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Sakya Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
A brief view of the Sakya School of Vajrayana Buddhism and Ngor Monastery

A brief view of the Sakya School of Vajrayana Buddhism & Ngor Monastery

When during the 11th century the great Pandita Atisha was traveling through Tibet he passed by the present site of Sakya Monastery and had a vision there of nine Tibetan syllables upon the ground. From this vision Atisha predicted that at Sakya there would be incarnated seven embodiments of Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, one embodiment of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and one of Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Dharma Activity.

Thirty-three years after Atisha’s visit Khon Konchog Gyalpo, leader of the ancient and illustrious Khon family founded at Sakya (meaning white earth in Tibetan) a monastery, which would later become one of the greatest centers of Vajrayana Buddhism in all of Tibet. It was also during this time that a second major transmission of Vajrayana teachings came to Tibet and Khon Konchog Gyalpo’s son, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo was a major recipient of these teachings. From the great translator Drogmi Lotsawa and the Siddha Chodar, Sachen received the profound teaching of the Lam Drey (the Path and the Fruit) and the Hevajra Tantra. These teachings were from then on to become the main and most precious teachings of the Sakya.

The Lam Drey and the Hevajra Tantra were originally given directly to the Mahasiddha Virupa by the primordial Buddha, Dorjechang (Vajradhara or Vajradhara) through his consort Vajra Nairatmya. They were then passed down from Virupa to a succession of lineage teachers until they were brought to Tibet in the 11th century by Drogmi Lotsawa at a time when the previous older transmission of the Dharma, after years of persecution and neglect, was in need of new life and a more pure expression.

From Sachen Kunga Nyingbo’s time forward the teachings of Sakya Monastery flourished and spread far and wide throughout Tibet, China and Mongolia. A succession of great teachers, as Atisha predicted, came after Sachen and they enhanced and continued his work. This was accomplished by such great lamas as Sonam Tsemo, Drakpa Gyaltshan, Sakya Pandita and Chogyal Phagpa. These lamas and Sachen Kunga Nyingma constitute the five great teachers of Sakya. In time the leaders of Sakya, due to the high esteem in which they were held , were authorized by the Mongols to act as the rulers of Tibet. This spared Tibet the distruction of a Mongol invasion. During this time Sakya was remarkably tolerant of the other Tibetan schools of Vajrayana Buddhism and furthermore were able to convince their Mongol overlords to be more humane in their actions toward the people they ruled in Tibet and China. Today the great, profound and most sacred teachings and practices of the Sakya School are sustained by His Holiness Sakya Trizen and his two eminent sons Dungse Ratna Vajra and Dunse Jnana Vajra and as well by His Eminence Sakya Dagchen Rimpoche and Sakya Trizin’s sister Jetsun Kushok Chimey Luding.


In 1429 the great Sakya master Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo founded Ngor Ewam Choden monastery. This monastery near Shigatse became a major seat for the Lam Drey teachings. Every year they were given there and hundreds of pilgrims came from all over Tibet to receive them. This continued until the distruction of Ngor monastery in the 1960’s. It is at Ngor that our lama, Kunga Gyurme, Ngor Tartse Rinpoche, resided.

Rinpoche and his brother the Ven. Sonam Gyatso served respectively there as shabdrung (vice-abbot) and khenpo (abbot) of the Tartse Lhabrang. At Ngor there were four lhabrang (colleges) and Tartse Lhabrang

is one of them. Since the distruction of Ngor Monastery in the 1960’s the ancient practices and venerable teachings of Ngor Ewam Choden are now continued and preserved by such notable lamas as the Most Venerable Ludhing Khenchen Rimpoche at the New Ngor Monastery located in North India.


Ngor Monastery, 1955 /pre-Chinese Occupation ngor_1985

Ngor Monastery, 1985 /post-Chinese Occupation Ngor Monastery, Dehra Dun, India

Ngor Monastery, Dehra Dun, India

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Part of a series on Tibetan Buddhism

Guru Rinpoche - Padmasambhava statue.jpg

This articles concerns the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. For information on the ancient Śākya tribe, see Shakya.

The Sakya (Tibetan: ས་སྐྱ་, Wylie: Sa skya, “pale earth”) school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug. It is one of the Red Hat sects along with the Nyingma and Kagyu.


