Sokushinbutsu (即身仏) are a kind of Buddhist mummy. In Japan, the term refers to the practice of Buddhist monks observing asceticism to the point of death and entering mummification while alive. Mummified monks are seen in a number of Buddhist countries. Only in Japan are they believed to have induced their own death by starvation.

There is a common suggestion that Shingon school founder Kukai brought this practice from Tang China as part of secret tantric practices he learned.
During the 20th century, Japanese scholars found very little evidence of self-starvation of Sokushinbutsu.

Emperor Meiji banned this practice in 1879, and assisted suicide—including religious suicide—is now illegal.

It says self-starvation and death by starvation.
So does it considered "Nirvana"?
What would Buddha's aspect of self-mummification be?


3 Answers 3


The Buddha specifically rejected that kind of self mortification. In fact the first Buddhist monks were ascetics he had previously practiced that extreme asceticism with. After leaving them and achieving enlightenment he sought them out and taught them a "middle way" instead. Their first reaction at seeing him looking healthy and relatively well fed was disappointment at him giving up their idea of the proper spiritual life.



Answer: No, there is no way to reach Nirvana without following Buddha's main teachings. That means understanding the reality of the world/universe/ourselves.

Buddha teaches the path to Nirvana and the causes of rebirth and suffering. In Buddha's time, there were many beliefs on how to break this cycle of rebirth and achieve permanence. However, none of these methods worked; some of them were born as BRAHMA, and some were born in hell, but all of them tried to break this cycle. Yet, no one was able to find the right path.

According to Buddha, only "The Pase Buddha" (not as powerful as Buddha and their number is unknown) and "The Buddha" (there have been 28 Buddhas until now) can find this path. Therefore, there is no other way to break this cycle of birth and death without following the path to Nirvana."


I think so. Mummies are a pre-Buddha so it would make sense.

The parinirvana sutra does explain Buddha’s desire for mummification

  1. "The body of a universal monarch, Ananda, is first wrapped round with new linen, and then with teased cotton wool, and so it is done up to five hundred layers of linen and five hundred of cotton wool. When that is done, the body of the universal monarch is placed in an iron[48] oil vessel, which is enclosed in another iron vessel, a funeral pyre is built of all kinds of perfumed woods, and so the body of the universal monarch is burned; and at a crossroads a stupa is raised for the universal monarch. So it is done, Ananda, with the body of a universal monarch. And even, Ananda, as with the body of a universal monarch, so should it be done with the body of the Tathagata

My Buddha is also wrapped so I guess another coincidence ☠️

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