Karma Kagyu is one of the four traditions of the first generation of the Marpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a lineage of oral transmissions. The lineage was transmitted from Marpa to Milarepa, to Gampopa to the first Karmapa.
Dusum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa, introduced the system of conscious reincarnation now known to all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. So the Gyalwang Karmapa was Tibet’s first Tulku (consciously reincarnating being). The teachings were transmitted in unbroken succession from Dusum Khyenpa until today to the supreme head of Kagyu tradition, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Thrinley Dodul Dorje and practiced to full fruition. The 17th Karmapa lived, according to the prophecy of Chogyur Lingpa – describing the details of all 21 incarnations, as well as according to the prophecy of the fifth Karmapa – in Tsurphu until then end of 1999. Tsurphu is the Seat of all Karmapas, the past, of the present and future ones. December 1999, during the change into the new millenium, His Holiness left Tibet and fled for India to reunite with H. H. Dalai Lama in january 2000. Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche is the root guru of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
excerpted from “The Himalayas and Beyond“