1 Origins

2 Teachings

3 Subschools

4 Feudal lordship over Tibet

5 Sakya today

6 The Rimé movement

7 See also

8 Notes

9 References

10 External links

Origins of the Sakya Lineage

The name Sakya (“pale earth”) derives from the unique grey landscape of Ponpori Hills in southern Tibet near Shigatse, where Sakya Monastery, the first monastery of this tradition, and the seat of the Sakya School was built by Khon Konchog Gyalpo (Khon Konchog Gyalpo) (1034–1102) in 1073.

The Sakya tradition developed during the second period of translation of Buddhist scripture from Sanskrit into Tibetan in the late 11th century. It was founded by Drogmi (Drogmi), a famous scholar and translator who had studied at the Vikramashila University (Vikramashila) directly under Naropa (Naropa), Ratnakarashanti (Ratnakarashanti), Vagishvakirti (Vagishvakirti) and other great panditas from India for twelve years.[1]

Konchog Gyalpo became Drogmi's disciple on the advice of his elder brother.[2]

The tradition was established by the “Five Venerable Supreme Masters” starting with the grandson of Khonchog Gyalpo, Kunga Nyingpo, who became known as Sachen, or “Great Sakyapa”:[3]

   Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158)
   Sonam Tsemo (1142–1182)
   Drakpa Gyaltsen (1147–1216)
   Sakya Pandita (1182–1251)
   Chogyal Pakpa (1235–1280)

Buton Rinchen Drub (1290–1364) was an important scholar and writer and one of Tibet's most celebrated historians. Other notable scholars of the Sakya tradition are the so called “Six Ornaments of Tibet:”

   Yaktuk Sangyey Pal
   Rongton Sheja Kunrig (1367–1449)
   Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo
   Zongpa Kunga Namgyel
   Gorampa Sonam Senge (1429–1489)
   Shakya Chogden (1428–1507)

The leadership of the Sakya School is passed down through a hereditary system between the male members of the Sakya branch of the Khon family. [edit] Teachings Sakya Pandita

Sachen, the first of the five supreme masters, inherited a wealth of tantric doctrines from numerous Tibetan translators or “lotsawas” who had visited India: most importantly Drokmi Lotsawa, Bari Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa. From Drokmi comes the supreme teaching of Sakya, the system of Lamdré (lam 'bras) or “Path and its Fruit”, deriving from the mahasiddha Virupa, based upon the Hevajra Tantra. Mal Lotsawa introduced to Sakya the esoteric Vajrayogini lineage known as “Naro Khachoma.” From Bari Lotsawa came innumerable tantric practices, foremost of which was the cycle of practices known as the One Hundred Sadhanas. Other key transmissions that form part of the Sakya spiritual curriculum include the cycles of Vajrakilaya, Mahakala and Guhyasamaja.

The fourth Sakya patriarch, Sakya Pandita, was notable for his exceptional scholarship and composed many important and influential texts on sutra and tantra, including, Clarifying the Thought of the Sage and Discriminating the Three Vows.

The main Dharma system of the Sakya school is the Path with Its Result [lam dang 'bras bu bcas], which is split into two main lineages, Explanation for the Assembly (tshogs bshad) and the Explanation for Close Disciples (slobs bshad).

The other major Dharma system of the Sakya school is the Naropa Khechari Explanation For Disciples (Naro mkha spyod slob bshad). [edit] Subschools

In due course, two subsects emerged from the main Sakya lineage,

   Ngor, founded in Tsang by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (1382–1457). The Ngor school is centered around Ngor Evam Choden monastery. It represents 85% of the Sakyapa school[citation needed] and most if not all the monasteries in India are Ngorpa, apart from Sakya Trizin's monastery.
   Tshar, founded by Tsarchen Losal Gyamtso (1496 - 1560 or 1502–1556).

There were three “mother” monasteries of the Sakya school: Sakya Monastery, founded in 1073, Ngor Evam Choden, founded in 1429, and Phanyul Nalendra in Phanyul, north of Lhasa, founded in 1435 by Kuntchen Rongten. Nalendra became the home of the 'whispered-lineage' of the Tsar school.[4] [edit] Feudal lordship over Tibet Further information: Tibet during the Ming Dynasty

In 1264 the feudal reign over Tibet was given to Phagpa by the Mongolian emperor, Kublai Khan. Sakya lamas continued to serve as viceroys of Tibet on behalf of the Mongol emperors for nearly 75 years after Phagpa’s death (1280), until the Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China subjugated the Mongols. The leaders of the Sakya regime were as follows.[5]

