The Drikung Kayu Order of Tibetan Buddhism is a unique tradition
of study and practice transmitted through an unbroken line of
enlightened teachers. As the precious teachings of Lord Shakyamuni
Buddha were brought into Tibet from the sacred land of India,
countless saints and yogis were realized by the perfect understanding
and meditation of the precious teachings.

     From these innumerable saints, there gradually developed eight
great lineages: Nyingma, Kadam, Lamdre, Kagyupa, Shenpa Dhege, Jordru,
and Choeyul. From these, the Dhagpo Kagyupa lineage arose from the
great Indian saint Tilopa (988-1069 C.E.) who received a direct
transmission of the teachings from Vajradhara (Dorje Chang). Tilopa
also received the teachings of Mahamudra and the Six Doctrines from
Arya Nagarjuna, Charyapa, Lawapa, and Khelwa Sangpo. This particular
transmission is known as the Kagyupa Lineage.

     The chief disciple of Tilopa was Pandita Naropa (1016-ll00 C.E.)
head of the illustrious Nalanda University. Marpa the Translator
(1012-1097 C.E.) was Naropa's leading disciple. Maria journeyed
extensively, going three times to India and four times to Nepal to
bring back the teachings to Tibet. All in all, Marpa received
instruction from 108 tantric masters as well as Naropa and Maitreya.
Pandita Naropa designated Marpa as his Vajra Regent in Tibet and
prophesized that the Mahamudra teachings would greatly flourish there.

     Marpa's foremost disciple was Milarepa (1052-1135 CUE.) who is
considered the greatest yogi of Tibet. Jetsun Milarepa attained
enlightenment in one lifetime. His life's story and 100,000 songs are
high points of Tibetan literature and spiritual thought. Milarepa's
chief disciple was Gampopa (1079-1153 C.E.). In the Samadhi and Nyinge
Pema Karpa Sutras are prophecies concerning Gampopa's coming by Lord
Shakyamuni himself. Gampopa embodied the three great lineages of
Nagarjuna (Profound View Lineage), Asanga (All-Encompassing Action
Lineage) and Tilopa (Blessed Meditation Lineage.) As a result of this
phenomenal achievement, the Dhagpo Kagyu Lineage came into being as
well as the Phagdru Kagyu, Kamtsang Kagyu, and Barong Kagyu Lineages.
From among Gampopa's numerous disciples, there came forth Phagdru
Dorje Gyalpo.

     From him came the eight Kagyu lineages: Drikung Kagyu, Talung
Kagyu,  Trubo, Lingre, Maerpa, Yelpa, Yasang, and Shugsib. Among
Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo's disciples. the chief disciple was Kyobpa Jigten
Sumgon Ratnashri (1143-1217 C.E.), known also as "Drikung Kyobpa."
Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon Ratnashri was the Vajra Regent of the Buddha
himself in the Northern Hemisphere. Of him the Buddha once said:

        "In the Northern Hemisphere, amongst the snowy ranges,
        a Ratnashri will come forth. This extraordinary being.
        acquiring world-wide fame, will greatly further my
        Teachings." (Yeshe Yongsukyepa Sutra)

        "The fountain-head place of Dharma names Drikung will
        produce Ratnashri born in the hog year. He will be
        surrounded by a million-strong host of disciples and upon
        his death he will enter the Ngongai Buddha Fields. There
        he will be called the "Perfect White Buddha."
        (Ghongdhu Sutra)

     In twenty Sutras and Tantras there occur similar prophecies about
Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon Ratnashri. Among Lord Buddha Shakyamuni's
contemporaries was Letsabe who incarnated four hundred years later as
Arya Nagarjuna and later still as Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon Ratnashri. The
Singalese Arahata Bhikshu and Green Tara told Mahapandita Sakya Shri
Bapara that Ratnashri was the reincarnation of Arya Nagarjuna.

     So it came to pass that in Eastern Tibet in the 12th century
(C.E.) Ratnashri was born to Naljor Dorje and Rakshesatsun. At the age
of 25 he met Phagmo Drupa and received all the teachings of Sutras and
Tantras. At the time of Phagmo Drupa's death, a congregation of
disciples witnessed a miraculous transference of a golden dorje of
light from the heart of Phagmo Drupa to the heart of Ratnashri. After
7 years meditation in the Achung cave in central Tibet, Ratnashri
attained enlightenment at the age of 35. He then received the Bhikshu
ordination and his fame began to spread throughout Tibet.

     At the age of 37 he established the main seat of Drikung, which
he named Changchubling . Here he emphasized the importance of moral
discipline and Bodhicitta as the basis of Buddha's teachings. Since
his mind was one with the mind of all Buddhas, he was able to guide
all Bodhisattvas and sentient beings according to the degree of their
receptivity and understanding.

     When the first Karmapa, Dusum Khenpa, visited Drikung, he saw
Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon Ratnashri as the Buddha himself and, developing
great faith in him, received his teachings. The kings of India, China.
and Tibet all recognized him and Maldrozichen, a king of the Nagas,
offered to maintain the growing number of disciples at Drikung. Thus
Drikung reached to the heights of spiritual and academic excellence.
Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon sent many disciples to the sacred places such as
Mount Kailas, Lache (near Nepal), and Tsari (near Arunachal Pradesh).
Thus the Drikung Kagyu became the keepers of these holy places. It was
in his 76th year that he experienced Mahaparinirana.

     Now over eight hundred years have passed since the establishment
of the Drikung Kagyu order. From the great Abbot, Khenchen Gurawa
Tsultrim Dorje until the present, there have been 37 successive
teachers who comprise the golden chain of the Drikung Kagyu lamas.