A Buddhist academic has said a 200-year-old mummified monk discovered in Mongolia may not be dead but in a “very deep meditation”.
The preserved body was discovered covered in animal hide, last week in the Songinokhairkhan district, close to the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.
Forensic examinations are being carried out on the remains, which investigators believe belong to a man who may have been a Lama, or a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism.
Senior Buddhists say the monk, found sitting in the lotus position, is in a deep meditative trance and not dead.
Dr Barry Kerzin, a famous Buddhist monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, told the Siberian Times that the monk was in a rare state of meditation called “tukdam”.
“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” Dr Kerzin said.
The identity of the monk is unclear, though there is speculation that he is the teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, who was also found mummified. 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.
‘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’.
Initial speculation is that the mummy could be a teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov.
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, police have revealed that the monk had been stolen from a cave in the Kobdsk region by a man who then hid it in his own home in Ulaanbaatar. The man was hoping to sell him on the black market.
Mongolian police have arrested the culprit and the monk is now being guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise.