- Family and Childhood
- School and Religious Education
- Palden Dorje's Illness
- Palden Dorje Disappears
- Meditation Begins
- Snakebite and Miracles
- Wandering to Bara district
- Meditating in pit
- Preaching in Halkhoriya jungle
- Buddhist background
- Feats of inedia
- Reappearance in Ratanpuri jungle
1. Family and Childhood
Maitriya Guru Maha Sambodhi Dharma Sangha (earlier Palden Dorje, born Ram Bahadur Bomjon) was born on April 10, 1990 between 2:25am and 4am (information on date and time is still controversial and will be checked and clarified) in Ratanpuri village, Bara district, Nepal.
Ram's parents are farmers. His mother, Maya Devi was married at 12. She had 5 sons and 4 daughters. Ram was her third son. When she was in her pregnancy, she found she was unable to eat meat without becoming ill. The son, whom she named Ram, would not eat meat. He would leave the house for long intervals from an early age.
Ram was always pleased to see a lama or a holy person and fastidiously imitated them. He often seemed to be lost in thought and spoke little. Whenever someone spoke to him, he would reply with a smile and would treat people of all ages equally.
According to his family and neighbors, Ram Bomjon often acted differently from his childhood friends, frequently observing other people in worship and praying himself. He has been described as being born with a peaceful nature, and would never get into a fight or kill an animal. Beginning at the age of five he only took leftovers for food, and went hungry if there was nothing.
2. School and Religious Education
He took his studies seriously and rarely played with other children, choosing instead to remain alone. He spent his time reading scriptures, meditating and worshiping the pipal tree which seemed to bring him joy. Seeing this behavior, Ram's father sent him to study the scriptures of Lama Chhyoi with Samden Lama in their village. After that Ram decided to embrace a religious life.
He was accepted into the monk-hood by Som Bahadur Lama of Sudha, Ward 8 of Chitwan Village Development Committee.
Som Bahadur Lama said the following of his ward: “He was obedient. He never said ‘no’ to my word. He was friendly and sociable and he received education in that manner. He used to say frequently that his attention was much more drawn towards meditation than towards reading books.”
He was granted the initiation of Pancha sheel. Pancha sheel is a Sanskrit word for a Buddhist initiation consisting of five vows, which are as follows:
- One must not kill animals (it is preferable to be vegetarian).
- One must not steal.
- One must not lie.
- One must refrain from sexual misconduct.
- One must not take intoxicating substances.
Ram was initiated along with a group of nine other students. Ram refused to have his hair cut before the initiation, which was the common custom. It was after this initiation that Ram received the name, “Palden Dorje”.
It was the custom for the initiates to meditate for up to a month in a cave. Som Bahadur Lama was surprised at the ease with which Palden Dorje seemed to adapt to the situation requiring little sustenance. It was then that he realized that the boy had a natural talent for deep and prolonged meditation.
After completing his Buddhist education for two years, all nine initiates went to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, for sightseeing. Palden Dorje seemed utterly taken by this place and it seemed to deepen his religious resolve. The other eight initiates returned but he refused to return. Instead, he went to Dehradun to further his religious education with the Gurus of Dehradun. Later he returned to Nepal to the beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara.
3. Palden Dorje's Illness
Here it was that Palden Dorje became ill, and was unable to move his lower body. Distressed, his teachers sent him home to recover. During this time, Palden Dorje implored his family not to sacrifice any animals or take any alcohol otherwise further complications would arise. He got better, but was still limping when he disappeared from his home the night of May 16, 2005.
4. Palden Dorje Disappears
When his mother became aware of the situation, she alerted the village, and everyone joined in the search for him. A local boy claimed to have seen him while he was shaking a mango tree. Palden Dorje had come up and picked up a mango, and stepped fully clothed into the river. “I thought you had disappeared,” – the boy remarked to Palden Dorje.
“Have I?” – Palden Dorje replied. – “You’d better go home, and be careful not to touch me.” The boy ran home to tell his story, but nobody believed him at first. Palden Dorje’s relatives went to the ravine. Palden Dorje smiled at them when they found him as was his habit. They told him to come home. “I’ll go home at four o’clock,” – Palden Dorje said. His family decided it would be wise to keep an eye on him, and so some of his siblings stayed with him.
At four o’clock, he picked up a couple of mangoes and began to eat one. He told his little brother to bring him water, rice, his lama robes, a rosary and a picture of Buddha. His little brother obeyed. Palden Dorje’s sister came to tell Palden Dorje to come home at once. Seeing how emaciated he looked from his previous illness, she cried and begged him to come home. Palden Dorje told her to stop crying, and she went home.
5. Meditation Begins
Then Palden Dorje, sitting in a meditative posture seemed to go into a trance. He began to ask himself questions and answer them out loud. The other villagers came and told Palden Dorje to stop being silly and come home.
They feared he must be ill or crazy. When Palden Dorje’s older brother touched him, Palden Dorje’s body became exceedingly hot and turned red. “Please leave me alone, or one of us may die,” – Palden Dorje said. – “If anyone disturbs me or my things at midnight, I will have to meditate for 20 years, but if all goes well, I will meditate for 6 years.”
Then Palden Dorje, followed by his brother, and at a distance by the villagers set out to find a good meditation place in the forest. His parents insisted he take some food and water with him. Finally, he reached his destination at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2005. This was the day the villagers of Ratanpuri celebrated Buddha Jayanti (Vesak). He settled himself under a pipal tree, having offered 10 kinds of fruit to the picture of Buddha.
About 30 villagers saw where Palden Dorje was meditating, and they left an offering of over a thousand rupees as was the custom at Buddha Jayanti. On that night at 12:00, some pranksters came to disturb Palden Dorje and steal the offering. They quarreled over the money, and later accused each other in front of the villagers. Having confessed, they asked Palden Dorje’s forgiveness.
So Palden Dorje left the first meditation place and went north on the 24th of May, 2005. At that time he gave six pipal leaves to his second elder brother telling him to keep them in oil. He said that as long as his family kept the leaves, all would be well. His relatives cried when he left.
Again the villagers were concerned about Palden Dorje’s whereabouts, and in the late afternoon, a cowherd had seen him in his new meditation site. The villagers sent some of his family to go and bring him home. But Palden Dorje refused and moved to another pipal tree in the east.
Palden Dorje told his family that he must continue to meditate at all costs. He drew a boundary around his meditation area, and the villagers and his relatives built a fence for him. More and more crowds gathered at the site, so Palden Dorje ordered that a hut be built and sealed with plastic on all sides wherein he remained for 15 days. After that Palden Dorje said, “I have received some energy so that I may now meditate under a tree outside”.
There was a terrible drought in the village. Palden Dorje told them to pray to a snake god and after 5 days, it started raining. In the 75th day of meditation, he opened the eyes and asked his elder brother to call him by the words: “Om Namó Gurú Búddha Gyáni”. He returned to his meditation. Since that day he was addressed as “Om Namo Guru Buddha Gyani” (Hail to the Master of the Wisdom of Buddha.)
On August 18, 2005, Palden Dorje called together his friends who were lamas. They asked him how it was that Palden Dorje was surviving without water. Palden Dorje replied that two snake gods protected him from either side. That day Palden Dorje also changed his clothes and wore a white cloth.
6. Snakebite and Miracles
On November 6, 2005 snake bit Palden Dorje, and Palden Dorje’s body was poisoned. Palden Dorje sweated more than two liters while he continued to meditate, and thus he overcame the poison. Palden Dorje’s followers believe that on that day he was enlightened, for the Bodhisattva has the ability to survive attached to a tree, soil and stone, to digest snake poison, to be unaffected by the wind and to understand the language of all creatures.
On November 8, 2005, Palden Dorje told the people that he did not have the energy of a Buddha, and he asked them not to publicize him as an incarnation of Buddha.
On November 11, 2005 a bright light appeared shining from Palden Dorje’shead. His followers cried with joy and became even more fervent.
“Leave me in peace, and there will soon be peace in the country,” – Palden Dorje said. However crowds ever increased and people chanted and set up a market place, according to Radio HBC 94 FM who visited the site on December 10, 2005. The crowds were kept at a distance of about 50 meters. All witnesses claimed that Palden Dorje neither ate, drank or left to relieve himself. He just sat and meditated under the pipal tree. Baffled onlookers were ever increasing.
There were stories of miracles: a girl and a young man had gained the power of speech although they could not speak.
