Choje Akong Rinpoche, the founder of Europe’s first Tibetan Buddhist monastery, was killed along with his nephew and driver in a stabbing in Chengdu on Tuesday morning. Akong’s family have dubbed the killing as an ‘assassination.’
Akong’s brother posted a message to the monastery’s website, as found by The Telegraph:
To all dear friends of Samye Ling and Choje Akong Rinpoche, I am very, very sorry to inform you all that tragically, my brother Choje Akong Rinpoche, my nephew and one monk who was travelling with then, were all assassinated in Chengdu today.
“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. If I receive further news I will let you know.
The victims were stabbed by three ethnic Tibetans who have now been detained by police. The incident was apparently sparked by “a dispute about money.” Akong, who was 73, fled Tibet in 1959 and lived a controversial life in exile, only to eventually reestablish good relations with the Chinese government:
Akong fled from Tibet into India in 1959, following the Chinese occupation of the country. But in recent years he had established unusually good relations with the Chinese government, and was able to travel in the country supervising schools and medical programmes that had been established by his charity The ROKPA Foundation. He was on a visit to these projects when he was killed.
Akong had played a key part in one of the most controversial episodes in Tibetan Buddhism in recent years In 1992, he led the search party that brought a seven-year-old boy Apo Gaga from his home in a nomad’s tent in Eastern Tibet to Tsurphu monastery, near Lhasa, where with the permission of the Chinese authorities, he was enthroned as the 17th Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje – the second most important figure after the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy.
Akong is most known for founding the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in the UK, near the English-Scotting border, and Chengdu is rapidly becoming better known for its stabbings.