Drukpa lineage is a Himalayan Vajrayana tradition, which stems directly from the primordial Buddha Vajradhara (or Dorji Chang) and descends through an unbroken line of enlightened masters - Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, Rechungpa, Phagmo Drupa and Lingchen Repa. The Drukpa lineage first came into being when its founder Drogon Tsangpa Gyare Yeshi Dorji saw nine dragons fly into the sky from Namdruk in Tibet. Hence, Tsangpa Gyare is the Drukpa lineage founder, also known as the First Gyalwang Drukpa.
Among the many Gyalwang Drukpas, the fourth Gyalwang Drukpa Kunkhyen Pema Karpo (1527-1592 CE) features as the most prominent ones, firstly because of his vast wealth of knowledge and secondly, because two immediate incarnations were born : (i) Gyalwang Drukpa Pagsam Wangpo and (ii) Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. During his lifetime, he was known as the grand lama amongst all grand lamas, and was a teacher to many lamas and disciples all over Tibet.
Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche was born at Guru Padmasambhava's sacred place known as Tso Pema, (Rewalsar) in Himachal Pradesh, India. At the age of four, Rinpoche was recognised as the reincarnation of the 11th Gyalwang Drukpa and brought up at Darjeeling, where the main monastery of Gyalwang Drukpa resides. And at the age of six, Rinpoche began learning traditional rituals and memorization of volumes of Buddhist spiritual teachings.