Sakya Tradition

Sachen Kunga Nyingpo

A Brief History

The Sakya tradition is known as the ‘holder of all the Buddha’s teachings’ due to the vast extent of teachings and practices it has preserved in its long history.

It takes its name from the monastery founded at Sakya in south-western Tibet in 1073 by Könchok Gyalpo of the Khön clan. Since his time the leadership of the tradition has remained within the same family.

Five Founding Masters of Sakya

Könchok Gyalpo was followed by his son, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five ‘gongmas’ (venerable masters), who in turn was succeeded by Sonam Tsemo, Drakpa Gyaltsen, Sakya Pandita and Chogyal Phakpa, teacher of Kublai Khan.

These five founding lamas gave the tradition its distinctive shape. Sakya Pandita was particularly renowned throughout Tibet and beyond for the depth of his knowledge and mastery of all the teachings. He was also instrumental in preserving the efficacy of the dharma by clarifying the misunderstandings which arose during the early history of Buddhism in Tibet. The current Sakya Trizin is directly descended from these ‘gongmas’.

Over the centuries numerous men and women have achieved great realisation through the study and practice of the teachings preserved within the tradition.