January 7, 2015


[In Kathmandu, the Director General of the Department of Forestry remarked drily, “We never saw any order from the Appellate Court and if you can show us the Hetauda document and if we should then find that our DFO officer had acted wrongly, he will be sacked.  As to Bomjan, you foreigners may think he is a Buddha, but to us he is just a Tamang.  The Tamang came down from the mountains (and are not really considered legitimate Nepalese citizens by the Brahmins.)  We are the protectors of the Forests, not the monks who live there illegally.”]

 By Joan Stanley-Baker PhD*

In the early years when the boy Meditator Ram Bahadur Bomjan sat in stillness beneath a giant banyan tree, intensely absorbed in penitential Meditation for the welfare of mankind, animals and vegetation life, a huge and subtle process began to unfold in the area that has since transformed the Jungle forever.

The Halkhoria woods in Nepalese Terai became alive in more ways than the visitor imagines. The entire forest behaved as one giant breathing and flourishing creation together with insects, birds, fish and wildlife. Just as all the roots were reaching out supporting each other beneath the surface, weaving the forest into one dense network of intertwining life forms, so did the canopy overhead, unifying flying tendrils into branches, and into trunks that would fuse themselves as living architectonic members of the miraculously integrated leaves, twigs and vines. All these originally diverse elements now breathe as if from a single, living consciousness.

The pervasive sound of sacred harmony and peace that emanated from Halkhoria since the Meditator had taken up silent residence in the Pipal Tree, had profoundly moved visitors in soul and body, so much so that they came away not quite sure they could believe their own senses.

Why does this place feel so special? 

Pilgrims and devotees arrive with open hearts, where before long they fall into silence, many plunge into deep meditation and meld into the gentle, loving pull of colossal Maitri Benevolence.

Clearly, they feel the jungle whispering, “Come, child. Home to Maitri Dharma”.

Such energy has not been manifested on Planet Earth in thousands of years, but over those six years it had been blossoming as the divine boy put sacred roots over the entire jungle. From near and far visitors came to watch the young Maitriya Guru complete his legendary Tapas, and to feel the palpable energies of the Halkhoria Jungle transform them from the inside. From high Brahmins to crippled beggars, people queued for blessing standing six-wide and many kilometers long under extreme weather conditions. They listened attentively in the heart, and consciously or unconsciously, they began to respond to the immense compassionate heart of the Guru of the Great Jungle.  Many shared in the extraordinary experience of taking root there in the woods, of dissolving all boundaries, of fusing like the leaves, branches into trunks, into trees, into the whole Jungle. In scintillating silence, they could feel themselves becoming part and parcel of the Jungle, their soul becoming bodies of light melded in the chorus of golden illumination twinkling in the light breeze singing Halkhoria…! Halkhoria…!

All around, in the midst of the lush flourishing jungle life, broken remnants from the historic site of the Maitri World Peace Great Puja of 2012 can be found abandoned by the bulldozers.  Large pediment stones on which the Guru’s Dais had been built, and nearby the kitchen, the  monks quarters, the Khaiba’s painting studio, among many other ruins protrude in angular blocks, reminding the visitor today that Here there had once been extraordinary happenings.  Here the Maha Bodhisattva Avalokitshvara and the Lord Maitreya Nath had manifested in light and communication, lifting the young Meditator to divine heights.  For already in 2012 the bulldozers had come to make sweep to remove any and all traces of the Maitri Guru’s presence in these parts.   The only edifice that the bulldozers could not remove was the kadjokoa itself, where they iron hand could only tear out the windows and doors of the ground floor.

The Uncertain Future

Since Guru left Halkhoria in June 2012 the Great Jungle suffered visibly. Aside from the destruction of all unregistered buildings in the Jungle, the dense Terai subtropical ecosystem has been degrading rapidly. The five tigers that had attended Guru's vigil and accounted for by WWF-Nepal are all gone, along with sloth bears, deer, antelopes, leopards, wild horses, including rare snakes and birds. The elephant herd has dwindled. Innumerable towering Sal trees (Shorea Robusta) have been felled as well as the world’s highest grasses. Hundreds of thousands of stones were taken away from the dry riverbed. The woods have closed in, the space has tightened up.

*         *         *

Two years later in June 2014 the Hetauda Appellate Court handed down the decision granting Guru right of permanent residence in Halkhoria. But this was a temporary order, to wait final decision in a month. With this permission, Guru returned to the Great Jungle landing by helicopter from Sindhupalchowk mountains.

But local opposition had not abated throughout the six months of Guru's return to Halkhoria. In the six months Guru had lived in Halkhoria, there have been no less than three main disturbances interrupting His Work for Peace.

The first occasion was on the 18th June 2014, witnessed by a South American devotee. While he and Nepali devotees were together praying at midnight, rather suddenly without warning, 200 soldiers appeared in the Halkhoria woods and began rounding up all people there. Soldiers armed with shields and guns roughed them up and pushed everyone away from the Jungle.  Startled, all devotees and onlookers ran away in fear. The South American visitor was shocked by the virulence of hostility shown by representative of the Nepali government, towards the Guru and His devotees.

The second incident was instigated by local villagers in early September, and may relate to their traditional dependence on the now-illegal exploitation of the Jungle. Since Guru’s arrival in Halkhoria his “blue” monks (wearing blue robes in the Maitri colour) have been daily witnesses to unlawful activities by local villagers. The monks young and old took action in protecting the fauna of the Halkhoria wetland ecosystem against encroachment by villagers with snares, nets and poisons.  The jungle comprises pristine lake, swamps, marshes  and springs which were now often turned toxic when villagers dropped poison into the waters to kill the fish, as caught on camera on the night of 17th August. Prior to the Poisoning, at least 15 cases of deliberate damage to the Jungle ecosystem (including mass net-fishing) had been reported by the Guru’s monks. They discovered countless dead fishes in the wetlands along with other poisoned aquatic species.

The poison was dumped into the living waters by disillusioned poachers into the Halkhorian who emptied their vials into the Jungle’s water source (spring), contaminating the entire stream flowing into the Sacred lake.

The third outbreak was the last to be tolerated. On the 29th of November 2014 Bara District Forest Officers entered the Jungle and took Maitriya chief monk Jyampa Topchen into custody. They came to Halkhoria around 3 PM in 2 jeeps, one with officers and one full with soldiers in camouflage uniforms  armed with guns and video mobile cameras. One of the officers went to Jyampa Topchen, the Maitriya Chief Monk wearing Maitri blue robes, took his hand and embraced him saying "Come with me, I need to ask you some questions " and hauled him towards a waiting car. Without handing him a warrant of further ado, he forcefully shoved innocent Monk Topchen into the car and closed the door. They then drove him away and put him in detention in the District Forest Office in Simara. The officer didn’t return to ask the monk any questions, but kept him there for 14 days. On the second day the Monk Topchen was forced to sign a paper saying that three clay fire ovens and food for 25 people had been found in the Jungle premises. (These do not in any way contravene the Resident Permit granted by the Appellate Court). The news spread soon in the local media.  While the American spiritual researcher and observer brought food for Topchen in custody,  the monk admitted:

"I think they took my Human Rights, I haven't done any crime ".

The innocent Monk was locked up with 2 other men in a dirty room without proper bathroom. The other two men who had been arrested because they had dug an oversized  hole in the ground while collecting stones from the Halkhoria riverbed. They were part of the thirty-odd truckloads that rumble through the jungle and across the Pasaha riverbed mining stones day and night, where paying an official fee of 230 NRS  per truckload arranged and collected by the Bara District Forest Office. In this manner local institutions have thrived for generations in organized logging, illegal fishing and hunting, where the government partially oversees the carting away of the Jungle depleting its rocks, gravel, logs, high grasses, and wildlife, including fish.

A few days later the news reached Amnesty International in Kathmandu who observed that in light of the Appellate Court's Resident Permit the monk’s arrest was illegal. Finally Monk Topchen was released on 12 December 2014 after being detained for no less than 14 whole days.

Over the past six months of the Guru’s residence in Halkhoria, no less than seven times did Guru’s Monks prevent local villagers’ from vandalizing the Jungle, from felling the pristine and highly valued Halkhorian Sal (Shorea robusta), and Shisau (Dalbergia sissoo) forest ecosystem. To the valdals, these rare, extraordinary old trees are valued for their excellent manufacturing qualities.


Due to the insecure climate inflicted onto the Jungle on a regular basis the life of monks, nuns and Dharma lovers became unstable.  For the last month from late November everyone slept spread out in the Jungle beneath trees and the falling dew.  They feared being harassed by armed soldiers in the night, and preferred to brave the damp and cold of the Jungle. Seeing their great fear, Guru decided on the 8th of December to leave the Halkhoria for an indefinite time.

In Kathmandu, the Director General of the Department of Forestry remarked drily, “We never saw any order from the Appellate Court and if you can show us the Hetauda document and if we should then find that our DFO officer had acted wrongly, he will be sacked.  As to Bomjan, you foreigners may think he is a Buddha, but to us he is just a Tamang. The Tamang came down from the mountains (and are not really considered legitimate Nepalese citizens by the Brahmins.) We are the protectors of the Forests, not the monks who live there illegally.”

Meanwhile this Subtropical ecosystem is rapidly degrading, the unique spiritual green space on our living planet that had sprouted the heart of Maitri Cultivation, the space that palpably inspires Peace, Non-Violence, mutual tolerance and Loving Kindness, is under the axe of Nepal’s Forestry officials, It is in urgent need of protection – a sort of loving protection that can only come from the world outside Nepal. Halkhoria is not only Nepal's unique heritage but Nepal’s Divine Gift to all Mankind.

Guru’s loves for the world is beyond fathoming. He loves Halkhoria, home of His enlightenment and spiritual growth. He loves all spiritual seekers and pilgrims open to Dharmic Maitri energies. But He also loves those whose hearts remain closed to Blessings, who still let fear and negativity keep them in misery. These people remain oblivious to the sacred Jungle phenomena and are determined to eradicate the Chapter of the Maitri Guru in Halkhoria.  And after completing His blessing of the Jungle, the Guru commented, “It may take many more years before Nepal will understand Halkhoria and accept it for what it is” as He flew away from his beloved jungle.

* The author  is emeritus  professor of  art history specializing in Chinese fine arts at  Tainan National University, Taiwan. She hails from British Columbia, Canada.