It is believed in traditional Tibetan history that the spread of Buddhism to Tibet was
brought about by holy activities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and mainly through
the efforts of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The spread of Buddhism to Tibet was
itself prophesied by Lord Buddha in the Manjusrimulatantra.
Prior to the spread of Buddhism to Tibet,
Tibetan's indigenous religion and culture was Bon. Buddhism began to spread to Tibet in
two disseminations beginning with period of the Three Great Religious Kings.
The first religious king was Song-tsen-gam-po of the Yar Lung dynasty,
33rd in the royal linage (ca. 618-650). This king was the emanation of the
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and he opened the door and established both the
Buddhist religion and the political order. He built the great Potala palace and
two temples in Lhasa.
Under his reign, a legal system combining religious and secular principles was
established. The king himself also gave oral teachings of Bodhisattva
The second religious king was Tri-song-de'u-tsen, 37th in the royal
line, an emanation of the Bodhisattva Manjushri (ca. 740-798). In this period,
Buddhism flourished immensely with the coming together of the Abbot-
Shantaraksita and the Preceptor- Padmasambhava who were invited to Tibet by
the King. From here, the translation of Buddha's teachings were carried out, the
assembly of monks were established and the first monastery in Tibet, the temple of Samye was
built. The two system of laws- the religious law and the laws of the kingdom,
was further spread and strengthened.
The third religious king was Lord Ral-pa-can, 39th in
the royal line and an emanation of Vajrapani. This king continued to build
Buddhist monasteries and by royal edict, he appointed seven families for the
support of each group of four monks. He also standardized the translation
language for religious texts and established the methods of translations and
transmissions of Buddha's teachings.
The death of Ral-pa marked the end of the first
dissemination in Tibet,
after which Buddhism went quiet in Tibet. Buddhism was revived in 1042
with the arrival of Lord Atisha marking the start of the second dissemination.
From hereon, Buddhism firmly established its roots in Tibet. In 1244, Sakya
Pandita, the head of the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, became the
ruler of the whole of Tibet when
he was appointed regent by the Mongol ruler Godan. In 17th century, the
Gelupas became rulers of Tibet and
in 1642, the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-1682) became the first Dalai Lama to
rule Tibet, this
tradition continued until today until the 14th Dalai Lama (b. 1935) fled Tibet after
the change of circumstances there in 1959.
The Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism
Four schools of the Tibetan Buddhism had arisen in the first
and second disseminations of Buddhism to Tibet. The Nyingma Tradition is the
oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was founded during the first
disseminations of Buddhism to Tibet in 8th century. The
remaining three schools were founded in the second dissemination. The Kagyu
Tradition was founded by Marpa, Miarepa and Gampopa. This tradition stemmed
from the teachings of great India Mahasiddhas such as Naropa. The Gelugpa
Tradition was founded by the 14th century philosopher Tsong Khapa and
during 17th century which became the dominant political force in central Tibet. The Sakya School was
founded by Khon Konchok Gyalpo in 1073 where he established the Sakya monastery
in south central of Tibet.
Within the Sakya School, there is the principal branch of
Sakya and the two main sub-sects of Ngorpa and Tsharpa.
The arising of the Sakya Tradition
The roots of Sakya tradition grew from the ancient times
when three brothers of a celestial race descended from the heaven of clear
light into Tibet in
order to benefit beings. Sometime after their descent, they found themselves in
conflict with a group of demons known as Rakshas. During this conflict, a love
affair ensued between one of the clear light gods, Yapang Kye, and the raksha
daughter Yatuk Silima. They bore a son named Khon Bar-kye meaning 'he who is
born between love and strife'. This was how the name Khon came to be known in Tibet. The
members of the Khon family then became students of Guru Padmasambhava and one
of the Khon sons became one of the first seven Tibetans to receive monastic
ordination. From this time until 11th century, the Khon family were
supporters and followers of the old school Nyingma tradition.
New Tantras began to arrive in Tibet in
11th century and the old school began to decline, Khon Konchok Gyalpo
(1034-1102) decided that the Khon family should also seek out on the new
Tantras. In the water buffalo year of 1073 Khon Konchok Gyalpo founded the
Sakya monastery in Tsang province of south central Tibet which
marked the start of the Sakya tradition. Lord Buddha Shakyamuni himself
prophesied in the Manjushri tantra that a Sakya monastery would cause the
teachings to flower in Tibet.
