Self-Mummification: The Lesser Known Fact About Buddhism
It was just recently when we came across one of the most horrifying facts about Buddhism- Sokushinutsu.
Sokushinutsu is practiced in some parts of Japan. In this practice, Buddhist monks observe austerity to the point of demise and go through mummification while alive. These preachers follow a strict diet, almost close to starvation, and then are buried alive in a covert hollow.
As per the news, the starving monk is buried alive underground breathed thru a bamboo tube. A monk sits underground with a air pipe in a lotus position and recites sutras in the dark. The monk then rings the bell from inside the grave to notify that he is alive. After few days when the knells stops ringing, the air pipe is removed, and the tomb is sealed.
For a religion that preaches peace and prosperity, Self-Mummification comes a shock!
This not so humanly act was viewed as the type of further enlightenment and not as the act of suicide. Many preachers performed the act, but only 24 such mummified bodies have been found till this date. This praxis is believed to be brought in by Shingon school founder Kukai from Tang China as a part of secret tantric rituals he learned.
Though mummies are not unusual in Japan, the practice of self-mummification, as you might visualize is most hostile one. And this is practiced by the most dedicated of penitents. In the book- Living Buddhas: The Self-Mummified Monks of Yamagata, Japan, many religions have regarded the blamelessness of the cadaver as a symbol of special poise or mystic proficiency. Where Sokushinbutsu is considered, it is an act of self-mummification intended for the efficient implementation of an ultimate transcendent ritual.
These practitioners thought that they accomplished extraordinary powers through these abstemious doings.