KATHMANDU (Reuters) – A mysterious teenaged boy believed by some to be a reincarnation of Lord Buddha has reappeared in eastern Nepal after vanishing for nine months, a witness and a television channel said on Monday.
Sixteen-year-old Ram Bahadur Bamjon was spotted on Sunday by villagers in the remote and dense forests near Piluwa village in Bara district, 150 km (95 miles) east of Kathmandu, local journalist Raju Shrestha, who visited the boy, told Reuters.
Bamjon disappeared in March from the forests in nearby Ratanpuri village where he had reportedly been meditating without food or water for almost 10 months.
“I have been wandering in the forests since then,” Shrestha quoted Bamjon as telling him.
“I am engaged in devotion which will continue for six years,” the boy told Shrestha.
Hundreds of curious onlookers, including many Buddhists, thronged the site to see the boy, sitting in a meditating position.
A local TV station showed people pressing their palms together and lowering their heads in devotion in front of him.
“I don’t think he is a Buddha. But he has some sort of extra strength to meditate. He eats herbs,” Shrestha said.
Before his disappearance, an estimated 100,000 people from Hindu-majority Nepal and neighbouring India flocked to see him meditate. They were not allowed to get closer than 50 metres (165 feet).
Shrestha, who met the boy up close, said he had shoulder-length hair and sat cross-legged under a small tree.
“He has an ash-colour shawl wrapped across his chest,” he said, adding the boy had a “flat-ended scimitar” next to him.
Buddha was born a prince in Lumbini, a dusty village in Nepal’s rice-growing plains about 350 km (220 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu more than 2,600 years ago.
He is believed to have attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, which borders Nepal