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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.

false buddha in nepalRam 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.

31 comments to Ram Bomjon Shows How Religious Myths Are Made

  • theotherjimmyolson

    And this is important,why? Please don’t respond that it is possible to delude yourself even in today’s modern times, I see the results every day.

    • It’s important because large numbers of people, including many Americans, are buying into the story of Ram Bomjon. It’s important because even larger numbers of people in religions other than Buddhism are making radical policy moves on the basis of the belief that their religions’ founding leaders really did have magic powers and a connection to absolute truth. It’s important because the desire for mythology is not going to go away, so as long as it’s here, we need to recognize it and explore it, but separate it from our models of reality.

  • Tom

    They can Ram Bomjon (or anything else) all they want, just don’t do it around me, thanks.

  • Well, you kind of undermine your point by on one hand, rightfully calling this guy a fraud, then on the other writing as if a mythical figure is true (Siddhartha Gautama). Even if there is some factual basis for Siddhartha Gautama “The Buddha” it’s most likely based on a figure like this. The myth is essentially the East Asian Jesus.

    Thanks for writing about this though, I never heard of this guy. It should be noted that Buddhism is full of these people, in fact it’s built on such people. It’s essentially a giant scam that sucks the millions of dirt poor denizens in Asia and to gullible yuppies here in the modern world, and the violent, abusive and deceptive behavior of this kid is in fact typical of buddhist clergy.

    • I didn’t mean to suggest that I think that Siddhartha Gautama really did all the things that legends claim he did. I only meant to say that, within the Buddhist framework, Ram Bomjon’s characterization as a new Buddha is not culturally accurate.

      • Fair enough, though that’s like chastising Christians for not doing exactly what Jesus did, which is impossible to do, since what he did was mythical and magical, just like Buddha. I also wanted to add that what this kid is doing is nothing new, the Buddhist clergy of the various Buddhist denominations, especially orthodox Buddhism, do this shit all the time. Buddhism is probably the most exploitative religion of the poor in the world.

        • Mike

          You have obviously never been to the Vatican or taken note at how deep and heavily laden with gold, the pockets of Christianity are.Which coincidentally has controlled and even created governments for centuries!

  • Nepal is also an excellent example of a country trying to make progress in spite of Buddhism, after all the main engineers of progress of civil rights there are communist…

  • kevin

    Religion schmeligion.. If the solution has never been to look in yourself, how is it that you expect to find it anywhere else?

  • Dave

    To you skeptics-good, be skeptical, don’t accept,but…you should try for yourself-sitting without moving-observing the breath and then sensations. Try that for one hour. Do that for ten days, just ten hours a day and then come back here and poo-poo “budhism”. The last person who wanted a “budhist” religion was buddha.

    Really, if you want to learn anything about yourself, try getting your mind quiet enough to know why you do the things you do.

    One reason he repeats the same platitudes of budha is because anyone who gets their minds quiet enough (which one would from meditating as much as the kid does/did) is because you come to the same realizations. Compassion for others, and for yourself, are pretty universal truths. Also, living like Jesus did doesn’t necessarily mean walking on water and changing water to wine- perhaps it just means not judging others, giving to those who have less than yourself-like Steve Martin said- be courteous, kind and forgiving.

  • Jason Thomas

    Once again this Buddha boy has showed his true colors. Once again, he and his devotees are in the news for violent acts against other humans. this time its the Buddha boy himself. In the Himalayan Times, “Buddha Boy Turns Violent, Thrashes His Siblings.” Violently, he goes around beating up on his own brothers and little sister! Amazing, his followers will justify his behaviour because they are afraid to be in error. Don’t want to say they were fools for following a kid who is spiritually blind and full of violence. His psychic abilities are nothing but mental ploys. Spirituality transcends the mind of psychic delusions. How sad, he will lead many astray no matter what I say.

  • Tsultrim Pawo

    Regardless of what is really going on there, he never said that he was Buddha and his followers are not him. He sits, he meditates, he talks of peace and love. You want a rabit out of a hat? Go to the circus. This is just a person who sits and meditates and brings a good message from the depths of reality. I dont know if he eats or not but I do know is that he sits and even though he may not sit like Buddha, he does sit like a good boy who has grown to be a young man and he still sits and … and so what? I sit too. I have a lot in common with him. I know what peace is like and this man is right. The world need to change and people got to start to be more loving.

