Our lineage starts with Buddha Shakyamuni and reached throughout the generations of masters and disciples to Tilopa (988 – 1069) who is considered the most important source of the special Kagyu lineage. He reached enlightenment through all the methods he had received from his masters of the Four Streams of Masters.
Kagyu is the short form of kabab zhi gyupa. Ka means oral, bab transmission and gyu is the continuation of the lineage. Therefore, Kabab zhi Gyupa is all the teachings of the Kagyu which Tilopa had received from the Four Streams of Lineage – Mahamudra, Subtle Heat, Luminosity, Union.
The lineage was passed on from master to student by the great forefathers of our lineage – Naropa (1016-1100), Marpa (1012-1097), Milarepa (1040-1123). Until then, it is called Marpa Kagyu. With Gampopa (1084-1161) who had received the monastic lineage from the Kadampas the lineage is also called Dagpo Kagyu. From Gampopa it further developed into many branch lineages.
With the incarnations of The Gyalwang Karmapas, starting with Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193), the lineage is known as the Golden Rosary of Kagyu. With The Gyalwang Karmapa it developed into the Karma Kagyu, as one of the branch lineages of the Marpa Kagyu.