Sakya Academy was founded by Khöndung Gyana Vajra Sakya Rinpoche, the younger son of His Holiness Gongma Trichen Rinpoche, Head of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism.
Gyana Vajra Rinpoche belongs to the new generation of eminent exponents of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and has been giving initiations and teachings worldwide for the past twenty years, both alongside His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trichen Rinpoche and in a personal capacity.
Rinpoche currently resides at Sakya Academy, along with his wife, Her Eminence Sonam Palkyi Sakya, and their two young children, Khöndung Dungsey Siddharth Vajra Rinpoche and Jetsunma Ngawang Tsejin Lhamo Sakya, who attends the school Kindergarten.
Rinpoche and Her Eminence look to the monks as if they were their own children, and personally oversee every aspect of their upbringing, with concentrated focus on their physical and emotional wellbeing and their spiritual and educational development.
Born in Switzerland to Tibetan parents, Her Eminence Dagmo Sonam Palkyi Sakya belongs to a noble Lama lineage family that has produced several highly realised masters.
Her Eminence was married to Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche in 2008. They now live with their two children at Sakya Academy, and serve as surrogate parents to the school's 216 young monks.
As Rinpoche has many teaching commitments abroad, Her Eminence has taken on the responsibility of managing the school, dedicating all her time and energy to ensuring that the children's needs are seen to. Her Eminence meets periodically with each child on a one-to-one basis to monitor their progress, resolve any issue that may arise, and help them make the best of their school experience.
With over two decades of experience as English teacher at the Tibetan Homes School in Mussoorie, Mrs. Tsering Chödon brings with her a fount of knowledge and expertise. Under her able guidance, Sakya Academy has come leaps and bounds since its opening in April 2016.
The school is impeccably organised and discipline is flawless. Learning takes place in a spirit of joy and harmony. Within the space of a few months, the children have learnt three new languages and have made extraordinary progress in their class subjects.
Under Mrs. Tsering Chödon's dynamic leadership, there is every promise that the school will continue to move forward as a vibrant centre of learning and that it will find its place as a source of inspiration for modern educational institutions.
Under the expert and unfailing guidance of its Headmistress, Sakya Academy is blessed with an enthusiastic team of resident teachers who fervently believe in the school's mission and who go far beyond the call of duty to make it a reality. Their free time, including evenings and weekends, is readily offered up whenever the need arises. In spite of a demanding schedule and a regime of hard work, joy and laughter reign in the teachers' quarters.
The children's "home life" takes place in their hostel, where they are looked after by a Warden and a team of senior Sakya Centre monks and where they learn their Buddhist scriptures, have their games, socialise, eat and sleep. Behind the scenes are the nurse, cooks, cleaners and maintenance staff members, without whose participation precious learning could not take place.
In their overwhelming majority, our monks originate from empoverished families in remote villages in Nepal, whose living circumstances are well below poverty level, alarmingly lacking in terms of employment, health, education, and housing.
Some of the older children have been with us for some time and were, until recently, part of Sakya Centre, His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trichen Rinpoche's main monastery in Dehradun. The remaining children were brought to Sakya Academy from Nepal in the autumn of 2015, finding safety from the harrowing conditions created by the cataclysmic earthquake that struck Nepal in April that year.
One of the most appalling repercussions of the disaster was the onslaught of human traffickers scouring remote areas, luring or forcing children into slavery. We are blessed that our Sakya Academy children have not only been rescued from such a fate, but have been given the extraordinary opportunity to grow up in a caring environment where all their basic needs are catered to and, most importantly, where they can develop into educated, caring and responsible human beings.
Sakya Academy is situated in a small hillside village some 12 kilometres from Dehradun, India, principal seat of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Sitting in quiet and serene surroundings, it is a bright and happy place. It is also a sacred space, having received the blessing of His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trichen Rinpoche, His Holiness Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche, H.E. Luding Khenchen Rinpoche and H.E. Jetsun Kushok. It is home to 216 young Sakya monks favoured with the unique privilege of attending a religious school endowed with the features of an English middle school. Their numbers will in time swell to a total of 500 students - 250 monks and 250 nuns. While rigorously pursuing their traditional religious studies, the monks are also following the secular curriculum of a normal school, enriched by a modern approach to spirituality.