THE SAKYA COLLEGE - PRESERVING THE SAKYA LINEAGE OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM
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INTRODUCTION AND AIMS
The Sakya College in India is an Institute of traditional Buddhist philosophical and scriptural study dedicated to the simultaneous cultivation of the ideals of Buddhist monasticism and rigorous scholarship. Established in 1972 and registered under India’s Societies Act of 1860, it is the oldest school of its kind for the Tibetans of India and Nepal.
The main subjects of study at the college are the basic Buddhist scriptures of India and their Tibetan translations, with special emphasis on the commentarial and scholastic traditions of the Sakyapa School of Tibetan Buddhism. The purpose of the college is to train the Sakyapa teachers of the future by transmitting these traditions of learning to succeeding generations - a crucial task since traditional Buddhist education was abolished in Tibet following its annexation by China in 1959.
THE CRITICAL TASK OF THE SAKYA COLLEGE
During the crucial years of Tibetan exile, many learned scholars and teachers of the Sakya tradition passed away. Monks and lay people alike were scattered throughout India and Nepal where they are constantly beset by the adversities of refugee life. This abrupt transition from a peaceful, quiet lifestyle to the complexities of modern existence threatens the perpetuation of Tibetan culture and the pure lineage of its traditional form of Buddhism. The hardships Tibetan refugees experience in unfamiliar foreign lands has impeded their ability to rectify the crisis..
For these reasons, the original and main aim of the college is to train a sufficient number of qualified monks to serve future generations, helping to ensure the following:
1. the preservation of the holy Dharma and Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism with its unique religious heritage, methods and philosophical values;
2. the maintenance and support of affiliated monasteries and institutions in their Dharma studies and practices;
3. the provision of adequate facilities and opportunities for students keenly wishing to further their studies in Buddhism;
4. the fulfillment of efforts of Sakya adherents to systematically preserve, study and expound the Philosophical Tradition for the benefit of future generations;
5. the expansion of he pool of qualified scholars trained to disseminate and perpetuate the holy Dharma for all time.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COLLEGE
The college was founded for the above reasons in 1972 by H.H. Sakya Trizin, the spiritual head of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism. During its first eight years, the college was run from a small rented house in Bsarlow Ganj, Mussoorie. Enrollment gradually increased from only seven students in its first year to a total of 75 students and 88 members today. In 1978, the college was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a beautiful site overlooking India’s Doon Valley, just above Kutha Gate on the road between Dehra Dun and Mussoorie. In 1980, just before completion of the first stage of building construction, the college was relocated to its permanent campus site. In 1985, we finished the second stage of construction, including the main temple, the library, and additional classrooms. Construction of the second story, which comprises additional living student quarters, was undertaken in 1990 and completed in 1992.
OUR FIRST PRINCIPAL
The Sakya College’s first principal and head teacher was the Venerable Khempo Appey Rinpoche, a tutor of H.H. Sakya Trizin who, as a student in Eastern Tibet, studied under such outstanding masters as Deshung Ajram Rinpoche, Jamuyang Khentse Chokyi Lodro, and Dragyab Lodro. In Tibet he served as Abbot (mkhan po) at two schools of philosophy and dialectics. Upon first arriving in India, he worked for a short time in the Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology in Gangtok, India. He also guided many young incarnate Lamas in Sutra and Tantra. From 1972 to 1985, he taught at and presided over Sakya College where, under his tutelage, many students graduated to obtain responsible posts both in India and abroad. Resigning from active duties in 1985, he continues to serve the college in many ways as a consultant and guiding force.
Since his resignation, he has visited Singaporeand Malaysia at the request of his disciples, and continued to guide students with his spiritual knowledge. Currently, due to advanced age and unstable health, he is engaged in continuous retreat at his residence in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was succeeded in 1985 by the Ven. Khenpo Jamyang Tenzin, now himself engaged in a lengthy retreat, and the Ven. Khenpo Migmar Tsering, who took charge in May of 1989.
OUR CURRENT PRINCIPAL
Our current principal, the Ven. Khenpo Migmar Tsering, was born in 1956 in Western Tibet and completed his elementary studies in South India. He studied under the late Kenpo Rinchen at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan studies (CIHTS) in Sarnath and in 1972, became one of Sakya College’s first students, studying under Khenpo Appey for the next ten years. He received most of the major empowerments and other Tantric teachings from H.H. Sakya Trixin, H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche and H.E. Luding Khen Rinpoche. Upon his graduation in 1982, he worked for a short time in the translation bureau at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharmasala. In 1983, he taught at CIHTS as a lecturer in Sakya Sampradaya Shasta for over five years.
