Tuesday November 22, 2005
In the Bara district of southern Nepal, pilgrims are heading into the jungle to pay homage to a fifteen year old boy who is being hailed as the new Buddha. The boy, Ram Bomjon, has apparently been sitting in the shade of a pipal tree and meditating for the past six months, and during this time has had neither food nor water.
The boy’s fame has grown rapidly, drawing increasing numbers of devotees. Recently, after visitors started prodding the boy, a fence was built around the pipal tree. Now a second and third fence are planned by the committee who are responsible for dealing with the growing number of pilgrims, and there are plans to build a coach-park in the jungle. Local doctors have been called in to give a bit of scientific credibility to this marvel, although they were not permitted to come any closer than five meters from the boy, in case they might disturb his meditation. Then to top all this, only last week Ram Bomjon was reportedly bitten by a snake, but he refused all medical treatment saying that he could be cured by meditation alone.
Meanwhile, this remote piece of Nepalese jungle is rapidly turning into a spiritual supermarket. If devotees want a memento of their visit to the forest, five rupees will buy them a picture of Ram Bomjon with light emanating from his forehead, a little more will buy them a sacred amulet. As the stalls and sideshows proliferate, the jungle is slowly drowning in mounds of litter.
Call me a killjoy, but I have to admit I’m sceptical of this kind of spiritual circus. Committee? What’s all this about a committee? As far as I recall the Buddha didn’t have a committee. And – leaving on one side the extremely dubious nature of the claims being made concerning Ram Bomjon’s abstinence from food and water – what about the financial aspects of this latest marvel? Somebody somewhere is making a lot of money out of Ram Bomjon. Coach-parks, after all, do not come cheap. Local businessman Prakash Lamsal, soberly refusing to get caught up in the frenzy, told the press that “These lamas are going to build mansions out of this. If I wasn’t a bit embarrassed I’d take a van down there and set up a stall.” Here at thinkBuddha we’ll be keeping an eye on the boy Buddha of Nepal, and we’ll let you know if there are any developments.
Read the Telegraph for the full story.
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