Shangpa Kagyu

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Niguma, a mural at Karma Ling Institute, France.

The Shangpa Kagyu (Tibetan: ཤངས་པ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུདWylie: shangs pa bka' brgyud) is known as the "secret lineage" of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and differs in origin from the better known Dagpo Kagyu schools. The Dagpo Kagyu are the lineage of Tilopa through his student Naropa, often traced through Naropa's famous student Marpa Lotsawa and thus called "Marpa Kagyu", while the Shangpa lineage descends from Tilopa's student Niguma, who was Naropa's sister,[1] as well as from the teachings of Sukhasiddhi. Its founder was Khyungpo Naljor, the student of both women, whose monastery in the Shang Valley gave its name to the tradition.

The principal Shangpa dharmapala is the six-armed Mahākāla.


  1. Sarah Harding. Niguma, Lady of Illusion. Snow Lion Publications. 2010. pp. 3-6

Further reading

  • Sarah Harding Niguma, Lady of Illusion (Tsadra Foundation). Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications (2012). ISBN 978-1559393614
  • Jamgon Kongtrul Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verses of the Shangpa Masters. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications (2004). ISBN 1-55939-204-5
  • Kapstein, Matthew “The Shangs-pa bKa'-brgyud: an unknown school of Tibetan Buddhism” in M. Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi (eds.), Studies in Honor of Hugh Richardson Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1980, pp. 138–44.
  • Kapstein, Matthew “The Illusion of Spiritual Progress”, in Robert Buswell, ed., Paths to Liberation, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992. pp. 193–224
  • Riggs, Nicole (2000) Like An Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters Dharma Cloud Press, Oregon. ISBN 0-9705639-0-6.
  • 2nd Dalai Lama. Tantric Yogas of Sister Niguma, Snow Lion Publications, 1st ed. U. edition (May 1985), ISBN 0-937938-28-9 (10), ISBN 978-0-937938-28-7 (13)