In the sattelite photo-report about Halkhoria I wish to show the obvious changes which had occurred in the Halkhoria Jungle between 2008 and 2012, the interval of Ram Bahadur Bomjon’s stay.
So the readers should understand that I am not hijacking publicly available satellite images to support some kind of own agenda, based on being victimized by Ram Bomjon in 2012 (kidnapped, held captive for 3 months, beaten, tortured and sexually abused by his nearest attendant at his order). I am not subjugating the facts to my goal, as Ram Bomjon (Maitriya Guru)’s official website’s writers are doing. In my view the goal should be based on the facts! What I wish to show is actually just the obvious truth, because the official Sangha (following) of Ram Bomjon is fanatically denying it and creating myths and gossips with blaming Nepali locals (poor villagers of the area) on creating an ecological catastrophe of “their” jungle. Their latest announcement on their official website Maitriya.info is in a direct contrast to all their verbal efforts (preachings) about peace, Maitri (friendliness and loving-kindness), tolerance, non-violence, non-discrimination. On the contrary, their recent many announcements, induced and messaged by their guru, are all against even basic ethical rules of even a materialist society.
In my articles dealing with Halkhoria on this website I wish to focus on the baseless false “facts” they are using as their tool to create enmity: the repeated radical pseudo-ecological “petitions” and hysteria created by them, and aimed to bombard the conscience of naive Western nature lovers or NGO’s with offices in distant Kathmandu. The are juggling with sentences borrowed from websites of WWF and animal-rights groups, yet taking these out of context, they are often ridiculing their own “knowledge” about the Halkhoria’s flora and fauna. As I am mentioning in other articles, for example they are ready to create a fight based on mourning the extinction of wild horses in this jungle, yet there had never been reported wild horses living in the Terai lowland jungles of Nepal, for at least a few hundred or thousands of years! The Ram Bomjon Sangha is the best example how human hatred, enmity and even wars are created on values and worries based on air! They had never took the effort to roam Halkhoria and find out the truth about her directly, stay with locals in their villages and speak their native language, to learn about their daily connection and extent of using the jungle’s resources.
I did all this in 2011 and other times. I lived in Halkhoria in a tent 3 months in 2011, another 3 months chained by Bomjon to a tree in the jungle in 2012, and visited wider Halkhoria outside of his compound, cross-crossing it in every direction, during these years often weekly. After in spring 2011 Bomjon had officially “banned” from his compound for no reason (and while he continued to secretly invite me to his inner circle), I found a compromise in coming to the jungle but not entering his compound. I was walking in the wider jungle, always scrupulously avoiding his infamous barbed-wire fence, sometimes even a few times a week. I loved the jungle and got used to meditate there, watch the animals, listen to the birds. I had learned Nepalese and having a very communicative nature, I had learned a lot about locals’ lives in connection with the jungle, and seeing with my own eyes what, when and how much they used from its resources. I had visited the Forest Office and met with their uniformed forest guards, who were checking the jungle for illegal poachers and wood-cutters. I walked with village shepherds to Halkhoria, and learned from them about the specially valued Phanta Grass and rarely also Elephant Grass growing in its riverbed. I was chatting with poor Tamangs from Halkhoria area villages, who had even no milk for their children and no electricity in the village – learning that they go out the whole family, even children, to pick and break stones from the riverbed to get a tiny amount of rupees for a tractor-load of gravel. I have met fruit-picking ladies who taught me where to find Baer, and let me taste it…I tasted the delicious Kania fruit, Niuro Saag, wild forest mushrooms, medicinal Pattarchat and even ate tree-leaves with the monkeys…
The foreigners devoted to Bomjon are kept intentionally uninformed by the Official Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha (represented by Andrea Good, Semyon Shekovtsov, Joan Stanley-Barker, Ivy Jugoa and the Nepali so called “Committees“) about the positive efforts that the Halkhoria are local community is doing for preserving the nature, and about the system of controlling illegal wood-cutting by the Government here. For example in 2012 there was a two month long absolute ban to use any wood resources of the jungles around Ratanpur and Halkhoria, which had been strictly implemented and controlled by Forest Police forces (one can recognize them after their brown-green uniforms). And also in 2012 or 2013 the local community was mobilized in a wide-range tree-planting campaign, replenishing plants in the riverbed area of the big monsoon river at Nijgadh, which is connected to the monsoon river in front of Bongjor (Ram Bomjon’s birth village).
There are many activities done by Nepali locals to protect and refresh the ecosystem in their area, and the help can be efficient only when the assessment and decisions are made by locals who know the jungles and rivers from their daily lives! Western Bomjon-worshippers, who know just a few square meters of the jungle of Ram Bomjon’s enclosed compound, and stay there just in a limited time, supplied with luxurious food and toiletries, have no knowledge about the real situation of the jungle, and thus no right to point fingers who is to blame and what has to be done!
