Cinematic revival of Buddhist revivalist

The Sunday Times

MG_5018‘Anagarika Dharmapala Srimathano’

‘Anagarika Dharmapala Srimathano’, a film based on the life story of Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist and writer Anagarika Dharmapala is now being screened at MPI circuit cinemas. Produced by Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi Thera and Sunil T. Fernando, the film stars Palitha Silva (playing Anagarika Dharmapala), Sriyantha Mendis, Gayan Wickremathilaka, Hyacinth Wijeratne, Lucky Dias, Sandun Wijesiri, Kamal Deshapriya, G. R. Perera, Austin Samarawickrema, Chris Harris, Madhawa Wijesinghe, Dayasiri Hettiarachchi, Prasad Samarathunga, Ruwangi Ratnayake and Sanjaya Amarasinghe in the stellar cast.

One of the founding contributors of non-violent Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism and Buddhism, the movie showcases how Anagarika Dharmapala pioneered in reviving Buddhism in India after it had been virtually extinct there for several centuries. Depicted as the first Buddhist in modern times to preach the Dharma in three continents: Asia, North America, and Europe, the film shows his crucial role as a major reformer and revivalist of Sri Lanka’s Buddhism and how he carried out the mission of Western transmission of Buddhism together with Henry Steel Olcott and Helena Blavatsky, the creators of the Theosophical Society.

Cinematographed by Sujith Nishantha, art direction by Suneth Nandalal, make up by Sameera Madu Kindelpitiya and Manoj Laksiri, the costume designing handled by Heenatigala Premadasa. Rohana Weerasinghe wrote the musical score, ‘Anagarika Dharmapala’ is directed by Sanath Abeysekara.


Buddha show coming to Nazareth

lifeofbuddhaDonna De Palma, 12:04 a.m. EDT September 15, 2014

The story of Buddha, a man born a prince who gives up all earthly privilege to lead a life of spiritual service, has fascinated people around the world for centuries.

The Life of Gautama Buddha, a fusion play of dance, music and language, choreographed by Santosh Nair, will be performed at Nazareth College Arts Center [New York] this weekend. The production, presented by the India Community Center of Rochester, is the first of its kind to come to a local stage and is part of the center’s outreach efforts.

Bubbles Sabharwal says the idea of staging Buddha’s life came to her and co-creator Lushin Dubey about 15 years ago. They felt a live live drama could impact millions and illustrate the profound value of art.

“Theater is meant to entertain but it can also hold up a mirror to society,” Sabharwal says. “Some plays take us on a journey into imagination and surreal worlds. This play takes us from the world outside to the world within.” Continue reading

China: Soothing Buddhist music said to boost rice crop


Farmers in a village in East China’s Fujian Province have claimed that Buddhist music playing in the fields has helped them to increase their rice production.

Output in Liangshan village went up by 15% after residents installed 500 lotus-shaped speakers in the rice paddies to engulf the crops in a wave of soothing mantras, the Global Times newspaper reports. Local authorities say the musical rice fields also yielded larger grains, while the silent paddies with no music suffered from pests.

There’s no scientific consensus on the effect music has on plants, but researchers at the China Agricultural University have backed the experiment, saying certain sound waves – such as those found in the rhythmic chanting of mantras – can stimulate the pores on a plant’s leaves to help absorb more sunlight. “Only positive music aids growth, while rock music would probably harm it,” a local agriculture officer says.

Not everyone agrees with this assertion. Last year, Chris Beardshaw, one of Britain’s leading gardeners, announced that playing a constant diet of heavy metal helps flowers to bloom. He said an experiment he conducted showed that a continuous playlist of Black Sabbath songs worked wonders on a greenhouse full of plants.


Excavating a late-Angkorian Buddhist terrace

from the Southeast Asian Archaeology blog

David Brotherson
University of Sydney

This terrace is unusual because it is built on top of an earthen mound which rises six metres above the flood plain, and is located at the corner of two huge embankments (one of which is the East Baray). This leads us to speculate it may have had another function prior to the construction of the terrace.


Peter Rowan and the Art of Zen Bluegrass

During Peter Rowan's five-decade-long career he has been a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys along with releasing more than 20 solo albums.

During Peter Rowan’s five-decade-long career he has been a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys along with releasing more than 20 solo albums.

