Kadam Pa is also translated as Gyadam School or Ganden School, etc.
Founded in 1056 AD, Kadampa was the first Tibetan Buddhist sect founded in the “Phyi dar (the Second Propagation)” of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan “Ka” refers to “Buddhist language”, and “Dam” refers to “teaching”; “Kadam” means to use the language of Buddha (Sakyamuni) to teach and guide mortals to accept the teachings of Buddhism. It believes that all the language of Buddha and the teachings of the “Tipitaka” are arranged in the “3 Paths” taught by the founder of Kadam Pa, Atisha, and practicing accordingly.
Another interpretation of “Kadam”: Regarding the words of the Buddha Sakyamuni, all words should be put into practice without any compromise, regardless of whether they are good or bad. Therefore, it is called Kadam, which means “Teachings of the Buddha Language”.
The founder of the Kadam Pa, the Indian monk Atisha (982-1054 AD), was invited by the royal family of the Guge Dynasty in Ali to teach in Tibet. After entering Tibet, he lived in the Toling Monastery and wrote the “3 Paths” , advocates learning the exotoric buddhism first, and then the tantras, emphasizing that the tantras can only be taught to a few people who have passed the test of the content and order of Buddhist teaching.
Due to the systematization of its teachings and the standardization of practice, the Kadam Pa’s teachings are widely spread, and all Tibetan Buddhism sects are affected by it.
The teachins taught by Kadampa is mainly based on the “True Revelation Sutra (Vajrasekhara Tantra)” which belongs to the third of the “Four Parts of Tantra”, the Yoga Tantra
In the Atisha period, some content of the fourth of the “Four Parts of Tantra, that is, “Supreme Yoga (Anuttara Yoga)”, was introduced to Tibet through India.
In addition to some hideous and terrifying descriptions in “Supreme Yoga (Anuttara Yoga)”, there are also some double-body happy Buddha (Nandikesvara), which describe the sexual relationship between men and women, which often leads to some filthy things.
Therefore, when Atisha was alive, he advocated the practice of tantra in accordance with the “True Revelation Sutra (Vajrasekhara Tantra)”. This move not only shows the difference between the Kadam School and the Sakya, Kagyu and other schools that specialize in the Supreme Yoga (Anuttara Yoga), but also is different from the Nyingma Pa’s esoteric teachings that absorbs the content of the teachings of Yungdrung Bon Religion
Therefore, Kadampa enjoys the reputation of “pure” in teachings of esoteric and exotoric of Tibetan Buddhism.
Note: The “Four Parts of Tantra” are :
Miscellaneous Tantra (Kriya tantra), meaning impure or unsystematic cipher
Garbhakosadhatu Mandala (Carya tantra),meaning the outer mantra and ritual is as important as the inner meditation practice
Vajradhatu Mandala (Yoga tantra）, meaning pay attention to the inner meditation practice
Supreme Yoga (Anuttara Yoga),meaning to attach great importance to cultivating people’s Qi, Pulse, Points, and kundalini, so that they can be channeled into the central Pulse, in order to achieve Buddhahood quickly. There are many ways to practice the inner Qi, of which the most controversial is the “Double-body method”, which uses sexual yoga between men and women (not pure sexual behavior) as a method for those who have not received the monk ordination to practice the “Points”
Founder of Kadampa
The monk from India, Master Atisha, is considered to be the theoretical founder of Kadampa
The founder of Kadampa is believed to be Dron Tonpa (AD 1005-1064), whose real name is Gyawa Yungna
Dron Tonpa was born in a wealthy family in Duilong (now Doilungdeqen County), and studied Tibetan in the ancient district “Xu” (now Nang County) when he was a child, and later, he moved to Kham to study Buddhism from Sai Zun;
Then he went to the Ngari to meet Atisha who was about to return to India, and he kindly invited Atisha to stay in Tibet to teach the Dharma.
Atisha was moved by him, canceled the original plan, and went to U-tsang together with Dron Tonpa to teach the Dharma
After that, Atisha taught the Dharma for nine years in various parts of U-tsang, and Dron Tonpa accompanied him all the time. Among Atisha’s disciples, Dron Tonpa was the oldest and learned the most.
