About 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, then, are practitioners who regard Buddha’s teachings as personal instructions and put them into practice by following the instructions of Lamrim.
The Kadampa tradition was later promoted widely in Tibet by Je Tsongkhapa and his followers, who were known as the New Kadampas. By integrating their knowledge of all Buddha’s teachings into their practice of Lamrim, and applying this to their everyday lives, Kadampa Buddhists are encouraged to use Buddha’s teachings as practical methods for transforming daily activities into the path to enlightenment.
The great Kadampa Teachers are famous not only for being great scholars but also for being spiritual practitioners of immense purity and sincerity. The lineage of these teachings, both their oral transmission and blessings, was then passed from Teacher to disciple, spreading throughout much of Asia, and now to many countries in the western world. Buddha’s teachings, which are known as ‘Dharma’, are likened to a wheel that moves from country to country in accordance with changing conditions and people’s karmic inclinations. The external forms of presenting Buddhism may change as it meets with different cultures and societies, but its essential authenticity is ensured through the continuation of an unbroken lineage of realized practitioners.
Through the activities and dedication of the renowned Buddhist Master, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Kadampa Buddhism in particular has spread all around the world. Geshe Kelsang has worked tirelessly by giving extensive teachings, writing many authentic books on Kadampa Buddhism, establishing the International Temples Project and founding the New Kadampa Tradition, International Kadampa Buddhist Union.
New Kadampa Tradition Leadership
Founder Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche
Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche founded the New Kadampa Tradition in England in 1991. Beginning in 1977 when he first came to the west, he transmitted all the essential teachings and practices of modern Kadampa Buddhism. He also provided training and support for hundreds of modern teachers to carry this living lineage into future generations.
He formally retired as Spiritual Director in 2009, but continued working tirelessly 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.
During his lifetime, he wrote 24 books, founded over 1200 meditation centers, established modern Kadampa study programs adaptable to different countries, trained thousands of qualified teachers, established a flourishing ordained community, and created the Temples for World Peace project to build a Kadampa Buddhist temple in every major city in the world.
Venerable Geshe-la was the General Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition from its inception until he retired in 2009. He passed away in 2022. Leading the NKT now are Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong, General Spiritual Director, and Gen-la Kelsang Jampa, Deputy Spiritual Director, along with the assistance of National Spiritual Directors in many countries throughout the world.
Learn more about Geshe Kelsang Gyatso on Kadampa.org.
General Spiritual Director
Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong
Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong, the General Spiritual Director of NKT-IKBU and Principal Resident Teacher at Manjushri KMC, 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 well over thirty 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 through 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 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, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, he then spent the next eighteen 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 1200 centers for Kadampa Buddhism around the world and trained up hundreds of modern Buddhist teachers.