THE GOLDEN ROSARY OF THE KAGYU LINEAGE
42 portraits of lineage teachers in Tibetan Buddhism
The lineage of oral instructions.
In Tibetan Buddhism there are 4 different schools, Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug or Gelugpa.
They stem from the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. That of the Karmapa is the Kagyu, or Kagyupa. The head of the Gelugpa is the Dalai Lama. The name Kagyu means “Oral Lineage" or "Whispered Transmission" school. The Tibetan Marpa, traveled to India and received from Naropa the authentic Buddhist teachings and translated them in Tibetan. Naropa received the lineage transmission from Tilopa and so on, back to the Buddha himself.
Marpa’s most famous student Jetsun Milarepa was the greatest yogi in all of Tibet, and he passed the teachings on to Gampopa, who in turn transmitted the teachings to the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Since then, the Kagyu Lineage has been headed by a succession of reincarnations of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The line of the Karmapas is said to be self-announced, because each incarnation leaves a letter predicting his next rebirth.
During his lifetime, Shakyamuni Buddha predicted there would come into being a fully realized teacher who would reappear over and over again as the ‘Karmapa’. The name Karmapa refers literally to 'the one who performs the activity of a Buddha.'
May this book bring you joyful wisdom. May it be of benefit and may HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s life be long and stable and his activities be free of obstacles!
We begin with Vajradhara, or Dorje Chang.
Vajradhara is the primordial buddha, the dharmakaya buddha. Vajradhara expresses the quintessence of buddhahood itself. Vajradhara represents the essence of the historical Buddha’s realization of enlightenment, it is the source of all the manifestations of enlightenment.
Vajradhara is central to the Kagyu lineage because Tilopa received the vajrayana teachings directly from Vajradhara, the dharmakaya buddha. Thus, the Kagyu lineage originated from the very nature of buddhahood.