Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyeltsen 1182-28 November 1251) was a Tibetan spiritual leader and Buddhist scholar and the fourth of the Five Sakya Forefathers. Künga Gyeltsen is known as Sakya Pandita, a title given to him in recognition of his scholarly achievements and knowledge of Sanskrit, he is held in the tradition to have been an emanation of Manjusri, the embodiment of the wisdom of all the Buddhas. After that he known as a great scholar in Tibet, Mongolia and India and was proficient in the five great sciences of Buddhist philosophy, grammar and sacred Sanskrit literature as well as the minor sciences of rhetoric, poetry and astrology, he is considered to be the fourth Sakya Forefather and sixth Sakya Trizin and one of the most important figures in the Sakya lineage. He was born as Palden Dondup at Sakya in the noble family of Jamyanggön; this lineage had held the abbotship of Sakya on a hereditary basis since 1073. His father was his mother Machig Nyitri Cham. Sakya Pandita was the nephew of Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen, became the principal disciple of this prominent scholar.
He was instructed in the sutras and tantras by Dragpa Gyaltsen and mastered Sanskrit and three Inner Asian languages. He was initiated as a śrāmaṇera by his master and given the religious name Künga Gyeltsen; as a young monk, he visited the prominent Kashmiri scholar Śakya Śri, who ordained him as a bhikśu in 1208, taught him sutras and mantras. Legend has it that he visited Kyirong in Nepal on his way back, there defeated a brahman Shastri in a debate on logic, he overcome his opponent in a contest of supernatural powers. As he wanted to show his fellow Tibetans the peculiar dress of Indian Brahmin priests, he brought the Shastri to Tibet where the unlucky loser was killed by the protective deities of the land; the Shastri's head was tied to a pillar of the great temple in Sakya which remained until modern times. The experience of Sakya Pandita with Indian learning provided a notably South Asian influence to his scholarship on, his ordination as bhikśu marked the inception of Sakya as a proper monastic order.
He acceded as dansa chenpo or abbot-ruler of Sakya upon the death of his uncle Dragpa Gyaltsen in 1216. According to Tibetan historiography, Genghis Khan subjugated a king of Tibet in 1206 and sent a letter to the Sakya abbot. After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, the Tibetans stopped sending tribute; this is, however, a legend without historical foundation. It is known, that the grandson of Genghis Khan and second son of Ögedei Khan, Godan Khan was granted an appanage at Liangzhou in 1239. In 1240 he sent an invasion force under Dorta into Tibet; the Mongols reached the Phanyul Valley north of Lhasa, killing some 500 monks and destroying and looting monasteries and towns. The Gyal Lhakhang Monastery went up in flames and many monks of the Reting Monastery were slaughtered by the horsemen; the Drigung Monastery was saved, ostensibly since the Mongols believed that a sudden avalanche of stones could be attributed to the supernatural powers of the lamas. According to L. Petech, the Reting Monastery itself escaped destruction when Dorta reached Dam, its abbot suggested the Mongols to contact Sakya Paṇḍita, a famous author and religious figure and could represent the Tibetans vis-à-vis the Mongols.
According to J. Y. Chang, it was rather the Drigung abbot. Chronicles assert that Dorta sent message to Prince Godan and enumerated the four foremost sects and lamas of Tibet: Kadam, Taklung and Sakya. Godan drew the conclusion that Sakya Pandita was an important and wise lama who could show the road to salvation, ordered to send a letter of "invitation" and presents to him; the actual reason for selecting the Sakya might have been that the sect was specialized in magic rituals that resonated with Mongol beliefs, was prominent in spreading Buddhist morality. It was important that Sakya Paṇḍita was a religious hierarch by birth, thus represented a dynastic continuity useful for the Mongol aim to rule via respected intermediaries. In fact, recent research has shown that the letter of summons sent by Godan is a fabrication. Sakya Pandita was indeed summoned to come to Godan's royal camp at Liangzhou in 1244; the cleric left Sakya in the company of his two young nephews, the ten-year-old Phagpa and six-year-old Chakna Dorje.
