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Drukpa Kagyu Lineage

Like most Kagyupa lineages, the Palden Drukpa lineage starts with the primordial Buddha Vajradhara who transmitted the inner teachings to the Bengali tantric yogin Tilopa whose chief disciple was the Kashmiri scholar and yogin Naropa. Thence these inner yogic practices were carried into Tibet by the translator Marpa who bequeathed them to the great yogin Milarepa. Milarepa had so many students but the lineage was passed to the scholarly monk practitioner Gampopa. Again, Gampopa had many disciples including the 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa. However the Drukpa lineage passed through another chief disciple named Phagmo Drupa and from him to great yogin Lingchen Repa - known as the Saraha of Tibet.

The Drukpa Kagyu tradition was founded in the 12th century by the 1st Gyalwang Drukpa, Drogon Tsangpa Gyaré, who was a disciple of Linchen Repa. At the time of the consecration of the first monastery, nine dragons rose in the air and hence the monastery was nicknamed Namdruk or sky dragon and the whole tradition came to be known as the Palden Drukpa or Glorious Dragon lineage. This lineage spread throughout Tibet and the Himalayan border regions, so that at one time it was said:

Half of Tibet is Drukpa, half the Drukpas are mendicants and half the mendicants are realised masters.

Even today there are many Drukpa Kagyu monasteries, nunneries and hermitages in Tibet, Ladakh, Lahaul and Kinnaur. The name of Bhutan in Tibetan is Druk Yul or Land of the Dragon since the state religion there is Drukpa Kagyu.

The Khamtrul Rinpoches

In the 15th century came the 4th Gyalwang Drukpa, Kunkhyen Pema Karpo [Omniscient White Lotus] who was a famous scholar and practitioner. One of his main disciples was Yongzin Ngawang Zangpo who had 45 main students. Among these the 3 supreme disciples were Taktsang Repa (who founded Hemis Gonpa in Ladakh), Konchog Gyalpo (the first Dorzong Rinpoche) and Khampa Karma Tenphel (the first Khamtrul Rinpoche).

Karma Tenphel established retreat centres in Kham and had many disciples. He founded the Khampagar Monastery which throughout his later incarnations increased to over 200 monasteries, nunneries and retreat and study centres spread throughout East Tibet.

Nowadays His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche presides over the Khampagar Monastery established in Tashi Jong.

The special emphasis of the Drukpa lineage has always been Tantric yogic practice and this tradition is famous for its togdens or realised practitioners. Even today there are exemplars of this precious tradition at the Khampagar monasteries in both Tibet and in India at Tashi Jong.


H.H. 12th Gyalwang Drukpa with H.E. Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche

H.E. Choegon Rinpoche, H.H. 12th Gyalwang Drukpa and H.E. Dorzong Rinpoche

H.H. 12th Gyalwang Drukpa with Venerable Tenzin Palmo

H.E. Choegon Rinpoche

H.E. 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche Dongyu Nyima

H.E. 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima

H.E. 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima

H.E. 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Nyima

H.E. Dorzong Rinpoche

Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche