H.E. Asanga Vajra Rinpoche Youngest Ever to Successfully Complete the Sacred VajraKilaya Puja Examination & Ceremonies

By Beth Johansen

On a beautiful summer day of September 11, 2011 at the Sakya Centre in Rajpur, India, His Eminence Khondung Asanga Vajra Sakya Rinpoche successfully took and passed the sacred VajraKilaya Puja examination before a packed monastery full of lamas, nuns, distinguished guests and hundreds outside the monastery courtyard.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Present on this auspicious occasion were also H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, H.E. Ratna Rinpoche, H.E. Gyana Rinpoche and H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche.  Also present were Asanga Rinpoche’s grandmother, H.E. Dagmo Kusho, his father, H.E. Ani Rinpoche, mother, Dagmo Chimey la, first cousin, Jetsunma Soyang la, sisters, Jetsunma Aloki la & Jetsunma Mamaki la, along with relatives of Dagmo Chimey la’s family from Dharamsala.

Asanga Rinpoche is the youngest person to ever take and/or successfully pass this puja.  Asanga Rinpoche was 12 years and 4 months old.  Those in the past have taken this exam have ranged from 14 years to 29 years old.  The actual exam and puja started at 6:00am and ended past 8:00pm with a lunch break.  In the words of H.H. Sakya Trizin, Asanga Rinpoche scored “100 plus!” meaning he was perfect, no errors and the manner in which he performed the chanting and use of religious drum, bell, dorje and mudras (symbolic  hand movements) were smooth, precise and elegant.  In addition, since he memorized all the prayers instead of reading from the pechas (Tibetan loose leaf religious texts), that allowed him to score the maximum amount of points possible.  Since he made no mistakes of any kind, he was able to score a perfect score and since he performed the puja using the drum, bell & dorje, along with the mudras in a smooth, graceful and elegant manner, all in attendance were blessed to witness not only a beautiful but an artistic performance of a remarkable nature for someone so young and poised.

Afterwards at Rajpur, then Dharamsala, Delhi and throughout Nepal, the news of how incredibly accurate, poised and graceful Asanga Rinpoche performed the VajraKilaya Puja exams and puja, and leading the entire congregation of lamas and monks in the prayer hall all day long, spread like wildfire.  Basking in this magnificent performance was none other than Asanga Rinpoche’s meditation tutor, Ven. Gen Ngawang Rigdro la who afterwards was showered with much praise and appreciation for efforts and instructions.  Gen Ngawang Rigdrol la said, however, although he was very nervous to have such a young and highly respected student, his job was made easy since Asanga Rinpoche was not only incredibly intelligent but a quick learner and joy to help prepare for the puja exam as he said later, it was as if he already knew it all or what was going to be taught.   Throughout the months of training, he excelled in training and all that remained was actually performing it live and in public.  On the actual exam day, this worry on his part was quickly dismissed once the day long exam and puja commenced and all in attendance were able to witness a performance of a truly extraordinary nature.

In the late afternoon, after Asanga Rinpoche completed the more intricate parts of the VajraKilaya Puja and in leading the congregation in the long and detailed prayer services, there was a congratulatory ceremony to conclude the event.  Representatives of all the Sakya monasteries, nunneries, educational institutions, and Tibetan settlement social groups from Dehra Dun and beyond flocked to the Sakya Centre to offer katas and good wishes to Asanga Rinpoche.  On behalf of the Dolma Phodrang, H.E. Gyana Rinpoche and H.E. Yumkusho la (wife of H.H. Sakya Trizin) make offerings.  This was followed by H.E. Lunding Khen-chen Rinpoche, Venerable and learned Khenpo Gyatso la (abbot and principal of the Sakya College), the abbot of Ghoom Shedra from Darjeeling were some of the other notables present for this wonderful ceremony.  Asanga Rinpoche was presented with many mandala offerings, katas and gifts of statues and other religious objects to commemorate his monumental accomplishment.  Also, on behalf of the Sakya Phunstok Phodrang, H.E. Dagmo Kusho (our very own Dagmola who is also Asanga Rinpoche’s paternal grandmother) and Dagmo Chimey la made offerings to all the Sakya monasteries in the area and an elaborate luncheon and dinner were hosted for all the lamas, monks and guests to mark this joyous and momentous occasion.  All in all, it was a very joyous and festive affair for all to celebrate, enjoy and remember.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

