Long Circuit: China-Pak Plotting to Hijack Buddha Legacy

Long Circ

The Sunday Herald
By Ritu Sharma
Published: 31st Jul 2016 09:41:49 AM

NEW DELHI: With China collaborating with Pakistan and Sri Lanka to create a Buddhist trail and claim the legacy keeping in view its geo-strategic interests, India has moved to form a transnational circuit for Buddhist pilgrims and tourists in cooperation with South East Asian countries. To promote itself as the cradle of Buddhism, Pakistan has also started promoting its Gandhara Buddhist Trail.

India’s master stroke to create the Buddhist trail sprawling across Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam is aimed at treasuring the heritage inherited by the country and regaining its place in history as the fountainhead of Buddhism. The initiative, which is commensurating with both India’s soft diplomacy and ‘Act East’ Policy, will be taken under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation. The Buddhist trail, spread across the South East Asian countries, will be important for India’s identity and tourism.
“The member countries have agreed to enhance tourism cooperation and explore an early harvest ‘Buddhist trail’ as the starting point,” a Ministry of External Affairs’ official said. Myanmar has offered to coordinate the initiative. The decision was taken at the recent meeting of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation at Vientiane. Observers say that India has been a “late mover” in claiming its rich Buddhist inheritance but is steadily “consolidating” its position.

The move is significant as China also has geo-strategic interests in the South-East Asian countries. It has proposed a Buddhist circuit under its One Belt, One Road project and has been cooperating with Pakistan and Sri Lanka on it. India’s initiative is the second such one after the Modi-led government’s announcement to conduct domestic Buddhist circuits to facilitate Buddhist pilgrims and tourists. In 2014, the government announced to make the Sarnath-Gaya-Varanasi, one among the five circuits in India, a world class one under a `500 crore project.

India’s efforts have been gathering steam after China replaced it as the co-organiser of ‘Vesak’ (Buddha Jayanti) at Gautam Buddha’s birth place in Lumbini, Nepal, earlier this year. Termed as ‘Chinese Lumbini Coup’, China’s move to appropriate Buddhist legacy was preceded by Beijing pulling out of Bihar’s Nalanda University Project. Instead, China developed a rival at Lumbini University under a $3 billion project.

The legacy of Gautam Buddha has become a bone of contention between the two neighbours for over a decade now and the “One Road, One Belt” is also going to further Chinese appropriation of the Buddhist heritage. China has also developed a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through PoK as part of the One Road, One Belt project that is also intended to fuel movement of Buddhist pilgrims. India has objected to the plan.

In April 2016, Pakistan had invited 40 Sri Lankan Buddhist monks to showcase its heritage and promote the Gandhara School of Art and Takshila Museum. Pakistan has been working towards creating an image of “a Muslim country” that has preserved world’s richest Buddhist sites and artifacts.

Buddhism was the official religion in India during the Mauryan Empire (321–185 BC), Pala Empire (750–1174 CE), as well as Kushan Empire from the first to the third centuries CE. In imperial China, it was adopted by the Sui (589–618 CE), Tang (618–907 CE) and Yuan (1271– 1368 CE) dynasties. With the arrival of Islam, Buddhism was pushed to Central Asia.


‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

Filmmaker Travis Knight talks about the Buddhist elements in the just released animated movie, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’:

“Q: There’s a strain of Buddhism throughout the film — this idea that lives don’t end with death and live on in memories. Apart from it being set in Ancient Japan, where did that come from?
Knight: My mother-in-law and her family are Buddhists. That kind of spirituality is not something you typically see in film. I think it spoke to the basic idea about losing something that matters to you, which is a fundamental part of life. You don’t get through life unscathed. Being able to explore those ideas through the prism of fantasy and animation really allows parents and children to experience those things together, in a way they can understand. Sometimes these ideas are difficult to articulate, but in a film, if done in a poetic way, those things can make sense and you can talk about them.”