7. Wandering to Bara district
After about ten months of meditation, Palden Dorje went missing on 11 March 2006. He gave no explanation, and some believed he had been abducted. His followers theorized that he went deeper into the woods to look for a quieter place to meditate.
Police abandoned a search for him after the possibility of foul play was eliminated. Suspecting money laundering, the authorities froze the bank account of the local committee managing the crowds, which had gathered more than Rs. 600,000 ($7950), but they found no evidence.
On 19 March, a group of Palden Dorje's followers met with him about 2 miles (3 kilometers) southwest of his meditation site. They say they spoke to him for thirty minutes, during which Palden Dorje said: "There is no peace here" and that he would return in six years, which would be in 2011 or 2012. He left a message for his parents telling them not to worry.
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On 25 December 2006, villagers in Bara district spotted Palden Dorje meditating. He was carrying a sword for protection in the jungle, reminding reporters that "Even Gautama Buddha had to protect himself," and claimed to have eaten nothing but herbs in the interim.
He reiterated his six year commitment to Buddhist devotion, and said he would allow people to come and observe him, as long as they remained at some distance and didn't bother him. When a reporter pointed out that pilgrims to his meditation site would be making donations in his name, he asked for the donations to not be abused or used for commercial purposes. A new wave of visitors came to see him and pray at his new meditation spot. On 8 March 2007 he left Bara district to again find a quieter place to meditate.
8. Meditating in a pit
On 26 March 2007, Inspector Rameshwor Yadav of the Area Police Post Nijgadh, found Palden Dorje inside a bunker-like ditch seven feet square. A police team under Yadav's command had gone to the place after word had spread of Palden Dorje meditating underground. “His face was clean and hair was combed well,” – Yadav said.
According to him, the bunker had been cemented from all sides and fitted with a tiled roof. Indra Lama, a local deployed as Palden Dorje's caretaker since the beginning of his intensive meditation, said the bunker was prepared per Palden Dorje's request. “After granting audience a week ago, he expressed his desire to meditate inside the ground; so we built it,” – he said.
9. Preaching in Halkhoriya jungle
On 2 August 2007, Palden Dorje addressed a large crowd in Halkhoriya jungle in Bara district of southern Nepal. The Namo Buddha Tapoban Committee, which is devoted to looking after Palden Dorje, assembled the meeting.
A notice about the boy's first-ever preaching was broadcast by a local FM radio station, and the committee also invited people by telephone. Around three thousand people gathered to listen to Palden Dorje's address. A video was made of the event. According to Upendra Lamichhane, a blogger who wrote an article and took pictures of the meeting, Palden Dorje's message was, "The only way we can save this nation is through spirituality".
This was his speech: "A message of peace to our world today.
Murder, violence, greed, anger and temptation has made the human world a desperate place. A terrible storm has descended upon the human world, and this is carrying the world towards destruction. There is only one way to save the world and that is through Dharma (spiritual practice.) When one doesn't walk the righteous path of spiritual practice, this desperate world will surely be destroyed. Therefore, follow the path of spirituality and spread this message to your fellows. Never put obstacles, anger and disbelief in the way of my meditation's mission. I am only showing you the way; you must seek it on your own. What I will be, what I will do, the coming days will reveal.
Human salvation, the salvation of all living beings, and peace in the world are my goal and my path. "Namo Buddha sangaya, Namo Buddha sangaya, namo sangaya." I am contemplating on the release of this chaotic world from the ocean of emotion, on our detachment from anger and temptation, without straying from the path for even a moment, I am renouncing my own attachment to my life and my home forever, I am working to save all living beings. But in this undisciplined world, my life's practice is reduced to mere entertainment. The practice and devotion of many Buddhas is directed at the world's betterment and happiness. It is essential but very difficult to understand that practice and devotion. But though it is easy to lead this ignorant existence, human beings don't understand that one day we must leave this uncertain world and go with the Lord of Death. Our long attachments with friends and family will dissolve into nothingness. We have to leave behind the wealth and property we have accumulated. What's the use of my happiness, when those who have loved me from the beginning: my mother, father, brothers, relatives – are all unhappy. Therefore, to rescue all sentient beings, I have to be Buddha-mind, and emerge from my underground cave to do "vajra" meditation. To do this I have to realize the right path and knowledge, so do not disturb my practice. My practice detaches me from my body, my soul and this existence.
