Tukdam Meditation Explained: How This Buddhist Monk Lived To 200

200 year old buddhist monk
This 200 year old Buddhist has shocked scientists. He is alive and in Tukdam state.

Buddhist experts and scientists are saying that the 200-year-old monk who was discovered last week in Tukdam meditation in Mongolia is not dead.

According to both the Buddhist tradition and Eastern science, the 200-year-old Buddhist monk is still alive and has now entered “Rainbow State.”

Rainbow State means that a person becomes pure light (read Soonyata’s guide to Rainbow State here for an explanation)

The mummified monk was found in the province of Songino Khairkhan. It is believed that the monk is Dashi-Dorzho Itigilovm, who was born in 1852.

Despite being over 200 years old, and sitting in meditation position on the floor, the monk’s body has miraculously remained in excellent preservation. He has become the ultimate representation of those words, Om Mani Padme Hum.

How is this possible? Because of Tukdam meditation, one of the most advanced types of Buddhist techniques.

Monk in Tukdam Meditation State Still Alive…?

Ulaan Baatar, art professor Ganhugiyn Purevbata, claimed the mummy is not dead [1] after investigating the position of the monk’s body and particularly the hands.

The hands are critical in Buddhism because of the use of mudras. Ganhugiyn Purevbata, the founder of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art, says the mummified monk is “sitting in the lotus position Vajra and the left hand is open. The right hand symbolizes the preaching Sutra.”

200 year old buddhist monk
This 200 year old Buddhist has shocked scientists. He is alive and in Tukdam state.

Buddhists argue that the monk, who was found upright and in a meditating position, is not dead and is just one stage away from becoming a Buddha.

Amazingly, this is not the first time a Buddhist monk has entered Tukdam state.

Dr Barry Kerzin is a famous monk and physician to the Dalai Lama. He claims to have cared for several monks who were in a similar state, performing Thukdam meditation.

There have been more than 40 such cases reported in India.

If a monk stays in such a state for more than three weeks, Kerzin says, the body “shrinks. In the end, all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes.”

People who see the monk in this last stage report seeing “a rainbow that glows in the sky for several days. This means that he has found a ‘rainbow body’. This is the highest state, close to the state of Buddha”.

What are Tukdam state and Tukdam meditation?

Tukdam is one of the deepest practices.

Many religions teach that consciousness can exist after death and outside the body.

Some sects of Buddhism teach that a monk can continue meditating after death by entering Tukdam State.  

Tukdam State is not a specific meditation but is an honorific term for meditative practice and experience that is used to refer to the period following the death of a great master, during which time they are absorbed in luminosity.

Dr Kerzin states, “If a monk is capable of maintaining this deep meditative state for more than three weeks after death, the body gradually shrinks, and in the end, all that remains of the person is his hair, nails, and clothes.

People who have found monks in this state usually see rainbows above the deceased monk. The rainbow glows for many days, which signifies that the monk has achieved “Rainbow Body”—the highest state of enlightenment as defined by Buddha.”

Buddha State

Tukdam meditation is used by Buddhist monks to ascend to a higher state, at which they achieve the state of Buddhist oneness.

As Dr Kerzin says, “If the meditator can stay in Tukdam meditation state, he can become a Buddha. At this level of enlightenment, the monk will then become a spiritual aid who helps people to become enlightened like Buddha.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is a widespread practice for the bodies of teachers to be entombed in the lotus position and preserved in salt.

Most Dalai Lama’s have been preserved this way and are now held in Potala Palace in Lhasa.

No zombie lamas

Author Lama Surya Das, who wrote one of the leading books on Buddhist studies, Awakening The Buddha Within, says “There are no zombie Lamas… The monk was an enlightened meditation master who approached death consciously and with intention, who died in meditation, in posture, sitting up.”

Lama Surya Das has previously written in-depth about consciousness existing after death.

It is after death that the monk’s body enters the state called Tukdam (or “Thukdam”).

At this point, the monk is dead, biologically speaking, but Buddhists believe that the mind may endure in the state known as “Buddha-mind”.

“Tuk” actually means “Buddha mind” and “dam” means “one with”.

Tukdam state may last for a few weeks before the body starts to decompose and crumble.

This doesn’t just happen in Mongolia. It’s happened in New York too.

In 2014 a Buddhist monk entered Tukdam state at the Buddhist centre on West 16th Street in New York. The monk stayed meditating in Tukdam for ten days.

The beauty of this story has touched many people, capturing the hearts and minds of people in the West.

Symbolically, the monk seems to say, “Do good in the world, and your influence will endure for many years after your death”.


Instructions on Tukdam meditation are given in Sogyal Rinpoche’s classic, The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying:

“A realized practitioner continues to abide by the recognition of the nature of mind at the moment of death, and awakens into the Ground Luminosity when it manifests.

“He or she may even remain in that state for a number of days.  Some practitioners and masters die sitting upright in meditation posture, and others in the “‘posture of the sleeping lion.’

“Besides their perfect poise, there will be other signs that show that they are resting in the state of the Ground Luminosity: There is still a certain colour and glow in their face, the nose does not sink inward, the skin remains soft and flexible, the body does not become stiff, the eyes are said to keep a soft and compassionate glow, and there is still a warmth at the heart.

“Great care is taken that the master’s body is not touched, and silence is maintained until he or she has arisen from this state of meditation.”

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.

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