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Sakya Monastery

Sakya Monastery
Tibetan name
Wylie transliteration: s dPal Sa skya
Sakya Monastery is located in Tibet
Sakya Monastery
Location within Tibet
Coordinates: 28°54′18″N 88°1′4.8″E / 28.905°N 88.018°E / 28.905; 88.018
Monastery information
Location: Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet, China
Founded by: Konchok Gyelpo
Founded: 1073
Type: Tibetan Buddhist
Sect: Sakya
Lineage: Sakya
Head Lama: Sakya Trizin
Architecture: Mongolian architecture

Sakya Monastery, also known as dPal Sa skya or Pel Sakya ("White Earth" or "Pale Earth") is a Buddhist monastery situated 25 km southeast of a bridge which is about 127 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The seat of the Sakya or Sakyapa school of Tibetan Buddhism, it was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo (1034-1102), originally a Nyingmapa monk of the powerful noble family of the Tsang and became the first Sakya Trizin. Its powerful abbots governed Tibet during the whole of the 13th century after the downfall of the kings until they were eclipsed by the rise of the new Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Its medieval Mongolian architecture is quite different from that of temples in Lhasa and Yarlung. The only surviving ancient building is the Lhakang Chempo or Sibgon Trulpa. Originally a cave in the mountainside, it was built in 1268 by Ponchen Sakya Sangpo in 1268 and restored in the 16th century. It contains some of the most magnificent surviving artwork in all of Tibet, which appears not to have been damaged in recent times.The Gompa grounds cover more than 18,000 square metres, while the huge main hall covers some 6,000 square metres.[1][2][3]

Most of the buildings of the monastery are in Ruins, because they were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.[4]

Monks at Sakya Monastery

Das Sharat Chandra writes:

As to the great library of Sakya, it is on shelves along the walls of the great hall of the Lhakhang chen-po. There are preserved here many volumes written in gold letters; the pages are six feet long by eighteen inches in breadth. In the margin of each page are illuminations, and the first four volumes have in them pictures of the thousand Buddhas. These books are bound in iron. They were prepared under orders of the Emperor Kublai Khan, and presented to the Phagpa lama on his second visit to Beijing.

There is also preserved in this temple a conch shell with whorls turning from left to right [in Tibetan, Ya chyü dungkar ; and in Chinese Yu hsuan pai-lei], a present of Kublai to Phagpa. It is only blown by the lamas when the request is accompanied by a present of seven ounces of silver; but to blow it, or have it blown, is held to be an act of great merit."[5]

A huge library of as many as 84,000 scrolls were found sealed up in a wall 60 metres long and 10 metres high at Sakya (Ch: Sagya) Monastery in 2003. It is expected that most of them will prove to be Buddhist scriptures although they may well also include works of literature, and on history, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and art. They are thought to have remained untouched for hundreds of years. They are being examined by the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.[6]

Sakya Monastery in India

The current Sakya Trizin, throne holder of the Sakyapa went into exile in India in 1959 and he is now living in Dehra Dun. Like all leaders of the Sakya school, he is married. He has two sons, and the younger one, Dungsey Gyana Vajra, born 5 July 1979 in Dehra Dun, is a monk and director of the Sakya Monastery constructed in India.[7]


  1. ^ Dowman, Keith. The Power-Places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988, pp. 275-276. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0 (pbk)
  2. ^ Buckley, Michael and Strauss, Robert. Tibet - A Travel Survival Kit. Lonely Planet Publications. 1986, pp. 170-174. ISBN 0-908086-88-1.
  3. ^ Norbu, Thubten Jigme and Turnbull, Colin. Tibet: Its History, Religion and People. Chatto & Windus, 1969. Penguin Books reprint. 1987, p. 193.
  4. ^ 6. Avant l'Everest
  5. ^ Das, Sarat Chandra. Lhasa and Central Tibet, (1902), pp, 241-242. Reprint: Mehra Offset Press, Delhi. 1988.
  6. ^ :: Xinhuanet - English ::
  7. ^ Brief history of the Sakya Lineage and Order

Coordinates: 28°54′18″N 88°01′05″E / 28.905°N 88.018°E / 28.905; 88.018



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