Sakya Trizin in Tibetan means "the throne holder of Sakya." Sakya Trizin is the head of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Sakya is one of the four different traditions of the Tibetan Buddhism. The name Sakya ("pale earth") derives from the unique grey landscape of Ponpori Hills in southern Tibet near Shigatse, where Sakya Monastery, the first monastery of this tradition, and the seat of the Sakya School was built by Khon Konchog Gyalpo in 1073. The Sakya tradition developed during the second period of translation of Buddhist scripture from Sanskrit into Tibetan in the late 11th century. The tradition was established by the "Five Venerable Supreme Masters" starting with the grandson of Khonchog Gyalpo, Kunga Nyingpo, who became known as Sachen, or "Great Sakyapa". One of the prominent scholars among them was Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyalsten. In 1264 the feudal reign over Tibet was given to Drogön Chögyal Phagpa by the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan. Sakya lamas continued to serve as viceroys of Tibet on behalf of Yuan emperors for nearly 75 years after Phagpa’s death in 1280.
Ngawang Kunga Trinley Tegchen Palbar Samphel Wanggi Gyalpo is the current Sakya Trizin. Born in Tsedong in 1945, he is the forty-first holder of the Sakya throne. Today, he resides in Rajpur, India along with his wife, Dagmo Tashi Lhakyi, and two sons Ratna Vajra Rinpoche and Gyana Vajra Rinpoche.
Today he is the guardian of the supreme teaching of Sakya, the system of Lamdré (lam 'bras) or "Path and its Fruit", deriving from the mahasiddha Virupa, based upon the Hevajra Tantra.