Recently a great controversy (Archive) swept the Nepalese Buddhist world: His Holiness the Dalai Lama had said, while answering questions from students in Meerut, India on 16 October 2017 that the Buddha was not Nepalese but Indian. The mantra of religious tourism in Nepal, “Buddha was born in Nepal!” got a sudden punch into its very center, from the most unexpected side: the living symbol of Buddhism in the world, political and religious leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama! Unspeakable…
This insensitive diplomatic faux-pas boiled the blood of patriotic Buddhists in Nepal to two-hundred degrees in an instant, and angry YouTube videos, articles appeared on the Internet in a matter of hours. Even mainstream media had criticized the Buddhist leader’s words:
The message of proud Nepalis was clear: one should not mess with the Gurkhas, even if one is the head of Tibetan Buddhism…
A snapshot on the (otherwise also controversial) Dorjeshudgen.com website, from Twitter-reactions on the Dalai Lama’s words:
The controversy about Buddha’s birthplace is not a new thing, though. It started many years ago and seems not to recede even after an announced excavation of an international team of archeologists in 2013 which resulted in an UNESCO-backed Nepali claim about Buddha’s birthplace.
But were the words of the Dalai Lama really like some Nepali social media philosophers heard them? That maybe does not even matter anymore. The Dalai Lama says Buddha was an Indian, and it (surely) means also he was not born in Nepal, and (surely) also that he was not born in Lumbini at all… It was evident the Dalai Lama hated Nepal but loved India, some people simplified it.
So this is a direct insult to the Nepali people (in case it was really meant as it was perceived by them). Anyone could understand it. It is like the Pope saying that Jesus was born in Mekka. (Though, would anyone get angry at this in the West…?).
To rectify his mistake, His Holiness’ Office had issued a few official statements to clarify the misunderstanding, like the one on the Dalai Lama’s official website (Archive.org). As it is often happening, hot-headed Buddha-fans, often with weaker English, had heard much more to the words of the Dalai Lama, than he had actually told, and the war had been set.
Only a handful of more open-minded Nepalis tried to calm down the emotions with logic, but of not much avail. One of the cool-headed reactions was of Anand Nepal (be it a real name or a nick, meaning “Happiness Nepal”), the owner of a popular YouTube channel XNepali, but it is easy for him to do, from his safe residence in the West as an Ex-Nepali:
As the controversy goes back in time immemorial, already in 2009 a Nepali blogger wrote a self-critical and earthing article about the Buddha’s birth place and origin:
There is an interesting illustration on his blog as well:
A few other Nepali commentators have also understood that the many years lasting discussion about Buddha’s birthplace belongs more to politics than to the real teaching of Buddha himself:
LUMBINI – IS IT IN INDIA OR NEPAL?
It is quite clear that the Dalai Lama had never claimed Buddha was not born in Lumbini. Nepalis can breathe out! But he did claim that the land where Buddha left his mother’s womb was part of India, that time, Bharat. Yet according to the current historical consensus, that land was neither India, nor Nepal those 5500 or more years ago, as none of these countries existed and both countries had been ruled by countless local kings in smaller kingdoms. Buddha’s birth and childhood area was a local smaller kingdom (Mauryan).
So one thing is it had no historical backing to claim that Lumbini was part of Nepal in Buddha’s time, as Nepal as a united country had been established first by Prithivi Narayan Shah much later. But why does then His Holiness claim that Lumbini was in India and Buddha was Indian? That is also similarly not true. India, as a united independent country was founded in 1947. The name “India” (because His Holiness spoke in English, so he did not use the Hindi name of the country “Bharat”) had been given to the whole current land only by Western colonizers in the 19th century.
So it would be just fair to swing neither right nor left: Buddha was not born in Nepal, yes, but neither in India. He was born in the Mauryan Kingdom. The Dalai Lama could have easily avoided the controversy simply using the historical names, and saying that Lumbini was in the Mauryan Empire, and that Lumbini falls into present day Nepal.
The words of the Dalai Lama had but been misunderstood by Nepalis as a hint to some well-known and long-time attempts on the side of Indian patriots to search for Buddha’s “alternative birthplaces” on the current Indian land, based on a few recent archaeological finds, most of which had been not entirely kosher even in the eyes of some Indian archeologists. There had been repeated controversies about claims to have found proofs about Buddha being born in a number of different places, including faraway Orissa, or another Kapilvastu on the Indian side of the border (Piprahawa).
