The Sakya Tradition

The Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism takes its name from the monastery founded at Sakya in south-western Tibet in 1073 by Könchok Gyalpo of the Khön clan, an influential family that had previously been affiliated to the Nyingma tradition. Konchok Gyalpo studied the ‘new tantras’ with the translator Drokmi Lotsava. The most important of the ‘new tantra’ transmissions that the Sakya school subsequently preserved was the Hevajra Tantra with its associated instructions known as the Path and its Fruit (Lam Drey), which had been developed by the 9th century Indian yogin, Virupa. Other key transmissions that form part of the Sakya spiritual curriculum include the cycles of Vajrayogini, Vajrakilaya, Mahakala and Guhyasamaja.

The Sakya sect was given its definite shape by the works of the ‘five venerable masters’, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092 – 1158); Sonam Tsemo (1142 – 1182); Drakpa Gyaltsen (1147 – 1216); Sakya Pandita (1182 – 1251) and Chogyal Phakpa (1235 – 1280). Since that time the tradition and its two sub-sects, Ngor, founded by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (b.1382) and Tsar, founded by Tsarchen Losal Gyamtso (1496 – 1560), have been adorned by many eminent yogins and scholars.

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. His Holiness’ principal masters, from whom he received all the transmissions of the Sakya tradition, include Ngawang Lodro Shenphen Nyingpo, Jampal Zangpo, Jamyang Chentze Chokyi Lodro, Appey Khen Rinpoche and Chogay Trichen Rinpoche. In 1974, His Holiness married Lady Tashi Lhakyi and since that time they have had two sons, Ratna Vajra Rinpoche (b. 1974) and Jnana Vajra Rinpoche (b. 1979).

His Holiness has so far made a total of nine visits to Sakya Thinley Rinchen Ling in Bristol and other centres of ours in the United Kingdom. During this time he has bestowed innumerable initiations and teachings.

Other eminent Sakya masters who have visited Sakya Thinley Rinchen Ling include Ngor Phende Rinpoche, H.E. Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche, Jetsun Chime Luding Rinpoche and H.E. Ratna Vajra Rinpoche.

For more information on the Sakya tradition, please visit