There are four main traditions in Tibetan Buddhism – Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. Between them The Sakya tradition was of central importance to Buddhism by taking root in Mongolia during the 13th century. In some of the Mongolian historical sources such as Sakya's Dunrav Ngo Tsar Banzoi, the Sakya's history with Mongols started when Chinggis Khaan sent a letter to Sachen Dagva Gyaltsen inviting him to a meeting. "Holy one! Well did I want to summon you; but because my worldly business is still incomplete, I have not summoned you. I trust you from here, protect me from there". At the time Sachen Dagva Gyaltsen did not venture to visit Chinggis Khaan due to old age, but he promised that his grandson Kunga Gyaltsen would fulfill his wish. The Mongolian court was still interested in Buddhism and one of Chinggis Khaan’s grandsons, Godan Khaan, invited the great Sakya scholar Kunga Gyaltsen (better known as Sakya Pandita) to come to Mongolia and teach Buddhism. He duly arrived in 1244, and the seeds of Mongolia’s Buddhist culture were sown. That was the first time a Tibetan lama came to Mongolia. Sakya Pandita never went back to Tibet and devoted his teachings and life to The Mongols. Some nine years later Sakya Pandita and Godan Khaan had both passed away. When Chinggis Khaan's other grandson Kublai Khaan established The Yuan Dynasty of the Mongol Empire and made Beijing a capital city, he invited in 1260 Sakya Pandita’s nephew, Drogon Chogyal Phagpa, to the Mongolian court and Buddhism became the official state religion. As well as teaching and helping with the establishment of Buddhism, Chogyal Phagpa first taught and developed Tantra to The Mongols and also created a script called the Dorvoljin Alphabet for the Mongolian language. Phagpa lama taught The He Vajra Empowerment to Kublai Khaan. As a thankgiving offering Kublai Khaan first presented Phagpa lama 13 thousand lans (weight) of silver. Secondly he presented the traditional Conch shell once belonging to The Buddha. Kublai Khaan united 3 separate parts of Tibet and made Phagpa Lama a Governor or King of Tibet. Since then the practice of holding the Political and Spiritual leadership together became a tradition in Tibet. Thirdly, Kublai Khaan wanted to hear Phagpa lama's own wishes; Phagpa Lama explained how Buddhism values human life and teaches humanity, compassion and forgiving. Phagpa Lama requested him to stop throwing to death ordinary Chinese people into the river or ocean. Kublai Khaan accepted his proposition and stopped the killings which brought more peace to the people. Kublai Khaan further strengthened their relations by marrying Godan Khaan's daughter to Phagpa lama's younger brother Chagna Dorjee. After Phagpa Lama's death the practice of inviting eminent Sakya scholars to Mongolia continued for a hundred years during the Yuan dynasty. With the decline of the Mongol Empire there was a break in contact between Mongolians and the Sakya tradition.
The next big period of growth in Mongolian Buddhism was inspired by the Gelug tradition in the 16th century, with the prolific temple building of Ochirbat Tusheet Avtai Sain Khaan. After meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1577, Avtai Sain Khaan was inspired to help Buddhism in Mongolia and he returned from his visit with an important statue of Gombogur (Gurgi - Gonbo or Black Mahakala) which is Sakya's main srunma (protector of the religion) as was advised by 3rd Dalai Lama. The advice was given on the basis that the Mongol Emperors were following the Sakya tradition of Buddhism, that is why Gombogur srunma was the most appropriate to worship in our first monastery. As well as building temples he established the first monastery in central Mongolia – Erdene Zuu – and the statue of Gombogur is still the main statue in the monastery’s main temple today. That is the only reminder of the Sakya tradition in Mongolian Buddhism, as afterwards from the 17th century Zanabazar brought the Gelug tradition to Mongolia which remains dominant today. Later, in 1994 H H the Sakya Trizin Rinpoche sent a letter to Bakula Rinpoche, who represented India as an Ambassador to Mongolia, wishing to revive the Sakya tradition in Mongolia. Bakula Rinpoche contacted Erdene Zuu Monastery and as a result two Mongolian monks - Otgonbaatar and Dashkhuu - were sent to study at the Sakya College in India. The visit of H H Sakya Trizin Rinpoche to Mongolia in 1995 was the starting point of The Sakya tradition revival. 2008 marks 800 years of Mongolian culture. The great Tibetan Lamas from the Sakya tradition who travelled to Mongolia in the 13th century became pivotal in shaping this culture, but Sakya Pandita and Chogyal Phagpa are mostly forgotten in Mongolia now. Understated enthusiasm, kindness and an intelligent nature are a legacy of these lamas, and it is only fitting that the Sakya tradition has a monastery in the capital to help reconnect Mongolians with their Buddhist past.
This historical overview gives us to understand that the Sakya tradition had deep roots in our history and as followers we would like to bring back its sacred teachings to the life of Mongolians.