INTRODUCTION TO THE JONANG TRADITION
|The great Jonang Stupa or Kumbum
Courtesy © Don
The Jonang tradition is the primary holder of the Dro transmission
and practice lineage of the Kalachakra Tantra, the Six Yogas of the
Kalachakra completion stage, and the Zhentong (gzhan stong) or "emptiness
of other" view.
Among the early Tibetan masters of what later became the Jonang tradition
was Yumo Mikyo Dorje, an 11th century yogi and student of the great
Kashmiri scholar Somanatha. Though the Zhentong view originates in India
according to the Jonang tradition, it was Yumo Mikyo Dorje who first
to widely expounded these teachings in Tibet. In the 13th century, Kunpang
Tukje Tsondru established a main monastery at Jomonang in South Central
Tibet, thus giving rise to the name Jonang. In the 14th century, Kunkhyen
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen wrote prolifically on Zhentong and the Kalachakra
Tantra. Jetsun Taranatha later arranged the tantric practices of the
Jonang and popularized the Zhentong teachings in Central Tibet. These
teachings have become the core of the Jonang tradition as it survives
In the 17th century, during the rule of Fifth Dalai Lama, the Geluk
persecuted the Jonang and forcibly closed or converted the Jonang monasteries
in Central Tibet. After this persecution, the Jonang were thought to
have become extinct.
Recently, a number of remote Jonang monasteries were "re-discovered".
In these monasteries the Jonang tradition continues its studies and
practices uninterruptedly up to the present. Nowadays, His Holiness
the 14th Dalai Lama has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the
preservation of the Jonang tradition and their Kalachakra practice.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JONANG
According to the Jonang, the Zhentong view of emptiness was taught
by the Buddha, elaborated in India, and later transmitted into Tibet.
Among the early Tibetan authors on Zhentong was Yumo Mikyo Dorje (yu
mo mi bskyod rdo rje), an 11th century Kalachakra yogi. He was a disciple
of Somanatha, the Sanskrit Pandit and Kalachakra master from Kashmir
who translated the Vimalaprabha - the great Kalachakra commentary
- into Tibetan with Dro Lotsawa. Yumo is said to have received the Zhentong
teachings while practicing the Kalachakra six-limbed yoga in the Mt.
Kailash area of Western Tibet. He then taught Zhentong as a "secret
doctrine" (lkog pa'i chos) to his closest disciples.
In 1294, Kunpang Tukje Tsondru (1243-1313) founded the main Jonang
monastery in "Jomonang", which gave the name to the tradition.
Reportedly, this monastery was modeled on the traditional layout of
the Kingdom of Shambhala as shown on Shambhala thangka paintings.
Tukje Tsondru also arranged and gathered together the Six Yoga Kalachakra
practice traditions that existed in Tibet at that time. 
In the early 14th century, Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (also written "Dolbuwa,"
1292-1361) became the main figure of the Jonang. After studying each
of the existing Buddhist traditions in Tibet including the Sakya, Kagyu,
and Nyingma, Dolpopa settled in Jomonang. Dolpopa then served as the
abbot of Jonang Monastery and in the year 1333 completed the Great Stupa
of Jonang. 
Dolpopa was the first to extensively teach Zhentong. In his most famous
work, Mountain Dharma: An Ocean of Definitive Meaning (ri chos
nges don rgya mtsho), Dolpopa clarified the Zhentong view. These are
referred to as the teachings of the "Heart's Meaning" (snying
The Jonang has generated a number of renowned Buddhist scholars. Among
these was Jetsun Taranatha (1575-1634). Taranatha placed great emphasis
on the Kalachakra Tantra and founded Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery
(near Shigatse). He is widely known as one of the greatest scholars,
historians, and practitioners of his time (the current Eminence the
Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa is considered a reincarnation of Taranatha).
Two of Taranatha's best known works are his History of Buddhism
in India and Origins of the Tara Tantra, or as it is also
called, The Golden Rosary.
In the mid 17th century, the Jonang came under attack by the Geluk
under the rule of the Fifth Dalai Lama. The Geluk considered the Zhentong
view of emptiness to be heretical, and they sealed Jonang libraries,
burned Jonang books, and forcibly converted Jonang monasteries into
Geluk monasteries. However, the Geluk's real reason for their effort
in eradicating the Jonang tradition was political, as the Jonang had
politically 'dangerous' contacts with the Mongolians for the ruling
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama confirmed this view in Glenn Mullin's
The Fourteen Dalai Lamas (p.207):
"These monasteries were closed for political reasons, not religious
ones, and their closing had nothing to do with sectarianism. They
had supported the Tsangpa king in the uprising, thus committing treason.