An equal music

Caste is never far from Dalit pop. Young musicians like Thenmozhi Soundararajan say their music is inspired by and rooted in struggle. Photos: Special Arrangement

Caste is never far from Dalit pop. Young musicians like Thenmozhi Soundararajan say their music is inspired by and rooted in struggle. Photos: Special Arrangement

The Hindu
August 20, 2016

A hip young generation of singers is putting Dalit pop right on top of the charts

“I don’t want to talk of caste, I want to break it,” declares Ginni Mahi, the 17-year-old Punjabi folk-cum-pop singer from Jalandhar who has been making waves. Her latest track ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di’ (‘Ambedkar’s Fan’) proclaims her admiration for the architect of the Constitution and his emancipatory thoughts and writings. “I sing of Guru Ravidas, Guru Nanak, Kabir and Ambedkar. Their message was of equality and they called for an end to caste discrimination.”

Mahi is just one of a new generation of performers who are reinventing the music of the Dalit movement by mixing existing folk traditions with Western genres and attracting newer and younger crowds of listeners.

The Dalit movement has, down the years, given birth to many shairs (poets), folk musicians and balladeers, who sing paeans to Babasaheb, spreading his message across the country, speaking of breaking the shackles of inequality and exploitative Brahminical structures. Much of this revolutionary music, for example, the vast repertoire of ‘Bhim Geet’ (Ambedkar songs) in Maharashtra, has been the lifeblood of rights agitations from the start. Today, the singers have bigger dreams. Mahi, for instance, dreams of becoming a playback singer in Bollywood. They see themselves as having a far more universal appeal than their older counterparts did. Not so long ago, playback singers and musicians were known to hide their caste identity. The new lot flaunts it. Their lyrics are from their history, their videos replete with Ambedkar photos and Buddhist iconography.

“Folk songs and poetry were the old methods of spreading the message of equality. Ambedkar praised poets for putting ideas across so easily,” says singer-musician Kabeer Shakya from Navi Mumbai, who, in 2011, founded Dhamma Wings, which he calls an Ambedkarite Buddhist gospel band. “Today, you have to convey the same thing in a modern way. The Buddhist community is well-educated. That’s why we have started composing music in English. We perform in colleges; rock and pop work. Even non-Buddhists like my music.”

But caste is never far away from Dalit pop. As Shakya says, “Our whole identity is because of Ambedkar.” Pointing to his single ‘Deewana Buddha Bhim ji ka’, he says, “I am from a backward community. Someone injected a sickness [of caste] in our community. A doctor [Ambedkar] came and cured it. I represent the cured generation. Naturally, I will be his fan, his deewana. You will find the same sentiment everywhere. Ambedkar is a symbol of struggle.” Continue reading

Thangka artist Joanna Angie to kick off fall exhibits at Roz Steiner Gallery

Submitted artwork by thangka artist Joanna Angie as featured in new exhibit at GCC's Roz Steiner Gallery called "Meditation."

Submitted artwork by thangka artist Joanna Angie as featured in new exhibit at GCC’s Roz Steiner Gallery called “Meditation.”

August 8, 2016 – 12:44pm

Press release:

The schedule is now in place for artists and exhibits that will be featured in the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery this fall at Genesee Community College, and thangka (Tibetan buddhist painting) artist Joanna Angie will display her works from Aug. 22 – Sept. 24 to begin the season.

Evident in her artwork, Angie has a strong sense of connection to Tibetan spiritual practice. Through thangka, a traditional Tibetan form of religious art dating back to the 11th century, Joanna seeks to convey images of compassion, community and knowledge.

“What I found in the Tibetan spiritual practice and thangka paintings was a natural sense of connection,” Angie said. “The images stand for qualities we can develop such as compassion, community and knowledge, knowing there was no good judging me, just cause and effect.”

Angie is the daughter of an Italian immigrant who escaped Mussolini’s wrath and was proud of his American citizenship. After her father’s death when she was just 14 years old, faith slowly came to her and school teachers and college professors became new guides in her life. After graduating Bennett College, Angie opened a gourmet food business, but became very sick by the age of 28. Relocation to Massachusetts exposed her to a Tibetan healer and a hatha yoga teacher, giving her new opportunities to heal and figured immensely into her healing process.

As a community-engaged artist, Joanna has worked on numerous projects including the public art project to commemorate the Centennial of the Pan-American Exposition in 2001. She was an active member of the Community Outreach Committee for the 2006 visit to Buffalo by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and in 2005, 2007 and 2010; she was an active participant in Beyond/In WNY Exhibitions, collaboration between visual arts organizations in the Western New York Region. Her mural commissions include work at Carnegie Hall Towers and William Hurt’s residence in New York City and at St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Buffalo Club in Buffalo.

