Teenage ‘Buddha’ draws crowds as he ends year of jungle meditation
From The Scotsman
By Binaj Gurubacharya in Katmandu
A TEENAGE boy who many believe is the reincarnation of the Buddha has re-emerged from the jungle in southern Nepal, attracting thousands of devotees.
After retreating into the jungle for more than a year, Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, re-emerged on Monday near Nijgadh town, about 100 miles south of the capital, Katmandu.
On hearing the news, thousands of Bamjan’s followers, some from as far away as India, travelled to the site yesterday to see him, police official Abhaya Joshi said.
Buddhist authorities have never formally said that Bamjan is the reincarnation of the Buddha. Despite this, people have worshipped the teenager since he was first seen in 2005 meditating in the jungle, where he sat for months among the roots of a tree. He reportedly kept perfectly still, with his eyes closed, and went without food or water.
Mr Joshi said Bamjan planned to talk to his followers for a few hours every day for a week before returning to the jungle to meditate.
Bamjan, long-haired and dressed in a white cloth, appeared to be in good health as he spoke to his followers about peace and ending discrimination, according to the Rajdhani newspaper.
“It was an amazing experience to hear and see him. I have no doubt now he is the reincarnation of the Buddha,” said Sangeeta Lama, a woman who met Bamjan for the first time.
Another policeman, Constable Prakash Sen said: “He spoke to the devotees standing near a temple in the forest. Since many people are walking to see him, I think he has some of the qualities Lord Buddha had.”
Min Bahadur Shakya, of the Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods, in Katmandu, said Buddhist priests had not reached a conclusion about Bamjan’s authenticity because they had not been able to fully investigate the boy.
“Meditating without food does not prove that he is reincarnation of the Buddha. There is much study needed to be done,” he said.
Buddhism is practised by some 325 million people, mostly in Asia. They revere the teacher Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, or the Enlightened One. He said there had been countless Buddhas before him and there would be an infinite number after him.
Buddhist priests have been divided on whether the boy is the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha – who was born a prince in Lumbini, a sleepy town in Nepal’s rice-growing plains about 200 south-west of Katmandu more than 2,600 years ago.
He is believed to have attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, which borders Nepal.
Buddhists believe in reincarnation, the doctrine that every soul reappears after death in another bodily form. There has been no formal declaration by Buddhist authorities that Bamjan is the reincarnation of the Buddha.