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Potentially the oldest living lineage of humankind, “the Khon”, H.H the Sakya Trizin

The Khön family from which the Sakya lineage has descended from is known by three special names, each of which tells a story. As the family is purported to descend from the Gods of the Realm of Clear Light who entered the human realm, the family has come to be known as the “Celestial Race.” As a result of the family subjugating the raksas, a class of harmful spirits, they were then named “The Family of Conquerors.” After establishing the Sakya Order, they became known as, “The Sakyapa Lineage.”

In more recent times, as the palace of the lineage to which the present Sakya Trizin belongs was built next to the turquoise Tara shrine at the Sakya Monastery in Tibet, this divine family also came to be known as the, “Drolma Phodrang”, or “Tara Palace” lineage.

This celestial race was said to descend upon the Earth over one thousand years ago, and the lineage remains unbroken to this very day. Many illustrious masters and practitioners have appeared in the lineage, including the Five Great Masters of the Sakya Order. His Holiness, the present throne holder of the Sakya tradition, is the 41st in an unbroken lineage that dates back to 1073 A.D.

His Holiness was born on the 7th of September 1945, the 1st day of the 8th Lunar month in the year of the Wood Bird at the Sakya palace in Tsedong. Immediately after his birth in accordance with age old traditions to increase the child’s wisdom, the syllable DHIH was traced onto his tongue, while numerous profound rituals were performed. Many signs traditionally associated with auspiciousness were observed on this day: the milk collected from a 100 different dri (female yaks), and a statue of the Guru Padmasambhava were both miraculously offered to the Tara Palace on this same day.

Initially, he was given the Sanskrit name Ayu Vajra. His Holiness was only later given his actual name of Ngawang Kunga Thegchen Palbar Trinley Samphel Wangyi Gyalpo, when his father Vajradhara Ngawang Kunga Rinchen gave him his first major initiation, that of the Nine Deities of Amitayus. When His Holiness was only four years old he received the major initiation of the peaceful and wrathful aspects of Vajrakilaya, as well as many other profound teachings from his father.

His Holiness lost both his mother and father when he was very young. His maternal aunt then dedicated herself to raising him. She appointed his first tutor with whom His Holiness learned to read, write, and how to memorise and recite basic prayers. He also learned chanting, music, ritual dancing, mudras, and more from his junior tutor. A second tutor was later brought in, and together these tutors taught His Holiness how to perform all of the rituals and prayers inherent in the traditions of both the northern and southern Sakya monasteries. At the conclusion of these studies a great celebration was held in which His Holiness officially entered the Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries to perform the traditional Sakya ceremonies. In 1950 at the age of five his main root Guru, the great Ngor abbot Vajradhara Ngawang Lödron Shenphen Nyingpo, bestowed upon him the Lamdre and other profound teachings.

In 1951 His Holiness made a pilgrimage to Lhasa, Tibet where he was designated the throne Holder of the Sakya Order by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Accordingly, the following year a preliminary enthronement ceremony was held in which he accepted the official Sakya seals. Even at this early age he was exceptionally intelligent and skilled in fulfilling his responsibilities. At the tender age of seven he passed an extensive oral examination on the Hevajra root tantra at the Great Sakya monastery. At the Ngor monastery, the Great Ngor abbot and his root guru bestowed upon him both common and uncommon Lamdre teachings. In 1953, in response to his root guru’s expressed intention to enter into Mahaparinirvana, His Holiness performed his first long life initiation of Amitayus at Ngor monastery, and undertook his first Hevajra meditation retreat in Sakya. His Holiness was then only eight years old.

The following year His Holiness received the initiation and reading transmission of the “Collection of Sadhanas” from Ngawang Tenzin Nyingpoi, the regent of Vajradhara Ngawang Lodro Shenphen Nyingpo. He then received the initiation and profound oral instructions of the Three Red Deities and two main Protectors of the Sakya Order from Lama Ngawang Lodro Rinpoche. Next he presided over an elaborate Vajrakilaya Ritual in the main Sakya monastery. At the age of ten His Holiness again made a pilgrimage to Lhasa where he received religious instructions in the Potala from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Before a large audience His Holiness gave an extensive explanation of the Mandala Offering, which caused his wisdom to be proclaimed throughout all of Tibet. On a pilgrimage to India he received many initiations and teachings belonging to the Sakya Tradition, as well as the Great Perfection and Dzogchen Teachings form Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. In 1957, His Holiness received the Lamdre Teachings again, this time from the great abbot Vajradhara Khenchen Jampal Sangpo, according to the Khon lineage transmission.