   Phagpa 1253-1280
   Dharmapala Raksita 1280-1282, d. 1287
   Jamyang Rinchen Gyaltsen 1286-1303
   Zangpo Pal 1306-1323
   Khatsun Namka Lekpa Gyaltsen 1325-1341
   Jamyang Donyo Gyaltsen 1341-1344
   Lama Dampa Sonam Lotro Gyaltsen 1344-1347
   Lotro Gyaltsen 1347-1365

[edit] Sakya today

The head of the Sakya school, known as Sakya Trizin (“holder of the Sakya throne”), is always drawn from the male line of the Khön family. The present Sakya Trizin, Ngawang Kunga Tegchen Palbar Samphel Wanggi Gyalpo, born in Tsedong in 1945, is the forty-first to hold that office. 41st Sakya Trizin is the reincarnation of two great Tibetan masters: a Nyingmapa lama known as Apong Terton (Orgyen Thrinley Lingpa), who is famous for his Red Tara cycle, and his grandfather, the 39th Kyabgon Sakya Trizin Dhagtshul Thrinley Rinchen (1871–1936).[6] Today, he resides in Rajpur, India along with his wife, Dagmo Tashi Lhakyi, and two sons Ratna Vajra Rinpoche and Gyana Vajra Rinpoche. Ratna Vajra Rinpoche being the older son, is the lineage holder and is married to Dagmo Kalden Dunkyi Sakya and Gyana Vajra Rinpoche is married to Dagmo Sonam Palkyi.

Traditionally hereditary succession alternates between the two Sakya palaces since Khon Könchok Gyelpo's (1034–1102) reign. The Ducho sub-dynasty of Sakya survives split into two palaces, the Dolma Phodrang and Phuntsok Phodrang. Sakya Trizin is head of the Dolma Phodrang. H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (b. 1929) is the head of the Phuntsok Phodrang, and lives in Seattle, Washington, where he co-founded Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism with Dezhung Rinpoche III, and constructed the first Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in the United States. Dagchen Sakya's father was the previous Sakya Trizin, Trichen Ngawang Thutop Wangchuk, throne holder of Sakya, and his mother Dechen Drolma. Dagchen Sakya is married to Her Eminence Dagmo Jamyang Kusho Sakya; they have five sons, and several grandchildren. [edit] The Rimé movement

During the 19th century the great Sakya master and terton Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, the famous Kagyu master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and the important Nyingma terton Orgyen Chokgyur Lingpa founded the Rime movement, an alleged ecumenical attempt to incorporate all teachings of all schools, to overcome the separation of Buddhist transmission in different traditions.

This movement still influences modern Tibetan Buddhist practice through the “five great treasures” of Jamgon Kongtrul and the treasure of rediscovered teachings (Rinchen Terdzöd). [edit] See also

   Sakya Monastery
   Tibetan Buddhism

[edit] Notes

   ^ Luminous Lives, Stearns, Wisdom 2001
   ^ , Ch. 25, Treasures of the Sakya Lineage, Tseten, Shambhala, 2008
   ^ Powers, John. Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Snow Lion Publications. 1995. p. 382.
   ^ The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art by John C. Huntington and Dina Bangdel. Serindia Publications. pg 42
   ^ Hungarian website of Sakya Trizin

[edit] References

   Davidson, Ronald (1992). "Preliminary Studies on Hevajra's Abhisamaya and the Lam 'bras Tshogs bshad." In Davidson, Ronald M. & Goodman, Steven D. Tibetan Buddhism: reason and revelation. State University of New York Press: Albany, N.Y. ISBN 0-7914-0786-1 pp. 107–132.
   Powers, John (1995). Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Ithaca, N.Y. USA: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-026-3.
   Trichen, Chogyay. History of the Sakya Tradition, Ganesha Press, 1993

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sakya

   His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, Official Website.
   The French Ngorpa temple.
   Palden Sakya - Website of Sakya Trizin's Monastery in Rajpur, India
   Tsechen Kunchab Ling - Sakya Trizin's seat in the United States
   Sakya Tsechen Thubten Ling - Canada
   Sakya Dechenling - Canada
   Sakya Kachöd Chöling - Canada
   Sakya Lamas
   International Buddhist Academy (IBA) in Kathmandu, Nepal
   Sakya Monastery in Seattle, Washington

Buddhism topics

Categories: Sakya | Schools of Tibetan Buddhism

This page was last modified on 16 April 2011 at 22:40.

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sakya.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/26 18:13 (external edit)