Lord Atisha (982-1053), on his way from India to Tibet in 1040 C.E, was said to
have made offerings in the location where the monastery would later be built
known as "white earth" and he also prophesied that this place would
witness one Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara incarnation, seven Bodhisattva Manjushri
incarnations and one Bodhisattva Vajrapani incarnation. Through many years of
Tibetan history, there were indications that these visions had materilised. The
word "Sakya" means "white earth" in Tibetan and the Sakya
tradition is named after the patch of white earth where Lord Atisha made these
In 12th and 13th centuries, the Sakya tradition rose to a
prominent position in Tibet.
This rise of position was brought about by the efforts of the Five Great Sakya
Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo
Dapka Gyaltsen (1147-1216), Sakya
Pandita (1182-1251)and Chogyal
Phakpa (1235-1280). After them, there were the Six Ornaments of Tibet:
Yakton Sangye Pal, Rongton Sheja Kunrig, Ngorchen
Kunga Zangpo, Dzongpa Kunga Namgyal, Gorampa Sonam Senge and Shakya Chogden.
The three schools in the Sakya tradition
The main branch of the Sakya tradition is currently under
the leadership of 41st throne holder of Sakya, His
Holiness Sakya Trizin of the Drolma Podrang. As with other traditions of Tibetan Buddhsim, a number of
sub-divisions of the Sakya tradition also emerged from the main Sakya
tradition. The two main sub-sects are the Ngorpa sub-sect and the Tsharpa
sub-sect. The Ngorpa sub-sect was founded by Ngorchen
Kunga Zangpo (1382-1457) with the establishment of the Ngor Evam
Monastery in 1430. The current head of Ngorpa sub-sect is His
Eminence Ludhing Khenchen Rinpoche. The Tsharpa sub-sect was founded by Tsarchen
Losal Gyatso (1502-1556) with the establishment of the Dar Drongmoche
Monastery. The current head of Tsharpa sub-sect is His Eminence Chogye
His Holiness Sakya Tizin - the 41st Patriach of Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhist Tradition
Lamdre is the golden and the central teaching and practice
of the Sakya tradition. The term Lamdre is a Tibetan term meaning "the
path including its result". It originated from the one of the great Indian
Lamdre contains teachings and practices covering the whole
range of sutra and tantra teachings given by Lord Buddha. But its main
teachings are based on the Hevajra Tantra. Lamdre was brought to Tibet by
the Tibetan translator, Drogmi Lotsawa, in the middle of 10th century, and
was later codified in 12th century by Sachen Kunga Nyingpo. This
teaching has since been passed down through an unbroken lineage of masters to
the present day. During the time of Muchen Sempa Chenpo Konchok Gyeltsen,
Lamdre was divided into two sub-traditions: The Explanation for Private
Disciples or the uncommon Lamdre (Lobshey) and the Explanation for the Assembly
or the common Lamdre (Tshogshe).
It is said that Lamdre is the complete path to
enlightenment, and is divided into two parts: the preliminary section and the
tantric section. The preliminary section contains the instructions and
teachings on sutras of Lord Buddha and focuses on the three visions: impure
vision, the vision of experience and the pure vision. The tantric section is
esoteric or tantric teachings, which include teachings on the Three Tantras.
Lamdre is given by a single teacher (who is an officially recognised lineage
holder) in a single place over a period of four to six weeks generally. Within
the Sakya school, wherein the Lamdre lineage lies, there are only a handful of
lineage holders in any generation.
