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A Nepali Guru Is Being Investigated Over the Disappearance of His Devotees

The man popularly known as “Buddha Boy” has previously faced allegations of sexual assault and rape.
January 8, 2019, 5:03am
Ram Bahadur Bomjan meditating under a tree

A man believed by his followers to be the reincarnation of Buddha is currently under investigation by Nepali police. There are a raft of damning allegations that have been levelled against 28-year-old Ram Bahadur Bomjan—otherwise known as “Buddha Boy”—but the one that got local authorities concerned is the disappearance of at least four of his worshippers. Ram has previously been accused of physical assault, sexual assault, and rape, The Guardian reports.

“The police have started investigating these complaints against Bomjan,” said Uma Prasad Chaturbedi, a spokesman for Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau in Kathmandu. “The investigation is in preliminary stage and we cannot share many details.”

Buddha Boy rose to prominence and fame in 2005 after several of his devotees claimed that he could meditate motionless for months in Nepal's jungles without food, water, or sleep. Thousands of worshippers have been known to line up for days just to witness these so-called “miracles of meditation”. But over the past 10 years Ram has also faced various accusations of immoral and abusive behaviour.

In 2010, police from Nepal’s Bara district received complaints from 17 people who alleged that Ram had assaulted them. Ram admitted slapping some local villagers "two or three times" after they disturbed his meditation, according to the BBC—claiming that "they disturbed me while I was meditating... [and] tried to manhandle me… I was therefore forced to beat them." The villagers argued that they’d merely been looking for fruit and vegetables when Buddha Boy attacked, and insisted that they were assaulted more seriously than was suggested, according to local media reports.

More recently, Ram has been hit with several allegations of sexually exploiting nuns in his ashrams, as revealed in a series of reports by Nepali newspaper Setopati. Several of his former female worshippers and their families have accused him of sexual exploitation, and in September of last year an 18-year-old nun alleged that he raped her. The Kathmandu Post reports that many incidents took place within the ashrams themselves, and so haven’t been reported to police. Other former disciples have suggested that the spiritual leader uses threats and intimidation to silence his detractors.

Now, the families of four different people have filed separate police complaints against Ram, claiming that they’ve been unable to contact their loved ones for years. One of the missing devotees, Chunmo Dolma, hasn’t been heard from since disappearing from Buddha Boy’s Sindhuli ashram back in 2012. The others—Suresh Ale Magar, Sancha Lal, and Fulmaya Rumba—have been missing for three, four, and five years respectively.

Police from the different districts where the worshippers went missing are launching investigations into their disappearance. “Our team is gathering details from the families of Fulmaya and Sanchalal,” said SP Buddhi Bahadur Gurung, a police superintendent in the Makwanpur District. “We will also launch an investigation into the ashram.”

The Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha, an organisation associated with Ram, recently disputed claims made by Setopati in relation to the spiritual leader and the cases of disappearances, sexual assault, and physical violence that are alleged to have taken place in his ashrams.

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