KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- A Nepalese teenager revered by many as a reincarnation of Buddha has returned to the jungle to meditate after emerging for less than two weeks, officials said Saturday.
Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, reappeared on Nov. 10 after several months of meditation to bless thousands of his followers, speaking to them on at least two occasions.
He made his last appearance on Friday and then returned to the jungle to meditate, said Biswo Prakash Newpane, a government administrator in the area. It was not clear when he would return again.
His followers lined up near the jungle of Ratanpur, about 100 miles south of Katmandu, to be blessed by Bamjan. He tapped the believers on their forehead but did not speak to them individually.
The followers believe he has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005. Believers say he spent months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.
Buddhism, which has about 325 million followers, teaches that every soul is reincarnated after death in another bodily form.
But several Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of the claims that Bamjan is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago and became revered as the Buddha, or Enlightened One.
Rakesh, a Buddhist scholar, told the Associated Press last week that being Buddha means the last birth and the highest level that can be achieved and there can be no reincarnation of Buddha, even though Buddhists believe in life after death.