It seems to be a topic without any mutual conclusion, and without much clarity, strongly politicized and full of boiling nationalist emotions. As soon as science (archeology) takes on the form of rigid dogma and irrational superstition, it stops to be science. And such attempts are appearing on both sides of the border…
Yet, it is at least clear from the video from Meerut that His Holiness did not mean to say that Buddha was not born in Lumbini! His Office’s public statement emphasizes this:
“We are concerned to know there was misunderstanding of the intent of his answer, and would like to clarify that His Holiness meant no disrespect towards his Nepalese brothers and sisters. Like Buddhists everywhere, he wholeheartedly accepts that the Buddha’s birthplace was Lumbini.“
He just mistakenly named the geographical location of Lumbini as India, while it currently belongs to Nepal and in Buddha’s time it was in the Mauryan Empire (so not India again). Yet to react to his words vulgarly and insult the person of old Nobel Prize holder, as many Nepalis did in online comments, is also not a very Buddhist thing…
After all, as a commentator to the Buddha born in Nepal trailer wrote:
The Dalai Lama, an experienced political leader, should have studied the issue maybe a little more, before siding exclusively with one of the two “battling” sides so openly, in this extremely sensitive issue. But who knows if this was just a sign of his innocent naivety or an attempt to finally clarify his long-held opinion? When people get older, they feel they do not have much to lose and start to be more outspoken.
AND HERE COMES THE GENIAL SOLUTION BY RAM BOMJON!
But there is no need to fight for the slogan “Buddha was born in Nepal!” anymore! Because Nepal has already chosen its new Buddhist god, Ram Bahadur Bomjon, pouring onto him all its support, money and armed protection, and hundreds of thousands of Nepali Buddhists had already accepted that he is “higher than Lord Buddha”, his enlightenment was above that of Buddha.
“He claims that he is a God. He even claimed that he has got more knowledge than Lord Gautam Buddha. He also told that he is more superior to other Gods.” Story of Ram Bahadur Bomjon (DC Nepal)
So is there any need to argue about some unimportant Gautama Buddha and Lumbini anymore? Bomjon became Nepal’s widely celebrated, state-supported national hero, who needs any Gautam Buddha anymore in this case?
Bomjon knows everything, he is allegedly the avatar (reincarnation) of Paramatman (Highest Soul, meaning highest divine form in Hinduism), his followers claimed in the interview in Bungamati, Lalitpur of Kathmandu in May 2017 to the Setopati journalists. So there is no need for Gautama Buddha and Lumbini anymore and Nepali Buddhist patriots can finally make peace with the Dalai Lama now! The solution is to worship Ram Bomjon, Nepal’s Buddha Boy, the foretold Maitriya!
“His followers consider him to be Parmatma (supreme soul) and above Lord Buddha.”
“His followers claim his level of knowledge is above that of Lord Buddha. They claim Siddhartha Gautam reached a Sambuddha (self-enlightened) state but Bomjon has attained Mahasambodhi (greater form of self-enlightenment) state.”
Image above: celebrating Nepal’s new god, Maitriya Guru Maha Sambodhi Dharma Sangha, aka Ram Bahadur Bomjon, aka Buddha Boy in 2017, Kathmandu, Bungamati. Bomjon’s alleged “guru” is a kind of shaved headed “Maitriya”, to whom followers bow here. Yet, in the same time his devotees all agree that actually Maitriya is Bomjon himself, and call him “Maitriya Guru”. There is only one explanation to the puzzle: probably Bomjon plans to shave his head in the future… Source: Setopati
Thus, if anyone would have doubts about where that former, long-forgotten Gautama was born, one could simply ask the Paramatma Tapasvi Bomjon, he surely knows, because, among other claims, he is also considered the Reincarnation of Gautama Buddha by Nepalis. And yes, people did ask him already back in 2012, and I spoke with those people. And to our surprise he told that Gautama Buddha was born not in Lumbini, not in India, not in anywhere else but in Kathmandu’s Boudhanath!
