The introduction of Buddhism into Tibet occurred over the same period as Tibetan influence in Central Asia. King Trisong Detsen (755-797), under whose rule the Tibetan Empire achieved its greatest successes, is better known to Tibetan tradition as the king who brought Buddhism to Tibet. Previously the earlier religion of Tibet, known as Bön, had been more influential. Buddhist texts from India, China, and probably Khotan as well, were systematically translated into Tibetan. During the Dharma king Trisong Detsen he invited many great Scholars from India. Namely Guru Padmasambhava, Shantarakshita, and Vilalamitra and many more. Tibetan Buddhism is basically of Mahayana tradition of Buddhism in other words Great Vehicles. Based on the main teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni there are four major school of thoughts in Tibetan Buddhism introduced by great scholars.
The Four Schools of Thoughts
Nyingma('The Ancient Ones' )
The Nyingma is the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is commonly referred to as the “Ancient One”. This school was based on the lineage of traditions and teachings introduced during the times of the Buddhist Kings. The Buddhist Kings were from the Yarlong Dynasty during the eighth and ninth centuries. These teachings and traditions are handed down from Padmasambhava, Shantarakshita, and Vilalamitra to name a few. Current head of Nyingma tradition is Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche at Namdroling Monastery in South India.
Kagyu ( 'Oral Lineage' )
The Kagyu tradition is based on a lineage that follows a teaching role Padmasambhava. This tradition is commonly known as the “Oral Lineage”. The teacher passes his own intellectual understanding and meditation experiences to his disciple. Also, once the teacher has completed his own mastery of the teachings, he introduces mahamudra to his disciple. The teachings in the Kagyu lineage have been preserved over the years, and transmitted until the current times.
There Kagyu four major Lineage and 8 minor Lineages of Kagyu descended from Gampopa as below hierarchy.
The Dagpo Kagyu lineage
(a generic name for various Kagyu lineages descended from Dagpo Lharje Gampopa) began with:
Siddha Tilopa (988-1069)
who was taught directly by the Buddha Dorje Chang (Vajradhara). He gave his teaching to
Four 'Major' Kagyus (Directly from Dharma-Lord Gampopa)
passed it to
who is the teacher of
Dagpo Lharje Gampopa (1079-1153)
founder of Dakpo Kagyu.
Eight 'Great' Kagyus (From Phagmodrupa or Pagtru Kagyu)
Name of School of Thought Founder Current Head Baram Kagyu Baram Darma Wangchuk
Karma Kagyu Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193) H.H Gyalwa Karmapa Tsalpa Kagyu Zhang Yudakpa Tsondu Dakpa (1123-1193)
Pagtru Kagyu Phagmo Drupa (1100-1170)
Name of School of Thought Founder Current Head Drikung Kagyu Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217) Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Taklung Kagyu Taglung Thangpa Tashe Pel (1142-1210) Phakchok Rinpoche Drukpa Kagyu Ling Repa(1128-1189) Gyalwa Drukpa Rinpoche Yazang Kagyu Yeshi Senge Trobu (Trophu) Kagyu Rinpoche Gyaltsa Martsang (Martshang) Kagyu Marpa Rinchen Lodoe Yerpa (Yelpa) Kagyu Yelpa Yeshe Tseg Shukseb (Shugseb) Kagyu Chokyi Sengey
Sakya (Grey Earth)
The Sakya tradition emerged during the eleventh century in Tibet. This tradition is known as “Grey Earth”. The tradition is associated with the Khon Family.In the eighth century, Khon Lui Wangpo Sungwa became a disciple of Guru Rinpoche. Sakya Monastery was built by Khon Konchok Gyalpo in 1073. The building of the Sakya Monastery established the Sakya Tradition in Tibet.
The current throne holder of Sakya tradition is Sakya Trizin from Dolma Phodang at Dheradun the main monastery Sakya Center Rajpur.
Facts about Sakya School of Thought in Tibetan Buddhism
Name: Sakya (Tibetan: sa skya, English: grey, whitish earth) - named after a patch of white earth in the shape of a lion's face on the side of Ponpori Mountain in South Western Tibet.
