Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog, one of the most influential and charismatic religious figures in Tibet, died at age seventy on January 7, after undergoing heart surgery. He had endured some of the most brutal periods of Chinese rule, before emerging to breathe new life into Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet and China. Revered as a scholar and visionary, Khenpo Jigphun, as he is known, regularly drew thousands of devotees to his teachings.

In 1980, Khenpo Jigphun founded the hermitage of Larung Gar, which developed into a major monastic academy providing students with a complete Buddhist education available almost nowhere else in Tibet. Many of its students returned to their home monasteries, facilitating the rejuvenation of Buddhism throughout Tibet and China.