Kargyu means dissemination and inheritance in Tibetan. The Kargyu Sect is called the White Religion because monks dress in white robes.
The founder of the sect was Marpa, who began to study Buddhist scriptures at the age of 15. In accordance with the custom of Indian Tantrism, he wore a white robe. This style has been handed down from generation to generation, becoming the sect's fashion. Monks of the Kargyu Sect who follow the monastic ordinations of Sramanera and Bhiksu also wear red robes , while those who abide by the monastic ordination of Upasaka wear white robes edged with red and green.
Milaraspa is a legendary figure of the Kargyu Sect, known even to women and children of the Tibetan ethnic group. At the age of 38 he became a disciple of Master Marpa, who passed on the Esoteric Secret orally to him. Milaraspa was believed to be capable of flying and of subduing evil spirits, and to possess magic powers. Stories about him are collected in the Biography of Milaraspa, and are widely known among Tibetans.
The Kargyu Sect pays great attention to Tantrism and inheriting the doctrines of the "great gesture." In origin, the "great gesture" was regarded as the Esoteric Secret which was passed on to those who accepted the baptismal ceremony. Later, different schools of the Kargyu Sect emerged, consisting of the Shangspa, Phaggru and Karma branches. Among these branches, the abbot of Samding Monastery was a woman and the only woman Living Buddha in Tibet. The head of the Phaggru branch annexed vast areas of Wutsang during the 14th century, replacing the political rule of the Saskya Sect in Tibet, and establishing local government of religious and political unity for 256 years. The karma branch initiated the system of transmigration of living Buddhas in the 13th century. This system was adopted by Tibetan Buddhism, and has been carried on to the present day, serving as the most unique feature of Tibetan Buddhism, differentiating it from the Han and Southern Buddhism.