A Ngor Kalachakra Mandala

Ngor Kalachakra Mandala Kalachakra Mandala Mandala

One of my favorite themes in tantric Buddhism is the mandala. The replicated symmetry of a perfected space and the implicit dialogue between the deity and the various facets of its environment have always fascinated me.

Recently, I had a chance to look closely at one specific mandala of the Kālachakra, one that is unlike the typical depiction. [1] This particular mandala was commissioned by Lhachok Sengé (1468-1535) from Ngor Evam Choden Monastery, and is one of...

Tāranātha’s Travels in Mongolia

There is an intriguing and somewhat mystifying narrative that has been popularized about the Tibetan Jonang master Tāranātha (1575-1635). This narrative suggests an account of Tāranāha's life story in which he traveled to Mongolia from his seat at
Takten Damchö Ling Monastery
in Central Tibet during the latter part of his life and that while there, he established several monasteries before finally passing away in Ulan Bator, the capital city in the republic of the Mongols.

This narrative on Tāranāha's travels and death in Mongolia has become so popular and widely accepted as factual that it is often the standard...

The Life of Buddhagupta-nātha

The following post is titled, A Brief Sketch of the Life of Buddhagupta-nātha . By Thomas Roth, a contributing author to the Jonangpa blog.

Buddhagupta02.jpg Buddhagupta

Jonang Jetsun Rinpoche, better known as Jonang Tāranātha (1575-1635), is well known for the many histories that he authored. Especially his famous History of Buddhism in India , The Seven Instruction Lineages and the Origin of the Tārā-Tantras , as well as his Kālacakra and Vajrabhairava histories, give us a fairly good idea of the development of many siddha lineages in...

Kongtrul's Jonangpa Connections

799.fpx&obj=iip,1.0&wid=637&hei=1100&rgn=0.0,-9.107468E-4,1.00000000,1_0.jpg Jamgon Kongtrul

One of the most fascinating figures in Tibetan history, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé (1813-1899) is also one of the most studied Tibetan masters. In addition to several articles on his life and works, numerous volumes of his writings and compendiums have now been translated into English and other European languages, including his autobiography, A Gem of Many Colors . [1] Though his works are well known and he is often considered a reviver of Tibetan traditions including the Jonang, his connections with Jonangpa masters have not been made explicit. In order to reveal some of these connections, I recently started to sift through his record of received transmissions ( gsan yig ), and I thought to jot a few notes here. [2]

Are there Geluk Zhentongpas?

Are there Geluk zhentongpas? This is a question that I've been asking for some time. Fortunately, a set of rare texts that were recently recovered from Tibet may shed some light on this. Made available in late 2007, there are four published books by two authors of the Geluk tradition that deserve particular attention. These manuscripts were collected from library archives in Tibet and reproduced via computer input as part of the longer Mes po'i shul bzhag series published by China’s Tibetology Publishing House (Beijing, 2007). This set of works includes the three volume Collected Works of Gungru Gyaltsen Zangpo (1383-1450), and one volume from the writings of Kunkhyen Lodrö...

The 21 Tārās of Sūrya-Gupta

The following post is titled, "A Description of the Various Aspects of Tārā as Contained in Jonang Tāranātha’s Ocean of Yidam Deities , the 100 Deities of Narthang and the Vajrāvalī of Abhayākara-Gupta." This is the 2nd in a 2 part series. By Thomas Roth, a contributing author to the Jonangpa blog.

There are at least four traditions of describing the 21 Tārās. [1] Those of Sūrya-Gupta (7th/8th cent.), Atīśa Dipaṃkara (982-1054), Longchen Rabjampa (1308-1363), and Terchen Chokgyur Lingpa (1829-1870). The latter three traditions are very similar in so far as the individual Tārās are described as varying only slightly in body color...

Tāranātha’s Descriptions of Tārā

The following post is titled, "A Description of the Various Aspects of Tārā as Contained in Jonang Tāranātha’s Ocean of Yidam Deities , the 100 Deities of Narthang and the Vajrāvalī of Abhayākara-Gupta." This is the 1st in a 2 part series. By Thomas Roth, a contributing author to the Jonangpa blog.

8green_tara2_600x845a.jpg 8 Armed Tara

Jonang Tāranātha’s famous compilation of yidam deities, known as the Ocean of Yidam Deities , contains the descriptions and short sādhanas for altogether 417 deities. Among them are no less than 42 aspects of Tārā. Tāranātha’s Ocean of Yidam Deities has often been published in omnibus with two other, smaller collections. Namely the 100 Deities of Narthang and the Vajrāvalī , compiled by the famous 12th century Indian scholar and tantric master Abhayākara-Gupta. [1]

The 100 Deities of Narthang contains another two aspects of Tārā, whereas there is only a single one to be found in the Vajrāvalī. That however, is the most important form of Vajra Tārā, whose practice was very widespread, particularly in the Indian regions of Bhaṅgala and Oḍiviśa, which corresponds to most of present-day Bangladesh and the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Dolpopa's Elusive Kalachakra Annotations

This post is titled, Dolpopa's Elusive Annotations to the Kālachakra Commentary . By Cyrus Stearns, a contributing author to the Jonangpa blog.

Dolpopa's fabled annotations to the Stainless Light commentary on the Kālachakra Tantra remain elusive. An incomplete annotated manuscript of the Stainless Light (missing chapter 5) was reproduced in the Paltseg Kālachakra Commentary Series . This text was mistakenly identified as Dolpopa's annotations, although in the booklet accompanying the collection the publisher does acknowledge the uncertainty of the identification. The manuscript is actually another, somewhat variant, copy of Chogle Namgyal's annotations (also published in vols. 4–5 of the same collection), not those of...

Notes on Jonang Series II

The second set in the Jonang Publication Series ( Jo nang dpe tshogs ) was recently published (vols. 11-21) in Beijing. [1] This annual series is dedicated to making select works on sūtra and tantra from the Jonang exegetical tradition available in softcover book form. Each Tibetan text in the series was chosen from the corpus of Jonang Tibetan Buddhist literature, and several of the rare works included in the series have only recently been recovered through our efforts at Jonang Foundation.

Texts were digitally inputted and edited by Tibetan Jonang scholars and monks in China as part of this ongoing publication project. Selections...

The Quintessence of Zhentong

Thinking about this well structured collection of 108 instructions, I thought to pick a few and post them. Feeling predictable, I wanted to start with what you may expect to find on this blog, the instructions on zhentong (#25). However, as we read through this instruction, its presentation is perhaps less obvious than expected (or maybe not).

What makes this particular instruction so interesting is that it seems to be the only surviving fragment of the writings attributed to the Tibetan master Tsen Khawoché (b. 1021), a major figure in the transmission of zhentong and the Five Treatises of Maitreya .” [1] Again, we...