  • leo

    i m totally on the side of pawo, the buddha boy has never claimed that he was budhha. it’s a given name by the public. And as far as i know he has never said that he needed security.he had gone alone from his home to the jungle for his meditation.And he was sitting under the tree in order to be enlightened.if we indulge him to go on his own way. we obviously will see the positive consequence.

  • Jason Thomas

    A cult is a bizarre or abnormal group with strange beliefs and practices. The word references a system of ritualistic practices and devotions that are given about a supposed divinity. The buddha boy and his devotees are definitely a cult. Another religion like Christianity and Islam is trying to come into being. Always making promises that they will never fulfill. Only to create more and more division between man and man. How peaceful.

  • TItus Lincoln

    Buddha Boy says, he is above the law, then, why can’t he go around the law and get his legal papers to travel the world? Thank you, Jason for not letting this trickster deceive every one. Let his followers burn in their illusions and deceit. They follow him and never ask the question, why are they themselves still not awakened? They kneel before him in the hopes of finding living water and all he can offer them is dry mouth full of empty words that mean nothing.

  • Premjith

    major popluation would love him to be said as the incarnation of Buddha, as the world is so curious and attarcted to facts/events like this. People worship such people for no reason…they just imitate and love to get involved so….its the population that create such people…one false idea may drop lot of people in to mud.

  • Anonymous

    I wont agree to the person who said about population.. its the society that creats such people.

  • Anton Sugiarto

    It is a spiritual world if someone have not experience and knowledge in it, better stay away from it, not even giving a comments ,because the comments will not be true.
    Or you will be in confusion.

  • John Redfield

    Im curious about this person and not sure what to make. I was hoping for some facts not conjecture and vitriolic opinion guised as an authority on Buddhism or Buddhist practice.

    Im also not offended or afraid if someone else practices something different than Buddhism. Why people like John Durand feel the need to force their perspectives on others is a reminder of attributes learned by fear.

    I choose the path of Buddhadharma because it is one of self responsibility. It doesnt deny other religions or beliefs, it only states that until our own minds are recognized, and the actions of the mind trained to not cause harm, will we be able to experience truth. Relying on external forces cannot replace personal action.

  • AK

    This is important because it is a living instance of what the Buddha taught. Ram Bomjon’s story is a sad one of what happens when someone strays from the Middle Path on their journey for enlightenment… Violence, corruption and greed have overtaken this boy and strayed him from his original intent. The Buddha himself said that extremeism of this nature will not result in a fruitful endeavour, but rather hurt oneself… “The string that is loose plays no music, and the string that is too tight breaks”. This is a story I was following with earnest and it has ended in a sad note, but instead of allowing myself to get angry and stress about the human condition, I think we should all take this example to heart and remember it in our own quest for personal peace and harmony as what happens when the Teachings are extorted for personal gain and fame.

  • Sujata Raimajhi

    Seriously, what’s up with all the hatred and negativity? Here’s this kid just wanting to meditate….for heavens sake …MEDITATE!!! Not go gang banging, robbing or killing!!! He’s just wanting to sit in a corner peacefully. Compared to what we see and hear everyday about guys in his age are doing this guy should be left alone.

    Why so much hatred people? Go after the serial killers and rapist among u and leave this kid alone ! You should be thankful that you have one less criminal living amongst you. Everybody has some agenda or the other and always wanting to create some conflict. The only angle in this story is a kid searching for the meaning of life and things around him, he can’t do in a school setting so he chose to do it in the wilderness. Then there are those around him clearly trying to make a buck out of him and hitting the rod while it’s hot. But don’t people do that? Look what happened to Micheal Jackson. This kid is not to be blamed. Looks like he’s being pushed to the brink by all the confusion around him. He’s being dragged into it. I say LEAVE HIM ALONE!!

  • Anika

    Shame on those who spread smears and try to spoil other’s reputation. He is immaculate.

  • someone laughing

    this makes me laugh lame stupid people posting false lies about how ram attacked villagers your post about that doesnt even excist if your gonna lie try doing it the way the goverments do maybe you can get a way with it losers

  • Your comment that “no one could watch him at night” is obviously meant to imply that he secretly consumed food and water. Which would make perfect sense, except for the unfortunate fact that this claim of yours is completely false.

    Not only were people allowed to observe him at night, but an American camera crew was allowed to film him for 24 hours a day, for 4 days in a row, nonstop. During this time, they observed no eating or drinking whatsoever.

    When you make claims that are easily proven to be untrue, it detracts from the value of anything else you have to say.

  • Good intentions as a kid. Cracked under the pressure as an adult and got lost on himself.
    So sad.

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