In conclusion, Asanga Rinpoche’s accomplishment in successfully completing the sacred VajraKilaya Puja exams and in leading the congregation all day long in the prayers during the ceremonies with excellence, honor, poise and grace marks a turning point for him personally and sets him apart from others, especially since he accomplished this at such young age.  In addition, he reveals to all that the blood and bone descendants of the royal  Sakya Khon lineage are alive and well, continuing on with the noble traditions that have distinguished his line of Buddhist master in Tibet’s long history of religious adepts.

Long live the Buddha Dharma!
Long live the Sakya Khon lineage!
Long live H.E. Asanga Vajra Rinpoche!

H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya’s 83rd Birthday Poems


Ready to guide sentient beings by

Inviting them to travel the road to liberation

Never tiring of bestowing blessings on the

Path of bliss and emptiness - you of

Outstanding wisdom and compassion -

Courageous leader who rises to

Help all to end suffering - you are the

Emanation of holiness

-Murray Gordon

The lama asked the students, “How do you know when night has ended and day has begun?” One student answered, “That’s when you can look into the distance and tell if a tree is a pine tree or an oak tree.” The lama replied, “No.” Another student said, “That’s when you can look into the distance and tell if a small animal is a cat or a dog.” “No.”, the lama said. “Tell us then!” the class asked. The lama answered, “It’s when you can look into the face of the nearest person and see that the person is your brother or sister. If you can’t, then it will always be night for you.”

-Murray Gordon

His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche’s Birthday Celebration

Speech by Allan Crouch, President of Sakya Monastery’s Board of Advisors

It is my profound honor to welcome you here today for the 83rd birthday celebration of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya. He was born in 1929 in Sakya Tibet (don’t do the math or you will be off a year).  He was educated to be the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism as well as successor to the throne of Sakya, the third most important political position in Tibet in early times.  Due to extreme changes in Tibet in the ’50s it was necessary to depart from the world that his family had known for centuries.  This change led him to a new and dynamic role as a leader in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the West.

I could continue on reciting history……but let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the unique and fortunate place we find ourselves. A Dharma King walks among us.  A part of a continuous and unbroken lineage that dates back a thousand years.  Stop and think about that and of the changes he has seen in during his life.  From a remote and largely isolated region of the world called Tibet in places where there was scarcely a path, a road or a motorized vehicle to the other side of the world in a new and strange land spreading the word and teachings of Buddha to a growing an interested audience in the West.  Most of us can only vaguely imagine the stark changes and challenges this presented.  The history that he has seen unfold. The journey from the peaks of the Himalayas to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

From early meetings in various venues and homes in the Seattle area to this Monastery that is a clear mirror of the traditional old monasteries of Tibet.  An island of Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism in the heart of Seattle

All you see around you is the result of the vision, dedication and guidance of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.

He has been a lama, teacher, student, advisor and friend to many of the greatest Buddhist minds of the 20th and now the 21st century.  

He is a beloved husband, father, brother and grandfather…..but he is also the spiritual leader, mentor, guide and father figure to the simplest among us.

Many people that pass by this Monastery every day and perhaps spin the prayer wheels may have no idea of the rich history, culture and stories that reside just inside these walls.

We are so thankful to be blessed with this precious gem and gift of His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya in our lives and continue to pray for his long life and the continuation of the lineage teachings as long as time endures.

Thank you Rinpoche……..and Happy Birthday.

Sakya Monastery Celebrates His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche’s 83rd Birthday!

