Sakya Pandita (1182-1251)

Sakya Pandita: click on image for enlargementThe greatly learned master and emanation of Manjusri, was born to the fourth son of Sachen Kunga Nyinpo in the water horse year of the third rajung (cycle). At the time of his birth there appeared many signs and auspicious omens. At the time of his birth, he spoke in Sanskrit and by the age of three Sakya Pandita could read and speak Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian without having been taught, and within a few years he was able to recite lengthy works of philosophy and Tantra by heart.

Through the power of seeing his uncle and mentor Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216) directly as Manjusri, Sakya Pandita became possessed with limitless knowledge.

When he was seventeen, Sakya Pandita dreamt that the master Vasubandhu appeared to him and conferred the knowledge of the entire Abhidharma system to him directly. At eighteen he dreamt that Dignaga placed him on a high throne and he was given the key to all of his teachings, (key of library, de me zon) and when he awoke he possessed a complete knowledge of logic. Sakya Pandita studied and learned the teachings of the Kadampa lineage and was accomplished in all the sciences and medicine, as well as grammar, poetry, art and music. He composed numerous lucid philosophical commentaries, and his skill in debate was unsurpassed.

During one great debate he defeated the most renowned Hindu scholar of this time. After losing the debate, the Hindu said :"Let us see who is more powerful". He flew into the sky, but one Lama put a dagger into a rock down he came, thus converting this master to Buddhism. Afterwards this protector was placed at the border and a rule made that no Hindu (real Hindu) could enter, and if he did, problems would happen to him.

As the fame of Sakya Pandita spread, Godan Khan, the Mongol Emperor of China, sent messengers to Tibet to find the most outstanding lama. They reported that Sakya Pandita was the most learned master and Milarepa the most accomplished yogi. So the Emperor invited Sakya Pandita to come to the Mongol court as his spiritual guide.

Remembering his uncle's earlier prophecy, Sakya Pandita journeyed to China at the age of sixty-five (65). In order to determine the extent of the lama's knowledge, Godan Khan devised a test. He had his most clever magicians create an illusory temple and asked Sakya Pandita to consecrate it. But when the lama said the appropriate prayers and scattered the blessings of rain, the temple became completely real and all could walk in it. This has been called the Emanation Temple. After this the Khan had great faith in Sakya Pandita and received many important religious teachings from him. As a sign of his great reverence for Sakya Pandita, Godan Khan had three exquisite statues of him cast in gold, silver, and other precious metals. Each was inscribed on the back in Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian and personally consecrated by Sakya Pandita. One remained in China, one in Mongolia and the third was sent to Tibet.

Shortly before he passed away in the Mongol court, Sakya Pandita named his nephew, Chogyal Phagpa, as his successor and Pandita turned over his bell, dorje, and other ritual instruments to him. After Sakya Pandita was cremated, many relics were found and numerous Buddhist images appeared on his bones.

(Ref.: Sakya Tegchen Choling, NEWSLETTER 82 -- pgs 26-27)