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Tradition: Sakya Glossary

Sakya Religious Context

Sakya Glossary

Anuttarayoga (Tibetan: la me gyu): the highest of the 4 sets of tantras. There are three divisions; Non-dual, Wisdom (mother) and Method (father). The three lower tantra classifications are Kriya, Charya and Yoga.

Bhutadamara Vajrapani (Tibetan: chung bu dul she, chag na dor je): meditational deity - a wrathful form of the bodhisattva Vajrapani associated with the Hevajra Tantra. Other forms of Bhutadamara are also found in the three lower tantras.

Birwapa: the prakrit pronunciation for the name of mahasiddha Virupa (Ugly One), vi = ugly, rupa = form.

Blessing (Tib.: jin lap): as a technical term - a supplementary initiation into a specific deity yoga based on having already received a major empowerment. For example - Vajrayogini initiation is a 'Blessing' based on the Chakrasamvara or Hevajra empowerments. An individual must receive the empowerment first before receiving the 'Blessing' initiation.

Brahmanarupa: (also see Chaturmukha Mahakala).

Bulug: the sub-school maintaining the tradition of Buton Tamche Khyenpa, more commonly known as the Shalupa (no longer extant).

Chakrasamvara (Tib.: kor lo dom pa): the principal meditation deity of the Chakrasamvara cycle of tantras. Numerous lineages of practice are found in Sakya, the foremost being the traditions of Luipa, Krisnacharya and Ghantapada (lu nag dril sum).

Chakrasamvara Tantra (Tib.: kor lo dom pa gyu): the principal anuttarayoga tantra of the wisdom (mother) classification.

Chag Me Nam Shi: (see The Four not to Leave the Walls of Sakya).

Chaturmukha (Tib.: shal shi pa, English: Four Faced One): the form of Mahakala related to the Guhyasamaja Tantra and a principal protector of the Sakya School. He is usually shown in the form known as Brahmarupa (Tib.: dram ze) Mahakala.

Dagchen Rinpoche (the Great One): a title used in reference to the Sakya Trizin or any high ranking Khon Lama - currently used for Jigdral Rinpoche of the Phuntogk Podrang.

Dagmema: (also see - Nairatmya).

Dagtri Rinpoche (the Great One of the Throne): an alternate title for the Sakya Trizin. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Dege Gongchen: A Ngor monastery in Kham, Eastern Tibet, founded by Thang Tong Gyalpo, famous for housing a large printing works (parkang) and the occasional home of the great editor Zhuchen Tsultrim Rinchen.

Deity Yoga (Tib.: lha'i nal jor): the special meditation practice of Vajrayana comprising the two - Generation and Perfection Stage Yogas.

Dharmapala: (religious protectors) - there are two types; worldly (lokapala) and beyond worldly (jnanapala). Only the second category can be counted on because they are enlightened Buddhas.

Dom Sum Rab Ye: The Elucidation of the three Vows by Sakya Pandita.

Drolma Podrang: (Liberation Palace) - a physical residence and the name of one of the two remaining branches of the Khon family. The current Sakya Trizin belongs to this palace.

Drup Tab Kun Tu: (the Collection of All Methods of Accomplishment) - a 14 volume collection of meditation texts considered special in the Sakya School compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Loter Wangpo.

Dung Se: (the regent son) - a Tibetan title used for all male Khon descendants during adolescents and youth, and as adults, replaced by Gongma Rinpoche - or their name followed by 'Rinpoche.' (See Titles & Honorifics).

Dzongsar Gompa: a Ngor monastery, the home of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and the succeeding Dzongsar Khyentse incarnations. Located in Kham province, East Tibet.

Empowerment (Tib.: wang kur): a formal and often complex initiation into a specific practice of deity yoga, using a mandala, and lasting from 1 to 3 days.

Father Tantra: (Tib.: pha gyu - see Method Tantra).

'The Four not to Leave the Walls of Sakya': (Tib.: chag me nam shi) - four special 'methods of accomplishment' (see - Sadhana) always to be practiced by monks and lamas of Sakya; lamdu, lamsap, birsrung, naljorma.

Geshe: (Sanskrit: kalyanamitra, English: virtuous friend - see Lharampa). (See Titles & Honorifics).

Gigu Gompa: a large Ngorpa monastery in the Gaba region of East Tibet.

Dzongpa: an early sub-school of Sakya, now no longer extant as an independent tradition. Gongkar monastery of the Dzongpa tradition is still functioning and located on the Tsangpo river upstream from Lhasa.

Gongma Rinpoche: (Superior Precious One), a Tibetan title used for all male Khon descendants. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Guhyasamaja (Tib.: sang wa du pa, Eng.: the secret assembly): the principal anuttarayoga tantra of the method (father) classification. Sakya maintains two principal lineages; Akshobhyavajra of Nagarjuna (Pag Lug) and Manjuvajra of Jnanapada (Yeshe Lug).

Guru: the technical term used for a 'teacher' of Tantra in the Vajrayana vehicle. The 'Root Guru' is the individual from whom one has received a major anuttarayoga empowerment containing all four sections. (See - Lama).

Guru Lineage: (Tib.: la ma gyu pa - see Lineage).

Gyu De Kun Tu: (the Collection of All Tantras) - a 32 volume set of books for bestowing major empowerments predominantly of the anuttaryoga class compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Loter Wangpo. The last 10 volumes contain commentaries on the important tantras.

Gyu de shi: (the Four Tantras), the most important tantras of the Sakya School - Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, Guhyasamaja and Vajrabhairava.

Hevajra (Tib.: gye pa dor je): the principal meditation deity of the Hevajra Tantra.

Hevajra Tantra (Tib.: gye pa dor je gyu): the most important and profound of the non-dual anuttarayoga tantras.

Indra Khachod: the meditation deity Vajrayogini/Varahi from the lineage of King Indrabhuti, included in the Marmo Kor Sum.

Initiation: a term used with reference to the tantras and specific to the Vajrayana path. The formalized permission and introduction to the practice of deity yoga. There are three main types; 'empowerment' (Tib.: wang kur), 'blessing' ((Tib.: jin lap) and 'permission' (Tib.: je nang).

Jetsun Gongma Nga: (the Five Reverend Superior Ones) - Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Sonam Tsemo, Dragpa Gyaltsen, Sakya Pandita and Chogyal Pagpa.

Jetsunma: (Reverend Mother) - a Tibetan title used in reference to all female Khon descendants. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Jnanapala: (wisdom protectors) - enlightened Buddhas appearing as religious protectors such as Mahakala and Shri Devi.

Jonang: an early sub-school of Sakya. All the monasteries, but for one owned by the Khon family and scattered small establishments in East Tibet, were forcibly seized and closed by the government of the Fifth Dalai Lama in the mid 17th century.

Karpo Nam Sum: (the Three White Ones) - designating the three laypersons from the set of the Jetsun Gongma Nga; Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Sonam Tsemo and Dragpa Gyaltsen. The white is in reference to the lower robe.

Khamje Shedrub Ling: the academic college of Dzongsar Monastery of the Ngor Tradition, East Tibet.

Khangsar Labrang: one of the four ruling monastic houses of Ngor Ewam Monastery.

Khon: (to quarrel or argue) - the second name of the hereditary family of Sakya known by the three names of Lharig, Khon and Sakya. The word 'khon' arises from the time of an altercation with a raksha daemon.

Khyabgon Rinpoche: (Lord of Refuge, Precious One), a title used for Khon Lamas and specifically for the Sakya Trizin. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Khor de yer me: (see the Non-differentiation of Samsara and Nirvana).

Krishna Yamari (Tib.: shin je she nag - see Yamari).

Kriya Tantra (Tib.: cha gyu): the first and lowest of the 4 tantra sets. There are three divisions; Tathagata, Vajra and Lotus Buddha Families.

