I stumbled upon this story about a 200 year old buddhist monk found in Mongolia where its claimed that he is not dead but instead in a very deep state of meditation.

I have heard about dead meditating monks before where its been claimed that they are not really dead but in deep state of meditation.

Here are some quotes from the story:

"Now, an expert has claimed the monk may have been in a rare spiritual state known as "tukdam"."

"When his body was examined by Buddhist monks in 1955 and again in 1973, Itigilov apparently remained in the lotus position and his body did not appear to show signs of decay."

"He said while the salt in the coffin may have played a part in slowing decay, other factors may have included the soil and the coffin's condition, adding the possibility of "some secret process of embalming" could not be ruled out."

Are these stories ought to be taken as fake or superstition or are there any reliable proof based on facts if such can even exist?

Thank you for your time.


1 Answer 1


I tired to answer that question on another site: see this answer.

In summary I think (based on my reading, not being an expert) that "tukdam" means 'dead and meditating' or 'meditating after death' (so, it doesn't mean, 'not dead' or 'body not dead').

The news article hyperlinked in that question includes a picture of the monk's mummified (dead) body.

  • Thanks a lot for this answer. Is it possible that we could get your answer from this other site onto Buddhism SE - maybe copy-paste if that is allowed? I think its a great answer that elaborates on the topic and gives a fuller explanation.
    – user2424
    Apr 25, 2015 at 10:03

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