His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche
His Eminence Kyabje Dorje Chang Luding Khenchen Rinpoche is
the 75th Head of the Ngor sub-sect of the Sakya tradition. His Eminence was
born to the clan of Shang, Sharchen or Ludingpa in the female sheep year of
1931 near the great seat of Ngor Ewam monastery called Pangshal. The clan of
Shang, Sharchen or Ludingpa is renowned for producing scholars and siddhas of
different Buddhist sects. The position of Head Abbot of Ngor was traditionally
held for a three year period in which extensive teachings are given almost
non-stop. The three year periods alternate between the four monastic Houses
(ladrangs); Luding, Khangsar, Thartse and Phende. Due to the Chinese take-over
of Tibet in 1959
and the disruption to the Ngor monastic system, His Eminence Luding Khenchen
Rinpoche effectively led and maintained the Ngor School up
to 16th March 2000. It was then that His Eminence Luding Khenchen
Rinpoche's nephew (Her Eminence Jetsun Kushok Chimey Luding's son) - His
Eminence Luding Shabdrung Rinpoche - was enthroned at Ngor Pal Ewam Choden
Monastery, Manduwalla, India, as the 76th abbot of the line. So therefore, His
Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche's nephew is now known as 'His Eminence Luding
Khen Rinpoche', while we address His Eminence as 'Luding Khenchen Rinpoche'.
Being the eldest in this family, His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche was
ordained as a monk at the age of ten by the most gracious Khenchen Sharchen
Jamyang Thupten Lungtok Gyaltsen Palsangpo. For the next thirteen years, His
Eminence was blessed with the pith instructions of Lamdre, several initiations,
oral transmissions, advice, grammar, poetry and so on from Khenchen Sharchen.
His Eminence's other teachers include the two Khenchens of Ewam Khangsar
Ladrang, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche.
For almost four continuous years from the age of seventeen, His Eminence was in
retreat, practising mainly the sadhanas of Hevajra and other deities. In 1954
at the age of twenty-four, His Eminence was enthroned as the Abbot of the Ngor
Ewam Choden Monastery.
In 1959, after the invasion of Tibet, His Eminence left Tibet and fled to Darjeeling, India.
In 1961, His Eminence established the Ngor centre in Gangtok, Sikkim.
In 1965, under His Eminence's guidance, Kyegu monastery was re-established in
Kamrao, Himachal Pradesh. His Eminence also re-established the Ngor Pal Ewam
Choden Monastery in Mandawala, North India.
His Eminence has contributed greatly to the Dharma by giving continuous
teachings, empowerments, oral transmissions and re-establishing summer retreats
in various Sakya monasteries in India, Nepal and
other Sakya centres overseas. His Eminence has given the precious Lamdre
teachings fifteen times, and has bestowed initiations and instructions mainly
on the Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya tradition, the Seven Mandalas
of the Ngor tradition and other deities. His Eminence has ordained
over twelve thousand monks and nuns.
His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche is the 75th Abbot
of Ngor Ewam Choe Dan Monastery, which is the seat of the Ngor Lineage of the
Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhist Tradition. Ngor Monastery is the head of
hundreds of other branch monasteries such as the great Kyegu Monastery in Kham,
For over 500 years, the very name "Ngor Monastery" has been
synonymous with great learning. This tradition of unequalled scholarship and
practice continues today.
Ngor Monastery was founded in 1429 by the great master
Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo. Prophesized by the Buddha, he was a brilliant scholar,
teacher, and vajra master. The Monastery was named Ngor Ewam Cho Dan because
while it was under construction, Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo dreamt that the
collection of all Dharma arise from the letters E and WAM.
Every year since the Monastery has been established, the
Ngor Abbot has bestowed the precious Lam Dre teaching cycle, as well as the
majority of full ordination ceremonies and countless other teachings to
thousands of Sakya sangha members who gather from the branch monasteries. The
Lam Dre, or Path and its Result, is the major Vajrayana practice of the Sakya
tradition. It condenses both the sutric and tantric paths to enlightenment in
three-month long secret oral instructions.
The Ngor Monastery has now been re-established by His
Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche in a quiet forest near Manduwala, in
Uttranchal, in Northern India. Through
his skillful and wise leadership, the Monastery has now fully re-established
the performance and training of monks in all of the annual 'drubchot' great
tantric rituals, it is a flourishing training school for young monks with a
retreat centre, library, and Sakya Pandita shrine. Construction of a tantric
college for in-depth study of the tantras is in progress.
Today, hundreds of monks travel great distances to enroll in
the Ngor Monastery school of ritual studies and to participate in the annual
grand rituals, maintaining Ngor Monastery's ancient heritage as a seat of
learning and the headquarters for training of monks. Thus, the Ngor tradition
has not only been completely re-established, it has been spread throughout the