Tag Archives: Sakyapa

A Sakya Tale- The Mahasiddha’s Prophesy

Imagine, if you will…

The year is 1849, and the Sakya temple known as Mugchug resounds with the sonorous tones of a great assembly of high Sakya lamas engaged in a special ritual practice. The Sakya Throneholder Tashi Rinchen, head of the entire Sakya tradition, is in attendance. In fact, the entire ritual practice has been requested by this Sakya Tri (Throneholder).

Sakya Temple

In the Sakya tradtion, the position of Throneholder passes from father to son. There are two main houses or “phodrang” from which a Sakya Tri may arise, Dolma phodrang and Phuntsog phodrang. These houses alternate such that when a Throneholder passes away and his sons are still in their minority,  a child of the previous Tri will take the throne, allowing the young potential-throneholders to mature and receive the training appropriate to a leader of the Sakya tradition. In this way, the Sakyas ensure the continuity of their tradition’s leadership.

As of this evening in 1849, however, Dolma Phodrang Thegchen Tashi Rinchen, Lord of the Sakyas, Thirty-Fifth Throneholder and supreme leader of the tradition, has no son.

Mahasiddha Pema Dudul

As the Dolma house line carries the most precious and esoteric teachings in the Sakya tradition (1), the situation is considered extremely grave.

Tashi Rinchen himself has requested Mahasiddha Padma Dudul, a very great Sakya master and incidentally both a retired Throneholder himself and also Tashi Rinchen’s father, to perform a ritual to ensure the swift birth of a male child. This is why the high lamas and tulkus have gathered this night. (2)

During a break in the ritual, eager to discover  any results, Tashi Rinchen turns to Mahasiddha Pema Dudul and asks him, “Who will come to take rebirth as my son?”

With joy, the great Mahasiddha replies….

These days times are so degenerate no-one else is coming, but now Grandpa Shugden himself will definitely come as your son!”

To be continued……

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Notes:

1 Drogmi.org, Biography of the Present Sakya Trizin. I assume this refers mainly to the Lamdre tradition, the heart of the Tantric transmission of the Sakyas, which has been passed down through the masters of the Dolma phodrang.

2 Khri chen Drag shul ‘Phrin las rin chen. Rdo rje ‘chang drag shul ‘phrin las rin chen gyi rtogs brjod (The Autobiography of Khri-chen Drag-shul-phrin-las-rin-chen of Sakya). Dehra Dun: Sakya Centre: 1974, pp. 29-31.

A Sakya Tale (Part Two)- “Grandpa Shugden”

Continued from A Sakya Tale- the Mahasiddha’s Prophesy….

Mahasiddha Pema Dudul’s grandfather was Sachen Kunga Lodro, a great leader of the  Sakya tradition and the 31st Sakya Throneholder, who was believed to have been an incarnation of Dorje Shugden. Kunga Lodro wrote a wrathful torma offering to Dorje Shugden’s five lineages called Swirl of Perfect Sense Offerings and carried on the tradition of his own father, the 30th Throneholder Dagchen Sonam Rinchen, praising Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector.

Dorje Shugden, Sakya Lineage

Sakya Dagchen Sonam Rinchen, Dorje Shugden practitioner and 30th Supreme Sakya Throneholder

(For more information on these early Sakya Throneholders’ praise of Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being, see Trinley Kalsang’s extraordinary blog Dorjeshugdenhistory.org )

From this we can understand that when Mahasiddha Pema Dudul says

These days times are so degenerate no-one else is coming, but now Grandpa Shugden himself will definitely come as your son!”

he is indicating that his grandfather, the great Kunga Lodro, an emanation of Dorje Shugden, will take rebirth as the son of Throneholder Tashi Rinchen to uphold the Sakya tradition for the benefit of living beings.

Hearing that Kunga Lodro had agreed to be reborn as his son, Tashi Rinchen was extremely pleased, repeating it over and over. To commemorate the kindness of Kunga Lodro/Dorje Shugden coming from the pure lands to uphold the lineage, he established a tradition at Sakya of burning many butter lamps and “proclaiming a vast offering cloud of melodies” with horns and trumpets from the roof of the temple.

