His Eminence Khondung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche is the son of H.E. Khondung Ani Vajra Sakya Rinpoche, the second son of the Phuntsok Phodrang family and Dagmola Chimey la. He is also the grandson of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and therefore a direct descendent of the unbroken Khon lineage which dates back to 1073. Asanga Vajra Rinpoche is also the grandson of H.E. Garje Khamtul Rinpoche, a highly realized and accomplished Nyingmapa master on his mother’s side.
His Eminence Khondung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche was born on May 1st, 1999 in Seattle Washington. Even as a young child, Rinpoche displayed all the characteristics and qualities that proclaimed him as a special lineage holder despite and in addition to any claims based by birth. At the tender age of three, Asanga Rinpoche could recite by memory several long prayers such as the “Twelve Exemplary Deeds of the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni ”, “The 21 Praises of Tara”, the “Heart Sutra”, the full length mandala offering and many other shorter prayers all by heart. By the age of five, Rinpoche could recite by memory most of the prayer books used for daily practices at the Sakya Monastery including “The Bodhisattva’s Vow by Shantideva, “ “The Three Part Sutra: Confession before the Thirty –Five Buddhas by Sakyamuni Buddha”, “The Seven Fold Prayer from Samantabhadra’s Prayer of Good Conduct”, Tsok Offering to Guru Rinpoche etc. At a very young age, Rinpoche’s favorite toys were religious instruments commonly used by Tibetan lamas and monks such as the ” dorje” (religious item representing indestructibility), dribu” (religious bell), “romo” (religious cymbals, “damaru” (religious drum) to name a few.
In 2003, while on a Buddhist pilgrimage trip to all the eight holy sites in India and Nepal, Rinpoche expressed his wish to live and study at the Tharlam Monastery, Boudhanath, Nepal. To support his wishes to follow the footsteps of his illustrious forefathers, in April of 2005, at the age of five, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche left the comforts of home and family in Seattle, Washington to begin his new life to live, study and train as a future Tibetan master and religious leader at the Tharlam Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal. Since April of 2005, Rinpoche has lived and studied continuously in Nepal without once having returned to the West or going to any other country except India and Bhutan. While at Tharlam, Asanga Rinpoche has been tutored by specially selected Tibetan monk scholars and thus undergone a rigorous regimen of study through all the proper stages of learning and training required in the traditional form of Sakya curriculum for those following a Buddhist leadership position. In addition to this traditional form of religious study and training, Asanga Rinpoche’s studies also include learning English, Mandarin Chinese and Buddhist rituals. In October of 2007, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche received the Lamdre – Tsokshe teachings from his paternal grandfather, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche at the Tharlam Monastery, as specially requested by his father, H.E. Khondhung Ani Varja Rinpoche. The following year, in 2008, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche received the Lamdre Lobshe teachings from his paternal granduncle, H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche at the Dzongsar Shedra in Bir, India. Asanga Rinpoche has also received many other very important empowerments, teachings and religious instructions from other great and highly realized masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, H.E. Appey Rinpoche, H.E. Luding Khenchen Rinpoche as well as many important Nyingma teachings and empowerments from his maternal grandfather, H.E. Garje Khamtul Rinpoche.
Every year in autumn, Asanga Rinpoche annually undergoes a several hours long examination in the Tharlam Monastery testing his religious knowledge, training and studies. In September, 2011, at the age of twelve, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche took the Vajrakilya Puja exam and led the congregation at the Sakya Center in Rajpur, India making him the youngest to ever successfully pass this very complex, rigorous and extensive religious ritual leading the congregation of lamas and monks. He was proclaimed by His Holiness Sakya Trizin Rinpoche as having achieved a perfect score during the day long exam (6:00am to 8:00pm) which he conducted flawlessly and with great poise, elegance and precision.
In December of 2011, H.E. Asanga Vajra Rinpoche conducted over a month long retreat at the Tharlam Monastery in Nepal on Bhutadamara the four-armed Vajrapani deity who removes obstacles at the outset of tantric practice and is a required preliminary practice in the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
Having completed his formal ritual studies, in 2013, Asanga Vajra Rinpoche will begin further studies at the Sakya College in Rajpur, India under the tutelage of Venerable Khenpo Gyaltso la, the principal abbot of the prestigious college.