Contemporary Jonang Kalacakra Masters and Dharma Centres

For information on previous Jonang masters and their students, please read the excellent online resource at Treasury of Lives here.

Below are some links and information on the main Jonang teachers alive today who are teachings in Dharma Centres within the Jonang Kalacakra tradition, outside of Tibet.

Contemporary Jonang Masters

HH Jetsun Kalkha Dampa

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Kalkha Rinpoche was born in Lhasa in 1932 and conducted much of his studies at Gomang College of Drepung Monastery before departing Tibet for India after 1959. He spent several years working at the radio station in Darjeeling and then eventually settled in Madhya Pradesh with his family. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Dalai Lama appointed him the spiritual head of Buddhism in Mongolia. Though he was unable to live in Mongolia until recently, he expressed his wish publicly to spend his final days there.

The title of “Kalkha” was first bestowed by the Fifth Dalai Lama on the Mongolian-born Lozang Tenpai Gyaltsen (1635-1723) in the year 1642. He was declared as a tulku or reincarnation of the Jonangpa master Taranatha. This line of incarnations continued up until the late 9th Kalkha Rinpoche. In 1997, the Dalai Lama appointed Kalkha Jetsun Dampa as the head of the Jonang tradition in exile, based at Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery in Shimla.

He visited many foreign countries, including USA, Moscow, Kalmyk, Buriyat, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan and Switzerland, where he gave teachings according to the needs and mental dispositions of peoples. When he arrived at the age of seventy-one, on 12th June 2002 (corresponding to the second Non-month of the Water-Horse yearof the seventh Rabjung cycle) Jetsun Dhampa invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Jonang Magon Takten Phunstok Choeling with grand welcome ceremony. His Holiness granted the teachings of the eight former lamas of Jonang, and Innate of Kalachakra (Dus-khor-lhan-skyes) and empowerment rDor-shugs.

His Holiness Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa passed away on March 1st 2012 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The reincarnation has yet to be found.

HE Jigme Dorje Rinpoche

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Supreme head of the Jonang lineage in Tibet, H.E. Jigme Dorjee Rinpoche, is also the leader and abbot of the Jonang Tsangwa Monastery in Dzamthang..

Khentrul Rinpoche

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Renowned Jonang Scholar and Rimé Master of Tibetan Buddhism, Khentrul Rinpoche, studied in 11 monasteries under 25 teachers before becoming Khenpo (teacher) of Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery in Tibet. He was awarded the title of Rimé Master, meaning master of all traditions, by his Root Guru the supreme master Lama Lobsang Trinley in 1997. His vast and comprehensive knowledge offers the West a rare opportunity to engage in Buddhist practice from a non-sectarian point of view and provides unprecedented access to the most profound teachings of Kalachakra Tantra as taught by the Jonangpa.

Khentrul Rinpoche is considered the 7th emanation of Bodhisattva Akasagarbha. His previous reincarnations appeared twice in Eastern Tibet as the great yogic master Ngawang Chözin Gyatso and his subsequent incarnation as the Golok scholar Getse Khentrul.

Today, Khentrul Rinpoche is a highly realised Vajra Master of Kalachakra Tantra. He is known for his pure morality, incredible scholarship, meditative attainments and deep unwavering compassion.

Rinpoche has written and published more than 10 books in Tibetan and other languages; while also being an advisor to many monasteries and spiritual organisations.

For more information see his website at: http://khentrulrinpoche.com/

Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

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Tulku Tashi Gyaltsan Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual leader of the Dorje Ling Buddhist Centers, located in Brooklyn, NY and Atlanta, GA. Rinpoche was born in Amdo-Golok, Tibet. According to witnesses of his birth, the first sound he uttered was the Guru Siddhi Mantra. At the age of 10, he attended a local school and graduated from high school in 1984.Rinpoche is recognized as the reincarnation of Jetsun Taranatha and as the throne-holder of the 700-year-old Jonang Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

After graduation, having no attachment to samsara, he abandoned the temporary benefits of the material world and began his training in the Lomgya Monastery. It is here at the Lomgya Monastery that His Holiness Penam Rinpoche, the supreme head of the Jonang Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, recognized Tashi Rinpoche as the incarnation of Jetsun Taranatha, a famous scholar and yogi in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.

In an effort to preserve the Jonang Tradition, he built a large stupa and helped rebuild the monastery in Gandhi, Golok, and has preserved and reprinted many traditional texts and teachings so they may be available for the people in his homeland.

Tulku Kunga Chopel-Kyabge Rinpoche

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Drog-ge Tulku Kunga Chophel (commonly known as Kyabge Rinpoche) was born in Amdo Ngawa in the year of 1970. His mother’s name was Drenpa and his father was called Thogme. From his earliest days he maintained uninterruptedly that he was the rebirth of a master from Drog-ge monastery and frequently visited the great representation of the dharma protectors there. At the age of 8 he went before the master Khar Tulku and received the monastic ordination from him. He then began his formal education by way of enrolling at Drog-ge monastery as a student. At the age of 17 he received from the Vajra Master, the precious teacher Kunga Thugje Pal, the extensive Kalachakra empowerment as well as the instructions on the Six-Limbed Vajra Yoga of Kalachakra. He practiced them extensively in seclusion for 3 years. Then he proceeded to train in the profound practice of severance (commonly known as Chod) by following the age-old tradition of roaming about the countryside to practice in 100 different secluded locations.

