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 Orders along with the Nyingma and Kagyu.
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 (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, a famous scholar and translator who had studied at the Vikramashila directly under Naropa, Ratnākaraśānti, Vagishvakirti and other great panditas from India for twelve years.
Khon Konchog Gyalpo became Drogmi's disciple on the advice of his elder brother.
The tradition was established by the "Five Venerable Supreme Masters" starting with the grandson of Khonchog Gyalpo, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, who became known as Sachen, or "Great Sakyapa":
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:"
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.
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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 Lamdre "Path and its Fruit" deriving from the mahasiddha Virūpa 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, Mahākāla and Guhyasamāja tantras.
The fourth Sakya patriarch, Sakya Pandita, was notable for his exceptional scholarship and composed many important and influential texts on sutra and tantra, including "Means of Valid Cognition: A Treasury of Reasoning" (Wylie : tshad ma rigs gter), "Clarifying the Sage's Intent" (Wylie : thub pa dgongs gsal) and "Discriminating the Three Vows" (Wylie : sdom gsum rab dbye).
The main Dharma system of the Sakya school is the "Path with its Result" (Wylie : lam dang 'bras bu bcas), which is split into two main lineages, "Explanation for the Assembly" (Wylie : tshogs bshad) and the "Explanation for Close Disciples" (Wylie : slobs bshad).
The other major system of the Sakya school is the "Naropa Explanation For Disciples" (Wylie : nā ro mkha spyod slob bshad).
Another important series of teachings is based on verses of Günga Nyingpo (1092–1158) called "separating from the four attachments" which is the subject of commentaries by numerous Sakya masters like Drakpa Gyeltsen, Sakya Pandita, Ngorchen Günga Sangpo, and Gorampa Sönam Senggé. The verses are:
If you cling to this life, then you are not a dharma practitioner.
If you cling to existence, then you do not have renunciation.
If you are attached to your own interests, then you do not have the mind of awakening.
If you hold to a position, then you do not have the correct view.
In due course, two subsects emerged from the main Sakya lineage,
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.
The Bodongpa tradition, founded by Bodong Panchen Chögle Namgyel [1376 1451], is considered by some scholars to be a sub-sect of the Sakya tradition.[ citation needed ]
The Mongol conquest of Tibet began after the foundation of the Mongol Empire in the early 13th century. In 1264, the feudal reign over Tibet was given to Drogön Chögyal Phagpa by Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty. Sakya lamas, along with Sakya Imperial Preceptors and dpon-chens continued to serve as viceroys or administrators of Tibet on behalf of Yuan emperors for nearly 75 years after Phagpa’s death in 1280 until the Yuan dynasty was greatly weakened by the Red Turban Rebellion in the 1350s, a decade before the Ming dynasty founded by the Han Chinese overthrew Mongol rule in China.
The leaders of the Sakya regime were as follows.
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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 Trinley 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).Today, he resides in Rajpur, India along with his wife, Gyalyum Kushok 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 Sakya.
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. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (1929–2016) was the head of the Phuntsok Phodrang, and lived 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 was married to Her Eminence Dagmo Jamyang Kusho Sakya; they have five sons, five grandchildren and three greatgrandchildren.
Having seen how the Gelug institutions pushed the other traditions into the corners of Tibet's cultural life, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrül compiled together the teachings of the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma, including many near-extinct teachings.Without Khyentse and Kongtrul's collecting and printing of rare works, the suppression of Buddhism by the Communists would have been much more final.
Drogön Chogyal Phagpa, was the fifth leader of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was also the first Imperial Preceptor of Kublai Khan's Yuan dynasty, division of the Mongol Empire, and was concurrently named the director of the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs. Historical tradition remembers him as the first vice-ruler of Tibet under the Mongol Khagan as well as one of the Five Sakya patriarchs. Although this is historically disputed, he played a very important political role.
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, also known by his tertön title, Pema Ösel Dongak Lingpa, was a renowned teacher, scholar and tertön of 19th-century Tibet. He was a leading figure in the Rimé movement.
Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158) was a Tibetan spiritual leader and the first of the Five Venerable Supreme Sakya Masters of Tibet. Sachen Kunga Nyinpo was the 3rd Sakya Trizin and son of Khon Konchok Gyalpo (1034–1102) who was the first Sakya Trizin and founder of the first Sakya Monastery in Tibet in 1073.
Sonam Tsemo, an important Tibetan sprititual leader and Buddhist scholar, was the second of the so-called Five Venerable Supreme Sakya Masters of Tibet, the founding fathers of the Sakya tradition.
Sakya PanditaKunga Gyeltsen was a Tibetan spiritual leader and Buddhist scholar and the fourth of the Five Sakya Forefathers. Künga Gyeltsen is generally known simply as Sakya Pandita, a title given to him in recognition of his scholarly achievements and knowledge of Sanskrit. He is held in the tradition to have been an emanation of Manjusri, the embodiment of the wisdom of all the Buddhas.
Sakya Trizin is the traditional title of the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Palyul Monastery, also known as Palyul Namgyal Jangchub Choling Monastery and sometimes romanized as Pelyul Monastery, is one of the "Six Mother Monasteries" of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in 1665 by Rigzin Kunzang Sherab in Dege, on the eastern edge of Tibet in Kham, a town in today's Baiyü County, Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's Sichuan province. The monastery is the seat of the Nam Chö Terma of Terton Migyur Dorje. Drubwang Padma Norbu was the 11th throneholder of the Palyul lineage. Upon his mahaparinirvana in March, 2009, Karma Kuchen Rinpoche became the 12th throneholder.
Lamdré is a meditative system in Tibetan Buddhism rooted in the view that the result of its practice is contained within the path. The name "lamdré" means the “path" with its fruit Wylie: ‘bras ). In Tibet, the lamdré teachings are considered the summum bonum of the Sakya school.
Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo [1110-1170], was one of the three main disciples of Gampopa Sonam Rinchen who established the Dagpo Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism; and a disciple of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo [1092-1158] one of the founders of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was the elder brother of Kathog Dampa Deshek [1122-1192], who founded Kathog monastery and the Kathog branch of the Nyingma school.
Ngor is a sub-sect of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The main monastery of the Ngor sect is the Ngor monastery of Evam Choden about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southwest of Xigazê.
Dharmapala Raksita was the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was the most powerful school in Tibet under the Yuan dynasty from 1280-1282. He also held the title of Imperial Preceptor (Dishi), from 1282-1286.
Jamyang Rinchen Gyeltsen, was the ruler of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, which had precedence in Tibet under the Yuan dynasty, in 1286-1303. He also held the title of Imperial Preceptor ( Dishi) from 1304 to his demise in 1305.
Zangpo Pal, in full Danyi Chenpo Zangpo Pal, was the ruler of Sakya, which held a precedence position in Tibet under the Yuan dynasty. He ruled nominally from 1298, in reality from 1306 to his death in 1323.
Rinchen Gyaltsen was a Tibetan imperial preceptor at the court of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. His tenure lasted from 1274 to his death in either 1279 or 1282.
Drakpa Odzer was a Tibetan Imperial Preceptor (Dishi) at the court of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. He hailed from Sakya which was the foremost monastic regime in Tibet in this period. He held the post from 1291 to his death in 1303.
The Imperial Preceptor, or Dishi was a high title and powerful post created by Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty. It was established as part of Mongol patronage of Tibetan Buddhism and Yuan administrative rule of Tibet.
Khön Könchok Gyalpo was the founder of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism, and the founder of Sakya Monastery. Khön Könchok Gyalpo was born in Sa'gya, Tsang. He was a member of the Khön family, and his ancestry can dates back to Khön Dorje Rinpoche, student of Padmasambhava. He followed his father and brother and learned doctrines of the Nyingma School at a young age, but studied newly translated Vajrayāna texts with Drogmi Shakya Yeshe later. Khön Könchok Gyalpo established Sakya Monastery in 1073, where the Sakya Tradition first developed. His son Khön Kunga Nyingpo was regarded as the first leader of Sakya, and Khön Könchok Gyalpo is known as the first Sakya Trizin.
Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga served as the 41st Sakya Trizin, the throne holder of the Sakya Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, from his appointment in 1952 until his retirement in 2017. His religious name is Ngawang Kunga Tegchen Palbar Trinley Samphel Wangyi Gyalpo. After passing the throne of the Sakya lineage to his elder son Ratna Vajra Rinpoche who became the 42nd Sakya Trizin on 9 March 2017, he is now known as Kyabgon Gongma Trichen Rinpoche. He is considered second only to the Dalai Lama, in the spiritual hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism.
Khön clan of Sakya is a Tibetan clan and nobility originally based in Sa'gya. The clan traces its history to the time of Bod Chen Po. The Sakya Trizin of Sakya school was exclusively chosen from members of this clan. The current head of Khön clan is Ratna Vajra Rinpoche.
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