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200-Year-Old Mummified Buddhist Monk “Not Dead”, Say Experts

Buddhist experts say that a 200-year-old mummified monk, found last week in Mongolia, may not be dead but could just be in a deep meditative trance. The body is now with a forensic centre for further investigation.

The Telegraph reports:

Scientists in Mongolia are examining a 200-year mummified monk who some Buddhists believe is still alive because he is in a deep meditative trance.
The preserved body of the monk, sitting in the cross-legged lotus position, was discovered last week, covered in cattle skin, in the Songino Khairkhan district of the capital, Ulan Bator.
The ash-coloured mummy has reportedly been sent to the National Centre of Forensic Expertise in Ulan Bator for further study.

Gankhüügiin Pürevbat, the founder of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulan Bator Buddhist University, told the Siberian Times, a news website: “The lama is sitting in the lotus position vajra, the left hand is opened, and the right hand symbolises 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”.

Some experts on Buddhism said the monk could be in “tukdam”, a kind of deep meditative state that crosses over between life and death.
Dr Barry Kerzin, a monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, told the website: “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.”
Local media said a 45-old-man had been arrested because the monk’s body had been stolen from a cave with the intention of selling it off. It was unclear in what circumstances it was originally found.

The mummified monk is generally thought to have died in the 19th century. His identity is unknown.