Ram Bomjon Shows How Religious Myths Are Made
Over five years ago, I first reported on the story of the Buddha Boy of Nepal, Ram Bomjon. Bomjon’s followers were declaring him to be a reincarnation of the Buddha, who was sitting under a tree without moving, meditating, not even eating or drinking for weeks on end, just like Siddhartha Guatama…
…except that Siddhartha Gautama didn’t sit under a tree for weeks on end, and preached the concept of the middle path, which was neither excessive indulgence nor excessive asceticism. Ram Bomjon was practicing the sort of extremism that the Buddha said could not work, because it was like as inflexible as an overtightened string on a sitar.
Also, whereas Siddhartha Guatama cultivated such remarkable powers of meditation that girls engaged in erotic dancing and armies threatening him with violent death could not break his concentration, devotees of Ram Bomjon complained that their guru’s meditation would be disturbed if anyone got within 15 feet of the boy, or if a medical doctor was allowed to examine Bomjon to determine that he was, in fact, not secretly taking in food or water.
When Siddhartha Gautama was attacked by the demon Mara, all Gautama did was to touch the earth with his finger to hold the Earth as his witness. When Ram Bomjon was teased by a passing villagers, Bomjon stood up, gathered his friends, and beat the villagers with sticks until they were bloody.
Ram Bomjon’s supporters said that no one could watch him at night, and so no outsiders could know what the so-called Buddha Boy was doing after dark. Such efforts to prevent anyone from confirming the truth about the claims of Ram Bomjon’s magical powers led the government of Nepal to accuse Bomjon and his cadre of teenage followers of fraud. Just as the government was about to begin its investigation, Ram Bomjon got up from his daytime meditation pose, and declared that he would travel to a secret location in the forest, to continue his enlightenment efforts there.
Since that time, Ram Bahadur Bomjon has reappeared, now calling himself a bodhisatva, Palden Dorje, giving speeches about the realizations he has had as a result of his deep meditation. The odd thing is that these supposed realizations are the same old bits of Buddhist doctrine that have been preached for thousands of years, which Bomjon was taught as a child.
Now, admirers of Bomjon are reporting that, “the so-called ‘Buddha Boy’ has been sitting under a pipal tree in uninterrupted meditation since May of 2005. According to the set of people who surround and control access to Ram Bomjon, he asserted just before sitting down that he was entering into a six-year meditative state in order to attain enlightenment, a la the original Buddha Siddhartha Gautama”.
Anyone who has been following the facts of the Ram Bomjon case know that Bomjon has certainly not been engaged in uninterrupted meditation for six years straight. Ram Bomjon has been walking around, eating, preaching, and getting into fights.
These documented facts don’t seem to matter to people who believe in the magical powers of Ram Bomjon. They are so eager to have a mystical leader to place their trust in that they ignore reality and concoct increasingly absurd legends.
Some people have said that new mythology cannot be created in our time, because there’s too much documentation of facts to interfere with belief in mystical absurdities. Others, true believers, have pointed to the old magical legends of their beloved ancient religious leaders as if the legends are evidence of real supernatural events, claiming that no one could have made up such stories.
The case of Ram Bomjon proves both ideas to be plainly wrong. The invention of incredible religious legends that have no reasonable basis in historical facts is a remarkably easy task. In fact, there seems to have always been a certain sort of person who eagerly awaits such legends, requiring no proof for even the most absurd claims of miracles. Logical arguments can never dissuade such people from their beliefs, because these true believers simply ignore everything that prevents them from feeling the sense of religious rapture that they seek.