As he continually preached sermons along his way he did not arrive at Prince Godan's camp until 1246. There he had to wait for Godan who at the time participated in the Kurultai where Güyük Khan was enthroned. Sakya Paṇḍita and Godan first met in early 1247, he gave religious instruction to the prince and impressed the court with his personality and powerful teachings. He is said to have cured Prince Godan of a serious illness leprosy. In return, he was given "temporal authority over the 13 myriarchies of Central Tibet." Since the myriarchies were not yet constituted by this time the story is not correct. It should be understood in the sense that Sakya Paṇḍita was used as the main agent of the Mongols in Tibetan affairs. Tibetan historians quote a long letter by his hand to the various clerical and temporal lords in Tibet in 1249. In order to spare Tibet from devastating invasions, he wrote, it was necessary that the local regimes unconditionally accepted Mongol overlordship. A census was to be taken, the lords must henceforth carry out the administration in consultation with envoys dispatched by Sakya and in accordance with Mongol
Pabonka Hermitage written Pawangka, is a historical hermitage, today belonging to Sera Monastery, about 8 kilometres northwest of Lhasa in the Nyang bran Valley on the slopes of Mount Parasol in Tibet. Founded by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, it is the largest and most important of the Sera hermitages and is the starting point for the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” of the Sera Mountain Circumambulation Circuit pilgrimage; the site, over 1,300 years old, dates back to Songtsen Gampo, the founder of the Tibetan Empire, was amongst the first buildings built in the Lhasa area by him during the 7th century after settlement. Although the site of his castle or fort, the Tibetan Annals have revealed that Pabonka was converted into a monastery under the reign of the second great Buddhist king of Tibet Trisong Detsen. Detsen, along with Guru Rinpoche and the first seven monks of the new Tibetan Empire used to meditate at the hermitage and it became one of Tibet's earliest Buddhist monasteries even pre-dating Jokhang.
The original nine-storied monastery was destroyed by King Langdharma in 841 during his campaign to destroy monastic Buddhism. Je Tsongkhapa lived at the site as a hermit, it became a scholarly institution; the Fifth Dalai Lama was known to be fond of the monastery and funded the building of an upper floor for Pabonka. Before 1959, Pabonka was independent of Sera Monastery, from 1960 to the mid-1980s it was controlled by the Chinese, it came under the control of Sera, whose monks renovated it and are continuing its traditions. This temple is noted for its many shrines, its blue and carved gold mantra in the hallway, inscribed with words meaning, "Hail to the jewel in the lotus". A number of stone relics were buried during the Cultural Revolution but when Sera monks restored the hermitage they excavated the relics and restored most of them. A central shrine, dating back 1300 years to Gampo, is located in the temple and depicts Chenresig and Chana Dorje, the so-called "Rigsum Gompo Trinity" from which the temple takes its name.
The upper floor of the Pabonka Potrang building, perched on a pile of rocks, has a notable assembly hall on the second floor and contains a photograph of the current abbot and a chenresig statue hidden on the right behind a pillar. The interior chapel contains an ancient conch shell wrapped in a prayer scarf displayed in a glass case. In the adjacent room is a four-pillared Kashima Lhakhang with statues of three kings and their wives and various eminent lamas; the rooftop quarters, intended for the Dalai Lama on his visits, contains a statue of the deity Demchok and offers panoramic views of the hillside towards Lhasa. Up the hill from the hermitage, past a group of chortens, is Palden Lhamo Cave, a cave known to have been a meditation chamber of Songstan Gampo himself. Inside the cave are statues of Songtsen Gampo and his two wives, it has a rock carving of Palden Lhamo, the protectress. Located near 108 chortens, which are a prominent feature of the monastery, is the ochre yellow brick building of Jasa Potrang, dedicated to Songtsen Gampo's wife, Princess Wencheng.
On the upper floor of the building is a chapel with a small statue of her on the right and a depiction of Tibetan philologist Thonmi Sambhota, believed to have invented the Tibetan alphabet at the hermitage, recognised in the Valley of the Kings. Gampo's other wife, Bhrikuti, is called "honored". On the ground floor are the five manifestations of Tsongkhapa, various Buddha statues with medical themes; the hermitage notably has its own tradition of yearly ritual cycles. The most important of these yearly ritual events are the six-day Avalokiteśvara fasting rituals that take place during the Tibetan New Year celebrations, the sixteen-day Avalokiteśvara fasting rituals that take place during the fourth Tibetan month, a ritual and other events that take place during the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” pilgrimage. Gyurme Dorje.. Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan. 2nd Edition. Footprint Handbooks Ltd. Bristol, England. ISBN 1-900949-33-4. In USA published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing. Chicago. ISBN 0-8442-2190-2.
