Kagyu (Ga-ju): One of the five major schools or sects of Tibetan Buddhism, founded in the 11th century by Master Gampopa, a physcian from Drakpo, who was one of two principle disciples of Master Milarepa. Milarepa was a student of Marpa (1012-1097) who brought the core doctrines of this school from his master in India, Naropa (1016-1100). Naropa was the principle disciple of Tilopa (988-1069).
This school has an oral tradition stressing the more mystical aspects of tantra. Its highest teachings are included in the “Mahamudra Dharma” which the Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa received directly from Dorje Chang Buddha. Also known as the Drakpo-Kagyu and as the Black Hats or White Sect to the Chinese. Includes the four major sects of Babrom, Tsalpa, Karma, and Phagdru Kagyu. The Phadru Kagyu included eight subsects of which the Drukpa, Drikung, and Taklung still exist as distinct lineages. They and the Karma Kagyu are the main lineages that have survived in this school, although there are still a few lineage holders in some of the other subsects. There are many Kagyu practitioners in this country, especially in the Drikung and Karmapa traditions.