Ganga Maya Tamang, 18, of Rautahat holding a press conference at the office of Community Information Network (CIN)–the association of community radio broadcasters–in Lalitpur on September 15 accused Ram Bahadur Bomjon, known across the world as the Little Buddha, of raping her.
Bomjon’s followers including former minister of state for health Mani Lama refuted the allegation on the spot. “Ganga Maya is lying. She stole Rs 800,000 from the ashram while staying there,” Lama claimed. “She was, therefore, kicked out from the ashram.”
The press conference did not get space in the mainstream media due to allegations and counter-allegations. Tamang tried to lodge a police complaint but the police handed her over to an organization working for protection of children instead of filing it.
Setopati investigated her allegations, Bomjon’s character and the activities going on inside his ashrams for the past three months.
We went to Sarlahi, Rautahat, Makwanpur, Bara, Sindhuli and Nuwakot districts and talked with 25 persons including three nuns, who ran away from Bomjon’s ashram risking their lives, and their family members in these three months.
We talked with one nun, with deteriorating mental health, who left the ashram after suffering sexual exploitation for a long time. There are four persons, who were once his disciples, and have witnessed Bomjon’s misbehavior and violence. We also talked with family members of three nuns who went to his ashram at different times and are missing now.
We also talked with the son of a disciple missing from his ashram and we have talked with Tamang several times totaling almost six hours.
A frightening picture of Bomjon, who lives in the guise of an austere sage, and his ashrams has emerged after all these meetings and discussions.
He is not a sage, and there are no prayers or penance at his ashram. All of that is a façade to show to the visitors coming from outside. He does not have any spiritual knowledge or conscience, nor does he seem to be interested in all that.
He seems to be an ordinary youth with extraordinary sexual appetite. He is a sex monster has sexually exploited not just Tamang but many nuns at his ashram over the years. He has generously used violence to silence the voices raised against him.
At least three nuns who stayed at his ashram are missing. Their disappearance seems suspicious on the basis of statements by their family members and eye witnesses who have seen their harassment at his ashram.
Two eye-witnesses have told Setopati that a disciple was beaten to death on his instruction inside his ashram. The disciple’s son told us that he has not heard of his father who went to Bomjon’s ashram four years ago.
Tamang went to Bomjon’s ashram giving up earthly things after her father married second wife following death of her mother who had gone abroad for employment.
Her father was a disciple of Bomjon and she went to the ashram with the blessings of the family. Her father had told her that the guru takes examinations sometimes, and she felt Bomjon was taking one when he started to flirt with her and touch her inappropriately after some time.
She claimed that Bomjon called her out of the kitchen inside the ashram, dragged her into another room and raped her when his wife Deepshikha had gone to Kathmandu.
She saved other younger nuns after her rape and helped them run away from the ashram.
A disciple of Bomjon, who worked for him at the ashram, told Setopati that Bomjon consumes yarsagumba to boost his sex drive. “He consumes yarsagumba to boost his libido. I myself have mixed yarsagumba solution and given it to him to drink,” the disciple claimed.
“Guru’s mobile phone is full of porn videos. I have also watched some of them when he used to give it to me for recharging,” another disciple confided.
The story of Bomjon, who appeared at the Ratanpuri jungle in Bara as a sage 13 years ago, is unbelievable. It is astonishing how the state has been unaware about all the sexual exploitation and violence inside his ashrams.
He owns hundreds of bighas of land including the three sprawling ashrams in Sarlahi, Sindhuli and Sindhupalchowk districts. He has so much money that he often uses a helicopter to travel from one ashram to another. He has a Toyota Land Cruiser for personal use.
He had arrived in a carcade of dozens of vehicles for the function organized at Chunikhel of Lalitpur one and half years ago. There were almost three dozens of foreign disciples in that function that ran for many days.
His disciples, who left his ashram many years ago, say he had a few pistols and a rifle, and many swords then. They claim he may have added many weapons to his armory in all these years. He gets the swords made in Kathmandu and keeps them at his ashrams.
Bomjon, in this way, has become not just a threat for the young nuns at his ashram but has become a security challenge even for the state.