Article

Jonang

Michael Sheehy

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online December 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0097
Jonang

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Jonang (also known as jo nang, jo nang pa, or Jonangpa) is a distinct order of Buddhism in Tibet. Early forefathers of the Jonang include Tsen Kawoché (b. 1021) and the Kālacakra master Yumo Mikyo Dorje (b. 1027). The term Jonangpa first occurred in reference to those who settled in the surrounding caves in the Jomonang (jo mo nang) valley in south-central Tibet, starting with the arrival of Kunpang Tukjé Tsöndru (b. 1243–d. 1313) in the year 1294. By the early 14th century, with the presence of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (b. 1292–d. 1361) at the Jonang mountain hermitage, the Jonangpa community of hermits and yogis had grown to form a distinct identity with their own scholastic tradition and esoteric lineage transmissions. Dolpopa became renowned in Tibet for his innovative exegesis on Indian Buddhist philosophical literature, most notably on the Prajñāpāramitā and Kālacakra Tantra. Interpreting Buddhist sutras and tantras, Dolpopa’s works enunciate a view that qualifies relative reality to be empty of inherent existence, termed rangtong (self-empty, rang stong), juxtaposed to zhentong (other-empty, shentong, gzhan stong), that which is empty of everything other than the ultimate enlightened essence or tathāgata-garbha. These teachings on zhentong sparked historic controversy in Tibet and became a hallmark of the Jonang contemplative and philosophical tradition. By the 16th century, the Jonang order played an integral role in the religious, intellectual, and cultural life of Tibet, having established nearly thirty monasteries and formed institutional relations with the Sakya, Kagyü, and Kadampa Buddhist orders. Much of this was due to Kunga Drolchok (b. 1507–d. 1566), who assumed leadership at Jonang for nearly twenty years, and undertook the nonsectarian project of recording essential practice instructions from Tibet’s disparate Buddhist lineages. With Kunga Drolchok’s successor, the renaissance figure Tāranātha (b. 1575–d. 1635), the Jonangpa were at their historical apex, and the newly founded Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery became the center for Jonangpa activity. Patronized by the governor of Tsang, Tāranātha’s power-seat became a political target during the rise of the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Mongol army. After Tāranātha’s death, Phuntsok Ling Monastery, along with each Jonang monastery in central Tibet, was forcefully confiscated by the Geluk order. Sequestered from their homeland, the Jonangpa made their way across the Tibetan plateau and resettled in the remote valley of Dzamthang. During the mid- to late-19th century, the Jonangpa underwent a revival with the emergence of several extraordinary Jonang masters and the Rimé eclecticism put forth by Jamgön Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The Jonangpa continue to transmit their tradition and establish monasteries throughout far-eastern Tibet.

Article.  5972 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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