ULAN BATOR - A mummified monk sitting in a lotus position has been found in Mongolia, but some believe he is in a rare meditative state and is not dead.
His well-preserved body was found last Tuesday in a house in Songino Khairkhan province of capital Ulan Bator in northern part of the country, Mongolia's Morning Newspaper reported, adding that it was covered with animal skin.
Police said the mummy was bound for sale in the black market, The Siberian Times reported.
It has since been delivered to the National Centre of Forensic Expertise, and initial examination showed it could be about 200 years old.
The identity of the monk is unknown, but there is speculation that he is a teacher of the famous lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a Russian monk whose mummified body was found decades after his death in 1927.
His body was deemed a sacred Buddhist object and placed in a temple for worship.
One expert has claimed that the newly found body is in a rare meditative state known as tukdam.
"This is the highest state close to the state of Buddha," Dr Barry Kerzin, a famous Buddhist monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, was cited as saying by The Siberian Times.
Dr Kerzin, who has taken care of some meditators who entered tukdam state, said a person's body will start to shrink if he can remain in this state for more than three weeks, which rarely happens.
In the end, all that remains is the person's hair, nails and clothes, he added.
"If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state, he can become a Buddha. Reaching such a high spiritual level, the meditator will also help others, and all the people around will feel a deep sense of joy."
There are 40 such cases of tukdam found in India over the last 50 years involving Tibetan monks.