Denma Drubchen (1457-1525) was born in the Denma area of Derge, in eastern Tibet. When he was five, upon hearing only the name "Karmapa," he showed great devotion. A year later, he met the Seventh Karmapa, who bestowed upon him the name Tashi Paljor. He studied in Denma with the scholar Sangye Pal. At sixteen, Tashi Paljor decided to follow the Karmapa, and for the next seven years he studied with the Karmapa and received the full transmission of the Kagyu lineage. Afterwards, under the guidance of the Karmapa, he went to the mountains of Kham and Central Tibet to practice, following the example of Milarepa's life. After practicing twenty years in solitary retreat, he attained full realisation, and became known as the first Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche.
He became the principal teacher of, and passed on the full lineage transmissions to, the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje.