10/09/2013, 00.00
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Choje Akong Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to the West, killed in Chengdu

The monk, who was a great scholar and activist for the Tibetan cause, was killed in an alleged street brawl in China's Sichuan province along with his nephew and another monk. In 1967, he opened the first Buddhist monastery in the West (Scotland), and spent a lifetime explaining his faith to the West as a way to improve relations between religions. He also discovered the 16th reincarnation of the Karmapa Lama.

Chengdu (AsiaNews) - Choje Akong Rinpoche, a monk and a great Tibetan Buddhist scholar, was killed yesterday in Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province. The cleric, who founded the first Buddhist monastery in the West spending his life spreading the teachings of the Dalai Lama in Europe, died in what appears to be a brawl after an attempted robbery. His nephew and another monk, who was traveling with them, were also killed.

"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," said Yeshe Rinpoche, abbot of the Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland and the dead man's brother, in a statement online.

"Rinpoche's body has been taken to hospital where a post mortem will be carried out," he added. "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.

Chengdu police announced that they arrested three people in connection with the monks' death, who were stabbed to death. The suspects are residents of the area and are now in jail.

In a statement, the Karmapa Lama, the third highest ranking lama in Tibetan Buddhism, said he was "shocked" by the death of Choje Akong Rinpoche. "Akong Tulku has been my friend from the time I was seven," he added, and had helped many people.

Choje Akong Rinpoche was also a member of the committee appointed by the Dalai Lama to find the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa Lama, who in the Tibetan religion is the leader of the oldest lineage, head of the "path of the Diamond."

Choje Akong Rinpoche founded the monastery in Scotland in 1967. A few years later, he also opened an NGO with the aim of helping the poor and spread, for the good of the world and to encourage dialogue between religions, Tibetan Buddhist faith.

During his trip to Italy three years ago, he explained the use of mantras as "natural anaesthetic" in traditional medicine.

On behalf of the Dalai Lama, he maintained relations with the People's Republic of China and was one of the few Buddhist monks loyal to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate authorised to visit Tibet, which he did on several occasions.

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