Nepali Times
Mayadebi’s meditating son


NEWS FLASH: After this article was published, Ram Bomzon disappeared from his meditation spot. Eye-witnesses said two vans had come to the area at 4AM on Saturday and taken Bomzon away. The authorities have no idea about the identity of the people in the vans. Kathmandu national dailies on Saturday carried the disappearance as their main story.


The road leading to the meditation site has now become a market.
"Hundreds of people come here every day, they worship him and they tell me 'your son is god', but my heart is hurt." Mayadebi's lips quiver, her eyes brim with tears, she chokes and can't continue.

Mayadebi, 55, is worried about her son, Ram Bomzon who is now known as the boy Buddha of Bara and is attracting devotees from all over Nepal and even India and Thailand. While a lot has been written about Ram, whose fame has spread all over the world with even Discovery Channel preparing a documentary, not much is known about his parents.

Mayadebi Bomzon and her husband Bir Bahadur Tamang have five sons and four daughters, Ram is the fifth. Since he was a boy, Mayadebi remembers, Ram was special. He was born on a full moon night 17 years ago and started crying so hard even before he had been fully delivered that the house shook.

"As long as I can remember he was always a vegetarian, he used to tell us it was wrong to keep livestock and poultry," Mayadebi remembers, "he was gentle and always smiling."

The Buddha's mother's name was also Mayadebi but Ram's mother doesn't know whether her son is a reincarnation. She is bewildered by all the tamasha surrounding her son and is worried about his health.

"He hasn't eaten now for nearly 10 months," she says, "he is really thin, how can he go on like this?" What makes her even more worried is that her son had said he was going to meditate for six years just like Siddartha Gautam.

The village of Ratanpur in the jungle of Bara now resembles a carnival town. There is a bus park, trinket shops, restaurants, lodges for hundreds who come from far and wide to pay their respects to the 'holy' boy. Even those who come just out of curiosity are drawn to the sight of the thin boy in a brown robe, his face dirty, nails overgrown and hair tumbling down his face-sitting still as he has since April in the embrace of a tree trunk.

WORRIED MOTHER: Mayadebi Bomzon doesn't like to talk much about her son but admits she is worried about whether he will survive the ordeal.
There are inevitably those who have taken commercial advantage, but Mayadebi gets nothing out of it. Posters depicting Ram sitting crosslegged under the tree are in high demand. A VHS tape of an incident on 18 January in which Ram's body reportedly caught fire is also being sold. "There was a big noise and we saw a fire, we rushed to try to put it out," recalls a local shopkeeper. Although Ram's brother and a member of the local committee were singed by the fire, they said nothing happened to Ram.

Mayadebi remembers Ram stopped going to school, followed a Lama and went from monastery to monastery. His mother lost track of him and she would hear he was in Lumbini or Dehradun. Mayadebi says she has never gone near her son since he started fasting. "I'm too scared," she tells us, "I am afraid of what I might see. After he left school, I was afraid my son was going to be a good-for-nothing, after he started meditating the neighbours said that he had gone mad. But now I'm just worried about him."

Last summer there was a big storm, many trees in the village fell but nothing happened to the trees around the meditation site. Ram has been bitten twice by snakes. His father went to see him and Mayadebi was worried her son would die but he survived. Mayadebi used to be hard of hearing but says she can now hear quite well. She doesn't know how that happened but she says it must be because of the her son's meditation.

The only witnesses to the spontaneous combustion incident in January are Ram's brother, a member of the local committee and a shopkeeper. Ram's hair was reportedly singed and he was shaken but regained his composure. Before resuming his meditation, he reportedly said he wasn't a Buddha and asked the priest not to treat him like one.

Mayadebi says she hasn't slept properly after that incident. Ram appears in her dreams sometimes and strangely that provides her some relief.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)