Image above: Bouddhanath in Kathmandu, Source: Flickr.com by Jorge Laskar
Yet, Bomjon is not as un-diplomatic as His Holiness is. He knows where and to whom to say what. He did not announce widely yet this shocking opinion, only in his circle of faithful, in his Sangha and Committee and a few Western donors, and only from 2012 onward. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of Tamang old ladies who queued up for even eight hours to get the touch of Bomjon’s hand on their heads, and to offer him their all-life savings as donation, have no clue about Bomjon actually having repeatedly belittling Gautama Buddha, saying things like “Buddha did not know his father, only his mother”, or that he had been far higher enlightened than Gautama Buddha, or that the Korah (circumambulating) of the Boudhanath Stupa should be done anti-clockwise, and not clockwise…
Bomjon knows that if he had shared with the wide land of Buddhist Nepal these beliefs and dogmas, which are showing Gautama Buddha as someone much lower than he himself, he would have angered the Gorkhali patriots, similarly as it was now in the case of the daring words of the Dalai Lama. No, Nepal’s ruthless “spiritual Machiavelli” is a born leader, diplomat and expert manipulator; he is waiting for his right time. Right now, the majority of Nepali Buddhists do not know that Bomjon claims to be higher enlightened than Gautama Buddha, and that he regularly ridicules Gautama Buddha in the circle of his nearest followers.
Buddha’s ridiculing and belittling by Bomjon was one of the reasons that an ex-follower R. had distanced himself from this cult. He used to stay in Bomjon’s elite company, travel with him in his jeeps, and stay near his houses. He was shocked by the humiliating ways how Bomjon’s monks spoke about Gautama Buddha, and when tried to defend Buddha, he was ridiculed. When he found out that the source of these blasphemous ideas was the Guruji himself, it broke his heart. This is the true situation around Ram Bomjon, whom the easily fooled Nepalis, in their ignorance, admire as their religious hero, as their New Buddha, because they think he is in tune with Buddha’s heritage and Buddhism. No, he is not!
One day Nepalis will learn that it is not the Dalai Lama who is insulting Gautama Buddha: it is their own home-grown “Buddha Boy”, that controversial, violent and witch-hunting person who can get away with just any crimes in Nepal, Ram Bahadur Bomjon. But I can assure that when they will learn how insulting Ram Bomjon’s teaching (AND practice!) is for Gautama Buddha and Nepal’s pure religious traditions; it will be already too late to stop him! Because he is clever, speculative and manipulative and knows how to prepare the setting…
The Dalai Lama might have told unwise things which had a bitter political undertone (India’s support for him and Tibetan refugees, Nepal’s refusal to allow him to visit the holy places due to China’s opposition of his visit, or one could find many complicated reasons) – yet once Bomjon comes out with his own dogma about Gautama Buddha being lower than himself, it will be too late for Nepali patriots to say a single word against him, as it is widely tolerated now to say against the Dalai Lama.
While they focus on external “enemies” of Gautama Buddha and Lumbini belonging to Nepal, they refuse to deal with the internal enemy of all Buddhists and all Buddhism in the world, who is working on totally disintegrating and desecrating traditional Buddhism from inside, by harming dozens of human beings with violence, chaining them and torturing them, ordering them to be raped in the name of “Maitri Dharma”, and gradually destroying Buddhist values in the hearts of Nepali Buddhists and Gautam Buddha’s whole sacred heritage!
The below video shows Ram Bomjon’s monumental audience between 21 March and 2 April 2017 in Kathmandu, the masterly organized preparations by thousands of volunteers, flower carpet thrown under his caravan of dozens of most expensive jeeps, hundreds of blue-robed monks, thousands of blue flags, hundreds of pink or violet uniformed followers ordered into a perfect choreography, tens of thousands of disciplined worshippers lining up to get his blessing … No other Nepali religious personality or politician ever received so much veneration, extreme worship, generous state support, armed guard of hundreds of state-paid security personnel. His Holiness the Dalai Lama certainly cannot compete (if he ever wanted, though!) with the devotion and elevating that Ram Bomjon enjoys in Nepal, which even Kim Jong-il would envy.
Yet, the TV Nepal footage is not free of a certain indirect irony at this childish grandiosity. Because something in this all is fishy, though far gone are the times where it was allowed to tell it openly by the media in Bomjon’s homeland… (Update 2019: sorry, the video had been deleted in the meantime, a normal thing in Nepal’s censorship-infested media world).
Proving Buddha born in Lumbini:
Proving Buddha was not born in Lumbini:
Other countries claiming part of the cake: