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, Ratna Vajra Rinpoche (b. 1979) is the forty-second to hold that office. 

Perfect in knowledge of the three stainless trainings,
With the cooling light of compassion to protect beings,
And the treasured nectar of the power of the nine aspects of holiness,
Crest ornament of the masters of the Sage’s teachings, I pray you remain..
— Long Life Prayer for H.H. Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, 42nd Sakya Trizin

Visit official websites of Sakya: Pal Sakya