The preparatory ritual preceding the official enthronement of His Holiness as the Sakya Trizin was performed in 1958. That year His Holiness performed the Blessing Pill and Local Deity Rituals, as well as the extensive Vajrakilaya Ritual. In 1959, following a seven day Mahakala ritual, His Holiness was formally enthroned as the throne Holder of Sakya in an elaborate three day ceremony. Representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government were in attendance. On that occasion he bestowed an explanation of the “Illumination of the Sage’s Intent” to the assembly of Sangha, guests, and lay followers.

Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 His Holiness moved to India and established the Sakya Guru monastery in Darjeeling. Here he began the major task of reassembling the Sakya community. In exile he continued to receive extensive philosophical teachings in logic, Abhidharma, the Prajnaparamita, and the Clarification of the Three Vows from great scholars including Khenpo Dosep Thubten, Khenpo Serjong Appey, and Khenpo Rinchen. From Khenpo Serjong Appey he received a thorough and detailed explanation of the Hevajra Root Tantra plus many other related teachings. From H.E. Phende Khen Rinpoche, who was also one of His Holiness’s root Gurus, he received the initiation and explanation of Yamantaka in the Ra Lotsawas tradition, as well as the collected writings of Ngorchen Konchok Lhundup.

In 1962 at the age of seventeen His Holiness gave his first Hevajra initiation in Kalimpong. After moving to Mussoorie in 1963 he set about re-establishing the main seat of the Sakya Order in nearby Rajpur. The assembly of Sakya monks were relocated to the newly established Sakya Centre where he gave many profound teachings and initiations. In the same year and for the very first time, His Holiness gave the precious Lamdre teachings in Sarnath, Varanasi. A year later he established the Sakya settlement in Puruwala, Himachal Pradesh, for lay members of the Sakya community.

In order to maintain the tradition of the Khön family lineage His Holiness married Dagmo Tashi Lhakee in 1974. Within the first year of their marriage they celebrated the auspicious birth of their elder son Ratna Vajra. In the meantime His Holiness made his first teaching tour of Europe, the USA, and various countries throughout Asia. In 1976 His Holiness gave his second Lamdre teachings at the Sakya Centre. The following year, at the request of H.E. Luding Khen Rinpoche, His Holiness taught the “Collection of Sadhanas” at the Matho monastery in Ladakh. In 1977 he again gave teachings throughout Asia, Europe, and the USA. Two years later in 1979 his second son Gyana Vajra was born.

In 1980 His Holiness performed the opening ceremony of the main Sakya monastery Thubten Namgyal Ling in Puruwala, and bestowed his first Lamdre Lobshed teachings. In 1982 His Holiness the Dalai Lama paid an official visit to the monastery and bestowed many teachings. From Chogye Trichen Rinpoche His Holiness also received the uncommon Tsarpa tradition of Lamdre teachings and the Jonang tradition of “The Hundred Explanations.” A year later His Holiness performed a special long life ceremony for His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.

In 1984 His Holiness once again taught widely throughout Asia and Europe. At Sakya Tsechen Ling in France he gave the Lamdre Lobshed teachings for the second time. The following year His Holiness, at the request of Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, consecrated the Maitreya temple in Kathmandu. At the end of the year he attended the Kalachakra initiation given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya.

In 1986 His Holiness once again gave the uncommon Lamdre teachings at the Sakya College to an assembly of monks and western Dharma disciples. In 1988 His Holiness presided over the consecration of the newly built Ngorpa Centre in Manduwala. His Holiness remained there for several months in order to bestow over thirty major initiations of the Sakya tradition. The next year at the request of his many disciples in Europe, the United States, and Canada, he traveled to each of the Sakya Dharma Centres in these countries providing extensive teachings along his journey. Since then, for the benefit of the Buddha Dharma and for his disciples, His Holiness has bestowed numerous initiations, teachings, and public talks, traveling extensively worldwide to do so.

In this way, just as water is poured from one vase to another, His Holiness has received all of the profound teachings of the Sakya tradition, as well as many of the teachings and transmissions from other lineages. These were provided by numerous teachers across the many other traditions, and he has since passed on the wisdom in these teachings to his disciples around the world.

To promote higher education and extensive philosophical training as well as to maintain the living transmission of the Sakya teachings, His Holiness has established the Sakya College in Rajpur, and the Sakya Institute in Puruwala. For the benefit of the Sakya nuns, His Holiness established the Sakya Nunnery in Dekyiling, Dehradun where over 170 nuns are now receiving religious instruction. Through His Holiness’s wisdom and insight he has revitalised both the Sutric and Tantric traditions of the Sakya Order, and that of Tibetan Buddhism in general, thus ensuring the continuity of Buddha Dharma.

This biography is but a fraction of the numerous activities of His Holiness of which a common person has the capacity to perceive. Many of His Holiness’s inner and outer activities are beyond our understanding. Source: Palden Sakya News Magazine – See more at: http://www.hhthesakyatrizin.org/bio_hhst.html#sthash.aEPE26p5.dpuf