In this situation there will be 72 goddess Kalis. Different gods will be present, along with the sounds of thunder and of "tangur ," and all the celestial gods and goddesses will be doing "puja" (worship.) So until I have sent a message, do not come here, and please explain this to others.
Spread spiritual knowledge and spiritual messages throughout the world. Spread the message of world peace to all. Seek a righteous path and wisdom will be yours."
10. Buddhist background
Palden Dorje is a member of the Tamang community, of which a majority practices Vajrayana Buddhism.
Palden Dorje's story gained popularity because it resembled a legend from the Jataka Nidanakatha about Gautama Buddha's enlightenment, so much so that some devotees claimed Palden Dorje was the reincarnation of a Buddha.
However, on 8 November 2005 Dorje arose and said: “Tell the people not to call me a Buddha. I don't have the Buddha's energy. I am at the level of a rimpoche.” A rimpoche is a teacher, which indicates he believes he has achieved a significant amount. He said that he will need six more years of meditation before he may become a Buddha.
According to his followers, Palden Dorje may have reached the stage of a Bodhisattva , a person on the path to attaining full enlightenment or buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. According to the historical Buddha, Gautama Buddha, there were innumerable Buddhas before him and infinite Buddhas to come. Proponents also claim that Palden Dorje might also be Maitreya Bodhisattva, the predicted successor to the historical Buddha.
His mother's name is Maya Devi Tamang, the same first name as Buddha's mother. It is reported that his mother fainted when she found out that her son intended to meditate for an indefinite period.
Those who have called him the "reincarnation of Buddha" have been criticised. Gautama Buddha taught that after parinirvana there is no more rebirth, therefore it is impossible to be a "reincarnation of Buddha", but it is possible to be another Buddha, another who has attained, or will attain, enlightenment.
11. Feats of inedia
An average human being who stops drinking will die of dehydration in three to four days. According to the Guinness Book of Records the longest time a human has survived without water is 18 days. Palden Dorje, on the other hand, does not appear to break his meditation to eat or drink.
Palden Dorje was observed not to leave the tree at least during the daytime, but nobody was allowed to approach him too closely. Between 5:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. nobody was allowed to see him, and a screen was erected for that purpose. Many people speculated that he ate and drank water during that time.
Some supporters believe that discussions of inedia are irrelevant, and that the ability to sit nearly motionless in the same position day after day, with no regard for extremes of weather including a cold winter and a monsoon season, is notable. For example, American writer George Saunders visited Palden Dorje and observed him through a single night, and was impressed by Palden Dorje's perfectly still stature, even during an evening climate that seemed unbearably cold to the much better clothed journalist.
In December 2005, a nine-member government committee led by Gunjaman Lama watched Palden Dorje carefully for 48 hours and observed him not to take any food or water during that time. A video recording was also made of this test. However, they were unable to approach closer than 3 meters or take readings of his vital signs. The Nepalese government planned a more careful scientific study, but the plan was never carried out.
In 2007, the Discovery Channel produced a documentary titled "The BoyWith Divine Powers". On their first, four-day attempt, the film crew was required to stay outside a guarded barbed-wire fence, and their camera's infrared capabilities did not pick up evidence of a body at the base of the tree where Palden Dorje sat during their non-stop recording. On a second attempt a few weeks later, however, the film crew was able to film Palden Dorje continuously for 96 hours, day and night, during which time he did not drink any fluids or eat any food. According to scientists on the documentary, an average person would be expected to die from kidney failure after four days without drinking any fluids. The boy showed no signs of classical physical deterioration caused by dehydration. A close inspection by the film crew of the area around the tree where Palden Dorje was sitting revealed no hidden food supply or water pipes.
12. Reappearance in Ratanpuri jungle
On 10 November 2008, Palden Dorje reappeared and spoke to a group of devotees in the remote jungle of Ratanpuri, 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Kathmandu, near Nijgadh. His hair was shoulder-length and his body was wrapped in a white cloth.
His devotees believe he attained enlightenment at Bodh-Gaya in Bihar, which borders Nepal – the place where Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment.
Authors: Suman Waiba, Singha Yomjan, Andrea Good, Wikipedia