In 1054 AD, after Atisha passed away in Nyetang, Dron Tonpa became Atisha’s successor.
In 1056 AD, Dron Tonpa arrived at the place of Reting, where he established Reting Monastery in the following year, and used it as the basic dojo to spread the Dharma and formed Kadam Pa
Dron Tonpa never received a monk’s ordination in his life, so he can only be regarded as a practitioner. After he established the Reting Monastery, until his death in 1064 AD, he had been teaching apprentices. There were fifty or sixty monks who lived in Reting Monastery and studied from him.
Among the disciples of Dron Tonpa, there are three most famous ones: one is Potowa·Rensai （AD 1031-1105), one is Pyangawa Tsukhrimba (AD 1038-1103), and the other is Phuchunpa( 1031-1106). Among these three people, Phuchunpa did not teach students, and Potowa·Rensai and Pyangawa·Tsukhrimba received apprentices and preached respectively. From these two people, they developed into three sects of Kadampa, which are:
Classic School: It is named for taking importance of learning Buddhist scriptures, and believes that all scriptures are taught for liberation.
Teaching School: It is named for taking importance to the teacher’s teaching and focusing on practice,
Doctrine School: It is named for taking practice on both exotoric-buddhism and tantra. Taking the 5 recitations as the main methods of practice.
Note: 5 recitations
-1, reciting teachers and Venerable as proclaiming a buddhist
-2, reciting myself as Yidam
-3, reciting language as mantra
-4, Think of all beings as parents,
-5, Think of self-reflection as emptiness of nature
Kadampa creation and development
The Indian Master Atisha was invited by the king of the Ali Guge Kingdom, Yeshewo, to teach Buddhism in the seat of the Guge Dynasty (now the Ali area) in AD 1042.
In AD 1045, Atisha came to U-tsang to promoted Buddhism in Samye, Lhasa, Yeba, Nyetang and other places; In response to the chaotic situation in the Tibetan Buddhist community at that time, he wrote “The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment (Bodhipathapradipa)”. He had made great contributions to the systematization and standardization of Buddhist teachings.
In the same year (AD 1045), Dron Tonpa followed Atisha as his teacher and practiced Buddhism.
Dron Tonpa (AD 1005-1064), one of Atisha’s disciples, founded Reting Monastery (within Lhunzhub County) in AD 1056, symbolizing the official establishment of Kadampa.
One of Atisha’s disciples, Nagtso·Tsukhrim Ggyawa (1011-1064 AD) and his disciple Rongba·Gyasoba built Naso Monastery, and built Rongba inheritance;
Because Naso Monastery is located below the Reting Monastery, it is also called the Lower Kadam Lineage, and the Reting Monastery Lineage is called the Upper Kadam Lineage.
One of Atisha’s disciples, Ngo·Lepa Sherab built Sangpu Ne’u Thog Monastery in AD 1073, translating and preached Yinming(logic).
Ngo·Lepa Sherab’s disciples of Ngo·Lodan Sherab (1059-1109 AD), Phyapa· Chokyi Sengge (1109-1169 AD) ) successively became the abbot of Sangpu Ne’u Thog Monastery that making Sangpu Ne’u Thog Monastery become an important center of Tibetan Logic studies.
In 1240 AD, when Genghis Khan’s grandson Kuoduan sent general Da Nabo to invade Tibet, Kadam monasteries were all over Tibet.
Among them, Toling Monastery in Zanda County is one of the highest monasteries in Tibet. It is built in imitation of Samye Monastery and It was the main place for the Buddhism promotion of the “Upper Path”.
In 1076 AD, the “Dharma Puja of the Year of the Fire Dragon” made Toling Monastery famous throughout Tibet.
Netang Monastery is located in Nyetang, Qushui County. It is also called the Temple of Tara (Drolma Lhakhang) because it mainly worship Drolma.
Located in Shigatse, Nartang Monastery, which was bestowed name “Pu’en Temple” by Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty, is a popular site of Kadam School. The Nartang Printing House in Nartang Monastery is the earliest one of the three printing houses in Tibet
Drathang Monastery is located in Zhanang County, and its unique murals are of great value for the study of early Tibetan murals.
Reting Monastery, built in 1056 AD, is the main monastery of Kadampa.
