Brown then retails the most serious charge of all, Tenzin Namgyal's
claim that Topga Rinpoche murdered his stepfather, the Karmapa's
General Secretary Damchoe Yongdu. First, Brown describes how Topga
and Damchoe had disagreements about title deeds for two of the Karmapa's
properties. Then, he tries to implicate Topga in the death of Damchoe:
December 1982, Damchoe traveled to Bhutan, to check on the accounting
of the Karmapa's business interests and to seek a loan from
the Bhutanese government to complete the building of KIBI in
Delhi. Traveling with him were his assistant Gompo and two other
attendants. On 10 December, Damchoe visited Topga at his home.
Gompo and the two attendants were shown into a waiting room
upstairs, while Damchoe took tea with Topga in another room.
Less than an hour later, Damchoe was dead. A doctor was summoned
who declared that the general secretary had died of a heart
attack. “There was talk,” said Tenzin Namgyal, choosing his
words carefully, “of suspicious circumstances.” It was said
that blotches could be seen on Damchoe's body, perhaps consistent
with the use of certain poisons. (115-116)
story is filled with errors. Two main points stand out, Dronyer
Ngodrub and Dechang Nagu, speaking in their twin roles as brothers
of Damchoe Yongdu and members of the Karmapa's administration.
First, Tenzin talked of blotches on Damchoe's body as possible signs
of poison. But poison leaves more obvious signs than this and is
generally very easy to detect by physicians. Second, the family
had the body at home and did pujas over it for a week. During that
time there would have been plenty of opportunity to schedule an
autopsy. However, the family felt no need to do this.
knew that our brother had died of a heart attack,” said Dronyer
Ngodrub, “none of us had any suspicions that anyone had had a hand
in his death.”
this day, we are certain that our brother died of natural causes,”
said Dechang Nagu. “It is quite painful then for our family to hear
accusations made about murder. Tenzin Namgyal has hurt us deeply
with his groundless charges.”
Yongdu's two brothers tell a different version of the story of the
death of their brother. “I was in Thimphu, Bhutan assisting my brother.
It was December, and my brother was staying at a small dry goods
shop in Thimphu run by our brother-in-law, Lodro Choden,” Dechang
had made an appointment to meet the Bhutanese finance minister at
10:30 am at his office in the main government building in Thimphu.
At 8 o'clock, before setting out, Damchoe met with Topga Rinpoche
and his wife Princess Ashi Chokyi at their residence in the city.
From Topga Rinpoche's house, Damchoe left for his meeting with the
finance minister. It took about one hour for the meeting, then Damchoe
came back to the shop at lunchtime. Lodro Choden was working downstairs,
and Damchoe was in the guest room upstairs.
Lodro Choden heard a sudden loud thump on the ceiling above him.
He went upstairs to see what had happened, and Damchoe was sprawled
on the ground, collapsed. Lodro Choden ran downstairs to summon
a doctor. Within a few minutes, a local doctor arrived.
Dechang was out walking in Thimphu on the morning of his brother's
death. When he returned to his brother-in-law's house, he found
the doctor there and his brother dead. They talked, and the doctor
explained that he had done an examination of Damchoe's body, which
showed all the signs of a heart attack. This was no surprise to
years, my brother had suffered from high blood pressure,” Dechang
says. “In New Delhi, he had been going to the Chogla clinic, and
Dr. Chogla had put him on a diet and prescribed some medicine to
bring his blood pressure down. My brother had been taking this medicine,
a red liquid, for some time. The bottle was sitting on the table
in my brother's room when he died. Lodro showed this bottle to the
Bhutanese doctor, who confirmed that it was indeed heart medicine.”
Damchoe's condition had not improved. Indeed, after a recent separation
from his wife, Damchoe was depressed and in low spirits, which had
raised Damchoe's blood pressure. Coming to Bhutan from the hot plains
of northern India had not helped his condition either. “The doctor
explained that traveling from India to the below-zero degree area
of Thimpu was very dangerous for someone who had high blood pressure
and the shock of this change had finally been too much for my brother's
am sure that my brother died of a heart attack,” Dechang explains.
“I saw his body right after he died. I talked to the doctor. There
was never any doubt for me or for anyone in our family.”
older brother Dronyer Ngodrup adds that “I saw my brother's body
a week after his death when it was brought to Rumtek for the funeral.
It was clear to me that he had died from natural causes.”
Namgyal wasn't even in Thimphu, as I was,” Dechang says. “Nor was
he part of our family. Where in the world did he get this story?”
can only think that Tenzin invented this slander as revenge against
Topga Rinpoche. Topga had fired Tenzin from Rumtek in the late eighties.
He told the whole staff there why he had sacked Tenzin—for playing
politics and spreading slander. Ever since, Tenzin has been angry
and has been looking for a chance to avenge himself on Topga.”