Kagyu Samye Ling thangka of Indian Patriarchs, by Master Artist Sherapalden Beru
Click on image of master for his biography.
The Indian Patriarchs of the Kagyu Lineage
Although the historical appearance of Buddha Sakyamuni only endured some 80 years, over 2,500 years ago, his spiritual radiance (known as sambhogakaya) continuously teaches sublime masters in bodies of light, throughout the many thousands of years that his teaching endures on Earth. The sambhogakaya is represented here by the central figure, Buddha Vajradhara (Vajra Holder). He passed the most profound meditation teachings, known as mahamudra to the celestial bodhisattva Ratnamati (top left). He in turn passed them to the spiritual father of all Indian Buddhist siddhas, the great Saraha (top right) who taught them to Savari (middle left). Savari also received the same mahamudra teachings from mahasiddha Nagarjuna, who was another of Saraha's disciples. His spiritual heir was Maitripa, who passed on the mahamudra lineage to Tilopa. Tilopa is the gigantic figure in this story, for it was he who integrated mahamudra with the tantric teachings of Buddhism and who himself became inseparable from Buddha Vajradhara. His main disciple was Mahapandita Naropa.
For a more detailed and academic description of the Indian transmission of the Kagyu, accordng to the great Tibetan master Dhagpo Tashi Namgyal, click here.