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Rangjung Dorje 1284 - 1339

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The Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) was born in Dingri Langkor, startling those present by sitting up and proclaiming himself to be the Karmapa. Three years later he renewed his assertions by making himself a black hat and again declaring himself to be the Karmapa. Two more years were to pass before he met Drubtop Urgyenpa who recognised the child as the reincarnation of Karma Pakshi, and gave him the actual Black Crown, all the possessions of the second Karmapa, and - not least - all the Kagyu teachings.

Not content with this, Rangjung Dorje sought out masters of all the Buddhist traditions of the time, studying with Trophu Kunden Sherab and Nyenre Gendun Bum among others. As a result, he achieved great fame, and attracted any disciples. A practical man, he built bridges as well as meditation centres, benefiting his countrymen's daily life as well as their spiritual one. For posterity, he wrote many texts and commentaries, preserving many of the teachings in a form we use today.

His two main disciples were Gyalwa Yungton Dorje Pal, who was to become the next lineage holder, and the first Shamarpa, Khaydrup Dragpa Senge. The Shamarpa lineage is the second line of reincarnates in history of the Tibetan tradition (the Karmapas being the first), and began when Rangjung Dorje presented Khaydrup Dragpa Senge with a ruby-red crown, and the title Shamarpa (Holder of the Red Crown). The Red Crown is an exact replica of the Black Crown worn by the Karmapas, and exemplifies the close relationship between them.

These crowns are symbols of activities that benefit beings, and in no way denote separate lineages. Both the "Black Hat Lama" and the "Red Hat Lama" are of the Karma Kagyu Lineage.The Shamarpa is also known as a manifestation of Amithaba, the Buddha of Limitless Light.





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