The Shamarpa (Tibetan: ཞྭ་དམར་པ་, Wylie: zhwa dmar pa; literally, "Person (i.e. Holder) of the Red Crown"),[1] also known as Shamar Rinpoche, or more formally Künzig Shamar Rinpoche, is a lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded to be the mind manifestation of Amitābha. He is traditionally associated with Yangpachen Monastery near Lhasa.

The first Shamarpa, Drakpa Senggé (Wylie: grags pa seng+ge, 1283–1349),[2] was the principal disciple of Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama. Rangjung Dorje gave this disciple a ruby-red crown and the title "Shamarpa", establishing the second line of reincarnate lamas in Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa being the first.

The Shamarpa is often referred to as the "Red Hat Karmapa", especially in early Kagyu texts.[3]

The 5th Dalai Lama saw the Shamarpa as equal to the Karmapa:

Since Je Chen-nga Thamchad Khyenpa Chokyi Dragpa (the Fourth Shamarpa) ascended the throne of the Phagdrupa dynasty, there was no longer any difference between the Red Hat and the Black Hat Karmapas. This was the reason why I afforded them both equal status."[4]

Shamarpa teaching, from his website
The 14th Shamarpa teaching

The Shamarpa lineage

Shamarpa considered to be successive reincarnations are listed in "The Garland of Moon Water Crystal" by the 8th Tai Situpa Chökyi Jungne and Belo Tsewang Künkhyab.[5]

Sharmapa Lama, Chodag Yeshe Palzang, the 4th Shamar Rinpoche (1453-1554) - Google Art Project
Chodag Yeshe Palzang, the 4th Shamar Rinpoche, 16th-century painting from the Rubin Museum of Art
Sixth Shamar Mipam Chokyi Wangchug (1584-1630) - Google Art Project
Mipam Chokyi Wangchug, (1584-1630) the 6th Shamar Rinpoche, 16th-century painting from the Rubin Museum of Art
  1. Khedrup Drakpa Senge (1284–1349) was the principal disciple of the 3rd Karmapa.
  2. Shamar Khachö Wangpo (1350–1405) was recognized by the 4th Karmapa.[6]
  3. Shamar Chöpal Yeshe (1406–1452). Chöpal Yeshe is renowned for having constructed several monasteries and retreat-centers. He was also able to abolish the practice of animal sacrifice in the regions of Tibet where that custom had continued.[7]
  4. Shamar Chokyi Drakpa Yeshe Pal Zangpo (1453–1526) was recognized by the 7th Karmapa, who became his Lama. The famous Tibetan monastery Ga Mamo Tashi Rabten was founded by him. He also established many smaller monasteries. During his travels outside Tibet, Chökyi Tragpa built many monasteries, among others there are four monasteries in Bhutan and he was the first of the Shamar reincarnates to visit Nepal where he built a small monastery in Swayambhunath, one of the country's most sacred places. Upon returning to his home-land, he acted as the king of Tibet for a period of twelve years and he ruled the country on the basis of strict adherence to Buddhist principles.
  5. Shamar Köncho Yenlak (1526–1583) was identified by the 8th Karmapa. He also recognized and became the Lama of the 9th Karmapa.
  6. Shamar Mipan Chökyi Wangchuk (1584–1629) was recognized by the 9th Karmapa who was his main Lama.
  7. Shamar Yeshe Nyinpo (1631–1694) was recognized by the 10th Karmapa, and he became the Karmapa's disciple.
  8. Palchen Chökyi Döndrup (1695–1732) was born in Yilmo, Nepal and was taken to Tibet at age 7. He received teachings and instructions from the 11th Karmapa before his death. The Shamarpa in turn, recognized and enthroned 12th Karmapa as the 12th Karmapa and acted as his Root-guru.[8]
  9. Könchog Geway Jungnay (1733–1741) was born in Paro in Bhutan, and was discovered by the 13th Karmapa, but lived only until age nine
  10. Mipam Chödrup Gyamtso (1742–1793) was the stepbrother of the 6th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Palden Yeshe (1738–1780). A dispute over his claim to his stepbrother's material inheritance led to an armed conflict in which the Shamarpa conspired with the Nepalese Gurkha army in 1788.[9][10] This, and other disputes between the Gelug and Kagyu schools led to the exile from Tibet of the Shamarpa and a legal ban by the Tibetan government on further Shamarpa incarnations[8] This ban remained in place until after the Dalai Lama lost power in Tibet during the 1950s, although it was later revealed that the Karmapa had recognized reincarnations of the Shamarpa secretly during the intervening period.[11]
  11. Unknown, presumed forced into hiding by the Tibetan government.
  12. Tugsay Jamyang (1895–1947) was the son of the 15th Karmapa. However, it is recorded that he taught and practiced Buddhism as a layman.[8]
  13. Tinlay Kunchap (1948–1950), an infant who survived only a little over a year
  14. Mipham Chokyi Lodro (1952–2014) was born in Derge, Tibet and at the age of four he was recognized by the 16th Karmapa. He died on 11 June 2014 in Germany.


