Lama Who Helped Spread Tibetan Buddhism to the West Murdered

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Choje Akong Rinpoche in an undated photo.
Choje Akong Rinpoche in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Kagyu Samye Ling.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. EST on 2013-10-09

Prominent Tibetan religious leader Choje Akong Rinpoche, who helped introduce Tibetan Buddhism to the West, has been murdered in a triple homicide case in China's Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, his brother said Tuesday.

Choje Akong Rinpoche, aged 73, had founded the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Britain in 1967 and later helped set up ROKPA International, a humanitarian organization that works principally in Tibet and Nepal.

"I am very, very sorry to inform you all that tragically, my brother Choje Akong Rinpoche, my nephew and one monk who was traveling with them, were all assassinated," a statement from Yeshe Rinpoche, the Abbot of the Samye Ling Monastery, said Tuesday on the website of the Scotland-based monastery which was founded by the late lama.

Located in a valley on the banks of the river Esk in Scotland, the monastery was the first Tibetan Buddhist center to have been established in the West, according to the website.

"Rinpoche’s body has been taken to hospital where a post mortem will be carried out. That is all the news I have so far," Yeshe Rinpoche said.

He added that Tibet's exiled spirtual leader the Dalai Lama and several other Tibetan leaders had been informed about the death and that "they are all saying prayers" for him.

Dispute over money

A statement from Chengdu police said Choje Akong Rinpoche, his nephew, and his driver were killed in a residential area and that three Tibetan suspects had stabbed the men to death in a dispute over money, according to reports.

"The attack took place on Oct. 7 in Chengdu and Choje Akong Rinpoche succumbed to his injuries and passed way today," a source in Tibet told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"The three suspects are local residents and have been detained by police,” another source from Tibet told RFA.

A statement on the official website of Tibetan Buddhist leader the Karmapa Lama said he was "shocked" by the death of Choje Akong Rinpoche and offered his condolences to his family and those at his monastery.

"Akong Tulku has been my friend from the time I was seven," he said.

"A social activist, he showed great kindness to Tibet by founding schools and hospitals, printing old texts, and helping many people," said Karmapa, a passionate supporter of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and of Tibetan Buddhist ideals..

"I would like to offer my condolences to his family members, everyone at Samye Ling Monastery, the ROKPA Foundation, and all the persons involved in his projects in Tibet as well as to all of the students whose lives he touched. I hope that all of his visions and aspirations may continue to be fulfilled."

Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Comments (4)


from Lincoln UK

I knew Akong. He was an authentic great Lama, teacher, and good man. Today has been a very sad day. I doubt we will never get the truth about this murder but the fact remains that Akong has been killed. Very, very sad for anybody who knew him for any amount of time.

Oct 09, 2013 04:22 PM


from Scotland

Thubten, I knew Rinpoche for many years also but mostly in his private life. I agree that I have never witnessed him dispute anything nor could imagine that... especially about money. I do not believe the press releases. I also do not believe that people from the Tibetan Community would kill a man that has dedicated his entire life to the preservation of Tibetan culture and helping where help is needed. I was also aware that he has received many death threats in the past from the Chinese authorities. Draw your own conclusion.
Rinpoche aside, I do not believe that a Tibetan person would murder a Tibetan monk.
Akong Rinpoche was a quiet, contemplative, gentle and compassionate man. He was admirable and amazing. The press releases are a white wash.

Oct 09, 2013 02:49 PM


from London

I knew Akong Rinpoche for many years and he never had a dispute about anything, least of all money. It is far more likely that the Chinese government disliked his influence and social activism in Tibet and arranged his murder. The three Tibetans were probably scapegoats.

Oct 09, 2013 09:19 AM


I'm very sorry to hear of Rinpoche's untimely death, but, given his yogi zen in this photo, and others of him in lay clothing, I don't think he was a monk.

Oct 09, 2013 07:09 AM

Anonymous Reader

seriously, is the only comment you can make about his clothes? and whether he was a monk?

Oct 09, 2013 02:48 PM





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