The source of the Drukpa Lineage stems from the Primordial Buddha Vajradhara, the All-Pervading Lord of the Hundred Buddha Families.
Vajradhara himself directly granted his blessing to Tili Sherab Zangpo, Tilopa - who lived in Bengal in the 10th century. Tilopa then gave the transmission of his full realization to the Lord of the World, the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa (1016-1100).
Unbroken, from Guru to disciple, the transmission was passed to the Tibetan Marpa Chokyi Lodro (1012-1096), an emanation of Indian Siddha Dombhi Heruka; then to the Grand Master Jetsun Milarepa (1040-1123), who attained within one lifetime, tahe direct realization of the Great Union; then to the one who had been prophesied by the Buddha in many Sutras and Tantras, the matchless Dagpo Dawoe Shonnu, 'Moon of Youth' (Gampopa, 1079-1153); then to Glorious Phagmo Drupa who was also called Khampa Dorje Gyalpo (1110-1170), the reincarnation of the Buddha Kracuccanda, the second Buddha of this aeon who came back in the world to benefit beings; and lastly to Mahasiddha Lingchen Repa (1128-1188), whose renunciation and realization equaled that of the great Indian Mahasiddha Saraha.
Then appeared an incomparable disciple who would give his name to this 'White Lineage of the Ultimate Meaning'.
Over 800 years ago, when Drogon Tsangpa Gyare Yeshi Dorje, the Buddha of Compassion (Tib. Chenrezig, Skt. Avalokiteshvara) in human form (1161-1211) reached Nam-gyi Phu near Lhasa in search of a site to build a monastery as prophesized by his Guru, Lingchen Repa (1128-1188), nine dragons, said to be manifestations of Indian Mahasiddhas, reared up from the earth and soared into the sky with loud thunderous roars. Taking this to be an auspicious sign, DrogonTsangpa Gyare named his Lineage ‘Drukpa’ and both his Lineage and followers of the Lineage came to be called Drukpa. All the successive reincarnations of Drogon Tsangpa Gyare are given the title of Gyalwang Drukpa and are recognized as the spiritual head of the Drukpa Lineage. The Drukpa Lineage became famous for the simplicity, asceticism and comprehension of its adherents and the profundity of its spiritual teachings. The Tibetan proverb of that time,
Half of the people are Drukpas,
Half of the Drukpas are begging mendicants, and
Half of the begging mendicants are Siddhas
is an indication of the profusion of its disciples and the influence of its practice. Even at present time the Drukpa Lineage is responsible for more then 1000 monasteries in Tibet, Bhutan, Ladakh, Garsha, Kinnaur, South India, West Bengal, Sikkim and Nepal and it is responsible for guiding millions of beings around the world in leading ones life with wisdom, love and harmony.
The establishment of the Drukpa Lineage in Bhutan was prophesied by Tsangpa Gyare to Onre Dharma Sengye and he in turn instructed Phajo Drukgom Shigpo to Bhutan and Phajo established spiritual and temporal influence of the Drukpa Lineage in Bhutan. In around 1300 AD Gyalwa Lorepa visited Bhumthang and founded the Chodrak Gonpa in Bhumthang and spread the teachings of the Drukpa Lineage. Later on the invitation of the descendants of Phajo Druggom, Jamyang Kunga Sengye, Thrulshik Namkhai Naljor, Gyalwang Je, Ngawang Chogyal and his son, Drukpa Kunleg, Mipham Chogyal and Mipham Tenpai Nima visited Bhutan from Ralung and further spread the teachings of the Drukpa Lineage. As Prophesized, Kunkhyen Pema Karpo, the Fourth Gyalwang Drukpa had two reincarnations: Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Paksam Wangpo. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal left Ralung for Bhutan in 1616 and by 1651 he had unified Bhutan and established himself as the spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. He renamed the country 'Druk' and the people 'Drukpa' to indicate the supremacy of the Drukpa Lineage. Ever since Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal appointed Pekar Jungne as His Holiness the first Je Khenpo, the spiritual head of all monasteries in Bhutan, the successive Je Khenpos have, in unison with Their Majesties the Kings of Bhutan, assume the role of the spiritual heads of the Kingdom of Bhutan. It is mainly due to their unconditional and relentless efforts to uphold the Dharma and benefit beings that Buddhism in general, and the Drukpa Lineage in particular are still thriving in the country.
