Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Thaye Dorje arrived in San Francisco,
California, USA on June 1, 2003.
of His visit
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.
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
Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche
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 Lamas 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
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 Lamas 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 Kongtruls fame and activity. Kongtrul was in fact a lower
ranking lama in Situs 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.
and Shamar Rinpoche taking the initiations
from Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche
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 Kongtruls
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
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.