The Drukpa Kagyu lineage (’brug pa) was established by Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (gtsang pa rgya ras ye shes rdo rje), (1161-1211) the main disciple of Lingje Repa Pema Dorje (gling rje ras pa padma rdo rje), (1128-1188). As with some of the other Kagyu schools, a number of sub-sects arose within the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. There are the Upper Drukpa (stod ‘brug) lineage, established by Götsangpa Gönpo Dorje (rgod gtsang pa mgon po rdo rje), (1189-1258); the Middle Drukpa (bar druk) lineage, established by Tsangpa Gyare's nephew Dharma Senge Sangye On (dhar ma seng ge sangs rgya ’on 1177-1237); and the the Lower Drukpa (smad 'brug), established by Lorepa Wangchuk Tsöndru (lo ras pa dbang phyug brtson ’grus, 1187-1250); From these these branches further sub-sects came into being, such as the Barawa Kagyu lineage ('ba' ra dkar brgyud). Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (zhabs drung ngag dbang rnam rgyal) (1594-1651), who was the hereditary lineage holder of the Middle Drukpa seat of Ralung and one of the two incarnations of the 4th Drukchen Pema Karpo, went to Bhutan and established his lineage there which became known as the Southern Drukpa. He was the first to unify Bhutan and became the founder of the Kingdom of Bhutan as we know it today.
Some of the most famous masters of the school were the yogi Drukpa Kunleg (’brug pa kun legs), (1455-1529), a disciple of the 2nd Gyalwang Drugpa Kunga Paljor (rgyal dbang ’brug chen kun dga’ dpal ’byor), (1428-1476), and the 4th Gyalwang Drukpa Pema Karpo (kun mkhyen pad ma dkar po), (1527-1592), an exceptional scholar, realised master and great historian.
- "The Drukpa Kagyu is a sub-lineage which developed [later]: the teaching went from Dvagpopa to the Protector of Beings, Phagmo Drupa, then to the heart son who received the transmission of the ultimate meaning, Ling Je Repa and then to Tsangpa Gyare. From him, in relation to the three primary places in which the teaching stayed, three lineages came to be spoken of — 'The Upper', 'The Lower' and 'The Middle' Drukpa Kagyu. These were the primary places of residence of the teachers and the lineage but principally were the places where many teachings of the profound-and-vast view, meditation, and action were present.
- "In recent times of great trouble, all of the teachings of the Middle Drukpa lineage have a deteriorated significantly and at this point, in order quickly to protect the textual tradition which has become devastated, all of the profound sections of the Drukpa Kagyu are being gathered into one place and arranged into a six-part collection.
- "The profound dharmas of the Drukpa Kagyu when summed up are: the method development-stage teachings—all of the sadhanas greater and lesser and the commentaries on them—and the prajna completion-stage teachings which contain what are known as "the five oral instructions with command seal"—the view which is Mahamudra, the meditation which is the Six Dharmas of Naropa, the conduct which is the Six-fold Equalizing the Taste, the fruition which is The Seven Generations' Dependent Relationship, and all-embracing Guru Yoga. The collection, in addition to containing many texts about those profound dharmas, contains oral-instruction texts of both Early and New systems and concludes with texts concerning the five great areas of knowledge."