In 1792 the Tibetan government found the 10th Shamarpa guilty of inciting a war between Tibet and Nepal. He was exiled from Tibet and a ban placed on his future incarnations, thereby abolishing the Shamarpa line.[12] A modern Tibetologist proved this interpretation of history to be wrong and showed that the Shamarpa mediated in this conflict.[13] The comment of the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa on this period was: "Merit was becoming smaller and smaller. There was much political interference. Black was becoming white. The real was becoming unreal. At that time it was not practicable to have any Shamarpa recognised or enthroned. Everything was kept secret. The incarnations appeared, but were not revealed."[14] In 1963, following a request from the 16th Karmapa, the Tibetan Government in Exile lifted the ban.[15]

14th Shamarpa

The 14th Shamarpa was Mipham Chokyi Lodro, born in Derge, Tibet in 1952. At age four he was recognized by his uncle, the 16th Karmapa, as the reincarnation of the previous Shamarpa.[16] In 1964 he was officially enthroned in Karmapa's Rumtek monastery. At this occasion the Karmapa wrote a poem: "The most exalted, the lord of the lands of snow is Avalokiteśvara. The coalescence of his essence is the glorious Karmapa. Inseparable from his three mysteries, in the manner of the three lords, Is his manifestation, the great emanation; the majestic sun, Whom I invest now sovereign of the practice lineage's order. By the power of scattering auspicious flowers of excellent virtue Combined with the true words of the ṛiṣhi's truthfulness May he successfully and everlastingly be the sovereign of the order." [17] He remained with the 16th Karmapa until his death in 1981. He received the entire cycle of Kagyu teachings from the 16th Karmapa. After the death of the 16th Karmapa, Shamarpa recognized Thaye Dorje as the 17th Karmapa in 1994. His choice was backed by great masters as Chobkye Tri Rinpoche, Lopön Chechu Rinpoche, Lama Gendün Rinpoche, the 16th Karmapa's European representative Jigme Rinpoche and many others. Ogyen Trinley Dorje is held to be the 17th Karmapa by a majority of other major teachers of the Karma Kagyu lineage (including the 12th Situ Rinpoche, the 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche, the 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, the 9th Thrangu Rinpoche, the 7th Mingyur Rinpoche) along with Sakya Trizin (head of the Sakya Lineage), who acknowledges Ogyen Trinley Dorje as well and the 14th Dalai Lama. (see Karmapa controversy). Shamar Rinpoche died on 11 June 2014 in Germany.[18]


