Harvard Divinity School Talk

Please join us for Michael’s lecture, “A Buddhist Tradition on the Edge: The Migration and Marginalization of the Jonangpa in Tibet”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 4:15 – 6pm

At the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR), Harvard Divinity School

sheehy_jonang_hds_cswr_2013Until recently, the Jonangpa were thought by many to be extinct. Consensus opinion was that they were a fringe movement who made their mark on Tibet’s early history, but who were vanquished in the 17th century as a consequence of their demise under the Ganden Potrang centralized government. It was thought that their obituary was written by their conquerors; that their distinct views and practices only survived via alternative Tibetan orders such as the Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu. This was the storyline that dominated the conversations about them, conversations driven by Western Tibetologists as well as by Tibetans who lived outside the influences of the remote valleys of Dzamthang, Gyarong, Ngawa, and Golok—on the margins of the far eastern Tibetan frontier, where the Jonangpa have lived for centuries. Reconsidering popular narratives that have come to dominate perceptions of the Jonangpa, we will examine the history of this marginalized Buddhist tradition from their post-Taranatha (1575-1635) era up to the contemporary tradition. Special attention will be given to select biographies and writings of several of the major figures that contributed to a 19th century renaissance of Jonang scholasticism in Amdo. In doing so, we will chart the migration of the Jonangpa from their seat at the center of the Tibetan cultural world to its periphery.