In the year 1997, he came to India as a refugee. Both the refuge and protector of beings, H.H. the 14th Dalai lama Tenzin Gyatso, as well as the lord of refuge H.H. the Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, advised him to travel to the south of India to enroll in the Gomang institute of Drepung monastery, in order to further his studies.

Tulku Kunga Chophel then proceeded to study under the kind guidance of the Drepung Tri Tinpoche (the throne holder of Drepung) and the teachers Yonten Gyatso and Jigme Gyatso as well as others. For 11 years he studied the subjects of logic and dialectics, signs and reasoning, epistemology and transcendent knowledge (known as Prajnaparamita) and Madhyamaka.

Both Choje Kirti Rinpoche and H.H. the Khalha Jetsun Dhampa then recognized him again as the unmistaken rebirth of Jamyang Khenrab Gyatso of Jonang Drog-ge monastery. And hence there was a celebration of the enthronement of reincarnation of the great Jamjang Khyenrab Gyatso at the Takten House, Dharamsala and also at Drepung-Gomang monastery, respectively. In the year 2007, he was the leader of the “reincarnation committee” of Drepung Gomang. He formally passed all required examinations in the Gomang institute of Drepung monastery and accordingly received the title of Khenpo.

Fulfilling the request of H. H. the Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, he then went to the Jonang Takten Phuntsok Choeling monastery in Shimla, north India. There he immediately began his assignment as a teacher to the young monks and also took the responsibility of Principal of the Jonang Takten Buddhist education school. And moreover, he was the second chairman of “Culture Conservative Society” of the same monastery.

He is now the abbot of the Jonang Centre in Mongolia.

Lama Yonten Gyamtso

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Lama Yonten Gyaltso was born in 1966 in a poor rural family in a village of Ngava (Tibetan region of Amdo). At the age of seven years his mother brought him to a famous and holy Lama called Loden, and the Lama told her that her son is a noble being and after growing up he would be able to benefit a lot of people. Lama Yonten Gyaltso received monastic ordination from him. Under the guidance of a monk, teacher of Tantric rituals, called Dogyu, he learned the Tantric texts and rituals by heart and
passed the respective examination in one of the largest monasteries of Jonang tradition, Ser Gompa.
In this monastery he also studied the five minor sciences: 1) poetry, 2) etymology, 3) lexicography, 4) astrology, 5) dance and drama. He received training in various practices of Kalachakra tradition under the guidance of Lama Vajradhara Tukje Pal. When he was seventeen years old, Lama Yonten Gyaltso passed the exams on Kalachakra-Tantra and went to three-year retreat for practicing the Tantra. He was highly praised by results of the retreat by his teacher, who was considered to be incarnation of the Omniscient Dolpopa. Lama Yonten was one of his best students on Kalachakra-Tantra. Upon
completion of the three-year retreat, he went to another one – for meditations of Shamatha, Vipashyana and Mahamudra – beside the monastery, for one year.
After that he left for Lhasa for long retreats, where he meditated a lot. He did it at such retreat places around Lhasa as caves of the Omniscient Dolpopa (in the Central Tibet), Milarepa, Chok Gyalwa, Nyaponpa, Tangtong Gyalpo, Kunga Drolchok and others.
Since the age of twenty-one years Lama Yonten Gyaltso studied the Buddhist theory of valid cognition for ten years. He taught philosophy for one year and held classes at the Kalachakra department of Tantric rituals for four years.
Lama Yonten Gyaltso arrived in India in 1997. He first studied philosophy in Dalai Lama’s philosophy school for three years. Under the guidance of the teacher called Nangwa Pal, he mastered the five treatises of Buddhist philosophy: 1) Perfection of Wisdom, 2) Middle Way, 3) Valid Cognition, 4) Monastic Discipline, 5) Treasure of Knowledge, – and he taught philosophy to many students nearJonang caves. His teacher was called Chopel. Then he entered the monastery Jonang Takten Puntsok
Choeling in Shimla. He was abbot of this monastery for five years.
The head of Jonang school, Bogdo Gegen Khalkha Jetsun Damba Rinpoche IX, recognized as Taranatha’s incarnation, authorized Lama Yonten Gyaltso to transmit the vast Dharma teachings of Jonang tradition in Russia and other countries. Since 2003, he spends most of his time in Russia, sharing his knowledge and experience with students. He also teaches in Ukraine and Moldova.
In 2009 “Jonangpa” Dharma center was opened in Moscow under the Lama’s guidance, where his students train in preliminary practices (Ngondro) of Kalachakra tradition, practices of Phowa (Transference of Consciousness to Pure Lands), Shamatha (one-pointed meditation), Vipashyana (insight) and Mahamudra (Great Seal – profound teachings on the nature of mind), study philosophy, receive oral instructions, transmission of Mantras and explanations on practices.
By that time there are also Dharma centers and groups of practitioners in different cities of Russia like Saint-Petersburg, Kazan and Zelenodolsk (Tatarstan Republic), Sochi, Kyzyl (Tuva Republic), Crimea Republic, Krasnodar and countries like Moldova (Kishinev) and Belorussia (Minsk).

Dharma Centres

List of Centres on the International Kalacakra Network

Jonang Russian Centres

Shambhala Centre, Moscow, Russia

Jonang Kyabje Rinpoche Dharma Centre, Mongolia

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018, Adele Tomlin.