[quote]March 14, 2006
KATHMANDU – In the remote jungle of southern Nepal Buddhist monks in burgundy-colored robes and Hindu priests pray together for the safe return of Nepal’s missing “Buddha Boy”.
Thought to be the birthplace of Buddha, the source of Hinduism’s holiest river, and ruled by a king who is believed by many to be a descendant of the Hindu god Vishnu, Nepal is a country that takes religion seriously.
So it was not surprising that people began flocking to Bara, 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Kathmandu, to pay homage to a 16-year-old sage, when it was heard that he had been meditating non-stop for months, without food and water.
But Ram Bahadur Bomjan, dubbed “Buddha Boy” by the media, vanished from his meditation site, nestled in the roots of a pipal tree, in the early hours of Saturday morning. Media reported that he had been glimpsed in the surrounding jungle on Saturday, but since then there was no clue to his whereabouts more than 48 hours later.
“Over 1,000 people were involved in the search for Bomjan since Saturday but all came back to the meditation site empty handed,” local journalist Shankar Acharya said on Monday.
Bomjan started his meditation on May 16 last year, and supporters claim that he has taken neither food nor water or used the toilet since then.
As well as the seemingly impossible feat of nearly 10 months continuous meditation, supporters claim that a few weeks ago the boy burst into flames, but emerged from the fire unscathed.
Thousands of devotees have visited the site, to catch a glimpse of the boy being touted by followers as a reincarnation of Buddha.
Media here reported that Bomjan had told a friend that he was not a Buddha, but merely an “austere sage”.
Visitors were kept at least 15 meters (50 feet) from the boy, and he was hidden from view at night behind a screen, prompting some to label the claims a hoax.
Around 15 square kilometers of jungle have been combed by locals and police, but authorities have scaled back their search, said local police inspector Ram Kamal Acharya.
“There is no point in searching the same jungle again and again,” Acharya said on Monday.
Over the weekend the police officer had said that he was 90 percent sure that Bomjan had left the site of his own accord, and had not been abducted as initial reports speculated.
Bed Bahadur Thing, the chairman of the committee set up to manage the site and look after Bomjan, said that the disturbance caused by thousands of devotees probably prompted the boy to abandon his quest.
“He may have shifted due to noise and pollution at the meditation site,” Thing said.
Gautama Siddhartha, who later became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One, is believed to have been born in the same region near the border with India in around 500 BC.
Buddhists believe that Siddhartha achieved enlightenment after meditating under a pipal tree, and 20-year-old student Gaurab Tiwari believes that Bomjan’s disappearance has parallels with the life of the founder of Buddhism.
“Even the original Buddha used to change places for meditation so he might have gone to find a new place because he was not satisfied in Bara,” Tiwari said.
Thing has other ideas about the baby Buddha missing in the jungle.
“It is impossible to find him,” he said. “How can humans search for god?”[/quote]
metimes.com/articles/normal. … 1326-8817r
For some reason, I really am enthralled by this story.