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

The Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shegpa (1384-1415)

Excerpts from The Garland of Moon Water Crystal by Situ Chokyi Jungnay and Belo Tsewang Kunkhyab

The Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shegpa was born in the region of Nyang Dam in Southern Tibet. As soon as he was born he sat up, wiped his face and said, 'I am the Karmapa. Om Mani Padme Hum Hri'. The secretary Rinchen Pal, who acted as the secretary of three Karmapas, heard of this unusual child and brought him to Tsawa Phu in Kongpo where a large group of the previous Karmapa's disciples were living. There he met Shamar Kacho Wangpo, who at once recognised him as Rolpe'i Dorje's reincarnation. Shamarpa gave him the Black Crown and all the other possessions of the previous Karmapa that he had been entrusted with.
The young Karmapa received the entire cycle of Kagyu teachings from Kacho Wangpo.

Throughout his life he travelled far and wide, to Tibet, Mongolia and China, bestowing teachings and empowerments. He was invited to China by the Emperor Tai Ming Chen and became his guru. Having spent some years in China, he returned to Tibet where he continued teaching as well as constructing many stupas and shrines.

He found the young Shamar reincarnation, Chopal Yeshe, supervised his ordination and transmitted the Kagyu teachings to him.

Among his foremost disciples Ratnabhadra became the next lineage holder. Deshin Shegpa passed away at the age of thirty-one.

Ratnabhadra (Tib. Rinchen Zangpo) (15th century)




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