Dhongthog Rinpoche Tenpai Gyaltsen (1933–2015) was a preeminent scholar of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. He trained in eastern Tibet in Derge under Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and was the head teacher of Dhongthog Monastery in Garze. Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Rinpoche left in 1957 for India, where he preserved Tibetan culture and continued his scholarship at Tibet House in New Delhi. In 1979, he moved to Seattle and worked closely with the nonsectarian savant Dezhung Rinpoche and founded the Sapan Institute to support his scholarly and publishing activities. The most well known among his numerous works are his English-Tibetan dictionary (1988) and his unique history of the Sakya school (1976). Married with three children, he passed away in Seattle on January 13, 2015.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
The Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism
Since its 1976 publication in Tibetan, Dhongthog Rinpoche’s history of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism has been a key reference for specialists in Tibetan studies. Now English readers can consult it as well through Sam van Schaik’s authoritative, fully annotated and accessible translation.
The book begins by examining the development of Buddhism in India and Tibet, setting the scene for the Khon family’s establishment of the Sakya school in the eleventh century. Rinpoche subsequently provides accounts of the transmission of the Lamdre (the heart of Sakya contemplative practice and other major streams of esoteric instruction) and the Ngor and Tshar branches of the Sakya tradition. Highlights also include surveys of great Sakya and nonsectarian masters such as Rongtongpa, Gorampa, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, and Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. This traditional history, compiled both from earlier histories and from the author’s direct connection to masters of the tradition, is an enormously valuable resource for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.