Less than a year later, the great Sakya Kunga Nyingpo was born. He was believed to be the rebirth of  the thirty-first Sakya Trizin Kunga Lodro and an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and Dorje Shugden.

Kunga Nyingpo went on to ascend the Sakya Throne in 1883 and become the 37th Sakya Trizin.

To be continued…..

A Sakya Tale (Part Three)- Dorje Shugden, the Great Compassionate One

Sakya Lineage

(Continued fromabove…)

In 1871 Kunga Nyingpo had his own son, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen. Dragshul Trinley Rinchen grew up to become the 39th Holder of the Sakya Throne.

In his autobiography, this lama explained that his father Kunga Nyingpo was Avalokiteshvara. In order to prove this, he recounted the story about Mahasiddha Pema Dudul and Trinley Rinchen detailed above and then wrote

The Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden Tsel definitively is Avalokiteshvara. The Nyingma Tantra Rinchen Nadun says “The one known as Dolgyal is not mistaken on the path to liberation, he is by nature the Great Compassionate One,” which establishes this by scripture.

The Great Je Sakyapa Kunga Nyingpo is well-known as an incarnation of the Arya Lotus in Hand (Avalokiteshvara). The Arya Lotus in Hand definitively is none other than the Lord of Mandalas, but provisionally by assuming the manner of a tenth level bodhisattva he simultaneously sports billions of superior, middling and inferior emanations to accomplish immeasurable benefit for beings, such as setting them on paths to the higher realms and liberation. (2)

Thus in order to show that his father was Avalokiteshvara, he set out to show that his father was well-known to have been an emanation of Dorje Shugden, and then demonstrated with a quotation from Nyingma tantra that Dorje Shugden and Avalokiteshvara are the same person.

As further demonstrated in his Autobiography, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen was a practitioner of Dorje Shugden as well, and was considered to be “a very great Sakya master, one of the most outstanding masters in our recent time.” (1)

So when we consider the relationship of the Sakya Tradition to the Practice of Dorje Shugden we see that, contrary to the claims of some present-day Sakya Lamas, for more than three hundred years Dorje Shugden has been viewed in Sakya as an Enlightened protector. Not among the provincial practitioners or those without education, but by the Throneholders of the lineage, and the holders of the Sakya’s most precious Tantric transmissions, Lamdre Lineage holders like Morchen Dorjechang who wrote praises to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being. 


When the leader of an entire Buddhist tradition says “Dorje Shugden is definitively Avolkiteshvara,” it seems to me to be difficult to make the claim, as some have tried to do in the debates over this issue, that the great Sakya masters never viewed Dorje Shugden as anything other than a spirit. In fact it seems that there has been an unbroken tradition of the practice of Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector from the early 1700’s right through modern times.

It is easy to understand that most lamas don’t write about their Dharma protector practices, which have traditionally been in the nature of secrecy. It isn’t unreasonable, therefore, to assume that there were many masters other than the ones enumerated here that held Dorje Shugden as their protector and as a fully enlightened being. 


Since this material is so readily available, it seems odd that the Dalai Lama, who has attempted to ban this practice as “spirit worship,” doesn’t seem to be aware of it. He doesn’t list the views of these great masters when recounting the results of his research, at any rate.

What could the reason for this oversight possibly be?


A list of the supreme heads of the Sakya Lineage who can be shown to have viewed Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being:

  • 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741)
  • 31st Throneholder Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783)
  • 33rd Throneholder Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  • 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  • 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)
  • 39th Throneholder Dragshul Thinley Rinchen (1871-1936)

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…..For more information on past masters who relied on Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector, please consult Dorjeshugdenhistory.org

1. Gonsar Rinpoche, 1996, Public Talk

2. Khri chen Drag shul ‘Phrin las rin chen. Rdo rje ‘chang drag shul ‘phrin las rin chen gyi rtogs brjod (The Autobiography of Khri-chen Drag-shul-phrin-las-rin-chen of Sakya). Dehra Dun: Sakya Centre: 1974, pp. 29-31.