Shock as Samye Ling founder murdered in China

A file photograph of Dr Akong Rinpoche
A file photograph of Dr Akong Rinpoche

Tributes have poured in for the Tibetan monk who founded the Samye Ling Centre and who was murdered in China earlier this week.

Dr Choje Akong Rinpoche, who co-founded the UK’s first Buddhist monastery at Eskdalemuir nearly 50 years ago, was killed in Chengdu on Tuesday.

Dr Rinpoche’s PA for 25 years, Tsultrim Zangmo, who had known the inspirational spiritual leader since 1965, said yesterday: “He had the most wonderful sense of humour and great compassion and he was willing to help anybody in any circumstance.

“He was father, mother, uncle, brother and advisor to all of us and we are all in a state of shock at his sudden passing.

“He helped people who were on the streets and needed feeding as well as educating orphans and street children to get degrees, and he masterminded and inspired many many people to do that work. He was an expert on Tibetan artefacts, he was a master of Tibetan medicine and had invented a therapeutic system. He was also an expert on texts and rescued texts.”

She said the centre was yesterday trying to make arrangements for Dr Rinpoche’s body to be taken to his monastery in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Local MP David Mundell said: “This is very sad news for the community of Samye Ling and those living locally. I would like to pass on my condolences to his many friends and those whose lives his work touched.”

Chengdu police said Dr Rinpoche, 73, his nephew and his driver were stabbed to death in a dispute about money.

Born in Tibet in 1940, Dr Rinpoche came to Britain as a refugee in 1963. He was sponsored to learn English in Oxford where he worked as a hospital orderly in Radcliffe Infirmary to support himself.

He co-founded Samye Ling in 1967 with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.