His Holiness Sakya Trizin is the supreme head of the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
He was born on the seventh of September, 1947 in Tsedong, Tibet. Presently His Holiness resides at the Sakya Dolma Phodrang, Rajpur, Dehradun and also travels around the world to turn the wheel of Dharma.
A short biography
The Khön family, to which His Holiness Sakya Trizin belongs, has a long history that extends back more than 1400(?????) years to pre-Buddhist Tibet. The Sakya Khön family’s ancestors were “The Gods of the Realm of Clear Light” and so the family was known as Lha-Rig or “The Celestial Race”. Later, when they subjugated the Rakshas, they were called The Immaculate “Khön Gyi Dhung” or “The Family of Conquerors”. In the later eleventh century when they established the Sakyapa Order of Tibetan Buddhism, they were called “The Sakyapa Lineage”.
In more recent times they became known as “The Dolma Phodrang” or “The Tara Palace Lineage”, as their palace was next to the Turquoise Tara Shrine at the Sakya monastery in Tibet. From the advent of the Khön race until now, many famous masters have appeared without interruption in this illustrious lineage, including the five great founders of the Sakyapa Order.
Vajradhara Ngawang Conga Rinchen, the previous head of the Sakya Dolma Phodrang, and Sonam Drolkar, the sister of a renowned minister of the Tibetan government had four children together. The eldest, a daughter whose name is Jetsun Chime Thrinley was born in 1938 and currently lives and teaches in Canada. The next born were a son and daughter who both passed away in infancy.
Their youngest son, the present Sakya Trizin, was born in the Sixteenth Rabjung* in the year of The Wood Bird on the first day of the eight-month which is September 7th, 1945. He was born at the Sakya Palace of Tsedong.
Immediately after his birth, profound rituals were performed to increase his wisdom, including tracing the letter “Dhih” on his tongue. Many auspicious signs occurred on the day of his birth. A rainbow tent appeared above the palace and milk collected from one hundred different Dris (female yaks) were offered to the palace as well as a statue of Guru Padmasambhava. While he was an infant, his name was Ayu Vajra. Later, when his father gave him his first major initiation of “The Nine Deities of Amitayus”, he was given his present name Ngawang Kunga Thegchen Palber Thrinley Samphel Wangyi Gyalpo.
When the family returned to the main Sakya monastery the next year there was an extensive celebration of the anniversary of his birth. He received the major initiation of Vajra Kilaya and many other profound teachings from his father. Both parents died while His Holiness was still young so his maternal aunt, Thrinley Paljor Sangmo, with great kindness, took extremely good care of him. She appointed Jamphel Ponlop Kunga Gyaltsen as his first tutor and from him he learned the fundamental of the Tibetan reading, writing, memorization and the recitation of basic prayers. He learned chanting, music, ritual dancing, mudras and other subjects from his junior tutor Kunga Tsewang.
After completion of these studies, a great celebration was held in which the Sakya Trizin officially entered both the Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries to perform the traditional Sakya ceremonies. When His Holiness finished his studies at the Sakya Monasteries, he went to receive teachings at the Ngor E-Wam monastery. There, at the age of five, he received “The Common and Uncommon Lamdre” and many other profound teachings, bestowed upon him by his main root guru the great Ngor abbot, Vajradhara Ngawang Lodroe Zhenphen Nyingpo.
In 1951 the Sakya Trizin made a pilgrimage to Lhasa. There, at the age of six, he was designated the throne holder of the Sakya Order by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Accordingly, the next year a preliminary enthronement ceremony was performed in which he accepted the official seals of the office of the Sakya Trizin.
The following year from Ngawang Zhenphen Nyingpo’s regent, Ngawang Tenzin Nyingpo, His Holiness received the initiation and reading transmission of “The Collection of Dharanas”. From Lama Ngawang Lodroe Rinpoche, he received the initiations and profound oral instructions of the Three Red Deities, Three Vajra Yoginis and the two main Protectors of the Sakya Order.
At the age of eleven he made another pilgrimage to Lhasa during which he received Dharma instructions in the Potala from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There, before a large audience, he gave an extensive explanation of the Mandala offering due to which his wisdom came to be proclaimed throughout Tibet. During this period, from Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, he received many tantric initiations and teachings according to the Sakya tradition as well as the teachings and initiations of the Dzogchen Lineage. In 1957, he received the Lamdre again, this time from the great abbot Vajradhara Jamphel Sangpo, according to the tradition of the Khön Lineage Transmission.
In 1959, at the age of fourteen, he was formally enthroned as the Sakya Trizin, beginning with a seven day Mahakala ritual followed by an elaborate three day enthronement ceremony during which representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government were in attendance. Later that year, due to change in the political situation of Tibet, His Holiness along with some of his attendants moved to India.
