Ancient mummies have always been a source of fascination as they provide a platform into the culture and traditions that existed in those times. Analysis of their bones and teeth help us discover more about them and give us a glimpse into the kind of life they led.
However, could this mummified meditating monk, who was thought to be around 200 years old at the time of discovery, be still alive? The shrunken monk, whose tomb was raided in Mongolia before being recovered, was found sitting in the meditative lotus position. He reportedly still had hair growing on his head, 130 years after his supposed death, and hence some believe that the monk was still alive.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) February 6, 2015
Dr. Barry Kerzin, himself a Buddhist monk and physician to the Dalai Lama, said the monk was in “tukdam,” which is a deep meditative state, and was not actually dead.
A number of monks across Asia have attempted to reach enlightenment by sitting in meditation for an extended period of time. There have been at least 40 mummified Tibetan monks found just in India alone, during the last half century.
Dr. Kerzin explained the state of tukdam: “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. 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,” he added.
— Mirror Weird News (@MirrorWeirdNews) January 28, 2015
At the National Centre of Forensic Expertise at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, tests have been conducted, confirming that the mummified monk was indeed dead. He was identified as Tsorzh Sanzhzhav, who died at 70 years old and was a disciple of Ovgon Geser Lama, a famous Buddhist teacher who also died in the meditative position.
Lead researcher Ganhugiyn Purevba, who is the founder and professor of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulaanbaatar Buddhist University, told the Siberian Times: “When I first learned about the unusual discovery, I sent people to check in Arkhangai, suspecting that it might be imperishable body of Tsorzh Sanzhzhav, a disciple of Geser Lama. I had hoped that I was mistaken about Sanzhzhav.”
Man who stole mummified monk remains is jailed. Taken from his mountain grave in Mongolia, the body of Tsorzh Sanzhzhav…
He further added, “However, the special committee found that the imperishable body and the shrine does belong to Tsorzh Sanzhzhav.”
Sanzhzhav had been buried alongside his master, but his remains were stolen and destined for the black market in 2015. The mummy was recovered and entombed again next to his master.
Although hair and nails may appear to keep growing after death, this doesn’t continue for long. It is the retraction of the skin around the hair follicles that primarily gives people the impression of continual hair growth.
But in this bizarre case—after 134 years since the monk’s “death”—does that still hold true? What do you think?
Police in Mongolia say lama found in lotus positon was destined for sale on black market http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/n0105-mummified-monk-is-not-dead-and-in-rare-meditative-state-says-expert/
In another case, the remains of a lama, which are still remarkably preserved 92 years after his death, have defied the laws of science. Russian Buddhist Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov passed away in 1927 when he was 75 years old. His body showed no signs of decomposition even after being exhumed three times: once in 1955, again in 1973, and yet again in 2002.
According to Daily Mail, in 2002 when the lama was investigated by scientists and pathologists, the remains were found to be “in the condition of someone who had died 36 hours ago.” The amazingly well-preserved body remains free of visible decay and sits in the meditative “lotus position” with both feet folded on top of the thighs, and has remained so, even to this day. As per accounts from the observations, the muscles and inner tissue, soft joints, and the skin remained unmarred.
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