The Orgins of the Drukpa Lineage in Ladakh began with Tagtshang Repa Ngawang Gyatso (1573 - 1651), a disciple of the Fifth Gyalwang Drukpa Paksam Wangpo(1593 - 1641)and Drukpa Yongzin Ngawang Sangpo. At that time he was meditating at Ugyen Dzong, a retreat cave near Kargil of Guru Padmasambhava and Naropa, after his pilgrimage to Swat valley (now in Pakistan), when he received an invitation from king Jamgyang Namgyal of Ladakh. He declined the royal invitation, saying that he didnot have either permission from his Guru or guidance from the Dakinis to visit the royal court of Ladakh, and returned to Tibet. When Sengye Namgyal ascended the royal throne of Ladakh, he petitioned Drukpa Paksam Wangpo to sent Tagtshang Repa to Ladakh to give spiritual guidance to the royal court and propragate the teachings of the Drukpa Lineage in Ladakh. Following the instructions of Drukpa Paksam Wangpo, Tagtshang Repa arrived in Ladakh in 1624,at the age of 50, and first founded the monastery at Hanley. Two years later, he arrived at Hemis and was received by King Sengye Namgyal and members of the royal court. In 1630, He built the Hemis Jangchub Ling Shrine (today called Dukhang Nyingpa) and founded the Sangha. With royal patronage, successive reincarnations of Tagtshang Repa spread the Drukpa Lineage all over the kingdom of Ladakh as well as Zansker and Lahul.
The king of Ladakh also invited Jamgon Ngawang Gyeltsen from Bhutan to visit Ladakh, where the prime minister, the king and the royal family members, warmly received him with honor and respect. He gave many teachings to the king and the people of Ladakh and displayed many miracles. Jamgon was particularly famours for his ability to perform miracles and make predictions. He also proved himself to be an expert in making Zungs scrolls, Mandala drawings and cross-threat objects, which can still be seen in most of the monasteries in Ladakh. Thus he also played a pivitol role in spreading the Drukpa Lineage in Ladakh.
The Drukpa Lineage, thus, has the legacy of guiding countless beings on the path of genuine spirituality and ultimate enlightenment for more than 800 years, since the nine dragons reared up into the sky in the holy site of Namdruk. The Drukpa, or Drukpa Kagyu, (Tib. druk "dragon", pa "person", implicitly, "school") is a major sect within the Kagyu school Tibetan Buddhism. Within the Drukpa lineage, there are further sub-schools, most notably the eastern Kham tradition. In Bhutan the Drukpa lineage is the dominant school and state religion.
The Drukpa school was founded in western Tibet by Tsangpa Gyare (1161-1211), a student of Gampopa who mastered the Tantric Buddhism practices of themahamudra and six yogas of Naropa at an early age. As a terton, or finder of spiritual relics, he discovered the text of the Six Equal Tastes, previously hidden byRechungpa, the student of Milarepa. While on a pilgrimage Tsangpa Gyare and his disciples witnessed a set of nine dragons roaring out of the earth and into the skies, as flowers rained down everywhere. From this incident they named their sect Drukpa.
Also important to the lineage was Ling Repa, a student of Tsangpa Gyare, Phagmo Drupa (another of Gampopa's disciples) and Dampa Sumpa, one of Rechungpa's main disciples. Dagpo Kagyu lineages are traditionally divided into the "Four Great and Eight Lesser." The adjectives in this case are not value judgements on the accomplishment or prominence of the sub-schools, but rather indicators of the generation in which they were founded. In that formulation, Ling Repa is considered the founder of the Drukpa school, which consequently falls among the "Eight Lesser." However, Drukpas argue that Tsangpa Gyare should properly be considered the founder, which renders the traditional formulation invalid.
A prominent disciple of Tsanga Gyare was Phajo Drugom Shigpo (1208-1276) who went on to convert the valleys of western Bhutan to Drukpa Buddhism in 1222. In the 1600s Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan, unified the country and established Drukpa as the preeminent Buddhist school from Haa all the way toTrongsa.
Inside Bhutan the sect is led by the King of Bhutan and Je Khenpo (a title of office, not a tulku lineage), who is the chief abbot of the Central Monk Body. Both are lineage holders of the Drukpa school.Organisation
Outside of Bhutan the order is led by Djigme Padma Aungchen, the 12th incarnation of the Gyalwang Drukpa, except in Kham, where Khamtrul Rinpoche traditionally has been the lineage head.
Important monasteries of the Drukpa order include: