Ram Bahadur Bomjon

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Ram Bahadur Bomjon

Ram Bahadur Bomjon in Meditating Position
Native name राम बहादुर बामजान
Born April 9, 1990 (age 27)
Nepal
Nationality Nepalese
Other names Maitriya Guru, Maha Sambodhi, Dharma Sangha, Palden Dorje, Buddha Boy
Known for Prolonged meditation and fasting, established Maitri Dharma religion, founded Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha organization
Parent(s)
  • Bir Bahadur Tamang
  • Maya Devi Tamang

Ram Bahadur Bomjon (Nepali: राम बहादुर बम्जन ) (born c. 9 April 1990, sometimes spelled Bomjan, Banjan, or Bamjan), previously known as Palden Dorje (his monastic name) is from Bongjor, Ratnapuri, Bara district, Nepal. Currently he is known by different names: Maitriya Guru, Maha Sambodhi, Dharma Sangha. In Nepal he is often referred to as the Tapasvi. The Western media named him Buddha Boy, while the Nepalese media Little Buddha (Nepali: लिटिल बुद्ध ). His official organization is called Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha (BSDS) [1]with its central office in Nepal and main branches in the USA[2], Canada and Japan. A new religion founded by Ram Bomjon is called Maitri Dharma.

He drew thousands of visitors and media attention by spending months in meditation, which began on May 16, 2005. He officially concluded his 6 years of meditation on 16 May, 2011, during a public program called Mahadarshan[3] held near Ratanpuri.

Contents

  1. Buddhist background
  2. Disappearances and reappearances
  3. Identity transformations
  4. Claims of scientific proofs
  5. Controversies
  6. See also
  7. References
  8. External links

Buddhist background

His story may have gained popularity because it resembles an episode in the life of the historical Buddha, although Bomjon himself has rejected such comparisons: “Tell the people not to call me a Buddha. I don’t have the Buddha’s energy currently. I am at the level of a rinpoche.”[4] Mahiswor Raj Bajracharya, the president of the Nepal Buddhist Council, has stated likewise: “We do not believe he is Buddha. He does not have Buddha’s qualities”.[5]

Belonging to the Tamang ethnic group of Nepal, in his childhood he naturally followed Buddhism. He attended the local school up to the fifth class, and then started to study Buddhism with a local teacher Samden lama and later Som Bahadur Lama of Sudha in Chattiwan. There he finished a one-month retreat, and had been taken by his teacher to Lumbini in 2003. He continued to India, to Dehradun’s Sakya Monastery, where he stayed one year (2004) to study Buddhism as a monk and received a name Chhiring Dorje Lama. From India he went to Nepal’s Pokhara, where he became ill and had to be sent home in January 2005.[6] It was then when at midnight on May 16, 2005 he crossed the riverbed from his native Bongjor to sit down in meditation in the forest near Ratanpuri. Apparently he had abandoned his red monk robe soon, replacing it with a white, later blue-white robe, but he retained basic traditions and symbols of Buddhism until 2011. He had been supported mostly by Tamang Buddhist monks and nuns. In 2011 his brothers Shyam and Babula became monks, while his sister Manomaya a nun. (They had all left the monastic order after 2012).

Disappearances and reappearances

After he sat down beneath the Peepal tree in the Ratanpuri Jungle on May 16, 2005, he stayed in the same place ten months. “However he suddenly went missing on 11 March 2006. His followers theorized that he went deeper into the woods to look for a quieter place to meditate”.[7]

“On 19 March 2006 “the chairman of the Om Namo Buddha Tapaswi Sewa Samiti (ONBTSS), Bed Bahadur Lama, told reporters that they had met Bomjan about 3km (2 miles) south-west of his meditation site in Bara district on Sunday”. They spoke to him for half-an-hour, during which Bomjon said, “There is no peace here,” and that he would return in six years. He left a message for his parents telling them not to worry”.[8] Then he continued to wander in the jungles.

On 26 December 2006 herdsmen Bal Krishna Ale, Jaya Kunwar from Dumarwana Mahendranagar traced him at the remote Baghjhori Bhataghari Jungle (near Hetauda) and told other villagers about him. Scores of people thronged the site, soon after. Bomjan was said to be visibly bulkier. He had long hair and was also carrying a sword.[9] When asked why a person in search of peace carried a sword, Bomjon replied that he had taken it for his own protection. He told reporters that “Even Gautama Buddha had to protect himself,” and claimed to have eaten nothing but herbs in the interim.[10] (Nepal has over 80 species of wild edible plants used by indigenous inhabitants[11]). The French TV2 had filmed him with the sword (at 3:47 min.)[12] . Later he left to Bara District’s Halkhoriya Jungle, some 10 km South-West from his former meditation place at Ratanpuri with his siblings and followers.

On 8 March 2007 “he suddenly disappeared from his meditating site in the jungle of Bara,” said Raju Shah, a member of the committee set up after the boy became a local media sensation. “He told his priest Indra Lama that he would meditate somewhere in other undisclosed locations.”[13]

On 26 March 2007, news spread of Bomjon meditating underground. Inspector Rameshwor Yadav of the Area Police Post Nijgadh, found Bomjon inside an underground chamber in Halkhoriya Jungle, a bunker-like ditch seven feet square. “His face was clean and hair was combed well,” Yadav said. According to him, the chamber had been cemented from all sides and fitted with a tiled roof. [14] However, according to The Independent, Bomjon had announced to stay underground 3 years, but had emerged much earlier than planned.[15]

On 2 August 2007, Bomjon addressed a large crowd in Halkhoriya Jungle in the Bara district of southern Nepal. The Namo Buddha Tapoban Committee, which is devoted to looking after Bomjon, assembled the meeting. Around three thousand people gathered to listen to him. A video was made of the event.[16] According to Krishna Hari, Bomjon’s message was, “The only way we can save this nation is through spirituality”.[17] After this event he left the place again.

On 10 November 2008 he appeared again.”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”[15]. Approximately 400,000 pilgrims came to see him over a 12-day period, during the well-organized event, transported to the Halkhoriya Jungle by buses, tractors and jeeps. His hair was shoulder-length and his body was wrapped in a white cloth. He made two speeches in which he urged people to recognize the compassion in their hearts, and their connection to one another through the all-encompassing soul.[18]

It was also at this occassion that a few Western visitors could meet Bomjon, who played role in spreading detailed news, photos and videos about ‘Buddha Boy’ to the Western world. US-Japanese Andrea Good, published a book inspired by this meeting Reflexions on Palden Dorje[19].

Identity transformations

In 2011 he announced to his then assistance khenpo Sonam Gyurme[20] that he should be called Dharma Sangha. He had established a new form of worship: The Prayers to the Seven Deities[21], explained as based on his visions during meditation. These previously unknown Thangkas and Mantras are currently the only religious practice prescribed to his followers. He also modified Gautama Buddha’s code of ethics Pancha Shila (Five Precepts) into Eight Precepts – Ashta Shila (2011) and Eleven Precepts – Eghara Shila (2012). From 2012 gradually, he had abandoned the traditional Buddhist religious practice and teachings, replacing it with his new religion Maitri Dharma. The central deity of worship among the Seven Deities is Maitriya, while he himself had been indicating that he is the Maitreya Buddha, and his followers are convinced about this. From February 22, 2014 he had clad his monks and nuns first time in blue robes, differing from Tibetan Buddhism traditional color which is used in Nepal.[22]

In his first years of meditation Ram Bomjon had denied to be the reincarnation of Gautama Buddha[4]. However, from the early years of his publicity, followers and various authors had been speculating if he could be the “Next Buddha” of Nepal instead: The Next Buddha? Buddha Boy Tapaswi Palden Dorje – Ram Bahadur Bomjon

Articles, like that written by his followers Joan Stanley-Baker[23], Holistic Spiritual Ecology launched in Nepal and by Kishore Sherchand The Buddha Boy’ is Nepal’s Greatest Gift to Humanity in 2500 Years express the hope in a Buddhist Messiah-like spirtual leader bringing new world religion.

Ram Bomjon’s followers believe that their guru is of a similar potential as was the historic Gautama Buddha, who had been born in Nepal as well: A Great beam of Light again from Nepal, a Buddha boy has been granted to a nation in Cruel civil war

An interview with Ram Bomjon’s Nepalese follower Jas Bahadur Waiba, the The Next Buddha? Buddha Boy Tapaswi Palden Dorje – Ram Bahadur Bomjon article reveals the belief of the followers  that their guru is the Maitreya Buddha with a miraculous global military power:

“In the future, he will be Maitreya, the next Buddha. This is a certainty. I am confident in this because I have witnessed how he mixes peace with power. He can destroy and he can create. I cannot give you all the details at this time because I have been sworn to secrecy with respect to some matters.” He later hinted, however, toward some esoteric power that could possibly render the weapons of the world completely useless”[24]

According to followers interviewed by Setopati journalists at Ram Bomjon’s historical World Peace Maitri Puja in Kathmandu in 2017[25], he is considered by his followers to be Parmatma (Paramatma), the highest form of God in Hinduism, and a “Maha Sambodhi“, higher than Gautama Buddha:

“His followers consider him to be Parmatma (supreme soul) and above Lord Buddha. … But he also considers himself a Parmatma incarnated to rid the world of sufferings. … He plans to unite the world through a single Maitri religion, Maitri language and Maitri culture. His followers claim his level of knowledge is above that of Lord Buddha. … They claim Siddhartha Gautam reached a Sambuddha (self-enlightened) state but Bomjon has attained Mahasambodhi (greater form of self-enlightenment) state. … Some even claim he has left Sukhapati Bhawan (heavenly abode where Amitabh Buddha is said to reside) replete with amenities and bliss, and come to the earth for the good of the world. “[26]

Claims of scientific proofs

According to the film made by his followers[27], Bomjon had officially broken his six years of fasting on April 11, 2012, at 1:32 pm. Supporters of Bomjon claim there had been scientific proofs of his past 6 years of motionless meditation without food (inedia) between May 16, 2005 and the above date. Despite numerous attempts, medical examination had not been carried out, and no scientific report had been published:

Visitors can catch a glimpse of Banjan from a roped-off area about 80 feet away from him between dawn and dusk. Followers then place a screen in front of him, blocking the view and making it impossible to know what he is doing at night, Mahat said. “We could not say what happens after dark,” Mahat said.[28]

An eight-member team of health workers headed by the district hospital’s Medical Superintendent Ram Lakhan Shah had observed the meditating boy for half an hour on November 14, 2005. “Even if he eats at night, it is extraordinary to continuously meditate in the same position for 12 hours a day,” Dr Shah said. “He needs to be thoroughly examined since his case has thrown up a challenge to medical science.” A member of the team, Dr Raj Dev Kushwaha said, “Just by examining the glucose level in his blood, it can be easily found out whether he has eaten or not.” However, any physical examination of Bomjon is not acceptable to the committee. “We will not allow, at any cost, any examination that involves touching or piercing since it will disturb him,” Thing argues.[6][29]

In December 2005, a nine-member committee led by Gunjaman Lama watched Bomjan carefully for 48 hours and observed him not to take any food or water during that time. A video recording was also made of this test. However, they were unable to approach him closer than three meters or take readings of his vital signs, other than to confirm that he was alive and breathing.

The team suggested testing his blood to prove whether he has taken any food but the management committee rejected the proposal. Any physical examination of Bomjon was not acceptable to the Committee.[30]

The central source to prove Ram Bomjon’s inedia claims is considered by his supporters to be the Discovery Channel documentary “The Boy With Divine Powers”[31] . The film-crew had not been medical experts and had not been allowed to film after 5 PM at night, explains author Daniel B. Haber, who visited the “Buddha Boy”. He writes:

… At one point some scientists from RONAST (Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology) wanted to examine the boy but the Nepal Tamang organization objected saying that it was an infringement of the boy’s human rights, that it was out of place to invite scientists and the boy should be left alone to achieve his goal. Discovery Channel had been here to set up cameras, but it didn’t work out and they may return later. However when we contacted the Discovery liaison person in Kathmandu, Carolyn Shyangbo, she said that Discovery had hoped to film for three continuous days but were only given permission to film at night from 50 meters away and their infra cameras were not god enough. She said, “After their first visit the Discovery team were very interested, but after the second visit they thought it was all a bit fishy.”[32]

Controversies

Claims of inedia and motionless meditation:

In conclusion of the above, Bomjon’s announcements had been long controversial: he had repeatedly claimed to meditate six years and stay unseen by people in the jungles. However, he meditated 10 months and then started to change places surrounded by his followers, give public speeches about non-violence, yet himself carrying a sword. His claim to stay three years in the underground pit had been also changed[26], and according to some sources he stayed in the bunker only a few days before appearing in the public in August that year.

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.[26]

Legal irregularities in the Ratanpuri Jungle:

The meditating boy became a headache for the local administration after tens of thousands of people started thronging the meditation site. Security sources say a large portion of the money and other offerings made at the meditation site and the amount collected from selling Bomjon’s pictures, CDs and biography goes to the Maoists. “We have received information that 75 percent of this income reaches Maoist hands,” claimed a security official on the condition of anonymity. However, Thing, who claims that the committee has not given a single penny to the Maoists. Chief District Officer (CDO) of Bara, Shanta Raj Subedi says settlement and business activities are prohibited in the jungle area. CDO Subedi also complains that the committee violated their decision and did not furnish the income-expenditure details and the name list of the volunteers working on the meditation site.[6]

Sword attack against Ratanpuri shepherd:

Bamjan, who preaches against violence, hacked a local youth with a sword critically injuring him two years  [sic] ago. He disappeared after the incident for nine months. Later he was found in Bagjhor forest with a sword, but no action was taken against him.[29] Another source, refering to Naya Patrika newspaper, names the victim whom Bomjon attacked with his sword as the then 22 years old Anil Khatri, and the reason as Khatri entering the meditation premises without permission.[33][34]

Illegal encroachment of Halkhoriya Jungle:

When Bamjan changed his place of meditation after the incident and shifted to Halkhoriya forest, his followers had put up a three-square kilometer wire fence in the national forest. However, the District Forest Office failed to take any action.[29]

Thrashing 17 Madeshi people:

A squad of police, led by inspectors Rudrakanta Jha and Bhesh Raj Rijal from Bara District Police Office visited Bamjan in Halkhoriya forest, Bara, following complaints registered against him by a group of 17 vilagers. Refuting the victims’ claim that they mistakenly stepped into Bomjan’s meditating site while searching wild vegetables, Bomjan said, “They came to this area just to disrupt my meditation.” Though Bamjan claimed he only used hands while thrashing, the villagers have said he had thrashed them with an axe handle continuously for three hours. Also Bomjan said he would not come to the court for trial. “Do you think a meditating sage will go to the court to hear a case?” he exclaimed. “I took action against them as per the divine law,” he added.[35]

The BBC quoted Nepal’s Republica newspaper, that the villagers claimed they had been looking for wild fruit and vegetables when Bomjon had thrashed them with an axe handle for around 22 hours on July 22, 2010. Bomjon said the locals had been interrupting his meditation by climbing onto his platform, mimicking him, and attempting to manhandle him, and that he was “therefore forced to beat them”. According to the newspaper, he claims he slapped them “two or three times”, while the attackers alleged that they had been assaulted more seriously.[36] [37]

Republica writes slightly differently: “Many have fallen ill due to the thrashing. One Prahlad Chaudhary sustained minor head injury. “He struck on our back and head with an axe handle. He didn´t relent even after we apologized,” Dev Narayan Chaudhary, 45, of Manaharwa-6 told mediapersons Saturday morning. Chaudhary said the group couldn´t retaliate against the man whom they have been worshiping till now. “There were 17 of us and we could have retaliated. But we couldn´t do anything other than join our hands in apology,” he added.[38] In a two days later article it quotes Bamjan: “The locals have lied. I have just slapped them two-three times,” he claimed. He, however, couldn´t elaborate on how a man sustained head injury with slaps. He said the group didn´t retaliate against him and hinted that he would have used his divine powers if the locals had retaliated. [37]

The Himalayan Times writes about the same incident: “Bamjan had beaten up 17 locals of Bara Manarwa about one-and-half year ago detaining them for 24 hours as they had entered inside his fence in search of wild shoots and fruits. The victims filed FIR against Bamjan, but no action was taken”.[29]

Kidnapping, hostage holding and torture of a foreigner:

In 2012 Nepal Police held a press meet reporting that they rescued a Slovakian woman who was abducted by Bomjon. The Slovak woman had a broken arm and was very weak. The reports say she told local journalists that she has been threatened by Bomjon’s followers not to reveal anything to the media or police.[39][40]

Abducting, locking up and beating two men

On Sep 2, 2014 at least four people were injured when a clash erupted between locals and devotees of Ram Bahadur Bamjan, known as Buddha boy, at Halkhoriya on Tuesday. The clash flared up when around 100 locals intervened to rescue two others who were held captive by Bamjan’s followers since Monday.

According to local resident Jagjiban Kumar, the two sides clashed after Bamjan hit the locals with a stick. He said that the two captives were, however, released later. Uttim Guro and Sonam Kumar, both of Nijgad Municipality-11, along with their friends were said to be on their way back from work in India when they were captured.[41]

