‘Buddha Boy’ reappears after year in jungle

Original: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/buddha-boy-reappears-after-year-in-jungle-1011713.html

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They asked not where he had been or what he had been doing. Instead thousands of jubilant devotees simply trudged to the remote jungle spot in south-east Nepal where a teenage “Buddha Boy” reappeared to preach to villagers, more than a year after he went missing.

Ram Bahadur Bamjon became famous three years ago when tens of thousands of people flocked to watch him sitting cross-legged under a tree for almost ten months. His followers – who say he is the reincarnation of Buddha – claimed that during this time he neither ate nor drank.

Then, last spring, his supporters said that the teenager was planning to go away and meditate for three years in an underground bunker. He was last seen in August 2007, preaching to crowds in Nepal’s Hallori jungle, around 100 miles south of Kathmandu.

Whatever encouraged Mr Bamjon to re-emerge is unclear, but police said that on Monday he appeared, long-haired, dressed in white and looking in good health, and preached to villagers for around 45 minutes. Local officials said he plans to speak to people for an hour a day for another week.

“Hundreds of devotees, including many from neighbouring India are trekking the five kilometres to see him,” said one police officer, Prakash Sen. “He spoke to the devotees standing near a temple in the forest. He had shoulder-length hair and had his body wrapped in a white cloth. Since many people are walking to see him, I think he has some of the qualities Lord Buddha had.”

When Mr Bamjon first became famous reporters filmed him eating, even though his supporters said he could go without food or drink for days. He was also spotted sleeping when his followers said he was meditating in private. However, a number of witnesses spoke of the young man’s ability to sit fixed in one spot for hours on end

There has been no formal declaration by Buddhist authorities on whether they consider the teenager to be the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in south-western Nepal in 500 BC and later became revered as the Buddha, or “Enlightened One”. Buddhist priests have been divided on the issue, despite the claims of his followers. Meanwhile local volunteers have collected thousands of dollars from people who have visited the young man, prompting accusations that he is merely at the centre of a clever and enlightened money-making scam.

Nepal’s ‘Buddha boy’ investigated for attacking group

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Image captionRam Bomjan’s followers are convinced he is the reincarnation of the Buddha

A Nepalese man popularly known as “Buddha boy” is being investigated by police amid reports he beat a group of locals for disturbing his meditation.

Ram Bahadur Bomjan has admitted to assaulting some of the local villagers in Bara district on Thursday, according to local media.

Mr Bomjan is famed for spending months in the forest without eating.

His devotees believe he is the reincarnation of the Buddha, and he says he has not eaten since 2005.

When he started his fast, he pledged he would meditate for six years, until he gained enlightenment.

‘Slapped’

Manoj Neupane, superintendent of police for Bara district, said police were sent to investigate after 17 people lodged complaints.

Those who had been injured were sent for medical checks, he told the BBC.

According to Nepal’s Republica newspaper, the villagers claimed they had been looking for wild fruit and vegetables.

Mr Bomjan said he had slapped them “two or three times” after they came onto his platform and mimicked him, while the villagers allege they were assaulted more seriously.

“They disturbed me while I was meditating… tried to manhandle me,” Mr Bomjan was quoted as saying by Republica. “I was therefore forced to beat them.”

Last November, Mr Bomjan – who is reportedly around 20 years old – campaigned against the mass sacrifice of some 250,000 animals at the Gadhimai festival in southern Nepal.

Buddha boy back, with a weapon

http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/buddha-boy-back-with-a-weapon/2006/12/26/1166895299834.html

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Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu
December 27, 2006

A MYSTERIOUS teenaged boy believed by some to be a reincarnation of Buddha has reappeared in eastern Nepal after vanishing for nine months.

Ram Bahadur Bomjon, 16, was spotted on Sunday by villagers in a dense forest near Piluwa village, in Bara district, 150 kilometres east of Kathmandu, a television channel said.

Ram disappeared in March from forests in nearby Ratanpuri village, where he had reportedly been meditating without food or water for almost 10 months.

“I have been wandering in the forests since then,” a local journalist, Raji Shrestha, quoted Ram as telling him. “I am engaged in devotion which will continue for six years.”

Hundreds of curious onlookers, including many Buddhists, thronged the site to see the boy, who was said to be sitting in a meditating position.

A local TV station showed people pressing their palms together and bowing their heads in devotion in front of him.

“I don’t think he is a Buddha. But he has some sort of extra strength to meditate. He eats herbs,” Shrestha said.

Before his disappearance, an estimated 100,000 people from India and Nepal, which has a Hindu majority, flocked to see him meditate. They were not allowed to get closer than about 50 metres.

Shrestha said the boy had shoulder-length hair and sat cross-legged under a small tree.

