When speaking of the H.E. Shamarpa, one must first understand his lineage. The source of his lineage is the same as the source all of sects and schools within Buddhism. Simply put, this lineage system within Buddhism has the same primordial ancestor as all of the others sects and schools of Buddhism. They all originate from Samantabhadra Tathagata Dorje Chang Buddha.
With respect to the overall Kagyu sect of H.H. Marpa, Dorje Chang Buddha transmitted dharma directly to H.H. Tilopa. H.H. Tilopa transmitted dharma to H.H. Naropa, and so forth down the line. The Karma Kagyu sect also started with Dorje Chang Buddha transmitting dharma directly to H.H. Tilopa. H.H. Tilopa then transmitted dharma to H.H. Naropa. H.H. Naropa transmitted dharma to H.H. Marpa. H.H. Marpa transmitted dharma to H.H. Milarepa. H.H. Milarepa transmitted dharma to H.H. Gampopa. H.H. Gampopa transmitted dharma to H.H. Dusum Khyenpa. Many branch sects then began to arise.
The Karma Kagyu sect has a wonderful history of over nine hundred years. H.H. the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, is the future Lion’s Roar Buddha. After Maitreya Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha at the Dragon Flower Assembly, the next one to become a Buddha will be H.H. Dusum Khyenpa, who will be the sixth Buddha of this present Good Eon (Bhadra-Kalpa). H.H. Dusum Khyenpa established the Karma Kagyu sect. Right before H.H. Karmapa II passed away, he predicted that he would in the future have two nirmanakayas who would generation after generation incarnate and teach each other as master and disciple. One of those nirmanakayas has been the Karmapa Great Jewel Dharma King. The other Nirmanakaya has been the Shamarpa Red Jewel Hat Dharma King. Actually, Karmapa is Shamarpa. They are both one of two emanations from the same “original.” The meaning of the word Karmapa is “a venerable one who wears the black jewel hat.” The meaning of the word Shamarpa is “a venerable one who wears the red jewel hat.” H.H. Karmapa is called the Great Jewel Dharma King. H.E. Shamarpa is called the Regent King. When H.H. Karmapa is not there, H.E. Shamarpa acts as his regent, assuming the official powers held by the Great Jewel Dharma King. Tibetans ordinarily call H.E. Shamarpa the “Red Jewel Hat Dharma King.”
H.E. Drakpa Senge was born in 1283, the year in which H.H. the second Karmapa Great Jewel Dharma King passed away. H.H. the third Karmapa was born the year after that. When H.H. the third Karmapa was sixteen years old, he recognized that H.E. Drakpa Sengye was the second Nirmanakaya of the second Karmapa and that he was the first Shamarpa. H.H. the third Karmapa also transmitted to H.E. Drakpa Senge complete dharma teachings, including the Six Yogas of H.H. Naropa. From that time on, the two Nirmanakayas of H.H. Karmapa II have been each other’s master and disciple throughout generations. They alternately recognized each other’s identity or status throughout successive generations.
For example, H.E. the second Shamarpa recognized the identity of H.H. the fifth Great Jewel Dharma King, Deshin Shegpa, and transmitted dharma to him. H.E. the third Shamarpa, Chopal Yeshe (1406-1452), was a disciple of H.H. the fifth Great Jewel Dharma King. However, H.E. the third Shamarpa recognized the identity of H.H. the sixth Great Jewel Dharma King and was the master of H.H. the sixth Great Jewel Dharma King. After that, the process continued in such a manner. H.E. the second Shamarpa, Khacho Wangpo (1350-1405), was a disciple of H.H. the fourth Karmapa, Rolpe Dorje. H.H. the fourth Great Jewel Dharma King, Rolpe Dorje, crowned Khacho Wangpo Rinpoche with the red jewel hat (such hat in Tibetan is called shamar), which signified that Khacho Wangpo Rinpoche was the second Nirmanakaya of the Karmapa. From that time on, people called Khacho Wangpo Rinpoche “the Shamarpa.” H.H. the sixteenth Karmapa recognized his nephew Mipham Chokyi Lodro (born in 1952) as H.E. the fourteenth Shamarpa. Before Chokyi Lodro left Tibet at the age of nine, he was secretly taken to the Yangchen Monastery, which was established by H.E. the fourth Shamarpa. He immediately identified each of the statues of the past Shamarpas and spoke of the achievements of each of those past Shamarpas. He left Tibet and went to India in 1964. He was formally installed as the Shamarpa at the ancient Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim.