Follow the link to listen to this interview, and hear some music samples. – Buddhist art news

Singer-songwriter Peter Rowan is bluegrass royalty, having performed with some of the genre’s biggest legends during his five-decade career including Bill Monroe, Del McCoury, David Grisman and Tony Rice. His newest album, which was released in July, is called Dharma Blues and is largely made up of spiritually influenced songs he wrote while traveling in India and Japan in the 1990s. Gillian Welch and former Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady are just two of the many musicians who join him on the record.

Rowan performs this weekend in Flagstaff at the ninth annual Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival at the Pepsi Amphitheater. He recently spoke with Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius about his new album and the highly influential band he formed with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia in the 1970s, Old and in the Way. Continue reading

Monks create sand mandala as a healing art form

(Photo: Dale Neal / )

(Photo: Dale Neal / )

Dale Neal,
September 10, 2014

Urban Dharma in downtown Asheville has mounted a week-long festival of healing and spiritual workshops around the construction of a sand mandala, a sacred art form practiced among Tibetan Buddhists.

ASHEVILLE – Passersby have been pausing by the glass window on Page Avenue this week as an ancient Tibetan tradition has slowly formed before their eyes.

“We’ve seen a lot of regulars,” said Hun Lye, who’s been busy on the other side of the window, meticulously constructing a colorful sand mandala. Lye is working with two Tibetan Buddhist monks, rubbing a metal rod along a brass funnel to lay grains of colored sand onto the carefully marked-out grid.

Lye heads Urban Dharma, which has mounted a week-long festival of healing and spiritual workshops around the construction of the mandala, a sacred art form practiced among Tibetan Buddhists.

Since the Chinese invasion of their county in 1959, exiled monks have carried the art form into other countries, trying to preserve the sand-painting tradition.

In Tibetan Buddhism, mandalas are created as meditation tool and a focal point for prayers and good intentions for the community. In the West, psychologist Carl Jung popularized the mandala as a tool to help understand the subconscious mind.

“Each grain of sand becomes an identical replica of the whole,” Lye explained. “It’s like what William Blake said ‘to see the world in a grain of sand.’”

Mark Hanf brought his class of 7th and 8th graders from Rainbow Community School to see the mandala. “We just did a unit this morning on geometry, drawing with a compass and straight lines, and I wanted to show them this.”

“It’s real cool. It’s just amazing how much detail they’re able to do,” marveled Alex Boots, 13, pressing with his classmates at the glass.

Lye, working alongside Tibetan Buddhist monks, Khenpo Choephel and Lama Sonam, will spend some 50-60 hours before the mandala design is completed on Friday. Choephel laid out the complex grid but this is no “paint-by-the-numbers” operation.

“Khenpo has all the colors up in his head and where they go,” Lye laughed, pointing at his forehead. “We’re following his lead.”

Where Tibetans will typically show up only at the ceremony surrounding a completed mandala, American audiences are mesmerized by the meticulous construction.

“The sound of the rod on the funnel is soothing sound,” Lye said.

A veteran of about four or five mandala creations, Lye said he finds the process absorbing. “We’re used to doing a lot of sitting in our meditation. But this does take a lot of focus.”

Once completed on Friday, the mandala will be moved into the temple space for a Saturday of ceremony and ritual that makes the inert painting into a kind of hologram of healing for the larger community, Lye explained.

The painting will be ceremonially “dissolved” on Sunday with participants taking a small portion of the sand home with them and the rest symbolically deposited in the French Broad River.

The “Circles of Healing” festival continues Thursday at noon with a ceremony of 108 candles that will be lit in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, along with more recent casualties of wars and unrest.

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Dileep’s Buddha Act in ‘Villali Veeran’ Stirs Controversy

International Business Times
By Nicy V.P September 12, 2014 17:25 IST

Actor Dileep and team of “Villali Veeran” have got in to trouble after Dileep’s look in the film as Buddha. As per various reports, a Buddhist believer has come against the featuring of Buddha in the film and has asked for a ban on the films.

In one of the songs of the film, “Cinderella chanthame”, the film makers visualised a comical take on Buddha and Cinderella story.

The song begins with Dileep in the look of Buddha meditating under the Bodhi tree. He is followed by many of his disciples in meditation and chanting. That is when the heroine enters the scene. Namitha Pramod enters in a caravan drawn by two stuffed rats. She plays Cinderella who has come to woo her prince.
As the Cinderella opens the doors of the caravan, Buddha falls for her beauty. A new prince in Buddha is woken up and the song then goes to a romantic number, which acknowledges their love for each other.

Meanwhile, the song sequence did not go well with the Buddhist organisations and they have blamed the censor board for not asking the film makers to edit those sequences. Continue reading