Sunday, November 23, 2008

Buddha Boy is Back

Buddha Boy, Ram Bahadur Bamjan, looks on as devotees seek his blessing (AP).
KATMANDU, Nepal – A Nepalese teenager revered by many as a bodhisattva (a "being bent on buddhahood") has returned to the jungle to meditate after emerging for less than two weeks, officials said Saturday.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, reappeared on Nov. 10 after several months of meditation to bless thousands of his followers, speaking to them on at least two occasions.

He made his last appearance on Friday and then returned to the jungle to meditate, said Biswo Prakash Newpane, a government administrator in the area. It was not clear when he would return again.

His followers lined up near the jungle of Ratanpur, about 100 miles south of Katmandu, to be blessed by Bamjan. He tapped the believers on their forehead but did not speak to them individually.

The followers believe he has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005. Believers say he spent months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.

Buddhism, which has about 325 million followers, teaches that beings (unless fully enlightened) are reborn after death in many forms.

Buddhist scholars would be skeptical of any claim that Bamjan is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago.

Rakesh, a Buddhist scholar, told the Associated Press last week that being a "Buddha" means the end of suffering and the end of rebirth since it is the highest level that can be achieved. There can be no "reincarnation" of Buddha, but there can and are many rebirths for a bodhisattva such as Siddhartha Gautama and previous Buddhas.