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Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism

The name Kagyu means “teaching lineage,” and its adherents claim that its doctrines and practices are passed down through a succession of an awakened teacher.

The Kagyu School emphasizes the maharnudra system inherited from the Indian master Tilopa, and its tantric practices are mainly derived from the Guhyasamaja Tantra and the Cakrasarnvara Tantra. Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa are considered the founders of the Kagyu school of Buddhism in Tibet.


Kagyu School places particular value on the transmission of teachings from teacher to disciple.


The central teaching is the "great seal" (mahamudra), which is a realization of emptiness, freedom from samsara and the inspearability of these two. The main emphasis in Kagyu is the practice of meditation, and the focus is to see your true nature.

Main branches:

  • Karma Kagyu

  • Dagpo Kagyu

  • Drikung Kagyu

  • Drukpa Lineage

  • Taklung Kagyu

  • Shangpa Kagyu

The great early teachers:

  • the Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa (988-1069)

  • his student Naropa (1016-1100)

  • Marpa Chökyi Lodrö the Translator (1012-1097)

  • the great Tibetan yogi, Milarepa (1052-1135), and the renowned Gampopa (1079-1153)

  • Dusum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa (1110-1193), whose coming had been foretold by the Buddha, was a student of Gampopa and was recognized by him as a manifestation of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.


Tsurphu Monastery, Drigung Til Monastery.


Kagyu school is the "Lineage of the Four Commissioners"



  • the illusory body and transference yogas of the Guhyasamaja and Chatushpitha Tantra, transmitted through Tilopa, Nagarjuna, Indrabhuti, and Saraha;

  • the dream yoga practice of the Mahamaya from Tilopa, Charyapa, and Kukuripa;

  • the clear-light yoga of the Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, and other Mother Tantras, as transmitted from Hevajra, Dombipa, and Lavapa; and

  • the inner-heat yoga, Kamadevavajra, Padmavajra, Dakini, Kalpabhadra, and Tilopa


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