Chinese delegation arrives to help handle death of monks

By Sofia Wu , Central News Agency, Jan 19, 2009

Taipei, Taiwan -- A Chinese delegation arrived in Taiwan late Sunday to help deal with an incident in which two visiting monks from China's centuries-old Linggu Temple died at a northern Taiwan hotel last week.

The delegation was headed by Li Hwaining, a Nanjing city government department chief in charge of ethnic and religious affairs. Members of the mission include relatives of the two deceased monks and Dharma Master Longxiang, head of the Nanjing Buddhist Association.

Li said after his arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that his group expects to get first-hand information about the tragic incident and will deal with relevant affairs in an apposite manner.

He was referring to a Jan. 14 suspected homicide-suicide case in which Dharma Master Jingran, abbot of the Linggu Temple on the outskirts of Nanjing City, was believed to have been killed by Dharma Master Chunru, supervisor of the same temple, who later committed suicide.

The two deceased monks were part of a six-member group invited by the Hsuan Chuang Culture and Education Foundation, an affiliate of the private Hsuan Chuang University in Hsinchu City, to visit Taiwan on a goodwill tour.

The six-member delegation of four Dharma masters and two Buddhist followers, from the famous Nanjing Buddhist temple, arrived in Taiwan Jan. 12 for a six-day visit.

According to police, it appeared that Chunru hit Jingran on the head with a lampstand during a heated argument between them the day before they were found dead.

Shocked that Jingran had died from the blow, Chunru then jumped to his own death from the roof top of a Hsinchu hotel where all the delegation members were staying, police speculated. Police found a note in Chunru's pocket that read, "Please urge the police to catch me; only then can I find peace of my mind." Meanwhile, Lin Poh-wen, chief executive of the Hsuan Chuang foundation said Sunday that postmortems will be conducted Monday on the bodies of the two deceased monks in a probe into the cause of their death.

If all goes smoothly, Lin said, a funeral will be held Tuesday and the monks' bodies will be cremated and the ashes taken back to the mainland by their family members.

All the visiting Chinese personnel are scheduled to depart for home Jan. 21, Lin said.

The Linggu Temple, which belongs to the Pure Land School of Buddhism, was built some 1,400 years ago, and Jingran, 34, became its abbot in 2007. The temple is one of Nanjing's most popular tourist attractions.
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