Lama: (Skt.: guru) - a teacher, capable of giving initiations and guiding students along the Vajrayana path. There are three basic catagories, only the first adheres to the strict definition. [1] In Sakya all members of the Khon family are regarded as lamas, along with Abbots and Tulkus. [2] If a Dharma student has shown proficiency in academic study and recieved a degree or completed a course of tantric study, and or completed a series of specific retreats, and possibly a 3 year retreat - the title of lama may be conferred by a senior Lama of the Sakya School. [3] Commonly in Central Asia and India, any monk, or possibly a nun, practicing the Vajrayana Tradition might be referred to as a lama by the general population. A monk or nun living and providing services in a remote community would also be called a lama. Having the title of 'lama' does not automatically imply the ability to give initiations or even to teach the basics of Buddhism. (In the tradition of the Palpung monastery of the Kagyupa School, specifically under the guidance of Jamgon Kongtrul, the tradition was to bestow the title of lama on any monk who completed a 3 year retreat program). (See Titles & Honorifics).

Lamdre: (Margapala, The Path and Result) - the essential teaching of mahasiddha Virupa presenting a model for reaching enlightenment based primarily on the Hevajra Tantra.

Lha Rig: (Heavenly Race) - the first name of the Khon family referring to their descent from the heavens to begin an earthly lineage for the benefit of sentient beings.

Lhakang Chenmo: the south monastery of Sakya specializing in Sutrayana. Construction was started during the lifetime of Chogyal Pagpa. This structure still stands today and houses one of Tibet's largest religious libraries.

Lharampa: a title signifying academic achievement, the highest of four levels, based on certain years of study and proficiency in examinations, bestowed by an established Sakya academic body such as Sakya College in India, Lhakang Chenmo in Sakya, Tibet, or Khamje Shedrub Ling at Dzongsar Monastery East Tibet. Proficiency at any of the four levels is also referred to as a Geshe degree - traditionally a word used by the Kadam and Gelug teachers. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Lineage: the chronological enumeration of teachers belonging to a specific line of tantric practice. For example, the Lamdre Lineage.

Lobshe: (the Teaching for Students) - a teaching of the Lamdre in a detailed manner to a select group of sincere students.

Lokapala: (worldly protectors) - any religious protector deities that have not reached complete enlightenment.

Luding Labrang: one of the four ruling monastic houses of Ngor Ewam Monastery.

Mahakala (Tib.: nag po chen po, Eng.: Great Black One) - a meditation deity of the non-dual anuttarayoga classification from the tradition of the Indian pandita Vararuchi. Mahakala is also a category of wisdom Dharma protector within the Vajrayana path. (See Panjarnata and Chaturmukha).

Mahamudratilika Tantra: belonging to the Hevajra cycle of tantras.

Maitri Khachod: the meditation deity Vajrayogini from the lineage of mahasiddha Maitripa, included in the Marmo Kor Sum.

Manjushri (Tib. jam pe yang, Eng.: the One with a Melodious Voice): the bodhisattva of wisdom - unofficial patron deity of the Sakya lineage.

Marchung Kor Sum: (see the Thirteen Golden Dharmas).

Marmo Kor Sum: (see the Thirteen Golden Dharmas).

Marpo Kor Sum: (see the Thirteen Golden Dharmas).

Marpo Nam Nyi: (the Two Red Ones) - designating the two monastic followers from the set of the Jetsun Gongma Nga; Sakya Pandita and Chogyal Pagpa. The red is in reference to the lower monastic robe.

Method Tantra (Tib.: thab gyu): also known as Father Tantra, one of the three inner divisions of the Anuttarayoga classification of tantra. Examples; foremost is the Guhyasamaja cycle of tantras, Vajrabhairava, Yamari, etc.

Mother Tantra: (ma gyu - see Wisdom Tantra).

Nairatmya (Tib.: dag me ma): the consort of Hevajra and the Guru of Virupa. She is also a meditation deity found in the Hevajra Tantra.

Naro Khachod: the meditation deity Vajrayogini from the lineage of mahasiddha Naropa, included in the Marmo Kor Sum.

Ngor Tradition: a sub-school of Sakya founded by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo.