“He has an ash-coloured shawl wrapped across his chest,” he said, adding the boy had a “flat-ended scimitar” next to him.

The boy told pilgrims he was forced to abandon his earlier site because of the constant stream of visitors. He asked his former assistants to resume their positions and instructed them that visitors keep a distance of about 10 metres from him.

Buddha was born a prince in Lumbini, a dusty village in Nepal’s rice-growing plains west of Kathmandu, 2600 years ago.

He is believed to have attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, which borders Nepal.

Reuters

Nepal police rescue Slovak woman from followers of Buddha boy

Original link: https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-03-26/nepal-police-rescue-slovak-woman-followers-buddha-boy Archived: http://archive.is/cfJa7

Lifestyle & Belief

nepal_buddha_boy-1.jpg

Nepalese Buddhists monks pray outside the Mayadevi (Buddha’s mother) temple, birth place of Lord Buddha, Lumbini 400 kms (250 miles) south west of Kathmandu on January 4, 2011.Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini.

Credit: PRAKASH MATHEMA

What happens when religion goes wrong? Kidnapping, or something similar, allege the Nepalese police.

Police official K.P. Sharma told the Associated Press that Nepal’s cops rescued a 35-year-old Slovak woman from followers of a young man whose supporters have claimed to be the reincarnation of Buddha for the past several years. (All is, indeed, suffering).

Sharma said the woman was held in a forest of southern Nepal where Ram Bahadur Bamjan has been meditating for seven years, AP said. The woman, identified only as Marichi, had been visiting Bamjan for the past year but was reported to be held captive for the past two months.

No information was provided about the motivation behind the alleged crime, and all that the police officer said regarding the psychological state of the woman was that she appeared to be scared.

Bamjan created a media sensation around 2005, when he supposedly meditated under a tree for months on end and then suddenly disappeared.

Since then, Bamjan, who has instructed people not to call him the reincarnation of Buddha, has appeared and reappeared, preaching and meditating, all over the tiny Himalayan republic.

Is this boy the new Buddha?

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IS THIS BOY THE NEW BUDDHA?

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Publication Date: 1/4/2007 12:00:00 AM

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IS THIS BOY THE NEW BUDDHA?

The Mirror (UK), December 28, 2006
By Nick Webster

The farmers son who is hailed as a God by followers
SITTING cross-legged in a jungle clearing in southern Nepal, his eyes tightly shut and his arms resting on his knees, the 16-year-old boy seems lost in silent meditation – and oblivious to the armed police surrounding the remote site.

They are there for a very good reason. Where Ram Bahadur Bomjan goes, tens of thousands of people tend to follow.

Many Buddhists and Hindus throughout Nepal and India think the farmer’s son is Buddha reincarnate. They believe he existed for 10 months without food or water, survived the bite of a poisonous snake without treatment, and was left miraculously unscarred after being engulfed by holy fire.

But cynics call Bomjan a fake, whose only gift is in extracting cash from gullible pilgrims, which he passes on to rebel fighters.

The mystery deepened on Christmas Eve when, after a nine-month disappearance, the Boy Buddha suddenly reappeared.

On March 11 he had left his niche among the roots of a pipal tree in the Bara province, about 100 miles south of the capital Kathmandu, and vanished.

A massive search was launched, continuing even when the authorities ruled out foul play, but with no success.

Then on December 24 a group of cattle herders spotted Bomjan in dense jungle, about 10 miles away from the tree where he used to meditate.

The young Buddhist monk seemed bulkier than before but claimed he’d been living on wild herbs. His hair was longer and, bizarrely for a pacifist, he was carrying a scimitar-style sword – justifying it as protection against wild animals.

He said: “Lord Buddha used to arrange his security by himself. So I was forced to do so myself.”

Yet it seems his “miraculous” reappearance will do little to unite opinion across the Asian sub-continent about whether Ram Bahadur Bomjan is the new Buddha or a phoney.

His fame stems from a 10-month fast, which began on May 16, 2005, when his followers claim he neither ate nor drank, and was sustained by meditation alone – most humans will only survive a matter of days without water.

This led to unfounded rumours that the motionless Bomjan sitting beneath his pipal tree was either a statue or a corpse.

As word spread about his feat, 10,000 people a day began coming to pay homage to him. None of the many pilgrims who filed past his tree spotted anything amiss but they were allowed no closer than 25 metres away.

And for the entire 10 months of his marathon meditation, every day between 5pm and 5am nobody was allowed to see Bomjan, his closest followers screening him from view with blankets.

Such activities obviously fuelled speculation that he survived by eating, drinking and moving around at night. So the Nepalese government sent a delegation of investigators to get to the bottom of the mystery.

FOR 48 hours they watched as Bomjan neither ate nor drank. But while allowed closer than the pilgrims, they were kept three metres from the boy and were banned from doing medical tests.

