The Treasury of Lives

The Barawa Kagyu ('ba' ra ba bka' brgyud) was established in the fourteenth century by Gyeltsen Pelzang from Baradrak in Shang. Gyeltsen Pelzang also founded the first monastic complex of this tradition there, Dondrubding Monastery, which served as the seat of his incarnation line, the Barawa Tulku. The Barawa tradition emerged from the Yanggon Kagyu, founded by Yanggonpa Gyeltsen Pel. The latter is in turn a sub-branch of the Upper Druk. As early as the fourteenth century, the Barawa Kagyu spread to Bhutan. Later monasteries were established at different places in Tibet but mainly along the Himalayan slopes and in Sikkim. The most important centers in Tibet were Dondrubding Monastery in Baradrak, Drapu Choling Monastery in Kyirong, and Kagyu Gonsar Monastery in the Chumbi Valley, none of which have survived into the modern era, although the tradition continues in exile communities. The core teachings include, among others, the Mountain Dharma Trilogy (ri chos skor gsum) by Yanggonpa Gyeltsen Pel and the Exegesis of Buddhism (thar par 'jug pa'i gru bo zab don chos kyi gter mdzod), an encyclopedia of Buddhist scholasticism by Barawa Gyeltsen Pelzang.

Ehrhard, Franz-Karl. 2009. "The Lineage of the 'Ba'-ra-ba bKa'-brgyud-pa School as Depicted on a Thangka and in Golden Rosary Texts." Münchner Beiträge zur Völkerkunde 13, 179–209.

Erschbamer, Marlene. 2017. The 'Ba'-ra-ba bKa'-brgyud-pa: Historical and Contemporary Studies. Vienna: WSTB.

Incarnation Lines



Barawa Kagyu Refuge Field

Nineteenth century (likely made after 1829) painting from Drumpa Monastery in southern Tibet near the border of Bhutan depicts the Mountain Dharma Trilogy transmission of Yanggonpa. The painting portrays Kagyu masters including lineages of the Barawa subsect of the Drukpa Kagyu. Annotations and analysis courtesy of Dr. Marlene Erschbamer.


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