  1. ^ Karmapa International Buddhist Institute's translation team. "A Brief History of the Karmapa-Shamarpa Lineages". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  2. ^ "grags pa seng+ge". Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  3. ^ Yeshe Dronma: The Kunzig Shamarpas of Tibet 1992, P. 19.
  4. ^ Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama. 3 vols. Lhasa: bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, 1989, Vol. 2. P.359, cit. in: Shamarpa (2012). A golden swan in turbulent waters : the life and times of the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje. Lexington: Bird of Paradise Press. ISBN 978-0988176201.
  5. ^ Khenpo Chodrag Tenpel. "A brief account of the successive Shamarpa reincarnations". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  6. ^ The 2nd Shamarpa Shamar Khachö Wangpo 1350-1405 Archived 2008-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ The 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje 1284 - 1339 Archived 2012-08-02 at
  8. ^ a b c "The Shamarpa Reincarnations". Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  9. ^ Norbu, Thubten Jigme and Turnbull, Colin. 1968. Tibet: Its History, Religion and People. Reprint: Penguin Books, 1987, p. 272.
  10. ^ Stein, R. A. (1972) Tibetan Civilization, p. 88. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN 0-8047-0901-7 (pbk)
  11. ^ Douglas Nik, White Meryl : Karmapa, the Black Hat Lama of Tibet. London, Luzac & Company Ltd., 1976. P. 151.,
  12. ^ "The New York Times" Retrieved on December 24, 2008.
  13. ^ Schaik, Sam Van (28 June 2011). Tibet: A History. Yale University Press. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-300-17217-1.
  14. ^ Douglas Nik, White Meryl : Karmapa, the Black Hat Lama of Tibet. London, Luzac & Company Ltd., 1976, P. 151.
  15. ^ "The Karmapa and Shamarpa Lineages" Retrieved on December 22, 2008.
  16. ^ "Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche". Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  17. ^ Karma Trinlay Rinpoche: The 14th Shamarpa Mipham Chokyi Lodro In Loving Memory, pg. 6
  18. ^ "Bodhi Path: Presse zum Tod von Shamar Rinpoche". Bodhi Path: Presse zum Tod von Shamar Rinpoche. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2016-02-14.

External links


The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Black Crown

The Black Crown (Tibetan: ཞྭ་ནག་, Wylie: zhwa nag) is an important symbol of the Karmapa, the Lama who heads the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The crown signifies his power to benefit all sentient beings. Similar crowns in red are worn by the Shamarpa and the Tai Situpa, while Goshir Gyaltsab wears an orange crown. These crowns were bestowed by the Karmapa.

Legend tells that in a previous eon, in a former life as an accomplished yogi, the Karmapa attained the eighth level or bhumi of the bodhisattvas. At this time, 100,000 dakinis (female buddhas) manifested their hair as a crown, and offered it to the Karmapa as a symbol of his accomplishment.

Dusum Khyenpa, the 1st Karmapa, was regarded as an emanation of that yogi and his appearance was predicted by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni in the Samadhiraja Sutra:

A bodhisattva with the lion's roar will appear. He will use the power he achieved in deep meditation to benefit countless beings. By seeing, hearing, touching or thinking of him, they will be led to happiness

Changchub Dorje, 12th Karmapa Lama

Changchub Dorje (1703–1732), also Chanchub Dorje, was the twelfth Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.Changchub Dorje was born in Chile Chakhor in the kingdom of Derge in Kham. According to the legend, he said at the age of two months: "I am Karmapa." He was discovered by a search party and was recognized as Karmapa by Palchen Chökyi Döndrup, the eighth Shamarpa.

Tibet had become politically unstable during the reign of the 7th Dalai Lama, because the Dzungars and China tried to gain control of the government. Changchub Dorje and the eighth Shamarpa decided to make a Buddhist pilgrimage to Nepal, India and China. After they returned, they were once again invited by the emperor of China, however both the Karmapa and the Shamarpa got sick during the journey and died of smallpox.

Diamond Way Buddhism

Diamond Way Buddhism (Diamond Way Buddhism - Karma Kagyu Lineage) is a lay organization within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The first Diamond Way Buddhist centre was founded in 1972 by Hannah and Ole Nydahl. It is led by Ole Nydahl under the spiritual guidance of Trinley Thaye Dorje, one of two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa (See Karmapa Controversy). There are approximately 650 Diamond Way Buddhist centres worldwide.

Karma Kagyu

Karma Kagyu (Tibetan: ཀརྨ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད, Wylie: karma bka'-brgyud), or Kamtsang Kagyu (Tibetan: ཀརྨ་ཀཾ་ཚང་, Wylie: kar+ma kaM tshang), is probably the 2nd largest and certainly the most widely practiced lineage within the Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage has long-standing monasteries in Tibet, China, Russia, Mongolia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and current centers in at least 62 countries. The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu is the Gyalwa Karmapa, and the 2nd through the 10th Karmapas were the principal spiritual advisors to successive Emperors of China. The Karma Kagyu are sometimes called the "Black Hat" Lamas, in reference to the Black Crown worn by the Karmapa.

