Since the Tibetan yogi Kunpang Thukje Tsondru (1243-1313) synthesized 17 transmission lines of the Kalachakra in the mid-13th century, the Jonang tradition has specialized in this unique tantra, its philosophical and cosmological thought, and the ritual life associated with the tantra. According to tradition, in a simultaneous and parallel continuum from the historical Buddha and then on through Maitreyanatha and his disciples is the Great Madhyamaka (dbu ma chen po) meditative tradition and system of sutra zhentong (“shentong,” gzhan stong).
Synthesizing sutra and tantra, the Jonang luminary Kunkhyen Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361) brought these seemingly disparate systems of Indian Buddhist thought together, intersecting the Kalachakra transmission lineages with the Zhentong Great Madhyamaka. Interpreting sutras by means of tantras and vice versa, Dolpopa’s interfusion of the technical tantric vocabulary found within the Kalachakra Tantra with the philosophical language and thinking of Great Madhyamaka consequently redefined the contemplative, intellectual, and literary heritage of the Jonang.
What follows are the lines of transmission or “lineage trees,” depicting the prominent masters from both the Zhentong Great Madhyamaka and the Dro Kalachakra traditions as they are revered by the Jonangpa today:
Zhentong Great Madhyamaka
1. Shakyamuni Buddha
18. Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen 20b
28. Taranatha 32b
Present day lineage masters
* = Non-Jonang Tibetan masters of the Zhentong Madhyamaka lineage.