Thousands flock to see ‘Buddha Boy’ who reappears after year in jungle

November 12, 2008

Nepal (Chattahbox) — 18-year-old Ram Bahadur Bamjan, dubbed “Buddha Boy” by the press, and revered by many as a reincarnation of Buddha, re-emerged after more than a year in the jungle in southern Nepal. Thousands of pilgrims some from as far away as India, have flocked as Bamjan appeared on Monday to preach in a temple in Ratanpur, southeast of Kathmandu.

This week the long-haired Bamjan, dressed in a white cloth, appeared to be in good health when he spoke to his followers about fostering peace and ending discrimination. He plans to give similar audiences for the next week or so. A police spokesman said: “The whole jungle area where he has appeared has turned into a festival and around 10,000 people came to see him on Monday.” Many of those have described the experience as amazing and are convinced that he is the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in about 560BC and later became revered as the Buddha.

The teenager first garnered headlines in 2005 when tens of thousands of devotees traveled to see him as he sat cross-legged amid the roots of a tree for nearly ten months without, it was claimed, food or water. In March last year supporters of Bamjan said that he planned to meditate for three years in an underground bunker – an idea he now appears to have thought better of. Several doubts have been raised, however, over the authenticity of Bamjan. During past appearances thousands of pounds were collected from devotees, leading to allegations that he was really a con man. Most damagingly, perhaps, a French journalist filmed Bamjan nibbling on fruit while supposedly midway through a fast; another correspondent found him asleep while he was supposed to be meditating.

Buddhist priests have been divided on whether the boy is truly the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal around 500 B.C. and later became revered as the Buddha, which means Enlightened One.
Buddhists strongly believe in reincarnation, the doctrine that every soul reappears after death in another bodily form.


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