The Sutra Lineage of Zhentong Madhyamaka

The definitive Zhentong view was first taught by Buddha Shakyamuni in the second and third turnings of the Wheel of Dharma, being transmitted only to devotees whose minds were considered ripe for these profound teachings. On the basis of these teachings, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, the regent of Buddha Shakyamuni, taught five great treatises:

  1. The Ornament of Clear Realization (Skt. Abhisamayalankara)
  2. The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras (Skt. Mahayanasutralankara)
  3. Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Skt. Madhyantavibhaga)
  4. Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata (Skt. Dharma-dharmata-vibhaga)
  5. The Sublime Continuum (Skt. Uttaratantra Shastra)

These texts were transmitted to Asanga, a monk who beheld a vision of Maitreya after meditating in a cave for 12 years. The lineage was later carried by great Indian masters such as Vasubandhu, Saraha and Gangamaitri and others. It came to Tibet in the 11th century through the translator Zi Lotsawa Gawé Dorje and Tsen Khawoche Drimé Sherab, and was transmitted in an unbroken line to the omniscient Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen in the 14th century.

Lineage Masters
1.  Primordial Buddha (Svabhavikakaya)
2.  Vajradhara (Dharmakaya)
3.  Vajrasattva (Sambhogakaya)
4.  Buddha Shakyamuni (Nirmanakaya)
5.  Bodhisattva Maitreya
6.  Arya Asanga
7.  Vasubandhu
8.  Dignaga
9.  Sthiramati
10. Chandragomin
11. Maitripa
12. Ratnakarashanti
13. Anandakirti
14. Sañjana
15. Lotsawa Gawa’i Dorje
16. Tsen Kawoche Drimé Sherab
17. Dharma Tsondru
18. Yeshe Jungné
19. Jangchup Kyap
20. Zhonnu Jangchup
21. Monlam Tsultrim
22. Chomden Rigpé Raldri
23. Kyiton Jamyang Drakpa
24. Kunkhyen Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
25. Chögyal Choklé Namgyal
26. Tsungmed Nyabön Kunga
27. Chöjé Pal Gonpo
28. Lodrö Gyatso
29. Donyöd Pal
30. Panchen Shakya Chokden
31. Donyon Drubpa
32. Jamgön Drubpa Pawo
33. Kunga Gyaltsen
34. Drakden Drubpa
35. Jetsun Taranatha
36. Ngonjang Rinchen Gyatso
37. Khidrup Lodrö Namgyal
38. Drupchen Ngawang Trinlé
39. Ngawang Tenzin Namgyal
40. Ngawang Khetsun Dargé
41. Kunzang Trinlé Namgyal
42. Nuden Lhundrub Gyatso
43. Konchok Jigmé Namgyal
44. Ngawang Chöphel Gyatso
45. Ngawang Chökyi Phakpa
46. Ngawang Chöjor Gyatso
47. Ngawang Chözin Gyatso
48. Kunga Khedrub Wangchuk
49. Rinchen Zangpo
50. Rinchen Öser
51. Ngawang Lodrö Drakpa
52. Kunga Sherab Saljé
53. Khentrul Jamphel Lodrö