The Drikung Kagyü (Wyl. 'bri gung bka' brgyud) school is one of the Kagyü subschools (more specifically one of the eight Pagdru Kagyü subschools) founded in the twelfth century by Drikung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön (1143-1217)—one of the eight main disciples of Phagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo, as well as a disciple of the great Nyingma tertön Nyang Ral Nyima Özer.
In the earlier period of the lineage, the Drikung Kagyü included the Lhapa Kagyü sect, which emerged from one of Jikten Sumgön's disciples named Gyalwa Lhanangpa (1164-1224). This school built the earliest dzongs in Bhutan, but were later eclipsed by the Drukpa Kagyü, and this lineage did not continue for long.
Drikung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön founded the main seat of the Drikung Kagyü school: the Drikung Til Monastery (Wyl. 'bri gung mthil dgon pa), aka Changchub Ling (Wyl. byang chub gling) in Central Tibet, in 1179.
The Drikung Kagyü school is present today in Tibet, India and Ladakh, and unites both the major Kagyü and Nyingma traditions. This school is famous for its specific phowa practice.
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche writes:
- ...The Drikung Kagyü lineage has a unique teaching called the Sole Intention of the Drikung (Wyl. dgongs gcig), as well as the Essential Point of the Drikung (Wyl. theg chen bstan pa'i snying po), five Mahamudra teachings, and many other collected works and teachings that continue to this day.
The two present heads of the Drikung Kagyü school are the Eighth Drikung Chungtsang Rinpoche (the 36th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyü lineage, who lives in Tibet), and the Seventh Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche (the 37th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyü Lineage, who has established his seat in exile in Dehra Dun, India).
- Ringu Tulku, The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgön Kongtrul the Great (Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, 2006), page 180.