Our Spiritual Patron
Short Biography of
His Holiness Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga
(Extracted from Interviews with His Holiness Sakya Trizin)
His Holiness, Sakya Trizin
His Holiness Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga was born in Tsedong near Shigatse (South Tibet) on the first of the eighth Tibetan month (September 7, 1945). “Sakya Trizin” means “The Throneholder of Sakya”. His Holiness is the 41st Patriarch of the Sakya tradition, one of the four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and is a direct descendant in the Khon Lineage, a very ancient Tibetan religious family which according to legend had celestial origins.
His formal studies started at the age of five, although even before that he had received several empowerments from his own father. In fact, he received his first empowerment, the one of long life, as soon as he was born.
In the course of intensive studies at Sakya, Ngor, Lhasa, and later in India, he received all the major transmissions of the Sakya Lineage such as the exoteric and esoteric Lamdre (Path containing its Result) Teachings, the Drubthab Kundu (a collection of Tantric empowerments and practices), the Vajra-yogini Instructions, the Zhenpa Zhidral, etc. From a tender age he memorised many texts, like the Hevajra-tantra, performed many retreats and gave numerous empowerments. He also received many teachings from the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
His main Gurus were the Ngor Abbots Ngawang Lodro Shenpen Nyingpo and Khangsar Shabdrung, Lama Ngawang Lodro Rinchen, the Venerable Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, the great Nyingmapa yogi Drupchen Rinpoche, Phende Khenpo, Sakya Khenpo Jampal Sangpo and including his own father, as also his two still-living Gurus, Dezhung Rinpoche and Chogye Rinpoche.
He formally acceded to the Throne of Sakya in early 1959. Almost immediately after the coronation ceremony, he had to leave for India because of the Chinese Communist takeover of Tibet. He stayed first in Sikkim, where he started to learn English, then moved to Darjeeling where he spent three years mastering philosophical studies under Khenpo Rinchen. Finally he went to Mussoorie and in March 1964, founded the Sakya Centre in Rajpur, between the Mussoorie and Dehra Dun towns. At that time he studied the Tantras intensively and received many prodound explanations from Khenpo Appey until 1967. He also continued his studies of English. From 1971 to 1972 he received the Gyude Kundu, a major collection of consecrations, from the His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche. At the age of 22, He gave the Lamdre Teachings for the first time to a large gathering at Sarnath. In the same year, he also inaugurated the Sakya rehabilitation settlement at Puruwala in Himachal Pradesh, 40 miles from Dehra Dun.
His Holiness gave the Drubthab Kundu to a large assembly in Ladakh in 1976. Hr has given the three month long Lamdre Teachings three times till now, in Sarnath, Rajpur and Puruwala.
His Holiness has been ceaselessly serving the Dharma. He has countless disciples in India and other countries, and has made several journeys to the West where he has taught extensively. There are now several Sakya Centres in India, Nepal and Singapore, and more than 15 in Western countries.