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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Curious Case Of The Incorruptible Mongolian Monk


Mongolia is a fascinating yet secretive country. Despite its reclusiveness to international affairs, it is a well-known supporter of Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) and the home of arguably the greatest emperor the world has ever seen – Genghis Khan. That said, once in a while, there would be stories that would spike international interest. In 2015, a mummified body was uncovered by local authorities that were almost sold in the black market. Auspiciously, the body was of political and religious concern. The incorruptibility of the monk raised a lot of questions. 

Mummy, Buddhist, Monk, Preserved
Image: Siberian Times

The body was said to be 200 years old and belongs to a Buddhist monk that was believed to be Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, the appointed twelfth Pandido Khambo Lama and the opposition from the rise of communism at his time; whose body is also well-preserved up to this day and in isolation. Buddhism is the largest religion in Mongolia which has arisen during the Yuan Dynasty in the 12th century and reemergence during the 16th and 17th centuries. It borrows elements from Tibetan Buddhism from Gelug and Kagyu with few notable differences such as believing in heaven. 



The uncovered body was said not to be dead but of trance. As phrased by Professor Ganhugiyn Purevbata, the remains of the Buddhist monk is in a state of meditation where he sits cross-legged in a lotus position of vajra with one open hand and another that symbolizes the teaching of Sutra.

As legends go, Itigilov at his retirement asked his followers to meditate. With the last gulp of air, he asked his followers to bury him and revisit him after 30 years. This proved difficult at that time since Joseph Stalin (the leader of the Soviet Union) was not a fan of Buddhism. He went about killing and destroying Buddhist monks and temples. Nobody knows what his remain would look like. 



What they found, however, was a body that is intact and undecayed. They reburied him in his crypt. Jump to 75 years later, the body was then uncovered in 2002 and shockingly, it was still perfectly preserved. Many claim that the body is near nirvana and Itigilov is close to becoming a Buddha.

His preservation is still baffling. Some say it is the cold climate of Mongol. Others would say it is because of genetics. Yet, the majority believes it is a miracle. 

Mummy, Buddhist, Monk, Preserved
Image: Siberian Times

In 2015, the body is once again taken out wrapped in cattle skin. But the uncovering was now of malicious intent. The perpetrator was a man named Enthor whose identity has eluded authorities on this day.  The Buddhist monk, still well-preserved, was about to be sold off. Thankfully, the police were able to apprehend the accessories to this crime. The body now lies at the Ulaanbaatar’s National Center of Forensic Expertise where it remains close-guarded.

Written by Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books

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