The Sakya Tradition is one of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Sakya means “clear land” in Tibetan, and traditionally takes its name from its first monastery, founded in 1073 by Konchog Gyalpo in the foothills of a mountain on whitish earth in central Tibet. The role of abbot passed to his descendants; the top five being the founders of the tradition and responsible for raising it to a position of prominence in the religious and cultural life of Tibet. They were Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158); Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182); Drakpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216); Sakya Pandita (1182-1251), and Chogyal Phakpa (1235-1280). Ngawang Kunga is the current spiritual head, 41 “Sakya Trizin” or Sakya lineage holder, and a direct descendant of the founders.
The Sakya tradition is known for its precise philosophy and is known as the lineage of Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom, and has a vast collection of tantra traditions. Although the Sakya tradition holds countless practices, their cardinal meditative system has its origins in the ninth century Virupa Majasiddha, who unveiled am exoteric path called Three Visions and an esoteric path called Three Tantras; a complete tradition for attaining Buddhahood, now known as the Lamdre, The Way and Its Fruit. Three Visions serves as a meditation manual, detailing the gradual path. Three Tantras explains the mantrayana path based on the Hevajra Buddha. Currently, the Sakya tradition flourishes mainly in exile in northern India with study and meditation centers founded in several countries around the world.