Ngor Ewam: the main monastery of the Ngor School located in Tsang Province. A second Ngor Ewam is now established in Manduwala, U.P. India.

Non-differentiation of Samsara and Nirvana: the special presentation on the ultimate view of reality and associated meditation practices from the Lamdre system based on the first of four empowerments.

Non-dual Tantra (Tib.: la me gyu): one of the divisions of Anuttarayoga tantra. Examples: Hevajra, Kalachakra, Vajrakila, Mahakala, etc.

Ordination: the three levels of 'vows' are [1] the Sravakayana with lay, novitiate monastic and full monastic ordination. [2] For the Sutra path of Mahayana is the bodhisattva ordination having as a basis the enlightenment thought. [3] For the Vajrayana path are the various sets of 14 root and 8 branch vows.

Pa shu: (pandita hat) - the red hat of a scholar, with long lappets, as worn by Sakya Pandita and others.

Panjarnata: (Lord of the Pavilion, Tib.: gur gyi gon po) - the form of Mahakala related to the Hevajra Tantra and taught in the Vajrapanjara Tantra, principal protector of the Sakya School.

Permission (Tib.: je nang): as a technical word - a minor initiation into the practice of deity yoga based on the blessings of body, speech and mind. Examples; Arapacana Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, etc.

Phende Labrang: one of the four ruling monastic houses of Ngor Ewam Monastery.

Phuntsog Podrang: (Marvelous Palace) - a physical residence and the name of one of the two remaining branches of the Khon family.

Podrang: (palace) - used to differentiate lineages of Khon descendants.

Rakta Yamari (Tib.: shin je she mar): (see Yamari).

Rinpoche: 'precious one' - a term of endearment used respectfully for Teachers and Gurus. It does not have a technical meaning or imply a ranking or level of hierarchy amongst lineage teachers. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Sa shu: (Sakya Hat) - sometimes referred to as the Sakya crown. A red pandita hat with the lappets folded upwards and over the crown of the hat.

Sadhana: (Tib.: drup thab) a 'method of accomplishment,' a highly structured technical text focusing on Deity Yoga using various meditation and recitation techniques. The basic tool for practicing the Two Stages of yoga - Generation and Perfection.

Sakya: (whitish, greyish or earth coloured) - the name of the geographic location, a white patch of earth on the side of Ponpori mountain, where Khon Konchog Gyalpo established a religious centre - later to become the Sakya School and the town of Sakya.

Sakya Ka bum: (the collection of Sakya words [writings]) - the early collection of the writings of the Jetsun Gongma Nga. Later the writings of Mati Panchen, Ngorchen and Gorampa would also be added.

Sakya Legshe: (Elegant Sayings) - by Sakya Pandita. A collection of wise and elegant sayings directed towards laypersons, monks and nuns.

Sakya Trizin: (the Throne Holder of Sakya), the title of the religious and secular head of the Sakya School. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Samputa Tantra: a shared commentary tantra to the Hevajra and Cakrasamvara Tantras.

Separation from the Four Attachments: (Tib.: zhen pa shi drel). A four line teaching spoken by the bodhisattva Manjushri while appearing to a 12 year old Sachen Kunga Nyingpo. It is considered to be a special direct 'Mind Training' teaching of the Sakya School.

Shab Drung: (regent) - the title applied to the young designated abbots of all four of the Ladrangs of Ngor Ewam monastery. (See Titles & Honorifics).

Thartse Labrang: one of the four ruling monastic houses of Ngor Ewam Monastery.

Thirteen Golden Dharmas (Tib.: ser cho chu sum): there are several sets or enumerations that make up the Thirteen. The deities standard to all sets are the Three Red Ones (Marmo Kor Sum); Vajrayogini of Naropa, Vajrayogini (upper right) of Indrabhuti and Vajrayogini (upper left) of Maitripa - all from the Cakrasamvara cycle of Tantras. The Three Great Red Ones (Marpo Kor Sum); Kurukulle of the Hevajra Tantra, Takkiraja of the Guhyasamaja and Maharakta Ganapati (lower right) associated with the Cakrasamvara. The Three Small Red Ones (Marchung Kor Sum); Kurukulle-Tara, Red Vasudhara and Tinuma. The four standard remaining deities are Black Manjushri, Sabala Garuda from the Kalacakra Tantra, Simhanada Avalokiteshvara from it's own Tantra and Red Jambhala from the Cakrasamvara. Alternates are the dakini Simhamukha of the Cakrasamvara, Amaravajradevi of the Cakrasamvara and Amitayus from it's own Tantra.