A group from the Indian Rationalist Association tried to carry out an independent assessment, but were thwarted by the screens and threatened by Bomjan’s supporters.

“This is a typical case of fraud,” said their president, Sanal Edamauku. “The boy must be simply eating and drinking at night.

“The claim that he was fasting cannot be taken seriously, unless a fraud-proof blood test confirms that there is no glucose in his blood.”

None of which deterred Bomjan’s followers, who claim they saw light emanating from his forehead – further proof of his divinity. Their belief was further strengthened when the bite of a poisonous snake appeared to have no ill effect. He told onlookers: “A snake bit me but I do not need treatment. I need six years of deep meditation.”

Most mysteriously of all, his devotees claim Bomjan spontaneously combusted – flames burning the clothes from his body but leaving him completely unharmed. The story of his meditation resembles an episode in the life of Gautama Buddha, who 2,500 years ago founded the religion which now boasts 325 million followers, mostly in Asia.

Despite Bomjan himself saying: “Tell people not to call me the Buddha, I do not have the Buddha’s energy,” the claims of his divinity grew. Believers pointed to several compelling coincidences – Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama 160 miles from Bara in 560BC. And both Buddha and Bomjan had a mother called Maya Devi.

Yet his critics dismiss this as mere windowdressing to a massive fraud. While the pilgrims have transformed this section of jungle into a colourful mass of prayer flags and flower garlands, an army of traders have also invaded the forest near Ratanpuri to sell snacks, tobacco, bicycle parts, incense and sacred amulets.

WITH much of the local economy depending upon Bomjan, the talk is of a village-wide hoax.

The cash donations which have flooded in from pilgrims are now in a local bank. One of the most recent deposits was �5,000 – a huge sum in a region where the average wage is �2.50 a week.

His supporters say the money is for Bomjan’s security – they also rake in cash from an entrance fee as well as the sale of books, pamphlets, and cassettes promoting him as a new Buddha.

But there have been accusations that the donations are funnelled off to fund Maoist rebels determined to establish a Communist People’s Republic of Nepal.

As his followers flocked back to the jungle to celebrate Bomjan’s re-emergence, armed police had to be deployed to keep order.

For more than an hour Bomjan abandoned his meditation, preaching to the faithful, urging them to shun alcohol and violence. He said he disappeared due to the constant stream of visitors – especially drunks – disturbing the peace at his haunt.

He told local journalist Raju Shrestha: “I have been wandering in the forests since then. I am engaged in devotion which will continue for six years.”

Shrestha later said: “I don’t think he is a Buddha, but he has some sort of extra strength to meditate.”

Now, as his supporters celebrate his return, the sceptics have found more ammunition for their claims from the latest photographs of Bomjan.

Such is their suspicion surrounding the Boy Buddha they are saying his long, lank, dirty hair is drawn across his face to disguise the fact he is another boy entirely.

Believers have taken over Bara’s jungle – so too have the traders

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Nepal police rescue Slovak woman from followers of Buddha boy

 on http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/india/nepal-rescue-buddha-boy

“What happens when religion goes wrong? Kidnapping, or something similar, allege the Nepalese police. Police official K.P. Sharma told the Associated Press that Nepal’s cops rescued a 35-year-old Slovak woman from followers of a young man whose supporters have claimed to be the reincarnation of Buddha for the past several years. (All is, indeed, suffering).”

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Nepal police rescue Slovak woman from followers of Buddha boy

Nepalese Buddhists monks pray outside the Mayadevi (Buddha’s mother) temple, birth place of Lord Buddha, Lumbini 400 kms (250 miles) south west of Kathmandu on January 4, 2011.Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini.PRAKASH MATHEMAAFP/Getty Images

What happens when religion goes wrong? Kidnapping, or something similar, allege the Nepalese police.

Police official K.P. Sharma told the Associated Press that Nepal’s cops rescued a 35-year-old Slovak woman from followers of a young man whose supporters have claimed to be the reincarnation of Buddha for the past several years. (All is, indeed, suffering).

Sharma said the woman was held in a forest of southern Nepal where Ram Bahadur Bamjan has been meditating for seven years, AP said. The woman, identified only as Marichi, had been visiting Bamjan for the past year but was reported to be held captive for the past two months.

No information was provided about the motivation behind the alleged crime, and all that the police officer said regarding the psychological state of the woman was that she appeared to be scared.

Bamjan created a media sensation around 2005, when he supposedly meditated under a tree for months on end and then suddenly disappeared.

Since then, Bamjan, who has instructed people not to call him the reincarnation of Buddha, has appeared and reappeared, preaching and meditating, all over the tiny Himalayan republic.

Nepal’s Boy Buddha frees Slovak hostage

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