Jonang Sites: Background Information

Since the establishment of their first monastic seat (gdan sa) in the late 13th century, the Jonangpa have founded and maintained sites throughout the Tibetan geo-cultural domain. These sites include small monasteries (dgon pa ), large monastic complexes with Buddhist studies institutes (bshad grwa) and retreat facilities (sgrub khang), nunneries ( bstun ma’i dgon), stupas (mchod rten), mountain hermitages (ri khrod) and meditation caves ( sgrub phug). Spanning the Tibetan plateau, sites of the Jonang are located in South Central (U-Tsang), Western (Ngari), Eastern (Kham) and the Far Eastern regions of Tibet (Amdo).

From the 13th through the mid-17th century, the Jonangpa had numerous sites scattered throughout U-Tsang and Ngari. Jomonang, the original establishment of the Jonangpa was home to Kunpang Thukje Tsondru (1243-1313), Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361) and many of the great early Jonang masters while Takten Damcho Ling (Phuntsok Ling) was the enormous monastic complex founded by Jetsun Taranatha (1575-1653). With the political persecution of the Jonangpa in U-Tsang beginning in the year 1650, the tradition began to make its home in the remote valleys of Amdo.

Today, there are more than 70 active Jonang sites in the Amdo region of Tibet (Qinghai Province, China). As reflected in our database, sites are primarily in the counties of Dzamthang, Ngawa, Gyarong and Golok. Among these is Tsangwa Monastery in the county of Dzamthang, the central monastic seat of the Jonangpa and home to approximately 1,500 monks and nuns. Throughout Dzamthang county alone, there are approximately 5,000 Jonang monks and nuns in more than 20 sites including mountain hermitages and affiliate monasteries (dgon lag) of Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery.

Outside of Tibet, the Jonangpa maintain Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery in Shimla, Northwestern India where there are presently over 70 young monks. There are also Jonang monasteries under reconstruction and revivification in Mongolia and Russia, as well as Jonang centers of learning and practice in Taiwan, Nepal and the United States (New York and Georgia).

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