Brief History of Sakya Monastery
The Sakya Order was founded, established and flourished by the Khon lineage. The original Khons were believed to be the direct descendant of the celestial beings, who have landed on the high mountains of Tibet and then settled there.
There is not much writing about the lives and activities of the Khons. But then later, during the Khon Nagendarakshita’s time, Guru Padmasambhava and the great abbot Śāntarakṣita came. Śāntarakṣita gave the first Vinaya Buddhist monks vow, the fully ordained bhikṣu vow. As a trial, he chose seven persons - three young persons, three older persons and one middle age person, to see whether the Tibetans would be able to keep the Buddhist monks vows. One of the three younger ones is Khon Nagendarakshita.
They were very successful in keeping their vows. So it was very auspicious beginning of the great Tibetan Buddhist monastic tradition.
Since then, the Khons were very active in spreading the Buddhist teachings. And his younger brother, Dorje Rinchen, is a householder; both of them received the empowerments and teachings from Guru Padmasambhava together. Therefore the original Khons were direct disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. For many generations, they were all Nyingmapas. Their main deities were Vajrakilaya and Heruka.
The Connection Between the Nyingma and the Sakya Traditions
Later during Khon Konchog Gyalpo’s time, he felt that the time has come to start a separate school. So his elder brother, Khon Rob Sherab Tsultrim told him that, “Now you should start (a separate school). I am too old to learn. But you are young, you should study. And you should start a new tradition.”
So he went to study with Drogmi Lotsawa. Drogmi Lotsawa is the first Tibetan Lama, who received the Lam Dre teachings. Since then the Sakya school was founded - the Sakya school was actually founded by the Nyingmapa Lamas. Therefore we have a very strong connection.
Although the Sakya school belongs to the new tradition, not the old tradition anymore, we still carry on the two major deity practices (Heruka and Vajrakilaya) since it was founded. These two deities are still our main practices. Therefore the Sakya and Nyingma schools have a very close connection.
Guru Padmasambawa, of course, is actually an Indian master, and he is connected to all the schools, he is kind of the Nyingmapa’s teaching lineage holder. The Sakya Tradition was founded when the first Sakya monastery was also established.
The Three Special Qualities of The
Main Sakya Monastery
When we talk about the main Sakya monastery, we say that it has three special qualities.
Sakya was blessed by
Guru Padmasambawa, Palden Atisa, and Birwapa.
Guru Padmasambhava's Blessing
The first one was that long before the monastery was established, Guru Padmasambhava came to the area (Sakya).
He said that there would be a monastery there in the future, which will benefit many sentient beings.
So he blessed the entire ground, and built the stupas on four directions. This is the first specialty.
Palden Atisha's Blessing
The second is when Palden Atisha came to Tibet from India. He reached the area, which was empty at that time. But on the mountain, there was a wide patch named Sakya.
Sakya means grey earth. And it was from there that he saw seven letter དྷཱིཿ DHI, one letter ཧྲཱིཿ HRIH, and one letter ཧཱུྃ་HUM.
Palden Atisha said that there would be seven emanations of Mañjuśrī, one emanation of Avalokiteśvara, and one emanation of Vajrapani, and then also in the future there would be many emanations of these three Bodhisattvas.
Thus he gave this prophesy. This is the second specialty.
Mahasiddha Birwapa's Blessing
When the great Lama Sakyapa (Sakya 1st Patriarch – Sachen Kunga Nyingpo) was praying, in his pure vision Mahasiddha Birwapa appeared on the mountain covering the whole area (Sakya) and said, “This place belongs to me.”