Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga served as the 41st Sakya Trizin, the throne holder of the Sakya Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, from his appointment in 1952 until his retirement in 2017. His religious name is Ngawang Kunga Tegchen Palbar Trinley Samphel Wangyi Gyalpo. After passing the throne of the Sakya lineage to his elder son Ratna Vajra Rinpoche who became the 42nd Sakya Trizin on 9 March 2017, he is now known as Kyabgon Gongma Trichen Rinpoche. He is considered second only to the Dalai Lama, in the spiritual hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism.
A tulku is a reincarnate custodian of a specific lineage of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism who is given empowerments and trained from a young age by students of his or her predecessor.
Historically, the tulku system of preserving Dharma lineages operated in Tibet with the first being the Karmapas.
After the first Karmapa died in 1193, a lama had recurrent visions of a particular child as his rebirth.
This child (born ca. 1205) was recognized as .
Rinpoche, also spelled Rimboche and Rinboku, is an honorific term used in the Tibetan language.
It literally means "precious one", and may refer to a person, place, or thing—like the words "gem" or "jewel".
The word consists of rin (value), po (nominalizing suffix) and chen (big).
The word is used in the context of Tibetan Buddhism as a way of showing respect when addressing those recognized as reincarnated, older, respected, notable, learned and/or an accomplished Lamas .