Historical Significance of the Sakya Lineage

The Sakya Khön lineage had a strong political influence in Tibet since the time of Sakya Pandita. In 1239, when Godan Khan led a large Mongolian army to the border of the Tibet, Sakya Pandita was appointed to negotiate with Godan Khan on behalf of all the people and traditions of Tibet. The negotiation was successful, and an invasion by the Mongolian army was prevented. Godan Khan later took refuge in Buddhism, and requested Sakya Pandita to be his Spiritual Advisor. Sakya Pandita was also given the governance over the province of U and Tsang in Tibet. When he was in China, Sakya Pandita performed many miracles including magically creating a temple in Lan Chou. The temple was named Changcho Lhakang Chenmo, the Great Northern Magically Emanated Monastery, and the remains of this temple can still be found in today. At the age of 70, Sakya Pandita passed away in Lan Chou, China.

Chogyal Pagpa, Sakya Pandita’s nephew, expanded the political and religious influence of Sakya. When he accompanied Sakya Pandita to visit China, he became a favorite to the Mongolian Empire. When Kublai Khan became the Emperor, Chogyal Pagpa was given title “Ti Shih”, the Imperial Preceptor and was given the governance of thirteen provinces in Tibet. Chogyal Pagpa created the first Mongolian alphabets, and gave teachings and bestowed precepts in China, Tibet, and Mongolia. He commissioned the earliest translation of the Lamdre teachings in China6. When Kublai Khan wanted to eliminate all other sects of Buddhism, Chogyal Pagpa refuted him and said that each tradition has its own characteristics, and the preservation of these different traditions was beneficial to Buddhism. Kublai Khan eventually accepted his suggestion and allowed all Buddhist traditions to flourish.

Although the political situation in Tibet shifted after collapse of the Mongolian Empire, the Sakya Khön lineage continued to play a significant role. In subsequent years, political hierarchy in Tibet followed the order of Tsung-Lha-Sa. Tsung referred to the H.H. Dalai Lama. Lha was the Panchen Lama and Sa was the Sakya Throne Holder. Furthermore, H.H. J.D. Sakya himself has been highly revered and is very influential in the Eastern Tibet due to his immense kindness and compassion to these people during his extensive studies in Kham.