By Kristine Honda

It was a beautiful sunny day on Sunday, November 6th when the members of Sakya Monastery gathered to celebrate His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche’s 83rd birthday.   Praise of the Twelve Exemplary Deeds of Lord Buddha and the Sixteen Arhat prayer were recited.  Venerable Tulku Yeshi Gyatso said prayers for Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life and Venerable Khenpo Jampa Tenphel  spoke about the significance of reciting long life prayers .  Jampa Jorkhang, the President of the Tibetan Association of Washington, gave a heartfelt speech about how rare it is to have an opportunity to see and receive blessings from His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche.  Lastly, Murray Gordon, Dagchen Rinpoche’s student of 25+ years, recited two poems he had composed honoring Rinpoche (one was an acrostic poem, which read “RINPOCHE” when spelled out vertically).

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Mandalas were offered by the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang Dhungseys and family, Sakya Monastery Board of Advisors, and by Tashi Paljor. The children of the Dharma School presented a birthday cake to Rinpoche as they led the Monastery in a chorus of the happy birthday song.  Wangdu Tashi (age 12) played ‘Sakyapa Khyeno’ on the violin as the Sangha chanted the prayer.

To begin the Birthday celebration and feast (manja), Tibetan children, Sonam Yangzom (age 6)  and Sonam Tsomo (age 6), dressed in elaborate traditional Khampa clothing, recited the food offering prayers for us.  After lunch, Metta Mayes (age 7) from our Dharma School, played a beautiful violin piece titled “Long Long Ago” for Dagchen Rinpoche.  Birthday songs were offered in Chinese, Hungarian and Japanese.

We wish our precious lama a long life and good health so he can continue to guide students on the path of Dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings!

H.E. Dagmo Kusho’s Asia Trip

By Laura Ellis



Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya spent three weeks in Asia in September 2011. The primary purpose of her visit to India was to attend Dhungsey Asanga Rinpoche's Vajrakilaya exams in Dehra Dun. She toured multiple Sakya monasteries and nunneries in India and Nepal and made many offerings to the lamas, monks and nuns of those monasteries. Her Eminence was accompanied by her granddaughter, Jetsun Soyangla. Jetsun Soyangla is the eldest daughter of Dhungsey Sadu Rinpoche and Dagmo Pema. Overall the trip was very successful.



Dagmo Kusho and Jetsun Soyangla stayed several days in New Delhi at the Phuntsok Phodrang in order to check on the young monks in residence there. Dagmola reported that the monks are all doing very well. Many of the monks, ages 6-18 years old, are from orphanages. The Phuntsok Phodrang in New Delhi is home to 31 people, including monks, teachers and staff. Dagmola was delighted to be able to offer each of the young monks a brand new set of clothing provided by patron, Tho Luu, who is the head of Sakya Buddhist Center in Vietnam. The maroon and yellow garments were made in Vietnam.

On the way to India Dagmola stopped in Hong Kong where she gave a Chenrezi initiation at the Maha Sandhi Yoga Center. At the Hong Kong Sakya Center she gave a Green Tara teaching. Lama Tashi came from Taiwan to assist with the teaching.

In Dehra Dun, the seat of His Holiness Sakya Trizin in India, members of the Phuntsok Phodrang gathered to attend H.E. Asanga Rinpoche’s Vajrakilaya exam. H.H. Sakya Trizin and family members of the Drolma Phodrang hosted members of the Phuntsok Phodrang and their attendants including Dhungsey Ani Rinpoche and his family, Dhungseys Avikritar Rinpoche and Abhaya Rinpoche, and Dagmola and Jetsun Soyangla. It was a memorable home coming and reunion for family members of both palaces.

H.E. Asanga Rinpoche, grandson of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmo Kusho, began his studies at Tharlam Monastery in 2006 when he was five years old.  He is now twelve, and according to many lamas and khenpos, including H.H. Sakya Trizin, his performance during the exams was exceptional.

The trip was very beneficial on many accounts.  Many offerings were made by Sakya family members and by patrons.  Dagmola was happy that her granddaughter, Jetsun Soyangla, made a connection with the numerous Sakya monasteries and nunneries in India and Nepal.  According to Dagmola, Jetsun Soyangla enjoyed the trip, especially the nunneries, and the reunion with her cousins, Dhungseys Avikritar Rinpoche, Abhaya Rinpoche, Asanga Rinpoche, and members of the Drolma Phodrang’s royal family.  May the Sakya teachings long endure!

