Could this mummified meditating monk, who is 200 years old, 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 has hair growing on his head, 130 years after his supposed death, and hence some believe the monk to be still alive.
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 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.
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, more than 130 years ago, and was a disciple of Ovgon Geser Lama, a famous Buddhist teacher who also died in the meditative position.
Sanzhzhav had been buried alongside his master, but his remains were stolen and destined for the black market. 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 130 years since the monk’s “death”—does that still hold true? What do you think? Do tell us what you think in the comments section!