Mummified in Meditation


As reported in a number of places the mummified remains of a 200 year old Buddhist monk has been discovered in Mongolia. The remains of the monk is seated in meditation.

Initial speculation is that the mummy could be a teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov. Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, born in 1852, was a Buryat Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, best known for the lifelike state of his body.

Such ascetic practices would be highly revered in some Buddhist traditions. To die in this position, while in meditation, is an act of extreme discipline and would accrue much merit. There is a Japanese Buddhist practice of sokushinbutsu in which one observes austerities to the point of death while in meditation:
For three years, the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another three years and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls. This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and–most importantly–it killed off any maggots that might cause the body to decay after death. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, wherein he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day, he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed.
It would not be uncommon for other Buddhist traditions to venerate a someone who dies in meditation. In many cases these would be venerated as ‘relics’ (Śarīra).

Image of the Buddha on low currency banknote prompts protest in Cambodia


It is reported in The Phnom Penh Post that a new low currency Cambodian banknote has caused protest from some Buddhist groups. A group of monks have suggested that the new 100 riel banknote, the smallest currency note worth about 2 cents, containing an image of the Buddha, is offensive to the Buddha.

Bo Samnang, chairman of National Culture and Morality Center commented:

‘A 100 riel note is the lowest currency in Cambodia and Buddha is of the highest status, higher than the royal king; this is unacceptable to have his photo on the currency.’

Venerable Lorm Loeum of Tomnak in Siem Reap suggested that:

‘This is awful, as normally people keep money in pockets and even their bras for women. This is very offensive to the Buddha. I urge the government to consider this and withdraw that Buddha picture from currency.’

Sitagu Sayadaw ‘unconditionally’ condemns violence against Muslims in Burma

More on the recent meeting in Iran between Muslims and Buddhists. This news report includes Sitagu Sayadaw (Ashin Nyanissara), one of the most influential Burmese monks, unconditionally condemning violence against Muslims in Burma, asking for ‘forbearance, forgiveness, selflessness and compassion for the establishment of peace and harmony’.