The Sakya Tradition

The Five Founding Fathers of Sakya

The Five Founding Fathers of Sakya

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). As his eldest son, Ratna Vajra Rinpoche will inherit the headship of the Drolma Phodrang (Tara Palace) branch of the Khön family.

Wondrous with the riches of the Seven Royal Ornaments,
Dwelling in the blazing splendour of the dharma realm of the glorious Sakyas,
You appear as an adornment that beautifies the supreme places of the world.
I pray the appearance of your body, speech and mind remain as firm as a vajra.
— Long Life Prayer for H.H. Sakya Trizin

Visit official websites of Sakya: Pal Sakya