The Lineage of Kadampa Buddhism

Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master, Atisha (AD 982-1054). His followers are known as “Kadampas.” “Ka” refers to Buddha’s teachings and “dam” to Atisha’s special Lamrim instructions known as “the stages of the path to enlightenment.” Kadampas are practitioners who regard Buddha’s teachings as personal instructions and put them into practice by following the instructions of Lamrim.

Venerable Atisha

The great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982 to 1054 AD) was responsible for reintroducing the entirety of Buddhism into Tibet.

Although Buddhism had been introduced into Tibet some 200 years earlier by Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, Buddhist practice in the country had largely degenerated during the anti-Buddhist purges of the Tibetan king, Lang Darma (circa 836 AD).

Invited by Jangchub Ö, a ruler of Ngari in western Tibet, Atisha was asked to present a Dharma that everybody could follow and that would show how all the paths of Sutra and Tantra could be practiced together.

Read Advice from Atisha’s Heart

In response, Atisha wrote Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, the original stages of the path to enlightenment or Lamrim text, which has served as the basis for all subsequent Lamrim instructions. In this way he was largely responsible for the successful revival of all Buddhist teachings of Sutra and Tantra in Tibet.

Je Tsongkhapa

Je Tsongkhapa was a famous 14th century Tibetan Buddhist Master whose appearance in Tibet had been predicted by Buddha Shakyamuni himself. Je Tsongkhapa (whose ordained name was Losang Dragpa) widely promoted and developed the Kadampa Buddhism that Atisha had introduced three centuries earlier.

Je Tsongkhapa patiently taught the Tibetans everything they needed for their spiritual development from the initial step of entering into a spiritual practice to the ultimate attainment of Buddhahood.

This was a golden age in Tibet, and thousands of Tibetans were inspired by Je Tsongkhapa’s immaculate example of pure moral discipline, compassionate way of life, and profound, liberating wisdom.

His followers became known as the ‘New Kadampas’ and to this day Kadampa Buddhists worldwide study his teachings and strive to emulate his pure, compassionate example.

All the books studied at Kadampa Buddhist Centers are inspired by and based on the teachings of Je Tsonghapa, which in turn are based on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and Venerable Atisha.

Venerable Geshe-la

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a fully-accomplished meditation master and internationally-renowned teacher of Buddhism.

Geshe-la, as he is affectionately called by his students, is primarily responsible for the worldwide revival of Kadampa Buddhism in our time.

From the age of eight, Geshe-la studied extensively in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the title ‘Geshe’, which literally means ‘spiritual friend’. Under the guidance of his Spiritual Guide, Trijang Dorjechang Rinpoche, he then spent the next 18 years in meditation retreats in the Himalayas.

In 1977 he accepted an invitation to teach at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in England, where he lived and taught for many years, giving teachings and guidance to an ever-growing number of students, including at many International Festivals.

From 1977 to the present day, he has founded over 1,300 centers for Kadampa Buddhism around the world and trained up hundreds of modern Buddhist teachers.

Practicing Dharma in Daily Life

Kadampas aim to integrate their knowledge of Buddha’s teachings (Dharma) into their practice of the stages of the path to enlightenment (Lamrim) and apply these teachings to their everyday lives.

The great Kadampa teachers are famous not only for being great scholars, but also for being spiritual practitioners of immense skill and sincerity.

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Leadership of the New Kadampa Tradition

Our Founder, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche founded the New Kadampa Tradition in England in 1991. Since coming to the West in 1977, he has transmitted all the essential teachings and practices of modern Kadampa Buddhism and provided training and support for hundreds of modern teachers to carry this living lineage into future generations.

Geshe-la worked tirelessly throughout this life to spread the precious teachings of Kadampa Buddhism throughout the world with the intention that each and every living being will eventually experience the supreme, permanent mental peace of enlightenment.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso passed into the clear light in 2022. 

General Spiritual Director

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong, the General Spiritual Director of the NKT-IKBU and Principal Resident Teacher at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, is a modern Buddhist nun dedicated to helping people from all walks of life attain lasting happiness through developing inner peace.

She has been a student of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for over 30 years. While teaching internationally, she has inspired many thousands of people through her sincere reliance on her Spiritual Guide, her tireless dedication and her clear and accessible teachings.

In all of her varied activities as General Spiritual Director, Gen-la Dekyong is dedicating her life to helping Kadam Dharma flourish throughout the world.

Deputy Spiritual Director

Gen-la Kelsang Jampa

Gen-la Jampa is an internationally-renowned, ordained Buddhist teacher and the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU).

As a senior NKT teacher, Gen-la Jampa has been a student of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for many years, and under Geshe-la’s guidance has taught at many centers and events around the world.

Gen-la is well-loved for his clear and inspiring teachings and his ability to touch people’s hearts through his sincerity and loving-kindness.

Western US Spiritual Director

Gen Kelsang Rigpa

Gen Kelsang Rigpa is the Western US National Spiritual Director of the NKT-IKBU and the Resident Teacher at Kadampa Meditation Center LA and Mahamudra Kadampa Meditation Center in Hermosa Beach.

Through his clear presentation and heartfelt teachings, he is able to help students easily integrate Buddha’s timeless teachings into our modern world, in a way that makes everyday life joyful and meaningful.