Religion · Russia

Monk dies, leaves a remarkably well-preserved mummy

June 15, 1927
Buryatia, Siberia, Russia
Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a Buryat Buddhist lama, dies at the age of 75 while meditating in the lotus position

Itigilov’s wishes were to be buried in the position in which he died, the lotus position he assumed during meditation. He was buried according to his wishes in a pine box and, in compliance with another of his wishes, was exhumed by other monks periodically. Itigilov was examined in 1955 and again in 1973, shocking monks with the apparent lack of decay. Concerned about notifying the anti-religious Soviet Union government, Itigilov was kept largely a secret until 2002 when his body was examined by Buddhist leaders, pathologists, and other scientists who concluded he still possessed whole muscles, soft joints, and tissue.

Some devotees claimed Itigilov has achieved nirvana and is actually still alive due to his preserved state. Skeptics of the supposed miraculous preservation claim Itigilov’s body was preserved in salt. Since 2005, Itigilov has not been kept indoors, has been in contact with people who shake his hands or hold conversations with him, and has not been subject to any humidity or temperature controlling methods.

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