Founder: Khon Konchog Gyalpo (1034-1102) constructed the first temple-hermitage called the Gorum Zimci Karpo in 1073 on the white patch of earth marking the beginning of the Sakya lineage. His main teachers were Drogmi Lotsawa, Go Khugpa Lhatse, Khache Pandita Hangdu Karpo, Ma Lotsawa Rinchen Chog, Dzinpa Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa.
Date: 1073 AD.
Location: Sakya Town, Sakya County, Tsang Province, Tibet, China.
Khon Family: The hereditary line known as the 'Khon' (to quarrel) descended from the 'Heavenly Realms' approximately eight generations before the time of King Trisong Detsen. They were known as the 'Lharig' - Divine Race. At the time of Guru Rinpoche Padamsambhava, Khon Lu'i Wangpo Srungwa received the early Nyingmapa transmissions. Passing unbroken through the family line the practices of Vajrakilaya and Samputa (Yangdak Thug) have continued unbroken to the present day and are famous as the 'Khon Lug Dorje Phurba,' - the only Kama lineage of these practices to survive. [Khon Lineage].
Head of Sakya: The 41st Throne Holder of Sakya, His Holiness Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga (b.1945) of the Drolma Podrang. Since the time of Sakya Trizin Wangdu Nyingpo the leadership has alternated each generation between the Drolma and Phuntsok Podrang (Palaces) of the Khon family. The present head of the Phuntsok Podrang is Jigdral Dagchen Gongma Rinpoche.
Doctrine: Mahayana Buddhism: sutrayana & tantrayana (Vajrayana)
Philosophical School: Middle Way - Madyamaka School.
Tantric Teachings: 1) Lamdre (the Hevajra instructions known as the Path together with the Result) from Mahasiddha Virupa [see lineage], 2) Guhyasamaja from Arya Nagarjuna, 3) Vajrakila from Acarya Padmasambhava, 4) Vajrayogini from Mahasiddha Naropa and Mahakala from Pandita Vararuci.
Early Teachers: The Five Superior Ones: (Jetsun Gongma Nga) Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), Trakpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216), Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251) and Chogyal Phagpa (1235-1280).
Later Teachers: Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen (1312-1375), Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo, Rendawa, Rongton, Bodong Panchen Chogle Namgyal, Tsarchen Losal Gyatso, Gorampa Sonam Senge (1429-1489), Taktsang Lotsawa, Shakya Chogden, Ngagchang Kunga Lodro (1729-1783), Thartse Panchen Namkha Chime (1765-1820), Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Loter Wangpo, etc.
Sub-Schools: Ngorpa - the Ngor Evam Monastery was founded in 1430 by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (1382-1456). Tsarpa - the Dar Drongmoche Monastery was founded by Tsarchen Losal Gyatso (1502-1567).
Head of Ngor: Luding Khenpo Rinpoche. The leadership of Ngor monastery traditionally rotates between four monastic houses every three years; the Luding Ladrang, Thartse Lhadrang, Khangsar Lhadrang and Phende Lhadrang.
Head of Tsar: Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, Ngawang Khyenrab Legshe Gyatso (b.1920) of Nalendra monastery.
Current Lineage Teachers: H.H.Sakya Trizin, Jigdral Dagchen Rinpoche, Dungse Ratna Vajra, Dungse Jnana Vajra, Luding Khenpo Rinpoche, Chogye Rinpoche, Jetsun Kusho Chimey Drolkar, Kunga Thartse Shabdrung, Phende Shabdrung, Luding Shabdrung, Dzongsar Khyentse, Khenpo Appey, Dhongtok Rinpoche, Ngari Tulku, Gong Ngar Tulku, Zimwog Rinpoche, Karma Thinley Rinpoche, etc. There are numerous Tulkus, Khenpos and Lharampa-geshes, both in Tibet and scattered throughout the world.
