Body of buddhist monk has not significantly decayed in over 80 years

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi-Dorzho_Itigilov

Is there any explanation for this? Maybe he pumped himself full of some kind of chemicals before he died and told them to exhume him, considering he knew medicine and pharmacology?
 
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  • #2
Borek
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Rare but happens, google for natural mumification.
 
  • #3
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Wasn't there a volcano which mummified a whole city in Rome? Pompey or something...
And Juanta the Inca Ice maiden of course, Clinton wanted to ask her out...
 
  • #4
Borek
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Wasn't there a volcano which mummified a whole city in Rome? Pompey or something...
It killed scores of Pompeians, but didn't mummify anyone. Ash saved body shapes though.
 
  • #5
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The monks who practice self mummification are called Sokushinbutsu. IIRC, it involves fasting to death and taking in a special wine or something that helps preserve them.

Here we are, it was tea not wine:

http://www.thethinkingblog.com/2007/07/self-mummified-monks-of-japan.html?m=1
 
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Sounds like a lot of myth has attached itself to that story. I'm skeptical.
In the two pictures they posted the mummies look pretty skeletal to me. I'm not seeing anything remarkable at all, except for the fact they had the will power to starve themselves to death in the lotus position.

The Russian one is a whole different story. He looks pretty gross, but there's way too much flexible soft tissue left on him for being dead 80 years. The wiki says monks go up to it and shake hands with it. There has to have been some really unusual chemical preservation for that to be the case.
 
  • #8
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In the two pictures they posted the mummies look pretty skeletal to me. I'm not seeing anything remarkable at all, except for the fact they had the will power to starve themselves to death in the lotus position.
I'm skeptical about everything leading up to the mummification. 3 years of nuts, then 3 years of bark and roots? Can you even survive on that?
And then the whole thing about the box and the bell just seems mythical.
Not to mention 6 years preparing a suicide seems like something no one would do. But I don't know. Not convinced.
 
  • #9
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I'm skeptical about everything leading up to the mummification. 3 years of nuts, then 3 years of bark and roots? Can you even survive on that?
Depends on what's in the bark and roots, obviously. And don't forget that here, in our own culture, anorectics and bulimics routinely malnourish themselves for extended periods.
And then the whole thing about the box and the bell just seems mythical.
I don't see why. We're talking about extreme people, here, and you must have encountered non-controversial history of people doing things more extreme than this.
Not to mention 6 years preparing a suicide seems like something no one would do.
Because it's 6 years, or because it's suicide? If you can make someone go through 6 months of training to be a suicide bomber, why not 6 years?
 
  • #10
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Depends on what's in the bark and roots, obviously. And don't forget that here, in our own culture, anorectics and bulimics routinely malnourish themselves for extended periods.
I'm pretty sure that none of those seeds, nuts, bark, or roots have B12, which is essential. I don't think you can survive for 6 years without B12.
And then 3 years of bark and roots? How much protein could they be getting? And if they're getting any, I don't see how they could be getting all the essential amino acids.
I don't see why. We're talking about extreme people, here, and you must have encountered non-controversial history of people doing things more extreme than this.
It's just the idea of it. I'm not questioning the possibility of it, but the very details of him being in a box, and ringing the bell once a day to indicate he's still alive seem fantasized. It sounds like something that was just tacked on at the end.
No evidence of anything I'm saying, I'm just explaining why I'm not convinced.
Because it's 6 years, or because it's suicide? If you can make someone go through 6 months of training to be a suicide bomber, why not 6 years?
6 months of training isn't the same as 6 years of a torturous ascetic lifestyle which will ultimately end in you dying. 6 years is a long time to be focused on doing everything in the right way to lead up to the moment you put yourself in a box to die.
 
  • #11
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I know of no conclusive evidence about the Sokushinbutsu, I just saw a documentary about it (and documentaries often have misinformation) so there's nothing wrong with scepticism.

However, B12 deficiency doesn't lead to people just croaking over and dying. It generally leads to a long disease course including nerve damage (which may be helpful in reducing pain) and it can take as long as 3 years to even become deficient in the first place as it depletes very slowly. You could go get along just fine taking B12 every three years as long as you take a sufficient amount.

An assortment of nuts will likely contain a sufficient variety of the amino acids as well. At least sufficient that it will take a long time to die (which is the plan anyway).
 
  • #12
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However, B12 deficiency doesn't lead to people just croaking over and dying.
Yeah, I know, but 6 years seemed like a substantial amount of time to receive none and still be kicking.
An assortment of nuts will likely contain a sufficient variety of the amino acids as well. At least sufficient that it will take a long time to die (which is the plan anyway).
Nuts, yeah, but what about bark and roots?

I'm always skeptical of stuff like this, especially when it happened long, long ago in a place far, far away. Because there's a guy living right now at this very moment in India where people (including doctors) will claim he hasn't eaten anything in like 70 years. So when you get tales of yore, it's just that less credible.
 
  • #13
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By the time they're taking bark and roots, they're on their way out anyway. Its part of them dying, so its not far fetched really.