Dowman, Keith.. The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & kegan Paul, London. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0 YouTube footage of Pabonka
Tsongkhapa taken to mean "the Man from Onion Valley", born in Amdo, was a famous teacher of Tibetan Buddhism whose activities led to the formation of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is known by his ordained name Losang Drakpa or as "Je Rinpoche", he is known by Chinese as Zongkapa Lobsang Zhaba, He was the son of a Tibetan Longben Tribal leader who once served as an official of the Yuan Dynasty of China. In his two main treatises, the Lamrim Chenmo and Ngakrim Chenmo, Tsongkhapa meticulously sets forth this graduated way and how one establishes oneself in the paths of sutra and tantra. With a Mongolian father and a Tibetan mother, Tsongkhapa was born into a nomadic family in the walled city of Tsongkha in Amdo, Tibet in 1357, it is said that the Buddha Sakyamuni spoke of his coming as an emanation of the Bodhisattva Manjusri in the short verse from the Root Tantra of Manjushri: After I pass awayAnd my pure doctrine is absent, You will appear as an ordinary being, Performing the deeds of a Buddha And establishing the Joyful Land, the great Protector, In the Land of the Snows.
According to hagiographic accounts, Tsongkhapa's birth was prophesied by the 12th abbot of the Snar thang monastery, was recognized as such at a young age, taking the lay vows at the age of three before Rolpe Dorje, 4th Karmapa Lama and was named Künga Nyingpo. At the age of seven, he was ordained as a śrāmaṇera by Döndrup Rinchen, the first abbott of Jakhyung Monastery, was given the ordination name Losang Drakpa, it was at this early age that he was able to receive the empowerments of Heruka and Yamantaka, three of the most prominent wrathful deities of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as being able to recite a great many Sutras, not the least of, Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti. He would go on to be a great student of the vinaya, the doctrine of behaviour, later of the Six Yogas of Naropa, the Kalachakra tantra, the practice of Mahamudra. At the age of 24, he received full ordination as a monk of the Sakya school. From Zhönnu Lodrö and Rendawa, he received the lineage of the Pramanavarttika transmitted by Sakya Pandita.
He mastered all the courses of study at Drigung kagyud Monastery in Ü-Tsang. As an emanation of Manjusri, Tsongkhapa is said have been of "one mind" with Atiśa, received the Kadam lineages and studied the major Sarma tantras under Sakya and Kagyu masters, he studied with a Nyingma teacher, the siddha Lek gyi Dorjé and the abbot of Shalu Monastery, Chö kyi Pel, his main Dzogchen master was Drupchen Lekyi Dorje known as Namkha Gyaltsen. In addition to his studies, he engaged in extensive meditation retreats, he is reputed to have performed millions of prostrations, mandala offerings and other forms of purification practice. Tsongkhapa had visions of iṣṭadevatās of Manjusri, with whom he would communicate directly to clarify difficult points of the scriptures. Tsongkhapa was one of the foremost authorities of Tibetan Buddhism at the time, he composed a devotional prayer called the Migtsema Prayer to his Sakya master Rendawa, offered back to Tsongkhapa, with the note of his master saying that these verses were more applicable to Tsongkhapa than to himself.
Tsongkhapa died in 1419 at the age of sixty-two. After his death several biographies were written by Lamas of different traditions. Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama, praised Tsongkhapa as one "who swept away wrong views with the correct and perfect ones." Mikyö Dorje, 8th Karmapa Lama, wrote in his poem In Praise of the Incomparable Tsong Khapa: Tsongkhapa was acquainted with all Tibetan Buddhist traditions of his time, received lineages transmitted in the major schools. His main source of inspiration was the legacy of Atiśa. Tsongkhapa received two of the three main Kadampa lineages from the Nyingma Lama, Lhodrag Namka-gyeltsen. Tsongkhapa's teachings drew upon these Kadampa teachings of Atiśa, emphasizing the study of Vinaya, the Tripiṭaka, the Shastras. Atiśa's Lamrim inspired Tsongkhapa's Lamrim Chenmo, he practised and taught extensively the Vajrayana, how to bring the Sutra and Tantra teachings together, wrote works that summarized the root teachings of the Buddhist philosophical schools, as well as commentaries on the Prātimokṣa, Candrakirti's Madhyamakavatara, Pure Land and the Sarma tantras.
According to Thupten Jinpa, the following elements are essential in a coherent understanding of Tsongkhapa's understanding and interpretation of the Madhyamaka refutation of essentialist ontology: Tsongkhapa's distinction between the domains of the conventional and ultimate perspectives. Tsongkhapa's first principal work, The Golden Garland of Eloquence demonstrated a philosophical view in line with the Yogacara school and, as became one of hi