The Taklung Kagyu is one of the eight sub-lineages, founded by Phagmo Trupa's closest disciple, Taklung Thangpa Tashi Pal (1142-1210). Taklung Thangpa was known as a great teacher whose realization reached the highest stage of Mahamudra that of the state of nonmeditation. He was also renowned for the depth of his devotion to his teacher: it was said that when he first met his guru Phagmo Trupa, Taklung Thangpa perceived him as a fully enlightened Buddha and never once had any real doubts about his teacher in the thirteen years that he attended him. As a result of this unwavering devotion and his one-pointed practice of the Dharma, Phagmo Trupa chose Taklung Thangpa as the sole disciple to receive the transmission of the Nyengyu Yeshe Norbu, a rare and profound teaching on Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa that was only transmitted orally from teacher to disciple.
After Phagmo Trupa passed away, Taklung Thangpa went to Mal-dro to study with the Kadampa master Geshe Chakawa. Later, searching for a suitable place to practice meditation, he was recommended to go to Taklung Valley, about one day's journey north of Lhasa,where the great Kadampa teacher Geshe Potowaha practiced and where, several centuries prior, a disciple of Padmasambhava had also lived on retreat. (Its name, which means "Tiger Valley", derives from an incident from this time: while the disciple of Padmasambhava was on retreat some people came to the valley to graze their cattle, disrupting the solitude and quiet of his retreat; in response through the power of his siddhis he manifested as a tiger which promptly drove them away for fear that the "tiger" would attack their cattle). It was here that Taklung Thangpa established a hermitage with eighteen of his disciples. After staying at Taklung for a while, he decided it was not the right time to settle there and instead moved to Sewa Lung where he lived for seven years. His disciples wanted to establish a monastery at Sewa Lung but Taklung Thangpa told them it would be more appropriate to return to Taklung and build a monastery there. After Tak-lung Monastery was built, Taklung Thangpa was able to firmly establish the roots of the Taklung Kagyu lineage, incorporating the full transmission o f teachings he had received from Phagmo Trupa into his own teachings. He continued to live at Taklung until his death in l2l0 by which time the number of monks living at the monastery had grown to 3,000.
Although Taklung Thangpa had originally come from Kham, he had spent many years in Central Tibet, both while he studied with Phagmo Trupa at his teacher's monastery south east of Lhasa and later at Taklung, and he had never returned to his homeland. He received repeated requests and supplications from numerous Khampas asking him to return to Kham to teach as his fame as a great master grew, but in spite of their requests he remained at Taklung. On one occasion, however, he rose up from his seat, took seven steps and announced that he was going east to Kham although he never, in fact, did return there. Instead, while making this pronouncement, he had a vision of a place in Kham upon which he bestowed a mental blessing and then prophesized that his lineage would flourish there.
Approximately seventy years after Taklung Thangpa's passing, the terton Sangye Won, one of the early holders of Taklung Thangpa's lineage, traveled to Kham at the advice of his teachers. While searching for the place prophesized by Taklung Thangpa he came upon a large field that lay at the foot of a large mountain. The field was being plowed by its owner, a wealthy farmer, who was chanting the Manjushri Nama Samgiti, a long praise to the Bodhisattva of wisdom, as he went about his work. As Sangye Won approached the farmer, he overheard him chant a line of the liturgy which referred to hoisting the banner of the Dharma. Struck by the auspiciousness of this coincidence, Sangye Won then realized that the place that he had seemingly stumbled upon corresponded to the place in Taklung Thangpa's vision. It was at this spot that Sangye Wontragpa had Riwoche Monastery built in the thirteenth century, thus establishing the other principal seat of the Taklung Kagyu lineage.
Both Taklung and Riwoche monasteries were home to the main lineage holders of the Taklung Kagyu, the position being shared by six masters who alternately held the position over different incarnations. The six main lineage holders are: Taklung Shabdrung Rinpoche, Taklung Matrul Rinpoche and Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, all of whom were from Taklung Monastery; and Riwoche Shabdrung Rinpoche, Jedrung Rinpoche and Phakchok Rinpoche, from Riwoche Monastery.
The lineage at Riwoche derives from both the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions and has continued unbroken to this day.
Ngawang Jigme Zhenphen Chokyi Gocha, the seventh incarnation of His Holiness Phakchok Rinpoche recognized by His Holiness Dalai lama in 1981 as the current incarnation of the Phakchok Tulku. Born in Boudanath Nepal he is the son of Chokling Rinpoche and is the older brother of the Tulku of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.