The Six Ornaments of Tibet comprised of Yakton Sengey Phel and Rongton Sheja Künrig who were reputed for their authority on the teachings of the Sutra; Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo and Zongpa Kunga Namgyal, who were highly learned in the Tantras; Gorampo Sonam Sengey and Shakya Chogden who were highly learned in both the Sutras and Tantras. It was Gorampa Sonam Sengey who also introduced the formal study of logic in the Sakya tradition.
Not unlike the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, a number of sub traditions gradually emerged within the main Sakya tradition. The lineages of teachings within the discipline instituted by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (1382-1457) and the successive masters of this discipline, namely Konchok Lhundrup, Thartse Namkha Palsang and Drubkhang Palden Dhondup have come to be known as the Ngor lineage. The lineage of Tsarchen Losel Gyatso (1502-1556), known as the Whispered Lineage of Tsar, includes the secret doctrines of the greater or lesser Mahakala, Vajrayogini, Dzambala and others, and is knows as the Tsar tradition. Another important tradition that arose was the Dzongpa tradition founded by Dzongpa Kuna Namgyal (1432-1496). To use a simple illustration, the
The teaching and practice that is the essence of the Sakya tradition is called “Lamdre (Lam/bras),” or “The Path and its Fruit.” Fundamentally, the philosophical viewpoint expressed in “The Path and its Fruit,” is the “Non differentiation of Samsara and Nirvana.” According to this view, an individual cannot attain Nirvana or cyclic existence; because the mind is the root of both Samara and Nirvana. When the mind is obscured, it takes the form of Samsara and when the mind is freed of obstructions, it takes the form of Nirvana. The ultimate reality is that a person must strive to realize this fundamental inseparability through mediation.
This practice ultimately leads a practitioner to the state of the Hevajra deity, one of the principal deities of the Sakya tradition. The profound teaching itself originated from the India teachers Virupa, Avadhuti, Gayadhara and Shakyamitra, and was first brought to Tibet by Drogmi Lotsawa, who also rendered it into Tibetan. Although, during the time of Müchen Sempa Chenpo Konchok Gyaltsen, a disciple of Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (1382-1457), the transmission of “The Path and its Fruit” developed into two sub traditions: “The Explanation for Private Disciples (sLobbshad)” and that of “The Explanation for Assemblies (Tshogbshad),” ever since the Lamdre teaching was first brought into Tibet, it has been passed down to this day through an unbroken lineage of masters up to His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin, the present throne holder of the Sakya tradition.
Sakya's Reign of Tibet: 13th Century to Late 14th Century
The political importance and dominance of
The invitation was accepted by Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251), who was also called Sakya Pandita, because of his knowledge of Sanskrit. He departed Sakya in the year 1244 for the Kokonor region where Prince Godan had his camp. Sakya Pandita took with him on the journey two of his nephews, the ten year-old Phagpa Lodro Gyaltsen and the six year-old Drogon Chakna. The Mongol representatives of Godan accompanied the party. Sakya Pandita gave many sermons along the way to Kokonor region and the journey was taking a long time, so he sent his nephews on ahead. By the time he arrived in the camp of Godan in 1247, the two young Tibetans had won the hearts of the Mongols. According to Tibetan accounts, Sakya Pandita met Prince Godan at Lan-chow, the capital
Sakya Pandita instructed Godan in the teachings of the Buddha and even persuaded him from drowning a large number of Chinese in the rivers. This was done in order to reduce the population since a large Chinese population was always a threat to the rule of Prince Godan, himself a Mongolian. The practice was stopped when Sakya Pandita convinced Godan that it was against the Buddhist doctrine to do so. Sakya Pandita remained in Godan’s court for several years during which he gave many religious instructions to the Prince and his followers. In return, Prince Godan invested Sakya Pandita with the temporal authority over the thirteen myriaches of central
In 1251, Sakya Pandita passed away in Lan-chou, seventy years of age. Prince Godan died not long after Sakya Pandita and was succeeded by prince Kublai, who is also known as Sechen to the Tibetans. In 1253, Kublai invited the nineteen year-old Chogyal Phagpa to his court and was much impressed with the young monk’s learning, displayed in his intelligent answers to a number of difficult questions. Kublai then asked for religious instructions; but the young Sakya lama told him that before he could receive such teachings, Kublai would have to prostrate himself before Phagpa as his religious teacher whenever they met and to place him before or above, whenever they traveled or sat. Kublai replied that he could not do so in public, as it would involve a loss of prestige and therefore weaken his authority. Some sources say that Kublai consented to occupying a lower seat than his lama when receiving teachings and an equal seat when dealing with matters concerning the government.
According to tradition, Phagpa bestowed initiations and teachings to Kublai and twenty-five of his ministers on three occasions. The first earned him the spiritual and temporal authority over the thirteen myriaches (Trikhor Chusum) of central
In 1265 Phagpa returned to
At the invitation of Kublai Khan, in 1268 Chogyal Phagpa returned to the Khan’s court in
In the year of Phagpa’s death, Kublai Khan had finally conquered all of
After the death of Kublai Khan in 1295, the power of the Mongols began to decline to China. In 1305 Dagnyi Zangpo Pal came to the throne of Sakya and reigned for thirteen years. The political system carried out during Chogyal Phagpa’s period was continued with the actual powers held by Ponchen and the Tripons. During the administration of Ponchen Gawa Zangpo and the reign of ruling lama, Sonam Gyaltsen, the political strength of the Sakya began to wane in