Two days before he died, the Rinpoche had come down to Namche from Tengboche and was not feeling well. Upon reaching, he requested to have a shower. His caregiver feared that a shower would worsen his health, and so replied that it was not possible as there was no change of clothes.
The Rinpoche had difficulty breathing, and Pemba recalls that they tried giving him oxygen, but he pushed away the tube. He then made an action with his hands, immediately after which he passed away.
The Rinpoche was born to a Sherpa family in Namche on the same day as the Dalai Lama in 1935, and was recognised at age five as the incarnation of Lama Gulu who founded Tengboche Monastery in 1916. He was sent to Tibet to study Buddhism, and returned to
the Khumbu in 1956 to head the Tengboche gumba – three years after the first ascent of Mt Everest.
After he died on 10 October, the Rinpoche’s body was brought back to Tengboche where he will lie in state for 49 days while prayer vigils are held for his timely reincarnation. After that the monks will determine whether to cremate the body or preserve it in a stupa near the Monastery.