Three Jewels: (Tib.: kon chog sum), the three objects of refuge in Buddhism; the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Sometimes referred to as the Triple Gem in English. (See Jewels).

Three Tantras (Tib.: gyu sum): - the main teaching of the Lamdre system. A presentation of the two stages of the Vajrayana path according to the special model of Virupa's Vajra Verses; the Base Tantra, Path Tantra and Result Tantra.

Three Visions (Tib.: nang sum): - the preliminary teaching of the Lamdre. A presentation of the Sravakayana and Sutrayana paths according to the special model of Virupa's Vajra Verses; the Impure Vision, Path Vision and Pure Vision.

Three Vows: (Tib.: dom pa sum - see Ordination).

Tub pa'i Gong Sal: (Illuminating the Sage's Intent) by Sakya Pandita, a presentation of the basic Sutrayana path.

Torma: (Skt.: balimta), stylized food offerings usually in the shape of a cone or pyramid, adorned with small and large 'buttons' and of various colours. Often the shape of a torma is deity specific. During certain Vajrayana initiations the torma is used to represent the deity.

Tsar Tradition: a sub-school of Sakya founded by Tsarchen Losal Gyatso.

Tsogshe: (the Teaching for Gatherings) - a teaching of the Lamdre in a general manner to a group students.

Two Stages (Tib.: rim nyi): the divisions of Detiy Yoga. The two special forms of meditation unique to the Vajrayana path; Generation Stage and Perfection Stage.

Vajrabhairava (Tib.: dor je jig je): a principal meditation deity of the anuttarayoga tantra method (father) classification, from the Yamari cycle of tantras.

Vajrakila: (Tibetan: dor je phur ba) - a meditation deity belonging to the mahayoga class of the Nyingma Kama tradition. This practice was given by Guru Rinpoche to Khon Lu'i Wangpo Srungwa in the 8th century and has continued in the Khon family up to the present time.

Vajrapanjara Tantra (Tib.: dor je gur, Eng.: Vajra Pavilion): an exclusive explanatory tantra to the Hevajra cycle of Tantras.

Vajrayogini (Tib.: dor je nal jor ma): a meditation deity of the anuttarayoga tantra wisdom (mother) classification, consort to Chakrasamvara. The Sakya tradition maintains numerous lineages principal of which are the Marmo Kor Sum of the Thirteen Golden Dharmas.

Virupa: the Lord of Yoga (Tib.: nal jor wang chug), one of the most outstanding mahasiddhas from the set of 84 catalogued by Abhayakara Gupta, also known as Abhayadatta. Having lived in 8th century India, he is most famous for his teachings on Hevajra and the special system of practice called Lamdre.

Wangkur: (see Empowerment).

Wisdom Tantra (Tib.: she rab gyu): also know as the Mother Tantras, one of the three inner divisions of Anuttarayoga Tantra. Examples: foremost is the Chakrasamvara cycle, Mahamaya, Buddhakapala, Chaturpitha, etc.

Yamari (Tib.: shin je she): a class of meditation deities of the anuttarayoga tantra method (father) classification. There are three types; Krsina Yamari, Rakta Yamari and Vajrabhairava.

Zenpa Zidrel: (See the Separation from the Four Attachments).

Shalu: the main monastery of the Bulug sub-school (no longer extant), principal seat of Buton Rinchen Drub.

Zimci Karpo: the first temple established by Khon Konchog Gyalpo at the location of Sakya, 1073.

Jeff Watt 5-1995 [updated 8-2023]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).