Sakya College applicants are selected from among Sakyapa monasteries and Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet on the basis of intelligence, educational background, character, and commitment to serve as future teachers and monastic leaders. The average age at admission is sixteen years, and most are expected to complete between seven to thirteen years of study. Our facilities allow for the acceptance of no more than 100 students from the many who apply for admittance every year. Notable current students include H.E. Dungsay Ratna Vajra, Luding Shabdrung Rinpoche and four young incarnate lamas.
Students who complete the full course of study are in great demand to serve as teachers at monasteries in India and Nepal. Some graduates after ten years of study, have now returned to their home monasteries where they are now making valuable contributions while others have gone on to various responsible positions. Outstanding former students have also visited and resided as teachers at various Buddhist Centers in several foreign countries.
CURICULUM OF STUDY
The college follows a basic curriculum approved by a convocation of Sakyapa scholars and consists essentially of the eighteen most important Sakyapa scholastic texts, together with their Indian and Tibetan commentaries. The eighteen basic scriptures, arranged according to their six traditional categories are:
I Teachings of the Mahayana Perfection Doctrine (including the five teachings of Maitraya:
9. Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna
10. Madhyamakavatara of Candrakiriti
11. Catuhsataka of Aryadeva
IV Abhidarma: Metaphysics
12. Abhidharmakosa of Vasubandhu
13. Abhidharmasamuccaya of Asanga
V Logic and Epistemology
14. Pramanasamuccaya of Dignaga
15. Pramanavartika of Dharmakirti
16. Pramanaviniscaya of Dharmakirti
17. Tsad ma rigs gter of Sa-skya Pandita
VI Right Practice of the Vows
18. Sdom gsum rab dbye of Sa-skya Pandita
Other subjects taught taught include treatises on various other branches of learning, including: Tantric Philosophy, ritual, grammar, poetics, calligraphy, and so forth. The college also offers classes in English language, and, for advanced students, practice in translation of texts from Tibetan into English.
Students enter Sakya college with the commitment to work towards competion of at least seven years of study and receive the scholastic degree of Kachupa, the equivalent of a B.A. They may then go on to two additional years of advanced studies to obtain the degree of Lobpon (equivalent to M.A.). Those who complete a total of thirteen years of study, pass a final examination and compose and defending an original thesis are then awarded the highest degree of Rabjampa (Ph. D.).
THE DAILY SCHEDULE
Classes are in session nine and one-half months a year, with two and one-half months off during the summer. Classes are conducted six and one-half days a week. The typical school-day schedule is as follows:
5:45 Wake up
6:00 Group Assembly and prayer
7:00 Individual study
8:00 The main scriptural lesson. Includes an exposition of previous day's lesson by student chosen at random
9:30 English classes and individual study
1:30 Individual study
4:00 Review and additional explanation of the morning lesson by a teaching assistant
6:00 Evening meal
7:30 Individual Study
As in most schools, the tempo of studies quickens as the school year draws to a close, at which time students review and prepare for final written examinations.
One of the important hubs of activity at the college is its library, one of the best Sakyapa research libraries with some 5,000 volumes written in Tibetan and 2,000 in other languages. Steps are being taken to further expand the library with the aim of preserving and disseminating the literary heritage4 of the Sakyapa.
During the first ten years of operations, Sakya College published a number of its own texts as well as a reprint edition of the complete works of the great Sakyapa scholar Gorampa and its supplementary texts. We plan to continue to produce major publications in the future.
THE AIM OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY
the continued existence of Sakya College depends entirely upon the generosity of its friends and patrons. Their largesse has enabled the college to continue and expand its activities. Our aim, however, is to become self-supporting. Unfortunately, while income generated through activities including carpet-weaving and farming have helped, they have failed to meet all our needs. Future plans include the construction of a hotel and other prudent business ventures. Yet it is only through the generosity of our patrons that such projects can come to pass.
SPONSORSHIP OF STUDENTS
Many of our students come from poor families who cannot pay the cost of tuition and board. While the college attempts to provide for the basic needs of each student free of charge, the ability to do so depends on the contibutions of outside sponsors. With today's increasing enrollment, it has become increasingly difficult to meet even our daily expenses, not to mention those incurred by additional projects. Therefore, we encourage any interested person to sponsor a student through donations to the college office of scholarships, or through direct communication with a student by correspondence.
For the name of a student seeking a sponsor, or for additional information about Sakya College, please write:
VEN. KHENPO MIGMAR TSERING, PRINCIPAL
P.O. Rajpur, Dehra Dun, U.P. 248-009