The Great Fifth believed that they should be closed in order to insure
the future stability of the nation, and to dissuade other monasteries
from engaging in warfare.
His Holiness continued, The fact is that the Great Fifth passed laws
outlawing sectarian skirmishes, and passed laws ensuring the freedom
of religion. This freedom was extended to not only the Buddhist schools,
but also to the non-Buddhist ones. For example, he kept a Bonpo lama
in his entourage to speak for the interests of the Bon movement. And
on a personal level, he himself practiced so many non-Gelukpa lineages
that the Gelukpas criticized him for straying from his roots."
Following this repression, it was generally believed that the Jonang
tradition had become extinct. Recently, however, it was 'discovered'
that as many as seventy Jonang monasteries are still active in isolated
areas of Tibet/China. This includes the main monastery called Tsangwa
Monastery located in Dzamthang. Monasteries are also found in the Amdo
region. Presumably, these remnants survived because they were far from
the Geluk capital in Lhasa, and closer to sympathetic powers of the
Qing Dynasty in China.
As Dolpopa's and many Jonang author's works were banned in the 17th
century, these works became extremely rare. In the 1970's and 1980's
a few of theses books were re-discovered and re-printed (the U.S. Library
of Congress owns Dolpopa's Collected Works, which was reprinted
in Delhi, 1992).
During the absorption/eradication of the Jonang in Central Tibet, the
Geluk embraced their Kalachakra teachings, becoming an important part
of the Geluk tradition. Taranatha's influence on Geluk thinking continues
even to this day in the teachings of the present 14th Dalai Lama who
actively promotes the Kalachakra Tantra.
The 'Dro' Kalachakra tradition from the Jonang has also been preserved
by other Tibetan Buddhist traditions and is still taught by masters
of the Kagyu (eg. by Shangpa Kagyu masters Kalu Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche,
Tenga Rinpoche) and the Sakya (eg. by H.E. Chogye Trichen of the Sakya
Today, there are about seventy active Jonang monasteries in Tibet.
Tsangwa Monastery in Dzamthang is home to about 1,500 monks, and there
are estimated to be about 5,000 Jonang monks in this remote region of
Tibet. As a gesture of his support for the Jonang, His Holiness the
Fourteenth Dalai Lama gifted the Jonang their first and only monastery
in exile in Shimla, Northern India. This was named Takten Phuntsok Ling
Monastery and is now the main center for the Jonang outside of Tibet.
 His Holiness also appointed Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa
Rinpoche, who is the reincarnation of the famous Jonang master Taranatha
and head of the Gelug tradition in Mongolia, to be the main representative
for the Jonangpa tradition. There are also Jonang practice centers in
mainland China, Taiwan, Nepal, and the USA . And,
unique for the Kalachakra tradition, hundreds of sangha members are
in 3-year or longer retreats in Tibet as this is written.
THE JONANG LINEAGE
This list is far from complete, and was mainly extracted from 
The Kalachakra lineage
||Shambhala Rigden Kings
||Khentsum Yontan Gyatso
||Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
||Second Kalachakrapada (Shirbatra)
||Panchen Dawa Gonpo (SKT?)
||Nyabon Kunga pal
||Dou Sherab Dakpa
||Lhagay Gompa Konchosung
||Jamyang Konchok Sangpo
||Lama Droton Namtseng
|| Yumo Mikyo Dorje
||Choske Wangchuk (Dharmeshvara)
||Jetsun Kunga Drolchok
||Machig Tulku Jobum
||Khenpo Lundrig Gyatso
|| Jetsun Taranatha
||Sherab Odzer (Jamsarwa)
||Kunga Rinchen Gyatso
||Kunpang Tukje Tsondru
||Chalungwa Nawang Thinley
||(Establishment of Jomonang monastery
& appearance of the name "Jonang")
||Tsangpa Nawang Tenzin Gyaltsen
||Changsem Gyalwa Yeshe
By Michael Sheehy
& Rudy Harderwijk
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND LINKS
 World of the Ancient Sages
- History of the living Jonang lineage, exclusive holders of the
Kalachakra completion stage. By Akhyong Yarthang Tulku Thupwang
on Jonang however, it may contain some serious mistakes...
 Rime Tibetan Buddhist
Life of Zanabazar: The First Bogd Gegen of Mongolia: Zanabazar's
First Trip to Tibet
 Information from Edward Henning.
page of http://theosophy.org.htm and http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/T_0063.htm