Founder of the Buffalo Arts Studio and acting director from 1991-2012, Angie has exhibited her work at galleries in Buffalo, including Anderson Gallery, Buffalo Arts Studio, CEPA, El Museo, Hallwalls, Contemporary Arts Center, Himalayan Institute of Buffalo, Insight Gallery; as well as the Kenan Center in Lockport, Olean Public Library Art Gallery and the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn.

In addition to its aesthetic beauty as a work of art, thangka serves as an object of devotion, an aid to spiritual practice, and a source of blessings to those who meditate upon it. Joanna’s exhibition “Mediation” will be shown Aug. 22 – Sept. 24 and an opening reception is planned for Sept. 8 beginning at 1 p.m. The exhibition will close with a reception on Sept. 24 beginning at 1 p.m. during GCC’s Homecoming festivities. Continue reading

Leicester City: Listed building to get Buddhist mural

Artists' impression of a Leicester City mural for the side of the Newarke Houses MuseumImage copyrightLEICESTER CITY COUNCIL

Artists’ impression of a Leicester City mural for the side of the Newarke Houses MuseumImage copyrightLEICESTER CITY COUNCIL

BBC News
11 August 2016

The mural will feature Buddhist images, celebrating the Thai heritage of Leicester City’s owners

A Grade-II* listed building is to be temporarily decorated with a mural to celebrate Leicester City’s Premier League title win, despite opposition.

Historic England said it could “harm the appreciation and understanding” of the Newarke Houses Museum.

But the city council has approved placing the mural on the building for two years.

It is one of six pieces of art which the council has commissioned to celebrate the Foxes’ 5,000-1 success.

The mural, which features Buddhist images, will celebrate the Thai heritage of Leicester City’s owners.

The Foxes stunned the Premier League by winning the title by 10 points in May.

Councillor Ted Cassidy said: “The committee took into account the objections and views of Historic England and decided that on balance, this was acceptable for that particular part of the building.

“It may in fact encourage people to go to that side.”

Three murals have already been painted on to walls in the city to celebrate the title win.

Historic England had hoped the council would find a “less sensitive” building for the latest mural to be painted. Continue reading


LucasfilmPoster_webAUGUST 1, 2016
You are invited to a special screening of The Great Transmission at Lucasfilm’s Premier Theater in San Francisco on Friday, August 26th, 2016!

Doors open at 6:30 pm. Film screens at 7:00 pm, followed by Q & A with the Director.

No food is allowed in the theater, but there is a restaurant called Sessions on the Lucasfilm campus. We recommend making an evening of it!

RSVP’s are required.

For event details and reservations, please visit our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-great-transmission-sf-screening-at-lucasfilm-registration-26732501632

Donations are greatly appreciated.

We accept online donations through Paypal: http://gunafoundation.org/site/?page_id=734

Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea at Frist Center, 2017




February 10–May 7, 2017
Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea
Ingram Gallery

Tibet, Japan, and Korea all practice a form of esoteric or “secret” Buddhism. Called Vajrayana Buddhism, this form utilizes works of art that reveal a complex array of both human and divine figures. This exhibition showcases superlative works from the Newark Museum’s first-rate collection and will make its first appearance at the Frist Center, introducing a general audience to the dazzling aesthetics of Buddhist art and providing a basic understanding of these objects’ function within Buddhist practice.

This exhibition was organized by the Newark Museum.

Aizen Myo-o (King of Bright Passion) Zushi Shrine with Bishamonten (Guardian of the North), Fudo Myo-o (Immovable Protector), Juichimen Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion), the Monk Kukai, Japan, Edo Period (1603–1868). Wood, gold, colors, lacquer, wires, and metal fastenings. Newark Museum, Purchase 1909 George T. Rockwell Collection, 9.858

Aizen Myo-o (King of Bright Passion) Zushi Shrine with Bishamonten (Guardian of the North), Fudo Myo-o (Immovable Protector), Juichimen Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion), the Monk Kukai, Japan, Edo Period (1603–1868). Wood, gold, colors, lacquer, wires, and metal fastenings. Newark Museum, Purchase 1909 George T. Rockwell Collection, 9.858