In the late 13th century AD, a monk of the Kadam Pa named Phydan Rabchi, once compiled a large number of Tibetan translations of Buddhist scriptures collected and preserved by the Nartang Monastery as “Kan-gyur” and “Tan-gyur” . This is the earliest compilation of the Tibetan Tripitaka, which has an important position in the history of Buddhism. This is the earliest compilation of the Tibetan Tripitaka, which has an important position in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.
The gods enshrined in the Kadam Pa include Sakyamuni Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Acalanatha, Tara, together with the “Three Treasures” of Sutra, Vinaya, Abhidharma, collectively known as the “Seven Treasures of Kadam”.
Since Atisha entered Tibet, the rectification of Tibetan Buddhism in the 11th century has made its teachings systematized and practice standardized, so that the principles of Tibetan Buddhism’s purity of view and conduct have been widely promoted, and many new sects have emerged, which are all direct or indirect influenced by of Atisha and Kadampa.
Kagyu Pa, Sakya Pa, Gelug Pa, etc. are all benefited from the teachings of Atisha.
The Master Marpa of Kagyu Pa, the founder of Dagpo Kagyu Dagpo lhaje, and Dampa Sangye were all together with Atisha once under the guidance of Naropa;
The founders of Kagyu Pa and branches of Kagyu Pa originally studied Buddhism from Kadam Masters
Moreover, the reason why the Dagpo Kagyu sect was able to form out the “Four Branches and eight sub-branches” and have a huge impact.
It is precisely a result that because of the combination of Kadampa’s “The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment” and Milarepa’s “Mahamudra” that Dagpo lhaje formed his own unique Buddhist ideological system.
After Tsongkhapa founded the Gelug Pa, he not only absorbed the Buddhist thought of the Kadam School, but also wrote works such as “Lamrim Chenmo — A Summary of the Stages of Enlightenment” based on the Kadam School’s “The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment”
Moreover, he also inherited Kadampa’s the step-by-step learning sequence of “first ‘Exotoric Buddhism’ and then ‘Esoteric Buddhism'”, a learning style that emphasizes both ‘Exotoric and Tantra. Because it has the meaning of revival of Kadampa, Gelug Pa is also called New Kadampa.
In addition, the speeches of all the great theories in Tibetan Buddhism are also derived from the Kadam School, with Ngo·Lepa Sherab and his nephew Ngo·Lepa Lodan Sherab as the representatives, known as the big and small “Ngo” translators , The “Yinming (Logic)” they taught and passed on was called “New Yinming (New Logic)” in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.
Disappear and regenerate
In the two hundred years from the 11th century to the 12th century, the Kadam School received the support of some local forces and achieved great development. Among the various Buddhist sects in Tibet, it is famous for its large number of monks and wide spread of monasteries.
In the middle of the 13th century, the general Danabo, who was dispatched by the Mongolian royal family Kuoduan and led troops into Tibet, wrote to Kuodan Khan: “Now in Tibet, Kadampa has the most monasteries”. This shows the prosperity of Kadampa.
Some monasteries of Kadampa were once combined with the separatist forces of Yalong Jowo to form a large-scale monastery group. However, the entire Kadampa did not seek local power, and even expressed opposition to the situation in which Sakya Pa came to power.
From the 13th century to the 15th century, the Sakya Pa and Kagyu Pa each introduced and developed new methods of practice. Together with their political and economic power, they led the religious development in Tibet respectively. At the same time, Kadam Pa began to declined.
Tsongkhapa, a monk of Kadampa who also studied other sects of Tibetan Buddhism, put on a yellow hat in AD 1388 to show respect for the Buddhist precepts, and abolished all the non-Brahma practices that were criticized by others, such as the Dharma of Joy.
In 1402 AD, Tsongkhapa wrote the Gelug Pa‘s philosophical guide “Lamrim Chenmo — A Summary of the Stages of Enlightenment” based on the “The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment （Bodhipathapradipa）”.
Because Gelug Pa was founded on the basis of Kadampa’s teachings, so that Gelug Pa is also called “New Kadampa”
When Gelug Pa developed, the monasteries originally belonging to the Kadampa were transformed to be Gelugpa monasteries, and the Kadampa no longer exists alone in Tibetan society.