The Kyagu tradition, one of the four main sects - along with Niygma, Sakya and Gelug - of Tibetan Buddhism, is divided into four major and eight minor sub-traditions.
At the Kagyu General Body Meeting in Norbulinka, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of Karma Kagyu tradition, a statement from the Karmapa was issued outlining his main reasons for his standing down.
"I am offering the chance to the three eminent heads of Drukpa, Drigong and Taklong Kaygu traditions," the Karmapa said in his statement.
The Karmapa further said that pre-eminency in the Kagyu Tradition should be based on personal merits rather than election by a single meeting, and that commitment to his studies would inhibit the amount of time he could devote to leadership of the sect.
In the statement His Eminence the Karmapa also stressed to the Kagyu MPs the importance of purity in the inner circles of Buddhism, and urged them to ensure it.
The MPs told reporters that the decision of the Kyagu General Body Meeting was that representation of Kagyu Tradition should be taken up in turn by heads of all Kyagu sub-traditions. The MPs added that this was a fair and democratic means of representation.