Fact Check: Has a 209-Year-Old Tibetan Monk Been Discovered?

A photo of an elderly person alleged to be 209 years old has surfaced on Twitter—but it's not the first time such claims have been made about the same individual.

The Claim

On September 18, 2022, Twitter user @BhattiSaaaaab posted a photo apparently showing an elderly man on a bed.

The user wrote that the person in the photo is a Tibetan monk who was discovered "in a state of deep meditation" and "is believed to be the oldest person in the world at 209 years old."

Within two days the tweet had gained over 5,500 likes and over 800 retweets.

The Facts

The person who posted the photo admitted they had made a false claim shortly after posting it, as users piled in to debunk it.

In a comment below the image, they wrote that the alleged monk had been found with a journal including "nuggets of wisdom" and added: "One of the most recent entries was, 'don't believe everything you read on Twitter.'"

It is not the first time hoax images of the same individual have been posted online.

In February this year, fact-checking website Snopes reported that various rumors had been circulating about the person in the photo.

One YouTube video described him as supposedly the oldest person in the world at 163 years old, and according to another rumor the person in question was 399, as claimed in a report in Spanish newspaper Marca in March this year.

Monk meditating
A stock photo depicts a meditating monk. A false claim has been posted on Twitter that a 209-year-old Tibetan monk has been found. ATP-Photographer/Getty

According to at least one version of the false rumors, the man's longevity was linked to a process of self-mummification. All of this is unevidenced.

The earliest videos of the person appear to be linked to the TikTok account Auy Saranya.

That account appears to be run by a girl who refers to the man as her grandfather, as other outlets previously reported based on posts translated from Thai.

The TikTok account includes several videos of the man from around late 2021 onwards, which appear to show him receiving healthcare, eating food, and interacting with people.

In the videos, he is referred to as Luang Ta, though another makes reference to the name Luang Pho Yai.

The videos proved hugely popular, with one receiving over 130 million views.

In one video posted on May 5, the person behind the Auy Saranya account wrote that the man passed away on March 22, 2022, at the age of 109.

Speaking to Newsweek via Facebook, the account owner said: "My grandfather's name is Phrakhru Akha Chantasaro. He was ordained as a monk since the age of 20. He is my grandfather. He was blind and deaf.

"He's old, but his memory is great. Plus, the body is strong and never gets sick. But at the beginning of last year he fell in the bathroom inside the temple where he lived, causing his head to hit the ground hard.

"Two hip fractures make him a bedridden patient as seen in the clip.

"I had taken care of him from the beginning of the year until March 22, before his death. He has given me many orders. Including saying goodbye before leaving. Total age 109 years."

The family member also urged social media users to "stop looking at it as a joke" and that their family was "very saddened" to see people treating the situation as such.

The Ruling

False

False.

An image posted to Twitter does not show a 209-year-old Tibetan monk.

It actually shows an elderly man who passed away this year at the age of 109, as shown by a series of TikTok videos documenting his healthcare.

Additionally, the user who tweeted the false claim has acknowledged it was a hoax.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

Update, 9/22/22, 11:25 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a comment from the owner of the TikTok account where the original videos referenced in this article were shared.