Tibetan Monasteries: In Sakya Tibet, the North Monastery (no longer extant) was for Tantric studies and the famous South Monastery, Lhakang Chenmo was for Sutrayana studies. The Southern Monastery now serves both fields of study; Zhalu, Ngor Evam, Nalanda founded by Rongton (1367-1449), Gongkar Dorje Den, Tanag founded by Gorampa, Dakpo Tratsang by Tashi Namgyal, Gyantse Kumbum, Dar Drangmoche, Lhagang, Wara Gonpa, Dzongsar Tashi Lhatse founded by Chogyal Phagpa, Dege Gonchen by Thang Tong Gyalpo, Gigu Gonpa, Gotse Gon, Drogon Gonpa and Dontok monastery. This is a selection of the more important, most of which are still standing, or in the process of re-construction.
Indian-Nepali Monastaries: Sakya Centre in Rajpur India, the main
Sakya monastery outside of Tibet and the headquarters of His Holiness Sakya Trzin, Thubten Namgyal Ling in Puruwalla, Ngor Evam in Manduwalla, Sakya College, Matho Gonpa in Ladakh, Tsarpa Monastery in Lumbini, Lhakhang Gonchen in Mustang, Tarig Gonpa and Dezhung Gonpa - both in Kathmandu. This is a selection of the main monasteries.
S.No Name D.o.B Reign Tenure D.o.D 1 Khon Kunchok Gyalpo 1034 1073-1102 1102 2 Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag 1040 1103-1110 1111 3 Tsewa Chenpo Sachen Kunga Nyingpo 1092 1111-1158 1158 4 Loppon Rinpoche Sonam Tsemo 1142 1159-1171 1172 5 Jestun Rinpoche Dragpa Gyaltsen 1147 1172-1215 1216 6 Choeje Sakya Pandita
(His regent's reign)
1182 1216-1243 1251 7 Drogon Choegyal Phagpa(1st Reign) (2nd Reign) 1235 1265-1266 1267-1280 1280 8 Chung Rinchen Gyaltsen 1238 1267-1275 1279 9 Dharmapala Rakshita 1268 1281-1287 1287 10 Sharpa Jamyang Chenpo 1258 1288-1297 1306 11 Dagnyid Chenpo Sangpo Pal 1262 1298-1324 1324 12 Zhithogpa Kheytsun Chenpo 1305 1324-1342 1443 13 Rinchen Gang Labrang Jamyang Donyod Gyaltsen 1310 1342-1344 1344 14 Rinchen Gang Labrang Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen 1312 1344-1347 1375 15 Lhakhang Labrang Tawan Lodroe Gyaltsen 1332 1347-1364 1364 16 Zhithogpa Tawan Kunga Rinchen 1339 1364-1399 1399 17 Zhithogpa Lodroe Gyaltsen 1366 1399-1420 1420
Gelug(Way of Virtue)
The last school in Tibetan Buddhism is Gelug, or Gelupka. This school is more commonly known as “School of Virtue”. This lineage combines the practices and teachings of the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya lineages. This tradition takes the previous three traditions along with the Sutra and Tantra systems of Indian Buddhism, and creates one tradition. This lineage also includes the intellectual heritage of the Asanga and Nagarjuna.
The founder of Gelug was Je Tsokgapa Lobsang Dakpa and current head is 101st Ganden Tripa,
School of Thought Name of Learning Centers URL Nyingma Palyul Ling, a Nyingmapa Center of Tibetan Buddhism World Wide. www.palyul.org Nyagyur Nyingma Shedra Namdroling South India www.rigpa.org Rigpa Buddhist Centers World Wide www.shambala.org Nyagur Nyingma Shedra Mindrolling Dheradun Shambala Buddhist Centers
Kagyu Sherabling Monastery Bir www.dharma-world.com. Rumtek Monastery Sikkim www.garchen.com Songtsen Library Dehradun Garchen Buddhist Institute
Sakya Sakya College in Dehradun
- Sakya Tsechen Thubten Ling
www.sakyathinkbig.ca Gelug Sera Monastery South India Ganden Monastery South India Foundation for Presevation of Mahayana Tradition World Wide www.fpmt.org Drepung Loseling Institute www.drepung.org