Karmapa controversy

The recognition of the Seventeenth Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, has been the subject of controversy. Since the death of the sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, in 1981, two candidates have been put forward: Ogyen Trinley Dorje (also spelled Urgyen Trinley Dorje, born 1985) and Trinley Thaye Dorje (born 1983). Both have already been enthroned as 17th Karmapa, and both independently have been performing ceremonial duties in the role of a Karmapa. As one academic expert in the field testified in court, while the recognition of Ogyen Trinley "appears to have been accepted by a majority of Karma Kagyu monasteries and lamas, there remains a substantial minority of monasteries and lamas who have not accepted Ogyen Trinley as Karmapa. In particular, these include the Shamar Rinpoche, who historically has been the person most directly involved in the process of recognition." It is difficult to produce an objective description of the events because the most important developments are known only from conflicting accounts by those involved.

The Karmapa lineage is the most ancient tulku lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, predating the Dalai Lama lineage by more than two centuries. The lineage is an important one as the Karmapa is traditionally the head of the Karma Kagyu school.

In October 2018, after many years of discussion, both Karmapa claimants finally met in a rural location in France and issued a joint statement, urging their followers to join in efforts to help preserve the Karma Kagyu tradition.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:




Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism




Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha


Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha



Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha




Sumedha Buddha


Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya



Yeshe Tsogyal

List of suttas

Suttas from the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

List of Digha Nikaya suttas

List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

List of Samyutta Nikaya suttas

List of Anguttara Nikaya suttas

List of Khuddaka Nikaya suttas

Lobsang Palden Yeshe, 6th Panchen Lama

Lobsang Palden Yeshe (1738–1780) (Tibetan: བློ་བཟང་དཔལ་ལྡན་ཡེ་ཤེས་་, Wylie: Blo-bzang Gpal-ldan Ye-shes, ZYPY: Lobsang Baidain Yêxê) was the sixth Panchen Lama of Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet. He was the elder stepbrother of the 10th Shamarpa, Mipam Chödrup Gyamtso (1742–1793).

The Panchen Lama was distinguished by his writings and interest in the world. In 1762 he gave the Eighth Dalai Lama his pre-novice ordination at the Potala Palace and named him Jamphel Gyatso.He befriended George Bogle, a Scottish adventurer and diplomat who had made an expedition to Tibet and stayed at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse from 1774-1775. He negotiated with Warren Hastings, the Governor of India, through Bogle. The Rājā of Bhutan invaded Cooch Behar (in the plains of Bengal - neighboring British India), in 1772 and Palden Yelde, tutor to the young Dalai Lama at the time, helped arbitrate the negotiations.He also had dealings with Lama Changkya Hutukhtu, Counsellor of the Emperor of China and chief advisor on Tibetan affairs, about speculations that the Chinese god of war and patron of the Chinese dynasty, Guandi (Kuan-ti), was identical with Gesar, the hero of Tibet's main epic story, who was prophesied to return from Shambhala to Tibet to help it when the country and Buddhism were in difficulties. Others believed Guandi/Gesar was an incarnation of the Panchen Lama. Palden Yeshe wrote a half-mystical book about the road to Shambhala, the Prayer of Shambhala, incorporating real geographical features.In 1778, the Qianlong Emperor invited Palden Yeshe to Beijing to celebrate his 70th birthday. He left with a huge retinue in 1780 and was greeted along the way by Chinese representatives. To mark the occasion, Qianlong ordered the construction of Xumi Fushou Temple, based on the design of Tashilhunpo Monastery, at the Chengde Mountain Resort. When Palden Yeshe reached Beijing, he was showered with riches and shown the honour normally given to the Dalai Lama. However, he contracted smallpox and died in Beijing on November 2, 1780.Palden Yeshe's stepbrother, the 10th Shamarpa Mipam Chödrup Gyamtso, had hoped to inherit some of the riches given to his brother in Beijing after his death. When this didn't happen, he conspired with the Nepalese who sent a Gurkha army in 1788 which took control of Shigatse. The Shamarpa, however, did not keep his side of the bargain and the Gurkha army returned three years later to claim their spoils, but the Chinese sent an army to support the Tibetans and drove them back to Nepal in 1792.The tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.

