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The Kadam school (Tibetan: བཀའ་གདམས་པ་Wylie: bka' gdams pa) of Tibetan Buddhism was founded by Dromtön (1005–1064), a Tibetan lay master and the foremost disciple of the great Bengali master Atiśa (982-1054). The Kadampa were quite famous and respected for their proper and earnest Dharma practice. The most evident teachings of that tradition were the teachings on bodhicitta. Later, these special presentations became known as lojong and lamrim by Atiśa.

Kadam instructional influence lingered long after the school disappeared:

The Bka' gdams was responsible for the distinctive Tibetan Bstan rim (tenrim) ("stages of teaching") genre, based on Atiśa's seminal work, the Bodhipathapradīpa. This genre was later adapted and popularized by Tsong kha pa in his influential Lam rim chen mo.[1]

Kadam lineages

After the death of Atiś, his main disciple Dromtön organized his transmissions into the legacy known as "The Four Divinities and Three Dharmas" - a tradition whereby an individual practitioner could perceive all doctrines of the Sutras and Tantras as non-contradictory and could personally apply them all as complementary methods for the accomplishment of enlightenment.

Dromtön founded Reting Monastery (Wylie: rwa sgreng) in 1056 in Reting Tsangpo Valley north of Lhasa, which was thereafter the seat of the lineage. The nearby Phenpo Chu and Gyama Valleys were also home to many large Kadampa monasteries.[2]

Scriptural traditions lineage

The scriptural tradition was established by Putowa Rinchensél (1031–1106), who emphasized the study of six works:[1]

  1. Asaṅga's "Bodhisattvabhumi", a section of his Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra
  2. Maitreya-nātha's Mahāyāna-sūtrālamkāra-kārikā, a Yogacara work
  3. Shantideva's Śikṣāsamuccaya
  4. Shantideva's Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra
  5. Aryadeva's Jataka tales
  6. The Udānavarga

Oral transmissions lineage

Chengawa Tsultrim Bar established the oral lineage, noted for its strict monastic discipline and focusing on the teachings in the Book of the Kadampas, Dharma Father and Sons (Tibetan: བཀའ་གདམས་གླེགས་བམ་ཕ་ཆོས་བུ་ཆོས).[1] It had a very influential monastery at Sangpu Neutok (Tibetan: གསང་ཕུ་ནེའུ་ཐོག་),[1] which was founded in 1072 by Lekpé Shérap (Tibetan: ལེགས་པའི་ཤེས་རབ).[3]

Pith instructions lineage

Phuchungwa received the transmission and responsibility to hold the teachings of the pith instructions of the Sixteen Circles of the Kadampa. As a support he received also the empowerments, instructions, and secret teachings of the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment (Skt: Bodhi Pradipa, Tib: byang chhub lam gi rdon mey). The pith instructions lineage has its root in the secret oral teachings of Atisha and are embodied in The Precious Book of the Kadampa Masters: A Jewel Rosary of Profound Instructions on the Bodhisattva Way. This text is seen as the main text of the Kadampas. These instructions were passed down only to one student in each generation in a single transmission until the secrecy was lifted at the time of Narthang Shönu Lodrö. Later these teachings were incorporated into the Karma Kamtsang Kagyu lineage by Pal Tsuglak Trengwa and into the Gelug lineage by the 1st Dalai Lama.

Lojong lineage

These oral tradition teachings are generally known as The Instructions for Training the Mind in the Mahayana Tradition (Wylie: theg chen blo sbyong). According to Gendun Druppa, Atiśa had received three lines of Lojong transmission, but there are conflicting accounts of from whom. It is agreed that he received teachings in Sumatra from Dharmakīrtiśrī (Wylie: gser gling pa),[4] and sometimes as Dharmarakshita.[5] In the former case, Dharmarakṣita is identified as a scholar at the monastic university of Odantapuri. The final main Lojong teacher was the Indian master Maitriyogi. Atiśa secretly transmitted them to his main disciple, Dromtön.

During the time of the Three Noble Kadampa Brothers, many of these oral teachings were collected together and compiled into the Lamrim. Yet at the time the lineages from Suvarṇadvipi Dharmakīrti were still kept secret.

When the time was sufficiently mature, the Lojong Teachings were publicly revealed. First, Kham Lungpa published Eight Sessions for Training the Mind (Wylie: blo sbyong thun brgyad ma), then Langri Tangpa (1054–1123) wrote Eight Verses for Training the Mind (Wylie: blo sbyong tshig brgyad ma). After this, Sangye Gompa composed A Public Explanation (Wylie: tshogs bshad ma) and Chekawa Yeshe Dorje (1102–1176) wrote Seven Points for Training the Mind (Wylie: blo sbyong don bdun ma).

In this manner, the Lojong Oral Transmission Teachings gradually emerged and became known to the public. Before being revealed, the secret lineage was as follows: Dharmakīrti-> Atiśa-> Dromtön -> Potowa -> Sharawa (1070–1141) -> Chekhawa. From Khamlungpa, Langri Tangpa and Chekawa Yeshe Dorje onwards they became public and later they were integrated into all four Tibetan Buddhist Schools. (These Kadampa-Lojong texts were brought together into the anthology A Hundred Texts on Training the Mind (Wylie: blo byong brgya rtsa).

Later developments

Je Tsongkhapa a reformer, collected all the three Kadam lineages and integrated them, along with Sakya, Kagyu and other teachings, into his presentation of the doctrine. The pervasive influence of Tsongkhapa was such that the Kadampas that followed were known as "New Kadampas" or, more commonly, as "Gelugpas", while those who preceded him became retroactively known as "Old Kadampas" or simply "Kadampas."

The Kadam tradition ceased to exist as an independent tradition by the end of the 16th century.[6]

The three other Tibetan Buddhist schools (Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu) also integrated the Lojong (Wylie: blo sbyong) teachings into their lineages. Gampopa (Wylie: sgam po pa), who studied for six years within the Kadam Tradition and became later the main disciple of Milarepa (Wylie: mi la ras pa), included the Lojong and Lamrim teachings in his lineage, the Karma Kagyu (Wylie: ka rma bka' brgyud).

Nowadays the Gelug tradition keeps and transmits the Kadam lineage of the Scriptural Traditions of the Six Canonical Texts. Together with Dagpo Kagyu Tradition they keep and transmit The Pith Instructions of the Sixteen Essences, and the Dagpo Kagyu Tradition keeps and transmits the Key Instructions of the Four Noble Truths.

One of the most important sayings of the Kadam masters is said to be

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Buswell & 2014 123
  2. McCue, Gary (October 1999). Trekking in Tibet: A Traveler's Guide. Mountaineers Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-89886-662-9. 
  3. "gsang phu ne'u thog dgon pa". Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  4. Dhargyey, Geshe Ngawang (2001-01-01). An Anthology of Well Spoken Advice on the Graded Paths of the Mind (Volume 1). Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. Childhood and Renunciation of Princely Life. ISBN 978-81-86470-29-9. 
  5. Berzin, Alexander (December 1999). "General Explanation of Seven-Point Attitude-Training". Part One: The First Four Points. Study Buddhism. Retrieved 2016-06-04. 
  6. Jinpa, Thupten (2008-07-15). The Book of Kadam: The Core Texts. Wisdom Publications. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-86171-441-4. 
  7. The Rimé (Ris-Med) Movement Of Jamgon Kongtrul The Great by Ringu Tulku

Buswell, Robert Jr., ed. (2014). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691157863. 

Further reading

External links

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