Middle Drukpa

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"Tsangpa Gyare's foremost students formed its three main branches: the Middle Drukpa school at Ralung, the Upper Drukpa school in West Tibet and Ladach, and the Lower Drukpa school at Uri and Karp Cho-lung. Among these, the Middle Drukpa school first reached Bhutan during the 13th century through the missionary efforts of Drukgom Zhikpa and his descendants, who established strong links between Bhutan and Ralung."[1]

"From Tsangpa Gyare, 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."[2]

The Middle Drukpa (bar 'brug) was the hereditary lineage (dung rgyud) of Tsangpa Gyare centered at Ralung. ... These first nine holders of Tsangpa Gyare's lineage were known as the "Incomparible Nine Lions" (mnyam med seng ge dgu).

Sherab Senge, who died at the age of 21, was succeeded on the throne of Ralung by his elder brother Yeshe Rinchen (ye shes rin chen) [1364—1413] and he by his sons Namkha Palzang (nam mkha' dpal bzang) [1398—1425] and Sherab Zangpo (shes rab bzang po) [1400—1438]. These three were considered to be the emanations of the three great Bodhisattvas Manjusri, Vajrapani and Avalokiteshvara respectively. ...

Three great siddhas of Middle Drukpa school were Tsangnyon Heruka (gtsang snyon) [1452 1507)- author of the Life of Milarepa, the Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, the Life of Rechungpa, and compiler of the Demchog Khandro Nyengyud; Druknyon Kunga Legpa ('brug smyon kun legs) [1455-1529] also known as Drukpa Kunleg; and Unyon Kunga Zangpo (dbus smyon kun dga' bzang po) [1458-1532]. All three were disciples of Drukchen Gyalwang Je Kunga Paljor.

The fourth Drukchen incarnation of Tsangpa Gyare, "The Omisient" Padma Karpo, whose collected works fill over twenty volumes in modern editions, was the most famous scholar of the tradition and among the Drukpa Kagyupas he is known as Kunkhyen Pekar (kun mkhyen pad dkar) or Drukchen Tamche Khyenpa. He founded the Sangngag Chöling (gsang sngags chos gling) monastery in Jaryul (byar yul) southern Tibet in 1571 which became the seat of the successive Gyalwang Drukchen incarnations in Tibet and so the center of the Northern Drukpa lineage.

Following the death of Kunkhyen Padma Karpo two incarnations were recognized: 1.) Pagsam Wangpo (dpag bsam dbang po) who was the offspring of the Chongje Depa and 2) Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal [1594 1651) who was also the heir to Drukpa lineage of Ralung. Pagsam Wangpo gained the backing of the powerful Tsangpa Desi who was a patron of the Karma Kagyu school and hostile to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The latter subsequently fled to Bhutan, where his lineage already had many followers, and established the Southern Drukpa Kagyu (lho 'brug pa dka' brgyud) and became both the spiritual and temporal head of the country after which the country became known as 'Druk Yul' or 'Country of the Drukpas' in the Tibetan and Dzongkha (Bhutanese) languages. [3]


see Drukpa Kagyu, also Lower and Upper Drukpa