Dharamshala — His Eminence Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche reportedly passed away on the evening of April 29th at his home in Seattle, Washington in the U.S. Rinpoche was holder of one of the two main Sakya lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and passed away at 88 years old.
Members of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and Kashag held a prayer service and also expressed their condolences in a letter to Rinpoche's family and disciples, saying, "we are saddened to learn of the passing away of His Eminence Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche Ngawang Kunga Sonam of Phuntsok Phodrang. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and disciples... Rinpoche has spent his entire lifetime engaged in dharmic activities for the sake of humanity as well as for the collective merit of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. Therefore, his demise is a huge loss to Tibetan Buddhism as well as to his numerous disciples and devotees." Kashag added, "we pray for his swift rebirth so that he can continue his noble teachings and dharma activities for the benefit of all sentient beings."
His Eminence Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche was born on November 2nd, 1929 in Southwestern Tibet. He was born into the Phuntsok branch of the Khon lineage of the Sakya School to Sakya Trichen Ngawang Thutop Wangchuk and Dechen Dolma. At the age of six, he joined the main Sakya monastery.
Later, under the guidance of his father, the 40th throne holder of the Sakya school, and other distinguished teachers, he received instructions in all the teachings of the sutras and tantras. He also received the unbroken Khön lineage transmission of the Sakya Vajrakilaya and Hevajra empowerments and the complete Lamdre, the main teachings of the Sakya tradition.
In 1949, at the age of 20, Rinpoche married Jamyang Palmo, who descends from a family of lamas and doctors in Kham. Together they raised five sons. Rinpoche met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Potala Palace in 1947 when he toured Lhasa.
In 1958 Rinpoche was forced to flee Tibet with his family and came into exile in India where he lived for a year in Darjeeling giving teachings and empowerment.
Rinpoche was then invited to participate in a study of Tibetan civilization through the University of Washington in the United States, where he later co-founded the Sakya Thekchen Choeling in Seattle, one of the first dharma centers in the west. He worked with Deshung Rinpoche to work actively to impart the teachings of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and ritual practice to westerners.
Since then, Rinpoche has traveled extensively around the world and built several more dharma centers and taught countless disciples in India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe and many other places.
Rinpoche is survived by his wife and sons.