I lived a communicative life mixing with the locals, in Halkhoria. I went after fire-makers in the dry months of 2011 to reprimand them to stop to make forest fires, even if later I learned that this is a controlled activity to clear up the pasture for growing fresh new grass. During my long and repeated stay and visit to Halkhoria I got near to the villagers, who were all serious about keeping the law of the so called “forest users community”, so that they could only pick fallen branches, not cut who trees.
All-in-all I saw a pleasant harmony between villagers and Halkhoria Jungle, which ensured for many years that the area was rich in natural resources, animals, birds and stayed pure. I had asked many questions of old-timer villagers about the lakes and rivers of the Halkhoria-Ratanpur area, being nearly swept away by an unexpected monsoon-flood in the big river near Nijgadh, saved only by the warning gesticulation of caring fisher-ladies (who have a sixth sense to climb out the river just before the big wave comes), meditating in the green oasis on wide sandy riverbeds, drinking water from hidden crystal-clear forest springs… This is not a poetic description about any imaginary heaven, like the ones you can find on the official Sangha’s websites and Facebook pages. These concrete situations I had experienced, and not always without danger or disturbance. Yet the dangers and disturbances did not come from innocent villagers or wild animals: but from the brutal self-appointed “forest guards” of Ram Bomjon, who did not show any sign of Dharma or tolerance, any love for peace and mutuality – things which they are always preaching about! On my numerous and regular roamings of Halkhoria’s jungles I had only one single danger to face: the cruel monsters of Ram Bomjon, who are quick to cause bleeding wounds and broken bones to just anyone, let it be even a fragile lady…
I can state that due to all my above direct and long-time connection with Halkhoria I am much better informed about her ecological state than any of the foreigners from the Sangha, and a great deal of this is due to my humility to communicate with locals about it. One also has to spend many nights alone in Halkhoria, just outside, without protection, to know about the real life of the jungle at night, to “count” the animals which cannot be seen or heard during the day. I am nearly sure that all those who are writing on Sangha-websites the enmity-provoking “announcements” and “petitions” to save Halkhoria from the Nepali villagers, had never got into such a direct, near contact with this jungle as I myself did. They are just blindly following an order to create a public outrage and show their guru as a victim of the “evil locals”, who, as they lies, are permanently attacking him and endangering his peace! When one stays in Halkhoria and speaks with many villagers, one can soon find out that the opposite was always true:
While the villagers live their lives in peace and social harmony in the area for tens of years, and even silently tolerated that Ram Bomjon had occupied a large part of their community forest in Ratanpuri and Government Forest in Halkhoria, they started to raise voices against him only after he established a kingdom of a Nepali Ravana, enforcing his rule by torture violence and immoral activity. Only this was the point when the local community started to view him as an aggressor and trouble-maker, but still just until the stage that they requested him to leave (and did not attack him or put him to jail, as would be the case with any other person doing the same harmful deeds!).
But because the Internet can swallow any amount of lies, and Semyon (the Sangha’s IT expert) is able and willing to cross every limit to use unethical advertising methods, the online-sangha, mainly international, is easily stirred to action and campaign to “protect the jungle from Nepali locals”, make it a “dharmic forest” and “enable Ram Bomjon to return there”. These innocent people are just fooled, and kept away from the truth. Semyon;s Internet trickery is regularly pushing out of Google and other search-machines any sign of websites media news, videos or blogs describing Ram Bomjon’s extensive criminal activity where his and his attendants’ violence, kidnappings, incitement to violence, sexual attacks are described.
This propagandist disinformation-campaign and the absolute censorship of the Sangha’s official “discussion groups” caused that many foreigners live in the illusion about the true situation about Halkhoria. A large number of these, if possessing any verbal talent or financial means, are then provoked to “fight for guruji” and “fight for the forest”… Such is the case of the latest “heart-throbbing” description of Joan Stanley-Barker, writing about the state of a jungle which she knows from her limited stays in the enclosed and isolated compounds of Ram Bomjon, where the conditions were artificial and “laboratory”, and to and from which she had been transported by tractors, jeeps and motorbikes…
Yet her source to write about Halkhoria is not her own experience but internet sources of other naturalist websites. Otherwise she would not write sentimentally about the extinction of wild horses in Halkhoria – as there had never lived any wild horses in the Terai jungles, as well as her mourning after the many Saal tree is based on zero experience: as Bomjon’s Halkhoria compound is not a Saal forest, and Saal trees and not of great numbers there. Not knowing even which animals and plants are typical for Halkhoria, and not having a full picture of the water system, how can such a person be considered a proper one to justify any action to “save the forest”?
About Ram Bomjon: