November 05, 2006

A Buddha For Our Times?

On 16th May, 2005, a young Nepalese monk, Ram Bahadur Bomjan, positioned himself under a tree, and appeared to continually meditate without food or water, for many months. He quickly attracted international attention, and was nicknamed the Buddha Boy.

Pilgrims from all over the world visited Nepal in the hope of seeing a genuine living Buddha.

His family report that he was an unusual child, with a deep compassion for living creatures and a peaceful nature. He was soon taken into a temple where he received Buddhist training, but he refused to shave his head in the traditional manner of the priesthood.

Just before embarking on his meditation odyssey, he gave his mother six leaves and told her, "Take these leaves home and keep them in a safe condition. If you lose these leaves, you will not be able to find me. If you keep them safe, I will remain with you forever."

On July 24th, 2005, he opened his eyes and spoke to his brother, announcing that he should now be called Om Namo Buddha Gyani (one who has knowledge of Buddha).

Scientists from around the world gathered to discover more behind this enigmatic boy, who seemed to be continually abstaining from food and water with a superhuman ability to survive beyond the human expectancy for such deprivation. However, close inspection was not allowed and his vital signs remained unchecked. Suspicions began to arise that perhaps the boy was eating and drinking during the evening, when the area he was meditating in was cordoned off from the prying eyes of the public.

His followers remained convinced of his divinity, due mainly to his ability to clearly sit still in all weather conditions, including torrential monsoon downpours.

A Nepalese government team gained permission to observe the boy continually for 48 hours. To their amazement, he remained rigid, focused and did not eat or drink whatsoever. The team of observers planned to do a more thorough scientific check at a later point, but this did not occur, after Ram Bahadur Bomjan suddenly disappeared from his spot under the tree.

There was a massive search to find the location of the holy boy, after fears that he may have been attacked by a tiger or kidnapped by Maoist rebels. However, the police soon doubted that foul play had been committed.

The chairman of a local Buddhist organisation, alleged some months after his disappearance to have met him 2 km from his meditation tree. He told them that it was no longer peaceful to meditate there and that he would continue in an undisclosed location. He gave a message for his parents, informing them not to worry, and that he would return in six years time.

The Buddha Boy is a fascinating enigma. There are some who believe that he is part of an elaborate con to elicit money for the Maoist rebellion or some other shady group. But, as a Buddhist, I must accept (or certainly hope) that there is a basis in reality for the beliefs I hold dearly. Could this boy be an individual truly on the cusp of becoming enlightened? It will certainly be interesting to see if he does indeed resurface in six years time.

The following video has footage of him:

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