Mikyö Dorje, 8th Karmapa Lama

Mikyö Dorje (Wylie: mi bskyod rdo rje, 1507–1554) was the eighth Karmapa, head of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Mipham Chokyi Lodro

Mipham Chokyi Lodro (27 October 1952 – 11 June 2014), also known as Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, was the 14th Shamarpa of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Shamarpa is the second most important teacher of the Karma Kagyu school after the Karmapa. The Karmapas are sometimes referred to as the Black Hat Lamas, referring to their Black Crown.

Karma Pakshi, 2nd Karmapa Lama, prophesied that "future Karmapas shall manifest in two Nirmanakaya forms". Later, Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama presented his principal student, Khedrup Drakpa Senge, a ruby-red crown that was an exact replica of his own Black Crown. The Karmapa explained that it symbolised their identical nature and so the lineage of the Shamarpas started. The 14th Shamarpa was recognised by Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa.

During his lifetime, the Shamarpa was a central figure in the current controversy within the Karma Kagyu lineage. He recognised Trinley Thaye Dorje as the current (17th) Karmapa, as opposed to Ogyen Trinley Dorje, of whom other high lamas within the lineage recognised to be the current Karmapa, as does the 14th Dalai Lama and civil authorities in China.

After having completed several days of teachings, the 14th Shamarpa died in Renchen, in Baden-Württemberg, on 11 June 2014 due to a sudden heart attack in the morning.

Ole Nydahl

Ole Nydahl (born March 19, 1941), also known as Lama Ole, is a Danish Lama in the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Since the early 1970s, Nydahl has toured the world giving lectures and meditation courses. With his wife, Hannah Nydahl (1946-2007), he founded Diamond Way Buddhism, a worldwide Karma Kagyu Buddhist organization of lay practitioners.

Nydahl is the author of ten books in English, including The Way Things Are, Entering the Diamond Way, Buddha and Love and Fearless Death.

Palden Tenpai Nyima, 7th Panchen Lama

Palden Tenpai Nyima (1782–1853) was the seventh Panchen Lama of Tibet.

Lobsang Palden Yeshe, the previous Panchen Lama, died from smallpox in Beijing in 1780. The brother of Lobsang Palden Yeshe, Shamarpa, who was acting as Regent, wrote to the British Governor of India, Warren Hastings, in 1782 to say that a new incarnation had been found.Shamarpa had hoped to inherit some of the riches given to his brother in Beijing after his death. When this didn't eventuate, he conspired with the Nepalese who sent a Gurkha army in 1788 which took control of Shigatse. Shamarpa, however, did not keep his side of the bargain and the Gurkha army returned three years later to claim their spoils, but the Chinese sent an army to support the Tibetans and drove them back to Nepal in 1792.In 1810 (or 1811) Palden Tenpai Nyima gave the pre-novice ordination to the 9th Dalai Lama at the Potala Palace, and gave him the name Lungtok Gyatso.After Lungtok Gyatso died in 1815, eight years passed before a new Dalai Lama was chosen. The political events in this period are murky, but finally Palden Tenpai Nyima intervened and used the Golden Urn (from which names of candidates were picked) for the first time as part of the tests for the choice of the new Dalai Lama. In 1822 the 10th Dalai Lama was placed upon the Golden Throne and soon after his enthronement received his pre-novice ordination from Palden Tenpai Nyima, who gave him the name of Tsultrim Gyatso. He administered the Gelong vows (full ordination) to Tsultrin Gyatso in 1831.In 1842, Palden Tenpai Nyima recognised the new Dalai Lama cut his hair and administered the pre-novice vows, giving him the name of Khedrup Gyatso, who was then enthroned as the Eleventh Dalai Lama.In 1844, Palden Tenpai Nyima had a summer palace for the Panchen Lamas built about 1 km south of Tashilhunpo Monastery containing 2 chapels in walled gardens. The 10th Panchen Lama added sumptuous sitting rooms and audience room. It is now a popular picnic spot described in a tourist guide.In 1844 Gyatso left to travel to Eastern Tibet. Monks from Sera Monastery kidnapped three secretaries from the Regent's government to guarantee his welfare, which resulted in the declaration of a national emergency. Palden Tenpai Nyima was invited to return to Lhasa from Tsang Province and, in the 8th month of that year, was placed on the throne as the new regent. However, he only accepted that role for a short period, handing over the regency to Rva-dreng Nga-wang Ye-she Tsul-trim on the 4th month of the following year (1845).In 1846 Palden Tenpai Nyima administered the full novice ordination on Khedrup Gyatso.According to R. A. Stein, Tenpai Nyima "enjoyed great prestige at the Chinese court."Unfortunately, all the tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.


