K a r m a . K a g y u . T r a d i t i o n

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Thaye Dorje arrived in San Francisco, California, USA on June 1, 2003.
Program of His visit

The Karmapa was invited to the family home of Sandy Yen, a benevolent sponsor of the Karma Kagyu School, to conduct teachings and initiations at the Bodhipath Karma Kagyu Buddhist Center in Menlo Park. At this time H.H. Karmapa also wanted to receive certain Kagyupa Tantra initiations from Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche of the Sakya School, who is 73 years old. The 17th Karmapa recommended that this was the right place to receive the initiations because of the pure and peaceful surroundings.

Gyalwa Karmapa

Over fifty very prominent Kagyu Tantras were brought from India to Tibet by the Great Marpa Lotsawa in the 11th Century. These Tantras were preserved by the Sakya Lineage for three generations from the early 19th century when the Kagyu Lineage was in decline. A collection of fourteen Tantras were kept directly in the Kagyu Lineage, and the rest continued to be secured within the Sakya Lineage.

Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche

Difficulties in the Kagyu lineage had started during the time of the 10th Karmapa, Choying Dorje. The Lineage was almost totally decimated when the 5th Dalai Lama’s Prime Minister, Sonam Chopel invited the Mongolian warlord Gushri Khan into Tibet in 1638. A bloody war was waged that destroyed the ruling government of Tibet, which at that time was under the “Spiritual King,” the Karmapa.
Over sixty years later during the time of the 12th Karmapa, Jangchup Dorje (1703-1732) and the 8th Shamarpa, Chokyi Thondrub, the 8th Situ, Chokyi Jungne restored the Marpa Lineage teachings.

In the middle of the 18th century the Dalai Lama’s Regent, Kundeling slandered the 10th Shamarpa, Chodrub Gyatso to their Emperor in Beijing. The Emperor forcibly subdued all Kagyu activity throughout Tibet and the Shamarpa incarnations were banned by official decree. At that time the Karma Kagyu Lineage again became weak and almost disappeared.

In the early 19th century the well-known scholar Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye voluntarily searched throughout Tibet for the Marpa Lineage Tantras and collected them from Lamas everywhere. He compiled the “Kagyu Tantra Treasure” ( Kagyu Ngakdzo) of fourteen Tantras. Later he collected over forty more Marpa Tantras. Then disaster struck once again, this time from within the Kagyu Lineage. Kuzhab Situ Pema Kunzang (10th Situ throne holder) had been jealous of Kongtrul’s fame and activity. Kongtrul was in fact a lower ranking lama in Situ’s own Palpung Monastery. Situ had Kongtrul expelled from his monastery and gave specific orders that none were to receive teachings from him. Since Kongtrul could no longer spread the Marpa Tantras among the Kagyus, he requested a great lama of the Sakya school, Jamyang Loter Wangpo to hold the complete Marpa Tantra transmissions and he predicted that in the future they would be returned to the Kagyupa tradition.

The 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje wanted to receive these Tantras from Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche in the mid-1960s in Sikkim. At that time, Sikkim was an independent Maharaja state. However, the Maharaja would not give permission for Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche to come to Sikkim. It is only now after almost two centuries that this Tantra transmission is being returned to the Kagyu lineage. H.H. the 17th Karmapa originally wanted to receive the Marpa Tantras from the great Sakya Lama, Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche. However, he is now quite old and his health does not permit him to give long initiations. Therefore, Karmapa requested to receive them from another prominent Sakya lama, Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche.

17th Karmapa and Shamar Rinpoche taking the initiations
from Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa asked that the Shamarpa obtain the over forty Marpa Tantras from the Sakya Lama and he would then like to receive them from Shamar Rinpoche himself. The Shamarpa replied that he would give the first collection of Jamgon Kongtrul’s Marpa Transmission, the “Kagyu Ngakdzo,” to the 17th Karmapa, which Shamar Rinpoche had received twice from The 16th Karmapa, and to save time they would receive the other forty Tantras together.

As a matter of fact, the Sakyas keep the Tantric precepts and discipline pure and carefully. Therefore, Shamar Rinpoche said to Karmapa, “You are young, so you should do a retreat on each of these Tantras and later pass the transmission to Kagyu lamas.”

On the 13th June HH Sakya Trinzin Rimpoche and HH 17th Karmapa met at the Tibetan Buddhist center in San Francisco.






On the 16th June 2003 Her Royal Majesty The Queen of Bhutan, Ashi Dorje Wangmo, and HRH Prince Gi Gyll Wangchuk, and HRH Princess Sonam Dechen Wangchuk met H.H.17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje. The meeting took place at the residence of Mr Chris and Sandy Yen near Menlo Park, California.



Some links :
Marpa Lotsawa
10° Karmapa, Tcheuying Dordje
12° Karmapa, Djangtchoub Dordje
8° Shamarpa, Tcheukyi Teundroup
8° Sitoupa, Tcheukyi Djougne
Jamgueun Kongtrul Lodreu Thaye
16° Karmapa, Rangdjoung Rigpeï Dordje
Shamar Rinpoche

Bodhipath Karma Kagyu Buddhist Center

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