At least its a natural explanation for the mummification.

I had thought when I saw the documentary that there was actually a bell system in place in the tombs, too, but It's been a while now.
 
  • #14
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By the time they're taking bark and roots, they're on their way out anyway. Its part of them dying, so its not far fetched really.
We'd have to have more information on what exactly they ate. There are some nutrients you can't survive 3 years without. And even if you can survive without some nutrients, but surviving a sicker and sicker existence, I doubt they could keep a self-sufficient lifestyle. Being sick is a broad spectrum. It can be anywhere between feeling a little icky, to being a complete invalid.
They evidently want to be Buddhas after they die, but apparently the mummification doesn't always take, and they end up being globs of goo, and not Buddhas. So not only is it 6 years of self-inflicted torture with the goal of dying, but the death has the good chance of being in vain.
It's a natural explanation for the mummification, but it should be taken with a grain of salt, because it reeks of embellishment.
Nations aren't above talking up their members and letting the world know how strong they are, whether it's true or not.
 
  • #15
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It's just the idea of it. I'm not questioning the possibility of it, but the very details of him being in a box, and ringing the bell once a day to indicate he's still alive seem fantasized. It sounds like something that was just tacked on at the end.
rationalwiki said:
The argument from incredulity is a logical fallacy that essentially relies on a lack of imagination in the audience.

The general form of the argument is as follows.

Minor premise: One can't imagine (or has not imagined) how P could be so.
Major premise (unstated): If P, then one could imagine (or would have imagined) how P could be so.
Conclusion: Not-P.
As a syllogism this is valid. The fallacy lies in the unstated major premise. If a state of affairs is impossible to imagine, it doesn't follow that it is false; it may only mean that imagination is limited. Moreover, if no one has yet managed to imagine how a state of affairs is possible, it doesn't follow that no one will ever be able to.
leroyjenkins said:
6 months of training isn't the same as 6 years of a torturous ascetic lifestyle which will ultimately end in you dying. 6 years is a long time to be focused on doing everything in the right way to lead up to the moment you put yourself in a box to die.
See above.

There's a lot of things I would never imagine people would ever do, but it turns out there's actually some percentage of extremists who will do them.
 
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  • #16
AlephZero
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There's a lot of things I would never imagine people would ever do, but it turn out there's actually some percentage of extremists who will do them.
Indeed. I knew a teenager who spent 6 years starving herself to death (literally) with anorexia. Apart from that disorder (and its effect on what she looked like) she was apparently a perfectly normal, had friends, had interests outside out home and school, and her school exam results were good enough for a place at university. She was in a family with apparently normal parents and 3 apparently normal siblings, and getting the best specialist treatment available (but as the specialists said, if the only treatment option left is forced intravenous feeding and keeping a 24 hours a day watch on somebody for the indefinite future, is the "cure" worse than the disorder?...)

She finally died aged 19, - average height for her age, but weighng less than 60 pounds.

IMO living on bark and roots for a few years doesn't seem too improbable, compared with that.
 
  • #17
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Indeed. I knew a teenager who spent 6 years starving herself to death (literally) with anorexia. Apart from that disorder (and its effect on what she looked like) she was apparently a perfectly normal, had friends, had interests outside out home and school, and her school exam results were good enough for a place at university. She was in a family with apparently normal parents and 3 apparently normal siblings, and getting the best specialist treatment available (but as the specialists said, if the only treatment option left is forced intravenous feeding and keeping a 24 hours a day watch on somebody for the indefinite future, is the "cure" worse than the disorder?...)

She finally died aged 19, - average height for her age, but weighng less than 60 pounds.

IMO living on bark and roots for a few years doesn't seem too improbable, compared with that.
I would think everyone has heard of someone like this. The numbers must be quite high. Therefore, it's no stretch at all for me to believe 16 Japanese monks have done it somewhat more ritualistically.
 
  • #18
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On the issue of B12, surely he drank tea. Fermented tea is common in Tibet, and B12 can be produced during the fermentation process.
 
  • #19
Pythagorean
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How is real B12 produced in teas? I was under the impression that bioavailable B12 is only found in animal products. Even B12 yeast is fortified by supplementing th yeast's diet with B12.

Products like Spirulina have "pseudovitamin" B12 in them that's not bioavailable on digestion.
 
  • #20
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See above.

There's a lot of things I would never imagine people would ever do, but it turns out there's actually some percentage of extremists who will do them.
It would be a fallacious argument if I was basing a conclusion that it's false on the idea that it's too extreme for someone to actually do. I didn't do that. That was just one aspect of it that contributed to my disbelief. I didn't claim it never happened, I just said I was skeptical that it happened and gave reasons why I was skeptical.
IMO living on bark and roots for a few years doesn't seem too improbable, compared with that.
They can eat all the bark and roots they want, but if it doesn't contain nutrients vital for their survival, then it's not valid to compare them with just someone who didn't eat very much.
To survive, you can't just eat anything. I can't go outside and eat grass for 3 years and survive merely because I'm putting physical matter in my mouth.
 

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