The next year, His Holiness established the Ghoom Monastery in Darjeeling and Sa-Ngor Choetsog in Gangtok and thus began his task of reassembling the Sangha. On many different occasions in Tibet, as well as in India, His Holiness received extensive philosophical teaching in Logic, Abhidharma, Prajna Paramita and The Clarification of the Three Vows from many great scholars like the abbots Dosep Thupten, Tritso Rinchen and Serjong Appey. From the last of them, he also received a thorough and detailed explanation of The Hevajra Root Tantra and many related teachings.
From one of the four Ngor abbots, Phendhe Khen Rinpoche, he received the initiation and explanation of The Yamantaka in the Ra Lotsawa tradition as well as The Collected Writings of Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub. In 1964, He undertook the task of reestablishing the main seat of Sakya Order in Rajpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1968 in order to benefit the lay followers of the Sakya Order, he established the Tibetan settlement in Puruwala in Himachal Pradesh, India.
During the years 1971 and 72, he received the initiations from “The Collection of All Tantras”, “The Collected Writing of Ngorchen Kunga Sangpo”, “The Uncommon Lamdre from the Tsarpa Tradition” and “The One Hundred Teachings of the Jonang Tradition” from Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, Ngawang Khyenrab Legshey Gyatso.
In 1974, to maintain the unbroken lineage of Khön family, His Holiness married Dagmo Kusho Tashi Lhakyi, the daughter of a minister of the king of Derge. That year was highlighted by the auspicious birth of their elder son Ratna Vajra Rinpoche. In 1978, he received the complete reading transmission of “The Collected Works of the Five Great Founders of Sakyapa Tradition” and “The Collected Tantric Works of the Omniscient Teacher Gorampa” from the Lord of Refuge Dezhung Rinpoche. In 1979, his younger son Gyana Vajra Rinpoche was born. The following Year, His Holiness performed the opening ceremony of the main Sakya Monastery Thupten Namgyal Ling in Puruwala, Himachal Pradesh.
In order to promote higher education and extensive philosophical training and to maintain the living transmission of the Sakyapa teachings and commentaries, His Holiness requested his own tutor, the most venerable Khenpo Appey Rinpoche, to establish the Sakya College and to be the Dean of the college. Through his hard work and vast wisdom, the Sakya College was established in 1972.
Since then, the college has produced monks with exceptional scholastic virtues and caliber who had come from various monasteries. At the college they received high quality and in depth instructions in Tantra, Sutra and other common subjects. After graduation, they have returned to their respective monasteries or, as assigned by His Holiness, to serve in various capacities within the Sakya Order. Thus, they have contributed greatly to the spread of this glorious tradition all over the world and benefited many sentient beings. Through establishment of the Sakya College, His Holiness has revitalized both the sutric and tantric traditions of the Tibetan Buddhism and ensured the continuity of a new generation of well trained teachers and practitioners.
Until now, His Holiness has performed major and minor retreats of twenty deities of the Sakya Lineage. From a very young age he has undertaken many retreats and has given many initiations such as “The Upper and The Lower Initiations of Vajrakilaya”. Since his arrival in India, he has given “The Common Lamdre” on four occasions and “The Uncommon Lamdre” once. In addition, he was bestowed “The Common Lamdre” four times and “The Uncommon Lamdre” twice overseas. Therefore in total he has given “Lamdre” eleven times and “The Collection of Sadhanas” thrice and has bestowed many initiations on “The Collection of Tantras”. For the benefit of those who wish to study Lord Buddha’s doctrine, His Holiness has turned the wheel of Dharma all over the world. So far, he has given teachings in America, Australia, Canada, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand.
To all of his fortunate disciples, he has extended his infinite compassion and wisdom. This is evident in the books he has written. Until the present day, he has written two volumes containing the detailed list of all the teachings he has received from various masters and another volume enumerating the works of the great masters of the Sakyapa Order. He has also written an autobiography of two volumes and another in a brief version. He has written profoundly upon the Birwapa’s “Guru Yoga Puja” and many other ritual texts and composed dedication prayers as well as many other short verses. To preserve an unbroken lineage of teachings and the tradition of the Khön family, he has ensured that his two sons are receiving an extensive education of the Buddhadharma.
In short, His Holiness Sakya Trizin upholds the entire Buddhist doctrines and has spread it far and wide throughout the world. He has been an unfailing source of wisdom and compassion for all of his Dharma students. Most of the time when he is not on a teaching tour and when he is not engaged in other religious commitments, he lives in Rajpur, Dehradun, at the Sakya Dolma Phodrang, and extends his infinite compassion and blessings to a stream of devotee everyday.
- Sixty years cycle