Our Guru Gampopa statue depicts the Tibetan master who was the teacher of the first Karmapa. Additionally, he inherited the Kagyu lineage from Guru Milarepa who was the successor of Guru Marpa. Similar to his mentor, Guru Milarepa, Gampopa was not originally inclined towards Buddhism.
As a young man, Gampopa studied the Nyingma branch of Tibetan Buddhism. However, he went to medical school and became a doctor just like his father. He was married soon afterwards and started a family. Unfortunately, a tragic epidemic would come to Tibet and bring a sudden end to his life as a householder. As a result of the epidemic, Gampopa’s wife and children were killed.
As her final wish, his wife implored Gampopa to become an ordained monk. She truly believed that it was what he wanted and she wished him to pursue his goal. To appease her, he swore an oath in her presence that he would dedicate his life to the cause of the Dharma. His wife passed away soon afterwards.
Gampopa then sought out the elusive Guru Milarepa to receive the Dharma teachings. Milarepa was very well impressed with the insights and writing skills of Guru Gampopa. So much so that he appointed him the successor of the Kagyu lineage.
Guru Gampopa would then open a monastery from which he would attract many dedicated disciples. 4 of these disciples would become the founders of the four primary Kagyu branches. The first Karmapa was one of Guru Gampopa’s disciples who founded the Karma Kagyu branch. Additionally, there would be 8 minor Kagyu schools that would later emerge from the 4 main Kagyu branches.