predict their next birth before they expire. The prediction contains all details like time, place and date as well as the names and addresses of the would-be-parents. The fifteenth Karmapa also left a prediction about his next birth which came out true in every detail. The present sixteenth Karmapa came into beings in 1923. Three days after his birth, the mantras of Manjusri and Avalokiteshvara were uttered by the child incarnate.


In his 8th year he was ceremoniously taken to Sharpul Palpam Chos Khorling, where he was solemnly enthroned in the presence of all avatres, disciples, lamas, officers and laymen of Dokham Gangdruk and Tsurphu, the principle seat of the Karmapas. Ten thousand of devotees assembled there and received the first Darshan of his blessings.


Then he was seen off by the assembly with all due ceremonies and left Kham Province for Tsurphu. On his way he called upon the 13th Dalai Lama, Thupten Gyamtso, who graciously acknowledged him as the 16th Karmapa. He then proceeded to Tsurphu, and there again the ceremony of recognition was performed. The representatives of the rulers of Sikkim, Bhutan, Ladakh and prominent Incarnate Lamas (avatares) from all the Kagyudpa monasteries attended the function. The Tibetan Government also sent its officials to be present at the occasion.


Up to the age of  13 the present Karmapa received instruction in different branches of the Buddhist religion and Tantric practice. He then left for Paloung in Kham and performed many miracles on the way. At Gangtok he left a footmark on a stream which is visible even when the stream is frozen over in winter. He was invited by the Li-Thang-Wa who were never at peace with the Chang-Thing-wa. On his arrival the dispute ended without any bloodshed. He left another footmark there which can still be seen at Li-Thang Pangphuk Gompa.


In Kham he received special Kah Wang (initiations) from his guru and priminent avatares. In his 18th year he left for Tsurphu and remained there to his 21st year. He mastered meditation in all its branches.


At the invitation of the Maharaja of Bhutan he went and stayed with him for 45 days, giving Darshan and imparting blessings alike to the Maharaja, monks and laymen. Later he visited all sacred places in Nepal. The prime minister's residence was graced by the Darshan of the Vajra Mukut. There he extended his blessings to all Nepalese followers. Then he came down to visit the sacred places in India. A Nepalese colonel was deputed to assit him on his tours to India.


On his way to India from Nepal he was received by the Maharaja of Bhutan. Four prominent Bhutanese officers accompanied him on his tours in India. When he arrived at Gaya, the Maharajah and the people of Sikkim invited him to Sikkim. In Sikkim he gave Darshan and blessings to all the devotees gathered there and then proceeded to Rewalsar where he was received with great rejoicing. Then he went to Kham and extended his pilgrimage to Kalash, ultimately returning to his monastery at Tsurphu.


In 1952, at the instant of His Holiness the Dalai Lama ge proceeded to China along with him. The Dalai Lama desired him to visit all the monasteries in Kham. He returned to Tsurphu only in 1953. Between the years 1953 and 1956 he ordered the rebuilding of the seat of the Karmapas in Tsurphu. During this period His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced Trurphu with his visit.


When the 2500th Buddha Jayanti (anniversary) was being celebrated, His Holiness revisited all the sacred places in India. Time and time again, the Government of India was kind enough to accord him all facilities on his tours. In 1957 he returned to Tsurphu via Sikkim.


In 1959, having apprehended the calamity which overshadowed Tibet, he proceeded to India via Bhutan. He had to leave everything at Tsurphu and brought with him only important images, scriptures and essential ceremonial articles. His only aim is to give all beings the Teachings of the Buddha the Dharma, which will ultimately bring peace to a troubled world. He is in constant meditation for the benefit of all sentient beings.


He who approaches him with devotion will be able to understand this.