See also

References

  1. “Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha, Nepal”.
  2. “Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha, USA” 
  3. http://etapasvi.livejournal.com/16597.html
  4. Bell, Thomas (21 November 2005). “Pilgrims flock to see ‘Buddha boy’ said to have fasted six months”. The Telegraph. Bara District, Nepal. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  5. “Nepal ‘Buddha Boy’ returns to jungle”. Yahoo! News. 2008-11-22. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  6. “The little Buddha of Bara”. Buddhist TV Channel. January 27, 2006. Archived from the original on August 2, 2006.
  7. Bhagirath Yogi (11 March 2006). “Nepal’s ‘Buddha’ boy goes missing”. BBC.
  8. “Nepalese Buddha Boy ‘reappears'”. BBC. BBC. March 20, 2006. Archived from the original on April 12, 2006.
  9. “THT 10 years ago: Teen Buddha comes back armed with a sword”. The Himalayan Times. December 25, 2006. Archived from the original on December 31, 2016.
  10. Bell, Thomas (27 Dec 2006). “Buddha Boy found after retreating into jungle”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  11. Uprety, Poudel, Shrestha, Rajbhandary, Tiwari, Shrestha, Asselin, Yadav, Ram C, Krishna K, Sangeeta, Narendra N, Uttam B, Hugo (April 30, 2012). “Diversity of use and local knowledge of wild edible plant resources in Nepal”. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.
  12. 66 minutes Le Retour Du Petit Bouddha TV2 February 2006
  13. “Nepal’s ‘Buddha Boy’ does second vanishing act”. Breitbart News. March 11, 2007. Archived from the original on March 12, 2007.
  14. Buddha Boy Update: Ram Bahadur Bomjon Now Meditating in Pit. 28 March 2007
  15. Buncombe, Andrew (November 11, 2008). “‘Buddha Boy’ reappears after year in jungle”. The Independent. Archived from the original on December 25, 2008.
  16. “Video Clip Taken in Halkhoriya Jungle in August 2, 2007(Sharawan 17 th)”. Official Site of Ram Bahadur Bomjan. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008.
  17. Ram Bahadur Bomjom, the Buddha Boy, Starts Preaching: Arrival of a Meditation Guru or a Religious Zealot?. 3 August 2007
  18. “Om Namo Guru Buddha Gyani”. Paldendorje.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  19. Good, Andrea (2011, 2015). Reflections on Sambodhi Dharma Sangha (previous versions Reflections on Palden Dorje, Reflexions on Dharma Sangha). Lulu.com. ISBN 1105257347, 9781105257346 
  20. “Biography of Ven. Khenpo”.
  21. Maitriya (2015-01-21), The Prayers of the Seven Deities, retrieved 2017-08-28
  22. The Puja at Lamjung, Joan Stanley-Baker
  23. Joan P. Stanley-Baker, USA, Non-degree, – “The Maitreyan Phenomenon Spiritual Metamorphosis in MahaSambodhi Dharma Sangha”., April 29, 2014 – April 28, 2015. http://tribhuvan-university.edu.np/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Research-Bulletin.pdf
  24. Dennie, J Ocean (December 26, 2009). “The Next Buddha? Buddha Boy Tapaswi Palden Dorje – Ram Bahadur Bomjon”. Sathya Sai Baba – Life, Love & Spirituality. Archived from the original on November 24, 2011.
  25. “थाङ्का प्रदर्शन गर्न ८१ फिट उचाई अस्थायी संरचना”. eKantipur.com. March 9, 2017. Archived from the original on March 9, 2017.
  26. Buncombe, Andrew (November 11, 2008). “‘Buddha Boy’ reappears after year in jungle”. The Independent. Archived from the original on December 25, 2008.
  27. Maha Sambodhi Dharmasangha guruji took his wholesome food and water https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hvEMZBNbvA&feature=youtu.be
  28. “Boy in Nepal draws crowds; some say he’s Buddha reincarnate”. USA Today. November 23, 2005. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012.
  29. Bhandari, Diwakar (March 30, 2012). “Is Buddha boy above the law?”. The Himalayan Times. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014.
  30. Indra Adhikari (12 March 2006). “The “Little Buddha” goes missing”. Nepalnews.com. Archived from the original on 28 March 2006.
  31. “The Boy with Divine Powers”. Discovery Channel. 2006.
  32. Haber, Daniel B (December 1, 2007). Journey Into the Forest: Seeking the Enigmatic Little Buddha of Nepal. https://www.amazon.co.uk: Pilgrims Publishing. ISBN 8177696408.
  33. Kunwar, Niranjan (July 20, 2007). “Buddha Boy attacked and injured a guy with his sword?”. Nirlog.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007.
  34. “तरवारले हान्ने बुद्ध ?”. Mysansar.com. July 12, 2007. Archived from the original on July 15, 2007.
  35. Bandari, Rai, Diwakar, Arun (July 26, 2010). “Police quizzes Buddha Boy over thrashing locals”. The Himalayan Times. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010.
  36. Lang, Olivia (2010-07-27). “Nepal’s ‘Buddha boy’ investigated for attacking group”. BBC. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  37. Lamicchane, Upendra (July 26, 2010). “‘Buddha boy’ unrepentant”. My Republica. Archived from the original on July 28, 2010.
  38. Lamicchane, Upendra (July 24, 2010). “‘Buddha Boy’ thrashes locals”. My Republica. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010.
  39. http://www.hindustantimes.com/world/nepal-s-boy-buddha-frees-slovak-hostage/story-yAL5Zd4XoPwm0xfMFlVulK.html
  40. https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-03-26/nepal-police-rescue-slovak-woman-followers-buddha-boy
  41. Sah, Laxmi (September 2, 2014). “Locals clash with Bamjan’s followers”. The Kathmandu Post. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.

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