The Treasury of Lives

The Zhamarpas, the ‘red hat’ lamas, are one of the main reincarnate lines of the Karma Kagyu order and the second oldest tulku line of Tibetan buddhism. The First Zhamarpa, Drakpa Sengge was a close disciple of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, who gave him a red version of his own famous black hat. When the Tenth Zhamarpa was found guilty of plotting with the Gorkha army that invaded Tibet and sacked Tashilhunpo Monastery in 1791, the government confiscated the seat at Yangpachen and turned it into a Geluk monastery and banned further Zhamar incarnations. In 1963, at the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, the Central Tibetan Administration lifted the ban.

Timeline

Biographies

bkra shis grags pa

b.1200 - d.1282

The First Zhamarpa, Drakpa Sengge was a close disciple of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, who gave him a red version of his own famous black hat from which he gained his name. Drakpa Sengge studied for a number of years at the Kadam monastery of Sangpu, mastering the Indian Buddhist classics, but he received his monastic ordination from Kagyu lamas at various Kagyu monasteries, including Dechen Teng, receiving initiations into the Kagyu tantric traditions. He spent much of his life in retreat, largely at hermitages associated with Milarepa, as well as at Nenang Monastery, which he founded in 1333 near the Karmapa's seat of Tsurpu.