We, humans, are obsessed with the concept of leaving behind a legacy which is quite evident in the religious practices followed by every culture around the world.
There are a lot of bizarre practices are followed across cultures including Buddhism. The accomplished Buddhist monks are believed to collect a substance in their bodies that ordinary people do not. When a Buddhist monk who has reached a high level of spiritual excellence is cremated after his death, an element remains in his ashes that appear like pearls or gems. These substances are said to accumulate from other realms, not quite of this world.
These beads or gems are called as sarira or ringsels. Few studies have been done on this phenomenon. However, sources reveal that the sarira have not been tested as they are considered rare and sacred.
Significance of Sarira
The word sarira comes from the Sanskrit word शरीर, which means body. The term is also used to refer relics like parts of Buddha’s skull, teeth or the crystal remains that are found after a Buddha’s corpse is burnt.
Post-cremation, the monks scrutinise the dusty ashes of saints and teachers for the sarira. In Korea, the unburnt bone pieces are kept aside which is later mixed with food to be fed to the animals. Sarira does not belong to the body; it is neither a part of the bone nor the flesh. These strange beads are found in the final distillation of a Buddhist life well-lived. It is a physical manifestation of the devotion.
Some theories suggest that the sarira grows from the bodies of living people and culminates the religious experience of the individual. For instance, a Tibetan saint Chosyang Dorje Rinpoche spent 45 years meditating. Post his death, 2000 pearl-shaped sarira were found dangling from his hair.
The color and size of sarira depend on the body part where it grows. Sarira belonging to every body part has a different traditional name attached to it. For example, sariras originating from the liver are yellow in color and are sized like mustard seeds and are called churira. The ones associated with the head are white pea-sized. The nyarira are recovered from the lung tissue.
The sarira is believed to mysteriously multiply, increase or decrease in size while they are inside the containers based on the purity of the keeper’s thoughts. The sarira when placed on a person’s crown, is said to purify and heal the body.
There are many explanations by skeptics regarding the sarira. Some call them as natural minerals found in human bodies like gallstones while others regard them as crystalline structures formed under heating conditions of cremation.
Studies on Sarira
William A. Tiller, PhD, a Stanford University physicist along with his team of researchers studied the energy surrounding the sarira. Nisha J. Manek, M.D., the lead author of the report stated, “I felt a tangible radiation of exquisite energy flowing from the relics to my heart center. It was highly private and personal, and yet conveyed an immense sense of Oneness or unity with everyone and everything. It had no counterpart in ordinary experience.”
Tiller developed many methods which the researchers used to measure the energy released by the relics. Tiller studied the physical impact of the human consciousness and theorized that there are two types of substances, one that we perceive with our senses and the other that exists in the space between the atoms and the molecules.
According to Tiller, we cannot perceive the substance that exists in space, but it has high thermodynamic free energy which is incredibly powerful. Tiller says that the substance can be detected when it overlaps or interacts with an electric atom or molecule, which is quite rare to occur. Human intention is supposed to activate a substance called as deltrons in our body. These deltrons facilitate the interaction between two types of substances. Tiller and Manek studied the relics and found imprints of human intention.
Manek’s report says, “Although we may not consider these objects … to have phenomenal consciousness, there is no doubt that an aspect of consciousness is imprinted into both kinds of objects. In the case of the Buddha relics, over hundreds of years, reverential ‘pumping’ has kept these objects imprinted. If there is no respect or love, the relics disappear.” The researchers found that the atom-molecules within the space are coherently ordered.
Sarira remains a mystery as cremation of ordinary people does not leave behind such substances. Tiller and Manek’s studies reveal that the sarira may have some energy that could leave an impact on the worshippers which is reflected onto the sarira by the worshipers.