Visiting the Dharma Shanga

We took the day off school yesterday to visit the next village, Khudi, who had invited the Dharma Shanga to stay for 15 days.

Ram Bahadur Bomjon is 23 years old and is also known as Palden Dorje (his monastic name) and the Dharma Sangha. He is from a village called Ratanapuri in the Bara district of Nepal. Some of his supporters have claimed that he is a reincarnation of the Buddha, but Ram himself has denied this, and many practitioners of Buddhism agree that the Buddha has entered nirvana and cannot be reborn.

He is famous for his long periods of meditation and was nicknamed the ‘Buddha Boy.’ He began his meditation on May 16, 2005 in a hollow tree but reportedly disappeared from there on March 16, 2006 and since then has been in and out of the public eye. There are many controversies surrounding him as he has reportedly beaten some people up (including his own family).

When we saw the queue of literally thousands of people who were waiting to be blessed by him, we were quite literally stunned into silence. I felt so bad, even slightly ashamed, when we got to skip said queue to join the other foreigners in a special section for international visitors. We were even given a pass but as we had turned up out of the blue, ours, unlike the others, did not have our photographs in them. The other foreigners clearly belonged here and we stood out like a sore thumb. We were the only people dressed in conventional Western clothes – many others were wearing very hippieish clothes and were clearly Buddhist. They had even printed out the chants so that they could join in. On the opposite side of the path to us were about 40 monks who were all chanting. The path was filled with a continuous flow of essentially pilgrims who had all brought offerings and water to be blessed.

The Dharma Shange continually blessed people all day. He looked tired, sweaty and very ill and we could not understand how on earth he could do this for 15 days straight.

I really enjoyed the experience and the 4 of us sat in silence, taking in our surroundings, for about 2 hours. I feel highly privileged to have been able to attend such an event and will remember it for a long time to come.