Sakya Pandita

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Sakya Pandita Mean?

Sakya Pandita (1182-1251) was an influential Tibetan Buddhist scholar who wrote more than 100 works. He was the fourth patriarch in the Sakya tradition, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Also known as Kuenga Gyaltshen, he was given the title Sakya Pandita (meaning “wise scholar”) and is most noted for reaffirming Buddhism's traditional Indian roots, rejecting Tibetan and Chinese innovations, and helping to reestablish observance of the Vinaya monastic code. Some believed him to be an incarnation of Manjusri, a bodhisattva who embodied the wisdom of the buddhas.


Yogapedia Explains Sakya Pandita

In 1244, Prince Koden summoned Sakya Pandita to the Mongol court, where it was reported that he healed the prince of leprosy and converted him to Mahayana Buddhism.

Sakya Pandita's traditional conservative views made him suspicious of those who promised enlightenment without going through the stages of Buddhist practices. He disagreed with some of his contemporaries about the three systems of vows:

  • Pratimoksa
  • Bodhisattva
  • Vidyadhara

He believed these initiation vows were bound together, rather than distinct.

Sakya Pandita was such an influential scholar and Buddhist leader that his works are included in the Tibetan Buddhist monastic scholarly curriculum even today.

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Kuenga Gyaltshen

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