Sa-skya Pandita / Pandit from Sakya (1182-1251)

Künga Gyeltsen was a son of Pelchen Öpo, the eldest son of the first of the five Sakya superiors, Sachen Künga Nyingpo. When he was a teenager, he left Sakya and studied under various teachers of the major Indian Buddhist philosophical and doctrinal trends. In 1204, when the Kashmiri master Shakyashribhadra brought Indian scholars to Tibet, Sakya Pandita learned directly from knowledgeable Indians and went back to Sakya with Suhatashri, one of the scholars. After his uncle and a teacher, Drakpa Gyeltsen, died in 1216, Sakya Pandita became a leader of the religious tradition of Sakya.

Koden was a grand son of Genghis Khan. After he led an unsuccessful campaign in Sichuan, he turned his attention to Tibet. He summoned Sakya Pandita in 1244 with a letter with courteous tone, but threatening contents. Sakya Pandita went to Liangzhou (凉州=武威), with two of his nephews, Pakpa Lodrö Gyeltsen and Chakna Dorjé. Sakya Pandita and Koden agreed on the main points of their future relationships in 1247. Sakya Pandita sent letters to Ü, Tsang and Ngari, and advised them to submit and allow the Mongols to exact taxes and to levy troops. Sakya Pandita spent rest of his life in Liangzhou, and passed away in 1251. He was honored by both Tibetans and Mongolian peoples.

  • Matthew T. Kapstein, “The Tibetans.” (Massachusetts, 2006)
  • Luciano Petech, “Tibetan Relations with Sung China and the Mongols” in “China among equals: the Middle Kingdom and its neighbors, 10th-14th centuries.” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)
  • Hankyu Kim, “The Historical Relationship Between China and Tibet.” (Seoul, 2003)

Entry by Seul ki Park, 2/07