The body of the spiritual guide of Russian Buddhists, Hambo Lama Itighelov, was exhumed from its grave for the third time in 2002, 75 years after his death, and his body still didn’t show any trace of decomposition.
The burial place included a wooden box with a “lotus” positioned Buddhist lama inside it. The first idea that pops is that the body was mummified, however, on your disappointment; it was not, even though it was protected like it was. The body was just wrapped in silk fabric.
A professor at the Russian State University for Humanities, Galina Yershova, argued in a press conference in Moscow that the organics of the skin, hair, and nails of the deceased man were not different than the ones of a living human being, even though the samples for the examination were taken 75 years after the man’s death.
“His joints flex, the soft tissues are elastic just like in a living person, and after they opened the box, where the body of the Lama lay for 75 years, there was a very pleasant fragrance,” Yershova was quoted as saying.
Professor Yershova said that this situation is entirely contradictory to the one a regular human being will anticipate when digging up a 75-year-old body.
The body is now sacred for the Buddhists in the Russian region of Buryatia, where it now lies down in a Buddhist Monastery.
Who was Hambo Lama? What did he do and why was he so appreciated?
Hambo Lama Itighelov was a famous man in the Russian History. He studied at the Buddhist University in the previously mentioned region of Buryatia. He had a medical and philosophy degree and created an encyclopedia of pharmacology.
From 1913 to 1917, he opened the first Buddhist cathedral in St. Petersburg and he released a few religious deeds and lectures with spiritual thematic.
During the World War I, he helped the army with money, clothes, and pharmacies. He also constructed a lot of hospitals where doctors were able to heal many soldiers. For his work, he was awarded a St. Anna medal.
Even though in 1926 he alerted the Buddhist monks about the “red” terror that’s on its way and urged them to go to Tibet, he never left Russia.
In 1927, he predicted his death saying he is ready to leave the world, he started meditating and soon enough he passed away.
Itighelov left a testament where he said he wants to be buried in a lotus position but also asked to be exhumed after several years of his death.
His testament requires were accomplished in 1955 and 1973 in a secret manner, by Buddhist monks.
They did it secretly because back then, Stalin, denied most manifestations of religion, killing hundreds of lamas and destroying 46 Buddhist monasteries.
However, in the next years, the Soviet Union crashed and the Buddhists around Russia began to reconstruct their temples and to attract more believers.
In 2002, Itighelov’s body was dug up for the third time, only this time it was not concealed and it was witnessed by many civilians, photographers, and forensic scientists.
His body was moved to Ivolginsky Datsan, which is presently the residence of Hambo Lama, where it was cautiously analyzed by monks, scientists, and pathologists.
Scientists took samples of the body’s tissues and made a comparison with a tissue of a living human.
Even, one of the scientists claimed that she could feel the body being warm, unusual for a dead body for sure.
Professor Viktor Zvyagin from the Federal Center for Forensic Medicine analyzed the Lama’s body last November and got to a conclusion that the body certainly didn’t show results of a 75-year-old body but rather a 36-hour-dead body.
The results suggested the protein structure of the body was not demolished at all; instead, it was the same to the one of a living person.
So many years after the exhumation, his body is still preserved in open air conditions, without humidity boundaries or what so ever.
“He was 75 years old, and he promised to return to his followers after another 75 years,” Yanzhima Vasilyeva, the director of Itigilov’s Institute, said.
“The most amazing thing is that he was still sitting upright. Scientists say that after two weeks a dead body cannot stay upright on its own,” Vasilyeva continued.
Itighelov’s caretaker is Bimbo Lima and he barely ever gets away from his teacher and master.
He said that every once in a while he changes his clothes noticing that his joints become more and more flexible. The body doesn’t smell, he says, instead, it has a specific fragrance.
The Lamas covered the body with a golden robe, with a blue band. His eyes are closed, his hands are still adjustable and his skin is still soft. He resembles a lot of the last photo taken from him in 1913.
Itighelov claimed that before his death he left a message to all people on Earth.
“There is a great moral crisis in Russia today,” Vasilyeva said, “Itighelov’s return presents a great opportunity to help people believe.”