Jonang

 

Jonang Lineage ChartIn 1294 Kunpang Thukje Tsondru (1243-1313), a disciple of Choku Odzer and holder of the Dro lineage of the Kalachakra Tantra, settled in mountain caves in South Central Tibet in U-Tsang in a place called “Jomonang,” starting the Jonang tradition. The most famous scholar of this school who developed the shentong view of extrinsic or “other” emptiness, Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361), arrived there in 1321. The shentong view was first articulated in Tibet by the Kalachakra yogi Yumo Mikyo Dorje (11th century), a disciple of the Kashmiri scholar Somanatha who along with the Tibetan translator Dro Lotsawa Sherab Drak translated the root tantra of the Kalachakra practice along with the main commentary Stainless Light from Sanskrit into Tibetan and brought the Dro lineage of the Kalachakra Tantra into Tibet.

Until quite recently, it was thought that this school no longer existed. The Fifth Dalai Lama, primarily for political reasons but under the excuse of doctrinal differences, tried to wipe out this sect in the seventeenth century. After the supreme head of the sect at that time, Master Jetsun Tarantha (1575-1641) died in Mongolia, the Jonang monasteries were consolidated into the Geluk system and many of the Jonang texts destroyed or confiscated. Master Tarantha reincarnated as Bogdo Zanabazar (1635-1723), the first Jebtsundampa, becoming the spiritual head of the Geluk lineage in Mongolia. However, those Jonang temples outside of the influence of the central government that were hidden in the mountains in remote areas of eastern Tibet remained and flourished. Some of the most powerful dharma kings in the world today belong to this sect. H. H. Dharma King Jigme Dorje Rinpoche is the current supreme head of the Jonang Sect. The 14th Dalai Lama has appointed the present Jebtsundampa Khutukhtu as the representative of the Jonang tradition in India and affirmed that the earlier suppression of the Jonang was based on political, not doctrinal considerations.

Although the Jonang Dharma King, Ngagwang Pedma Namgyal Palzangpo, has taught the Kalachakra practice in the USA, the Jonang teachings are still not widely known in the West. The Jonang Sect has preserved and holds the highest and most complete form of Kalachakra practice.