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The Jonang (Tibetan: ཇོ་ནང་Wylie: Jo-nang) is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school. The Jonang school was widely thought to have become extinct in the late 17th century, but active monasteries have recently become known of in the West.

The Jonang tradition is active in Golok, Nakhi and Mongol areas of Kham and Amdo with the school's seat (Wylie: gdan sa) at Dzamthang Monastery. An estimated 5000 monks and nuns of the Jonang tradition practice today in these areas and at the edges of historic Gelug influence. However, their teachings were limited to these regions until the Rimé movement of the 19th century encouraged the study of non-Gelug schools of thought and practice.[1][2]


The monk Künpang Tukjé Tsöndrü (Wylie: kun spangs thugs rje brtson 'grus, 1243-1313) established a kumbum or stupa-vihara in the Jomonang Valley about 160 kilometres (99 mi) northwest of the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Ü-Tsang (modern Shigatse). The Jonang tradition took its name from this monastery, which was significantly expanded by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361).[3]

The Jonang tradition combines two specific teachings, what has come to be known as the shentong philosophy of śūnyatā, and the Dro lineage of the Kalachakra Tantra. The origin of this combination in Tibet is traced to the master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, an 11th/12th century pupil of the Kashmiri master Somanatha.[4]

After several centuries of independence, however, in the late 17th century the Jonang order and its teachings were suppressed by the 5th Dalai Lama, who converted the majority of their monasteries in Tibet to the Gelug order, although several survived in secret.[5] The order remained in power in parts of Kham and Amdo centered on Dzamthang Monastery.

The Jonang school generated a number of renowned Buddhist scholars, like Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen,[5][6] but its most famous was Taranatha (1575–1634), who placed great emphasis on the Kalachakra Tantra.

After the Jonang monasteries and practitioners in Gelug-controlled regions were forcibly converted, Jonang Kalachakra teachings were absorbed into the Gelug school. Taranatha's influence on Gelug thinking continues even to this day in the teaching of the present 14th Dalai Lama, who actively promotes initiation into Kalachakra.

Works emphasized by Jonang (Dolpopa)

The Ten Primary Tathagathagarbha Sutras /Essence Sutras (Syning po'i mdo)

According to Dolpopa, Reply to Questions (344-45),[7] and:[8]

  • Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra (engl: Sutra on the Tathagata Essence, tib. De bzhin gshegs pa'i snying po'i mdo)
  • Avikalpapraveśadhāraṇī (engl: Dharani for Entering the Nonconceptual, tib Rnam par mi rtog pa la 'jug pa'i gzungs)
  • Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra (engl. Sutra of the Lions Roar of Srimaladevi)
  • Mahābherīsūtra (Sutra of the Great Drum)
  • Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra (Sutra to Benefit Angulimala)
  • Śūnyatānāmamahāsūtra (Sutra of Great Emptiness)
  • Tathāgatamahākaruṇānirdeśasūtra (aka Dhāraṇīśvararājasūtra) (Sutra Presenting the Great Compassion of the Tathagata)
  • Tathāgataguṇajñānācintyaviṣayāvatāranirdeśasūtra (Sutra Presenting the Inconceivable Qualities and Primordial Awareness of the Tathagata)
  • Mahāmeghasūtra (Extensive Sutra of the Great Cloud)
  • Parinirvāṇasūtra and Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (these two are counted as one) (Sutra of Great Nirvana)


  • Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra
  • Ãryadhāraṇīśvararāja Sūtra [also known as the Tathāgatamahākaruṇānirdeśa Sūtra]
  • Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra
  • Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra
  • Śrīmālādevīsiṃhanāda Sūtra
  • Jñānalokālaṃkāra Sūtra
  • Anunatra-pūrṇatvānirdeśaparivarta Sūtra
  • Mahābheri Sūtra
  • Avikalpapraveśadhāraṇī Sūtra
  • Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra

Five/Ten Sutras of Definite Meaning (Nges don mdo)


  • Pañcaśatikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra (Perfection of Wisdom in 500 Lines)
  • the “Maitreya Chapter” (Maitreya's Questions in 18000 bzw 25000 Lines Prajnaparamita Sutra)
  • Ghanavyūhasūtra (tib. Rgyan btug po'i mdo)
  • Praśāntaviniścayaprātihāryanāmasamādhisūtra (Sutra on Utterly Quiescent and Certain Magical Meditative Concentrations)
  • Ratnameghasūtra (Clouds of Jewels Sutra)


  • Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtra (eng. Great Excellent Golden Light, tib. Gser 'od dam chen)
  • Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra (Definite Commentary on the Intenion)
  • Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
  • Sarvabuddhaviṣayāvatārajñānālokālaṃkārasūtra (Sutra Ornament of the Appearance...)
  • Buddhāvataṃsakasūtra (Avatamsaka Sutra, Flower Ornament Sutra)

Five works of Maitreya

The Bodhisattva Triology (sems 'grel skor gsum)


  • Vimalaprabha (engl: A Stainless Light, Toh 1347) from Kalki Pundariki a Commentary about : The Abbre. Kalachakra
  • Hevajrapindarthakika (Toh 1180) from Vajragarbha a Commentary about The Tantra in two Forms (Hevajra)
  • Laksabhidhanaduddhrtalaghutantrapindarthavivarana (Toh 1402) from Vajrapani a Commentary about Chakrasamvara

Prajna-Paramita Commentaries

According to Dolpopa:[12]

  • The Question of Maitreya, sanskrit: Maitreya-pariprrccha, tib: Byang chub sems dpa’i bslab pa rab tu dbye ba’i le’u, Author: Shakyamuni
  • Long Explanation of Perfect Wisdom Sutra in 100000 Lines, tib: ‘Phags pa shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa ‘bum gyi rgya cher ‘grel, Author: ‘bum tik mkan po, (Gn1/Peking 5202/TOH 3807 )
  • Long Explanation of Perfect Wisdom Sutra in 100000, 25000 and 18000 Lines, sanskrit: Arya-sata-sahasrika-panca-vimsati-sahasrika-stadasa-sahasrika-prajna-paramita-bhrat-tika, also called panca - vimasati-sahasrika-paddhati, tib: Nyi khri gzung’grel, Author: Vasubhandu, Translator: Yeshe De (Gn2, Peking 5206/ TOH 3808)
  • Amnayanusarini (bhagavaty—amnayanusarini—nama—vyakhyana), Author: Zhi na ‘byung gnas, “the glorious king, the foremost guru living in Jagaddala, the master Santasambhava/Santyakara (TOH 3811)
  • Prajnaparamita-pindartha, Author: Dignaga (TOH 3797)


  1. Gruschke 2001, p.72
  2. Gruschke, Andreas (2002). "Der Jonang-Orden: Gründe für seinen Niedergang, Voraussetzungen für das Überdauern und aktuelle Lage". In Blezer, Henk; Zadoks, A. Tibet, Past and Present: Tibetan Studies 1. Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000. Brill. pp. 183–214. ISBN 978-90-04-12775-3. 
  3. Buswell, Robert E; Lopez, Donald S, eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 401. ISBN 9780691157863. 
  4. Stearns, Cyrus (2002). The Buddha from Dolpo : a study of the life and thought of the Tibetan master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-8120818330. , p. 19
  5. 5.0 5.1 page 73
  6. Newland, Guy (1992). The Two Truths: in the Mādhyamika Philosophy of the Ge-luk-ba Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Ithaca, New York, USA: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 0-937938-79-3. p.29
  7. Brunnholzl (2015), When Clouds apart, p. 4
  8. Stearns (2010): The Buddha from Dolpo, p. 316 (28)
  10. Stearns (2010): The Buddha from Dolpo, p. 316 (29)
  11. Stearns (2010): The Buddha from Dolpo, p. 316 (27)
  12. Gareth Sparham: “Demons on the Mother: Objections to the Perfect Wisdom Sutras in Tibet”, and Dolpopa: (MDBT) Shes rab kyi phar rol tu phyin pa man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa’i rgyan gyi rnam bshad mdo’i don bde blag tu rtog(s) pa


External links