The immortality of Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov


For years on scientists try to overpower death and look for a way of doing it. And they also have an example of a man who did it.

It is the Buryatian lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov. At old age he went into trance, was buried underground for 75 years and when he was unearthed appeared completely untouched by time.

His body is still being stored in the Ivolginsky Datsan. Enough information about the life of Itigilov can be found today. He was born in 1852. According to one of the legends he was an orphan and farmhand who at the age of 15 found himself in Aninski datsan, where he studied for 23 years. Like many lamas, he was very fond of herbs. In 1911 Itigelov was elected to be the 12th Pandito Hambo Lama (head of the Buddhists in Buryatia).

„Judging by everything, he was very strict, very strong man and people respected him very much. Delightful character – says Galina Yershova, an anthropology professor at the Russian State University for the humanities. – The only time he left the Buryatia, was his visit in St. Petersburg in 1913. “

Itigilov had two specific reasons for his visit. The first one was to ensure the presence of Buddhists in the Duma, the second – to prepare the presence of Buddhist monks in the army at places where Buddhists served.

In 1927-a, after his 75th anniversary, Itigilov stepped down from his position and became an ordinary monk. Then ascetic began to prepare for a departure from this world – followed a certain diet, took in certain substances… At last he took posture for meditation and asked to be put underground. There were detailed notes what should be done next with the body, which was in a trance.

Itigilov left detailed instructions on how people could make sure of his body’s normal condition and in what it case should be buried according to the tradition. But since in the first years of Soviet power many lamas were persecuted and temples were destroyed, this knowledge was lost.

However, in 1955 there were still people who remembered the monk’s behest. They went to the place of his burial at night, dug out the sarcophagus, checked its integrity and buried it back. In 1973, the body of the ascetic was excavated again been examined, and then – placed back underground.

In 2002, a group of lay persons, students of the monastery and lamas decided to open the grave, as it was prescribed earlier than Itigilov. They raised the sarcophagus and, after performing some rituals, carried the body to the Ivolginsky datsan.

They began to study it. After pressing it, the muscle tissue recovered and the joints folded. The forensic expert they called even said he would not make a conclusion alone, and a commission was established. The most interesting fact was the presence of coagulated blood on the scratched ascetic’s thumb. „Now tht’s something that can never happen” says Galina Yershova.

Analyses were performed and they showed the contents of various elements in the tissues. It turned out that there was plenty of Strontium and Barium.

It was clear also that Itigelov specifically took bromine to suppress his brain activity and switch to an OFF state of consciousness.

While they examined the body, a process of mummification started. „He was placed in a glass sarcophagus – says the researcher. – Then, after a while, this sarcophagus started covering with moisture. The interpretation of others was that he was giving them signs.“ Yershova believes that at the time of the moisture discharge the lama died, after having resided in a specific state for more than 75 years.

What can explain the phenomenon of the lama? One hypothesis is that Itigilov had fallen into a state similar to anabiosis. But nothing confirms this hypothesis, and there is no evidence in favor of other explanations.