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The Return Of Buddha Boy

This one wasn’t really on the schedule for today, but it’s worth a look:

Ram Bomjan's followers are convinced he is the reincarnation of Buddha

Ram Bomjan's followers are convinced he is the reincarnation of Buddha

A reader pointed this out to me yesterday:

“Buddha boy in Nepal re-emerges after a year”

http://www.nj.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/international-32/122641285714400.xml&storylist=topstories

‘Buddha boy’ reappears in Nepal”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7722011.stm

At first, I was going to make a snarky comment about seeing the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast on eBay, but after reading the link, I remembered reading about this boy a couple of years ago. The kid does at least have some history, and it’s not an out-of-the-blue story. The article doesn’t really give much in the way of evidence about his Buddhahood, but who’s to say he’s NOT a reincarnation of some bodhisattva?

Here are some old links:

“Scientists to check Nepal Buddha boy”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4479240.stm

“Nepal’s ‘Buddha’ boy goes missing”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4797064.stm

From the last one:

His followers claimed that Bomjan did not take food or even water throughout his 10 month-long meditation.

They refused, however, to allow any independent investigation about the health conditions of Bomjan saying that “it would disturb him.” The authorities also did not intervene to avoid hurting local feeling. While critics accused Bomjan’s followers of fooling people, the young boy continued to hog media headlines.

Tired from the decade-old armed conflict that has already claimed more than 13,000 lives, followers of Bomjan claimed that he was an incarnation of Lord Buddha who was born in Nepal more than 2,500 years ago.

They are still hoping that Bomjan will reappear somewhere deep in the forest and continue his meditation.

Obviously, I’m VERY skeptical, but if I swore up and down that it was impossible or that it was a scam, that would be contradicting the basics of Buddhism. And Buddha did say:

“And the Blessed One said to Ananda, I am not the first Buddha, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened one, endowed with wisdom, auspicious, embracing the Universe, an incomparable Leader of Men, a Ruler of Devas and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths, which I have taught you. He will establish His Law, glorious in its spirit and in the letter. He will proclaim a righteous life wholly perfect and pure, such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousands while mine number many hundreds.”

Nope, don’t know what to say on this one 😉

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6 comments to The Return Of Buddha Boy

  • [Brian, posting for a user who emailed this]

    “You said you weren’t sure what to say about this. Maybe the thing is that we can all emulate the Bottisava in our own way…”

  • Sara

    Could the Bodhisattva be a woman? In the Buddhist texts, I only see “he”. Just wondering- I’m not trying to make any kind of feminist statement! I’m just wondering if there have been or could be any female reincarnations of the Buddha.

  • Why NOT make a feminist statement? It’s a valid point, and a far more complicated question than you might think at first.

    Back in Buddha’s day, women were not just socially beneath men, they were considered truly inferior, both physically and spiritually. This could be seen in the doctrinal texts about reincarnation. Somewhere on the “reincarnation path,” between men and dogs were women. A “good dog” could be reborn as a woman, and if the woman was good, she could be reborn as a man if she was really lucky (I’m both simplifying and slightly exaggerating, but the idea is accurate). The East is full of very sexist societies, and still is in many respects. So according to the ancient texts, a Bodhisattva could not come back as a woman.

    Things change in Buddhism as we learn more about the world. In today’s modern world, we all realize that men and women are mentally and spiritually equal. I see no reason why a Bodhisattva could not be a woman. Women are gaining respect in the Buddhist world, but they do still have a long way to go.

  • I don’t think it’s quite as straightforward as that, Brian. The Buddha considered women capable of attaining Enlightenment, and in the Buddha’s day there were women who were enlightened and who would have been looked up to. He also ordained women, and any woman in robes would have had high status compared to a (male) householder, even if the nuns were seen as less worthy than the monks (and they were).

    Later, there were also female archetypal Bodhisattvas like Tara, Prajnaparamita, Mamaki, Locana, etc. And in certain texts (such as the Vimalakirti Nirdesha) there was a spiritual critique of the attachment people have to gender stereotypes (including the idea that a Bodhisattva could not be reborn as a woman). You can read the relevant extract in a comment on Wildmind.

    There was of course a tremendous amount of sexism, and that probably contributed to the demise of the bhikkhuni sangha, but the situation was a bit more complex than you portray it here.

  • Nothing is ever simple or straightforward if you want to dig into the literature far enough. Yes, according to the Buddha Stories there were some Enlightened women in the Buddha’s time, and Buddha did have women followers (his step-mother comes immediately to mind). However, from a sexist point of view, the hierarchy of rebirth would say that they simply started on a lower rung of the ladder, not that it was impossible to become Enlightened.

    Traditionally, however, nuns have not been taken as seriously as monks. Even today, the Dalai Lama fights for equal treatment of nuns. It’s wrong, and everyone knows it, but traditions going back thousands of years are hard to break.

    I think this deserves a whole post of its own, probably early next week.

  • Sara

    Wow- this is really fascinating. Thanks so much! I’m going to look into it deeper on my own as well.