The Sokushinbutsu (身 仏 仏, literally, “attainment of Buddhahood in life”) were Buddhist monks in the form of Shugendō Buddhism which, disseminated in northern Japan (mainly, Yamagata prefecture ) and during the 15th century , Were slowly provoking death, so that their corpses were preserved mummified and thus achieved the state of enlightenment and became Buddhas . Although hundreds of monks attempted to automate themselves, only 16-24 have been discovered to date. This means that the technique is currently extinct and that no monastery or any Buddhist group is still practicing it.

For a period of 1,000 days (a little less than three years), these monks underwent a very strict regime of physical training and diet, consisting only of nuts and seeds. All this was to get rid of your body fat . Then, for another 1000 days taking a poisonous tea , made from tree urushi . The venom caused vomiting , with the consequent loss of body fluids, and also made it possible that, after death , the worms did not corrupt the body. [ Citation needed ]

To finish the process, the monk was placed in a tomb only a little larger than his body, singing songs and remained in the position of the lotus until his death. His only connections to the outside world were a bell and a cane to breathe. Every day, if the bell rang, the monk indicated that he was still alive. The day the bell stopped ringing, the breathing rod was removed and the crypt was sealed . The monks waited an additional 1,000 days, after which they opened the tomb to verify if the mummification had been successful .

If the body had been corrupted, the monk was buried with special honors. On the other hand, if the mummification had been successful, it was placed in a temple and considered a Buddha. [ Citation needed ]

In popular culture

  • In the games of Megami Tensei , appears a practitioner of Sokushinbutsu called Daisoujou . He is portrayed as a preserved skeleton wearing yellow vestments and carrying a bell .
  • In the series anime Inu Yasha , a monk named appears saint , Hakushin , who went through the process of Sokushinbutsu in times of famine and war to protect his people as a living Buddha. However, when he approached death he was annoyed to see that those he had dedicated his life trying to protect now were anxious waiting for his death. Therefore, having completed the process of Sokushinbutsu, he served his people as a Buddha for many years, and was eager to aid the demon Naraku .
  • In the novel The haiku of lost words , by Andrés Pascual , a character visits a temple with a sokushinbutsu.