An avowed paganist in a time of religious strife, Hypatia was also one of the first women to study math, astronomy and philosophy On the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, a mob led by Peter the Lector brutally murdered Hypatia, one of the last great thinkers of ancient Alexandria. (Mary Evans Picture Library / Alamy) By Sarah Zielinskismithsonian.com One day on the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, in the year 415 or 416, a mob of Christian zealots led by Peter the Lector accosted a wom [...]
For the first 1,000 days, the monks ceased all food except nuts, seeds, fruits and berries and they engaged in extensive physical activity to strip themselves of all body fat. For the next one thousand days, their diet was restricted to just bark and roots. Near the end of this period, they would drink poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which caused vomiting and a rapid loss of body fluids. It also acted as a preservative and killed off maggots and bacteria that would cause the body to decay after death.
In the final stage, after more than six years of torturous preparation, the monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would go into a state of meditation. He was seated in the lotus position, a position he would not move from until he died. A small air tube provided oxygen to the tomb. Each day, the monk rang a bell to let the outside world know he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed for the final thousand day period of the ritual.
At the end of this period, the tomb would be opened to see if the monk was successful in mummifying himself. If the body was found in a preserved state, the monk was raised to the status of Buddha, his body was removed from the tomb and he was placed in a temple where he was worshiped and revered. If the body had decomposed, the monk was resealed in his tomb and respected for his endurance, but not worshipedIf you find yourself in Budapest before May, the Buddha mummy statue is on display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum.
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