H.H. Dharma King Jigdal Dagchen Sakya was born into the Phuntsok branch of the Khon lineage in southwestern Tibet in 1929. His father was at that time the supreme leader of the Sakya order—H.H. Dharma King Sakya Trichen. As future leader and throne-holder of the Sakya order, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche received a strict education from his father and other distinguished lamas beginning in his childhood. He systematically learned the teachings of the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The rinpoche later received the unbroken Khon lineage transmission of the Sakya Vajrakilaya and Hevajra initiations and the complete Lamdre Tsogshe (Path and Result), which are the main teachings of the Sakya tradition. Following this, the rinpoche went into a long series of study and meditation retreats. He then conferred the Lamdre Tsogshe to monks, nuns, and laypersons within the Sakya order.
After the passing of his father, the position and authority of the supreme leader of the Sakya order should have been handed down to Dharma King Sakya Trizin of the Drolma Palace according to the tradition of the Sakya order. However, because Dharma King Sakya Trizin was at that time too young, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche exercised the authority of supreme leader of the Sakya order for three years. Later, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche traveled to eastern Tibet to increase his knowledge and experience of the dharma. There the rinpoche met his two root gurus—H.H. Dzongsar Khyentse Jamyang Chokyi Lodro and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rabsal Dawa. Those two masters helped to formulate the rinpoche’s non-sectarian approach to Buddhism. After completing his studies, the rinpoche bestowed initiations and teachings throughout eastern Tibet and established 17 Sakya colleges and 10 retreat centers in that region. In 1955, he conferred the Lamdre Tsogshe to over 1,200 practitioners in eastern Tibet.
In 1959, H.H. Dharma King Dagchen moved to India with his entire family. He was later invited to participate in a research project on Tibetan civilization at the University of Washington. H.H. Dharma King Dagchen availed himself of those karmic conditions and founded the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Seattle, which spreads the Buddha-dharma in the West. He has given extensive empowerments and teachings throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. H.H. Dharma King Dagchen is universally recognized as one of the leaders of the Sakya order.