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Mummified monk is ‘not dead’ and in rare meditative state, says expert

By Kate Baklitskaya
02 February 2015

As police say lama found in lotus positon was destined for sale on black market, there are claims it was one step away from becoming a Buddha.

The mummified remains, covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province. Picture: Morning Newspaper 

A mummified monk found in the lotus position in Mongolia is 'not dead' and is instead one stage away from becoming a real-life Buddha, it has been claimed.

Forensic examinations are under way on the amazing remains, which are believed to be around 200 years old, having been preserved in animal skin. But one expert has insisted the human relic is actually in 'very deep meditation' and in a rare and very special spiritual state known as 'tukdam'.

Over the last 50 years there are said to have been 40 such cases in India involving meditating Tibetan monks.

Dr Barry Kerzin, a famous Buddhist monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, said: 'I had the privilege to take care of some meditators who were in a tukdam state.

'If the person is able to remain in this state for more than three weeks - which rarely happens - his body gradually shrinks, and in the end all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes. Usually in this case, people who live next to the monk see a rainbow that glows in the sky for several days. This means that he has found a 'rainbow body'. This is the highest state close to the state of Buddha'.

He added: 'If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state, he can become a Buddha. Reaching such a high spiritual level the meditator will also help others, and all the people around will feel a deep sense of joy'.

Initial speculation is that the mummy could be a teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov.

Born in 1852, Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was a Buryat Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, best known for the lifelike state of his body.

Mummified monk is ‘not dead’ and in rare meditative state, says expert


Mummified monk is ‘not dead’ and in rare meditative state, says expert

The 'meditating monk' and the house in Mongolia where it was hidden. Pictures: Morning Newspaper 


Ganhugiyn Purevbata, who is the founder and professor of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulaanbaatar Buddhist University, said: 'Lama is sitting in the lotus position vajra, the left hand is opened, and the right hand symbolizes of the preaching Sutra.

'This is a sign that the Lama is not dead, but is in a very deep meditation according to the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas'.

The mummified remains, which were covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province of Mongolia.

However, there is more to the story and now police have revealed that the monk had been stolen from another part of the country and was about to be sold off.

An unnamed official said that it was taken from a cave in the Kobdsk region by a man who then hid it in his own home in Ulaanbaatar.

He had then been planning to sell it on the black market at a 'very high price', with local media claiming he wanted to take it over the Mongolian border. Police uncovered the plot and quickly arrested a 45-year-old, named only as Enhtor. 

According to Article 18 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia smuggling items of cultural heritage are punishable with either a fine of up to 3million roubles ($43,000) or between five and 12 years in prison. The monk is now being guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise at Ulaanbaatar.

Comments (195)

I will only mention what I have read in Hindu scriptures - a man who attains nirvana (guess Tukdam is the same thing) can live for 21 days (note this - this is exactly same what the doctor is saying). Means his body will be alive but he will be in meditation. Post 21 days his soul will leave the body i.e. his body will die a physical death. Once a person reaches this stage he cannot get back to his body unless he is incarnation of God Himself. So while a Budhha can return to his body any other monk cannot do this. So from that standpoint I guess he is 'dead'.

Now that was the religious standpoint. From the medicinal science standpoint I guess it should be enough to check if he has got pulses or if the heart beats for a certain period of time.
Saurav, India
06/02/2015 19:30
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As far as I know it's kind of self Motification state. lord Buddha have been like that for six years. But he couldn't attempt nibbhana from that. I think tukdam state comes from mahayana buddhim not in therawada. but it's amazing how the body mumified...
saame, SL
06/02/2015 19:21
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Buddhism is about shifting consciousness from the time bound physical world of manifestation into the eternal spiritual realm of no forms. So why this fascination with the material body of a lama? It's a husk - an empty shell - no more than the remains of an egg that a bird has emerged from and taken flight, never to return. To me - any Buddhist who fixates on "physical relics" like this doesn't properly understand Buddhism. Do they really think that once the lama has escaped his flesh prison to a rainbow body - he would ever want to come BACK to it?
Doug Bryenldson, Sioux Falls, SD USA
06/02/2015 18:57
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He can be alive,there are many things which we still don't understand,earlier people thought that we are made up of 5 root elements...must be knowing them,but now we know that it is not true similarly who knows if something new,something not known is happening in the case.I hope experts solve the mystery soon.
astronaditya(name changed), INDIA
06/02/2015 18:44
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The guy has clearly died. Bury him. Move on. It's not rocket science is it ?
Nick, Rochdale, UK
06/02/2015 16:31
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Very interesting! The monks would be better judges here. As it cannot be explained by the human brain limited science. Inspiring. Would love to know more.
Dr Nachiketha, India
06/02/2015 14:55
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"Experts say mummies are alive and rainbows are proof!"
neids, buford
06/02/2015 13:16
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I think it's all about faith. If people wanna believe he's still alive (even on some weird Buddhist spiritual level), let them. Who cares? A relationship with God is the one thing that we get to ourselves in this world. Don't try and pollute the beauty of belief and faith with unkind words and judgemental science based facts. Just saying.
Chuck, NOLA
06/02/2015 10:32
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i'm sorry I cannot understand how all bodily functions can seize and the individual would still be alive. Unless I do not understand what is meant by meditative state.
benderdundat, Albuquerque New Mexico USA
06/02/2015 08:08
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HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT WATER OR FOOD??? What a load of rubbish that even the very intelligent can believe this is possible is beyond belief! :-(
nick, uk
06/02/2015 06:43
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hes dead, now let him rest...and bury the body. don't make it into some tourist trap...$10 for your picture with the mummy monk
scott, nc,usa
06/02/2015 03:59
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where did he do the toilet during his meditation?
mickymouse, Disneyland
06/02/2015 00:51
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Yes, it is possible even more than two hundred years...there were yogis (siddhars- in tamil language) who lived or who are still living in sthoola sarrera ..meaning in the formess form of souls....its due to their yogic mediation beyond attachment into this world....this could be true in Mongolia too..
srinivasan k iyer , India
05/02/2015 21:22
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Thank-you for sharing these comments that have totally enlightened me far beyond my understanding of the teachings of Yogis, Gurus and my own Buddhist beliefs ~ doing yoga many years ago I was fortunate in having a profoundly knowledgeable teacher who I recall subjecting us to the singing/humming of "OM" and the teaching of the Bhagavad Gi:tā:
Uttering the monosyllable "Aum", the eternal word of Brahman, one who departs leaving the body (at death), he attains the Supreme Goal (i.e., he reaches God).
Roger Mant, Calne, UK
05/02/2015 19:30
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How about checking for a heartbeat? I don't think meditation suspends a beating heart, does it? Think that is the quickest and surest way to claim one alive or dead. I have a feeling this is a mummified monk, which means he is dead. I do not believe that anyone can go into a trance. staying alive for hundreds or thousands of years. You couldn't live that long w/out drinking water and eating some food. That is absurd.
K. Grove, Youngstown/USA
05/02/2015 19:18
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