The Special Kagyu Monlam: The Karma Pakshi Ritual

February 10th - 15th, 2022


This was a significant part of this year’s Special Kagyu Monlam. For six days, the Gyalwang Karmapa led the recitation of the Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga. He was in direct contact with the monasteries and nunneries over Zoom. However, the ritual was also webcast so that monastics and laypeople worldwide could participate. The reason for reciting the sadhana this year, like everything else in the Monlam programme, was the decision and wish of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa

The Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga holds a special place in the Karma Kagyu tradition. It was a mind treasure [gong ter] that the first Yongey Mingyur Dorje received in a pure vision. Yongey Mingyur Dorje was a Kagyu master from the Dzodzi Monastery, who also had ties to the Nyingma tradition. While he was in retreat, he saw the Lama, Yidam, and Dharma protector which are found in the Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga practice, and then he composed the sadhana.

In his own words from the prologue to the ritual:

I prostrate to the guru, the dharmakaya. Here is the method of practising the guru sadhana. I, the Vidyadhara Mingyur Dorje by name, in the Year of the Snake, at the age of twenty-five, was performing the practice of the protector Bernakchen. At dawn I saw, not in a dream, but in reality with my own eyes, a flashing red light that filled the entire room. I thought, “Could this be some illness or a magical trick?” I fell unconscious and lay senseless for a short time. When I awoke, I saw in the sky before me the mandala of the guru, illusory yet real. One of the females of the retinue of the mandala was looking at me and pointing at the central deity, who uttered these words to me. SAMAYA.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the lama is extremely important, no matter from what perspective we look at it. In the Dorje Chang Thungma, devotion to the Lama is the second requirement on the path of Mahamudra:

Devotion is the head of meditation, as it is taught.
As ones who pray always to the lama who opens
The gate to the treasury of oral instructions,
Please bless us to develop genuine devotion.

From obtaining the common and supreme accomplishments to dispelling obstacles, for the Kagyu tradition where devotion is central, the lama is of utmost importance. Particularly, out of all the Karmapas who have appeared thus far, Karma Pakshi was an exceptional and renowned practitioner who had defeated the maras and quelled malevolent forces. As a result of this interconnection, this is a practice specific to the Karma Kamtsang tradition.
Thus, the recitation of the Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga sadhana is dedicated towards the removal of obstacles and unfavourable circumstances, and the flourishing of the Kamtsang Kagyu and Karmapa's activities.


37th Kagyu Monlam Schedule

Tibetan / English / Chinese •  FrenchGerman • IndonesianKorean • PolishRussianSpanish  • Vietnamese 

Dharma Teachings

Meditation Instructions
Recorded during the 37th Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India. January 28-30, 2020.