Religious leaders in Russia have claimed that the mummified remains of a Buddhist lama (Buddhist priest) who died 89 years ago wandered around a museum in a bid for world peace.
The preserved remains of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov – the revered Buddhist leader in Russia before and after the Bolshevik Revolution – are normally kept in a glass sarcophagus located on the second floor of his ‘palace’ near Ulan-Ude in Siberia.
But now local religious leaders claim CCTV footage shows the lama moving both on Sunday and Monday night, in what they say might be a call for world peace.
Some Buddhists believe that the lama, who died in 1927 and was buried in the lotus position before his remains were exhumed with almost no decay, remains alive or hibernates in a nirvana-like state.
CCTV footage shows a grainy figure moving around the museum where the lama is kept
And Lama Damba Ayusheev, current head of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha, hit back at claims from doubters that one of the fuzzy pictures likely shows a security guard possibly wearing military fatigues, carrying two bags and wearing shoes.
He told the Siberian Times: ‘One image shows a grainy figure in the foreground, while a second, a day later, shows a similar figure close to or on a sofa.
‘This is not a joke, that’s for sure’ posted Ayusheev, from the Republic of Buryatia, a Buddhist region of Russia.
‘I see a figure of a man on the shot, as you do, and I know precisely there could not be anyone in the Palace of Khambo Lama Itigilov at this time.’
The first sighting was at 8.05pm when nobody had access to the lama’s chamber at this time, he insisted.
He added: ‘The lama is in five or six metres down the hall on his throne, and this place [where the man stands]is at the front door.’
Religious leaders have claimed that the figure is that of the dead Lama
A second picture apparently showing lama Itiligov was on the move again, this time by the sofa.
The images are poor quality and he has not released full footage but said the image was triggered by movement in the room.
‘There is no video, only a flash from the body on the shot,’ he said.
‘I was taken aback by this image, though somewhere in the depths of the mind I imagined such a possibility, but I still was not ready to see this,’ said Ayusheev.
A spokesman for the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia, Tubden Baldanov, agreed that Lama Itigelov had moved and added: ‘The fact that he appeared in camouflage … We do not know.
‘Maybe it’s some kind of sign? Maybe he says something? Perhaps, that the international organisations should work on peace?’
Born in 1852, Lama Itiligov was prominent in the spiritual life of tsarist Russia immediately before the Bolshevik Revolution.
He took part in the Tercentenary celebrations of the House of Romanov in 1913, and opened the Datsan Gunzechoinei, the first Buddhist temple in St Petersburg.
The famous lama died in 1927, the year after warning Buddhist monks to leave the Soviet Union because they would be overwhelmed by ‘Red teaching’. His final request was to buried in the lotus position, in which he had died.
When his remains were examined in 1955 and again in 1973 the monks were astonished to note no signs of decay. They kept their knowledge hidden from the Soviet authorities.
In September 2002, Itigilov’s body was exhumed once more in the presence of the leaders of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia.
It was closely examined by monks as well as by scientists and pathologists.
The remains were found to be ‘in the condition of someone who had died 36 hours ago’, extraordinarily well preserved and without signs of decay.
Muscles and inner tissue, soft joints and skin remained intact, according to accounts of the observations.
Some have claimed that the lama was preserved in salt. Others say he is in a state of hibernation, nirvana-like, and is in fact still alive.