Akong Rinpoche, pioneer in transmitting Tibetan Buddhism to West, killed with two others in China

Akong Rinpoche

One of the pioneers in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, 73-year-old Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, apparently was murdered along with two others in Chengdu, China, according to an open letter published on the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Buddhist Centre Facebook page by his brother, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche.

Akong Tulku, who emigrated to Great Britain in 1963 after fleeing the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, founded Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1967. It was the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the West.

Here is the text of the announcement letter (edited for precision):

“To all dear friends of Samye Ling and Choje Akong Tulku 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 them, 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.

“My nephew Kating Lama has been able to inform His Holiness Karmapa’s sister who has informed H H Karmapa, H H Dalai Lama and Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa and they are all saying prayers.

“We will have to do a lot of special prayers and make a lot of appropriate offerings on Rinpoche’s behalf and any contributions you wish to make in his name will be much appreciated.

“I request you all to do whatever prayers you can.
With best wishes,
Lama Yeshe Rinpoche”

There has been an outpouring of comments from Akong Rinpoche’s students around the world, expressing shock and grief at the Facebook announcement.

A condolence message was issued earlier today by the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje:

“Akong Tulku has been my friend from the time I was seven. A social activist, he showed great kindness to Tibet by founding schools and hospitals, printing old texts, and helping many people. Thus I am shocked to hear that he along with two others has been taken from us so suddenly. 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.”

Akong Rinpoche was well-known for his charitable works accomplished under the umbrella organization ROKPA International.

The tragic news arrives just as by London-based producer and director Chico Dall’inha launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund a documentary film entitled Akong: A Remarkable Life. Click here for details on this project, and read a full biography of Akong Rinpoche here.