Life on Gallifrey
The Time Lord later known as K'anpo Rimpoche was a member of a Gallifreyan religious order which had fallen into decline by the time the Doctor was young. (The High Council had disestablished the monasteries at some point during or shortly after the reign of Rassilon.) (PROSE: Interference - Book Two)
As a youth, the First Doctor knew K'anpo Rimpoche as the Hermit, a wise Time Lord who lived on the side of a mountain behind the house where the Doctor lived as a young boy, (TV: The Time Monster) near the Prydonian Academy where he studied at the time. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation)
The Hermit told stories to the young Gallifreyans like the Doctor, on Mount Cadon. He told ghost stories about the Fendahl, Great Vampires, the Legions of the Sphinx and the Grandfather Paradox to the Doctor. The stories about Great Vampires and the Legion of the Sphinx excited the Doctor; the stories of the Fendahl and Grandfather Paradox terrified him and gave him nightmares. He also told tales of Omega and Salyavin.
These Time Lords were the Doctor's heroes. (PROSE: Lucifer Rising) The Hermit was, as the Third Doctor later said, his guru. In the time of the Doctor's greatest despair, he showed him hope in a simple yellow flower called a sarlain. (TV: The Time Monster)
Once the Hermit told the Doctor to fast for three days and three nights to make supplications to the Menti Celesti. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation) Towards the end of the Doctor's first life, K'anpo helped him prepare for his upcoming regeneration. (PROSE: The Three Paths)
Life on Earth
The Third Doctor next met him as the abbot of a Buddhist meditation centre in England with his assistant Cho Je. Unbeknownst to the Doctor and his companion at the time, Sarah Jane Smith, Cho Je and K'anpo Rimpoche were one and the same. Cho Je only existed either as a future projection of K'anpo Rimpoche or a creation of his mind, which Rimpoche used as a proxy while he hid from the Eight Legs. This did not deter the Eight Legs for long.
When K'anpo was struck down by the Eight Legs possessing his own meditation students as human hosts, Cho Je faded into nothingness and then re-appeared, taking the place of K'anpo Rimpoche. He had regenerated.
After the Doctor's confrontation with the Great One in her cave, he began to die from the radiation there. Once the Doctor had returned in the TARDIS to UNIT HQ, K'anpo Rimpoche teleported to him to give the Doctor "a little push" enabling him regenerate into his next incarnation. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)
Behind the scenes
- Rimpoche or Rinpoche is a title given to Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaders, in particular to those who are believed to be reincarnated lamas.
- The Third Doctor mentions the hermit to Jo Grant in The Time Monster. He does not give his Gallifreyan name.
- K'anpo Rimpoche may have been the Time Lord, the Hermit, from The Taking of Planet 5. He is known in The Time Monster merely as the Hermit, and the Hermit then relocated to live on Earth at the end of the story.
- While George Cormack appeared as K'anpo Rimpoche as a Caucasian, as Cho Je, Kevin Lindsay wore makeup and adopted a faint accent to portray him as apparently Tibetan. As the new regeneration of K'anpo Rimpoche, Kevin Lindsay continued to wear the makeup and employ the accent. This is one of the few times a Time Lord is shown to change ethnicity upon regeneration.