Throughout the generations, when most of the Shamarpas were born and passed away, certain auspicious signs appeared. H.E. the second Shamarpa, Khacho Wangpo, began learning the Buddha-dharma when he was fourteen months old. At the age of three, he expounded the Buddha-dharma to others. He learned the Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of H.H. Naropa when he was seven years old. Before passing away and entering parinirvana, he clearly wrote down details concerning the home into which he would next take birth and its surrounding environment. When H.E. the third Shamarpa, Chopal Yeshe, was in his mother’s womb, people could hear him chanting the Six Syllable Great Brightness Mantra. When he was born, a few rainbows in the form of jeweled parasols appeared in perfect alignment over the roof of his house, and awe-inspiring, wonderful Mongolian words appeared on the bottom of his feet. When he passed away, many rainbows appeared in the sky, and flowers cascaded from the heavens. When H.E. the fourth Shamarpa was born, two moons appeared in the sky. H.E. the fifth Shamarpa, Koncho Yenlak, was born in autumn. Nonetheless, flower buds blossomed forth at that time. The family members of the newborn child heard him chanting the Six Syllable Great Brightness Mantra. At the birth of H.E. the eighth Shamarpa, Palchen Chokyi Dondrup, a white rainbow appeared in the sky over his home.
At the birth of H.E. the current fourteenth Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro, different kinds of rainbows filled the sky. One of them was in the shape of a jeweled temple banner that filled the sky above the courtyard of his home. The water in the nearby rivers turned to milky white. At the age of six, he was taken to the Tsupu Temple, which is the main temple of the Kagyu sect. While circumambulating the temple on the back of his servant, H.E. the fourteenth Shamarpa suddenly pointed to some monks who were entering through the western gate and said, “They are monks from my temple.” It turned out that those monks came from the Yangchen Monastery.
The meritorious achievements of all of the Shamarpas throughout the generations in propagating the dharma are truly remarkable. H.E. the first Shamarpa built a retreat center in Nehnang. H.E. the second Shamarpa, who had a great many disciples, built the large temple and retreat center called Garden Mamo, enabling three hundred of his disciples to cultivate themselves in retreat. H.E. the fourth Shamarpa became the holy leader of Tibet and established the Yangchen Monastery in Yambajan. His disciples included many famous masters from the four major branches and eight minor branches of the Kagyu sect. H.E. the sixth Shamarpa established the Tudeng Ningqianlin Meditation Center and wrote the texts of the Saban Prayer and the Manjushri Prayer. He led the efforts to complete the Lijiang edition of the compilation of great Buddhist scriptures. After he went to Nepal to spread the dharma, he was revered by the kings of that country. He built four gold dharma thrones around the great stupa at Yangpu.
During the more than forty years since he was enthroned as Shamarpa in Rumtek in 1964, H.E. the current fourteenth Shamarpa has traveled many times to Europe, the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and southeast Asia to propagate the dharma. His ability to spread the dharma and save living beings is exceptional. He has several hundred thousand disciples around the world.
Moreover, the International Buddhism Sangha Association held an unprecedented Drawing Lots From a Golden Vase Ceremony to affirm the true reincarnated identity of H.E. Shamarpa and others. There were ten possible identities recognized by various rinpoches. One lot was drawn from among 120 lots to affirm the true reincarnated identity of H.E. Shamarpa. That drawing affirmed that H.E. the fourteenth Shamarpa is one of the nirmanakayas of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, which is the reincarnated identity that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III recognized long before that lot was drawn.
According to H.E. Shamarpa’s own introduction, he is the nirmanakaya of the second Karmapa. The Sharmapas and the Karmapas have been masters and disciples of one another throughout lifetimes. In this lifetime, H.E. Shamarpa is the master of H.H. Trinley Thaye Dorje Karmapa. Thus, whether from the perspective of knowledge or realization, there should be the honorific letters H.H. before the name of the fourteenth Shamarpa. At the very least, the facts show that in this lifetime he is more proficient in the Buddha-dharma than the Karmapa. That is why he became the teacher of the Karmapa. However, in accordance with hierarchical system of the Kagyu sect, we have only added the letters H.E. before his name.
In February of 2007, after H.E. the fourteenth Shamarpa saw the accomplishments of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu in the Five Vidyas shown in the book A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma, he promptly wrote a congratulatory letter to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.