Pūrṇa Maitrāyanīputra (Sanskrit; Pali: Puṇṇa Mantānīputta, Chinese: 富楼那弥多罗尼子; pinyin: fùlóunàmíduōluónízǐ), also simply known as Pūrṇa (Sanskrit; Pali: Puṇṇa), was an arhat and one of the ten principal disciples of Gautama Buddha.


Rinpungpa (Tibetan: ཪིན་སྤུངས་པ་, Wylie: rin spungs pa, Lhasa dialect: [rĩ̀púŋpə́]) was a Tibetan regime that dominated much of Western Tibet and part of Ü-Tsang between 1435 and 1565. During one period around 1500 the Rinpungpa lords came close to assemble the Tibetan lands around the Yarlung Tsangpo River under one authority, but their powers receded after 1512.

Thongwa Dönden, 6th Karmapa Lama

Thongwa Dönden (1416–1453) or Tongwa Donden (Wylie: kar ma pa 06 mthong ba don ldan), was the sixth Karmapa, head of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Thongwa Dönden was born in Ngomto Shakyam near Karma Gon in Kham. He was recognized during his first visit at the Karma Gon monastery and joined the monastery to be taught by the Shamarpa.

Up to then the Kagyu lineage had mainly given emphasis on meditation and considered rituals and prayers of lesser importance and therefore it had been neglected. Thongwa Dönden therefore set out to write many prayers and form many rituals. He was also very active with the printing and copying of Buddhist texts and the founding of a Buddhist university. Thongwa strengthened the lineage by having the Shangpa and Shijay lineage join their lineage and making sure that the different teachings were compatible with each other.

Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama

Wangchuk Dorje (1556–1603) was the ninth Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Wangchuk Dorje was born in Treshod, Kham. According to legend, he said after being born: "I am Karmapa." Other sources say that soon after his birth he sat cross-legged for three days and declared he was the Karmapa.He received his education from Shamar Köncho Yenlak, the fifth Shamarpa, in a nomadic camp which traveled through Tibet but also passed through present day Mongolia and Bhutan. During his travels many monasteries were founded. Wangchuk Dorje also wrote many classic Buddhist texts, many of which are still being taught today.Biography of the 9th Karmapa

Wangchuk Dorje was not only a spiritual leader, but also a mediator in conflicts. He was invited by the king of Sikkim to settle a dispute and while there he founded three monasteries one of them being in Rumtek which is currently the most important monastery of the lineage after the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The other two are Phodong and Ralang Monastery

Yeshe Dorje, 11th Karmapa

Yeshe Dorje (1676–1702) was the eleventh Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Yeshe Dorje was born in Mayshö, Kham. He was discovered by Minjur Dorje and recognized by Shamar Yeshe Nyinpo, the seventh Shamarpa. Yeshe Dorje was transferred to Central Tibet for his education and was ordained in the Tsurphu Monastery. He received an education both in the Kagyu school as well as the Nyingma school. Yeshe Dorje integrated the teaching of Tercho by Padmasambhava in the Kagyu school.

He was the shortest-lived of all the Karmapas. Like the 10th Karmapa before him, he left a detailed letter referring to his next incarnation.

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