Thanksgiving from the Heart

(Address given by Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche at the 50th Anniversary of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche’s and H.E. Dagmo Kusho’s arrival in America.  Sakya Monastery, Seattle, October 16, 2011)



To my dear Gurus, H. H. Dagchen Rinpoche and H.E. Dagmokusho, and to my dear dharma sisters and brothers: 

Today is a very special day for all of us. We are gathered in celebration of Dagchen Rinpoche’s and Dagmokusho’s having thus  far given fifty years of their precious lives to  increasing the buddha-dharma throughout the world, and especially for their having established this center, the Sakya Monastery of Seattle. 

From this temple and from your teachings, how many people have found themselves, and have found the precious dharma, and thus have obtained a beautifully altruistic and peaceful life?   Many of us have actually achieved certain visualizations and/or realizations which greatlyaid in the generation of love and compassion for all beings, and which produce  the wisdom for realization of these world-transforming intentions. 

Your teachings and this temple are a beautiful garden which cultivates the flowers of realization among us practitioners.  From this garden, thousands of people so far, including myself, have gathered so many of these beautiful realizations and attainments.  You two Gurus are like our sun and moon, in the sky of our hearts; continuously you shine out upon us the light of the dharma, like the rising sun or the softly-radiating moon.

This light of the dharma ever-more continually dispels the darkness of our ignorance.  Without this light of your teachings, advice, and selfless example, how could we ourselves come to generate the brilliance of each one’s enlightenment, or even the brightness of our liberation, or even the clear mindfulness which leads us to these?
I’ve spent ten years in other monasteries’ schools, and now thirteen years in your Sakya monasteries (the first four years in Nepal, and then nine years here).  I believe that I’ve so far become in fact at least halfway a Sakya Practitioner, and I ask only to live another ten years or so, to complete the other half!  I feel so fortunate to have been able to serve you, Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmokusho, and I intend throughout the future to continue to do so, because I know that service for one’s gurus is the essence of the buddha-dharma, the only path for beginners to achieve enlightenment. 

Thus, in fact, each of us here can feel proud to be actually walking this noble path of practice and, in particular, service to you two precious Gurus and your beautiful temple here.
Throughout these past five decades of seasons, as we know, there has been, literally and also figuratively, much rain, snow, storms, floods, winds, and so on, but you’ve helped us to endure all of these, since under the guidance of you gurus we’ve been so blessed to be able to work hard, to think carefully, and to prepare for the worst.

In the past nine years alone, since I’ve been here in your Seattle monastery, I’ve seen you two Gurus giving the precious teachings and leading practices for thousands of souls, thirsty and hungry to receive, to follow, and to actualize the potential of the buddha-dharma.   

 I wish to thank you two, for choosing me to write the most recent versions of your biographies so far.   Among all the full-length books I’ve written regarding various dharmic subjects and teachings, these two have been my favorites to write.

We ordinary people in general cannot now see any buddhas other than as they manifest as Guru-lineages.  Thus, you two are not only the representions but also the manifestation itself of all the buddhas to us.

For we in this dark age, you are the dual-flamed lamp lighting the way.

For we, having somehow caught the plague of self-cherishing, you are the doctors administering the healing, relieving medicine of selflessness. 

For we, trapped on the wrong side of the river from our rescue you have made a huge ferryboat to continually carry masses of us across to our salvation.

For we, lost in the desert of ignorance from our dry self-conceptions, you have made a fruitful oasis where we obtain the refreshing nectar of your wisdom.

So, please, dear Gurus, continue to live a very long life, and continue to carry us along in the flow of your teachings and guidance; a flow as vast and unebbing as the Ganges River, carrying us upon the immense current of the buddha-dharma, here in the West and throughout the whole world, for the benefit of all sentient beings.

We thank you so much, dear Gurus, and we wish you both a very long and even more-rewarding life, while wishing the same for each and every one of each other, and for every sentient being.


Mailing List

Receive announcements about special events as well as a weekly email detailing all activities for the coming week.


Make a Donation

Help support Sakya Monastery through a donation or by becoming a Member.


Dharma Shop

Purchase select books, CDs, and other items at our online Dharma Shop!