Mega theme park to celebrate the heritage of Buddhism

The drum and dome of the Maha stupa, a replica of the Amaravati stupa, in its finishing stage. It measures 21 metres and has a diameter of 42 meters at Buddha Vanam in Nagarjunasagar.
All designs of Buddhavanam inspired from the Buddha’s Ashtangamarga or noble eight-fold path

B. Pradeep NALGONDA, SEPTEMBER 09, 2017 23:13 IST

Once upon a time, there lived King Vessantara, who ruled Sivirattha (land of Sivis). A virtuous man, he wanted to attain perfection and so donated all the precious things he had. On learning this, a ‘wicked brahmin’ from the neighbouring kingdom of Kalinga asks the king for the magical rain-bringing elephant, Peccaya. Vessantara gives it away, but earns the wrath of the people. Compelled by anger, his father Sanjaya banishes his son from glory, to the forests.

Vessantara over time also donates his chariot, horses and children to the wicked brahmin. Marvelled at his conduct, it was time for the Gods to test his generosity. This time, Lord Sakka in the guise of an ugly man appears before Vessanatara and asks for his wife, Maddi. The rest of the story is the prince’s attainment of perfection.

Of the 547 Jataka tales in Buddhism, and 10 perfections, Dana-sila (conduct of charity) by Vessantara is believed to be the last one.

The Jataka tales, life instances of the Bodhisattvas (the enlightenment being or the Buddha-to-be) are narrated by monks to devotees on full moon days. They are integral to the Buddhist culture.
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‘The Departure’: Film Review

The Hollywood Reporter
‘The Departure’: Film Review
by Frank Scheck

10/13/2017
Lana Wilson’s documentary centers on a Japanese priest who specializes in suicide prevention.
Most people would probably be reluctant to answer a newspaper ad reading “Monk wanted. No experience necessary.”

But fortunately, that’s exactly what the subject of Lana Wilson’s new documentary did. He’s Ittetsu Nemoto, a 44-year-old Japanese former punk rocker and troubled club kid turned Buddhist monk who has made a specialty of counseling depressed individuals contemplating suicide. In its poetic portrait of a man whose quest to help others has cost him dearly both emotionally and physically, The Departure proves quietly profound. Wilson, who previously co-directed the acclaimed documentary After Tiller, handles the emotional subject matter with a subtle restraint that makes the film all the more moving.

Eschewing narration or commentary by anyone other than Nemoto, the film has a Zen-like quality that would be soothing if the subject matter were not inherently disturbing. One of the most powerful scenes shows a session conducted by Nemoto with a group of depressed people. He instructs them to write down on small slips of paper the things they love most in life, then the names of three loved ones, and finally three things they’d like to experience but haven’t. Close-ups of the slips of paper reveal some of the answers including “love,” “food” and “travel the whole world.”

Nemoto than asks them to crumple the first three slips of paper into a ball and throw them away. Then the next three and then the final three. He tells them that this represents what dying will be like, the loss of everything they’ve known and loved. Then they lie on the ground, cloths on their faces, as he quietly rings a bell in a symbolic representation of death.

The film depicts several of Nemoto’s interactions with the people he’s counseling, the camera discreetly looking away at the more intense moments of their anguish. It soon becomes clear that the stress of his calling is exacting a toll on Nemoto, who seems to be constantly on call; at one point he receives a text message reading simply, “I want to die.”

“I take on so much of their suffering. I can never show them how draining it is,” Nemoto tells his wife, with whom, like his infant son, he spends too little time. We learn that his health is precarious, with blocked arteries that aren’t being helped by his excessive drinking.

20th Century Fox
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Despite the nobility of his calling, Nemoto never comes across as a saint. Indeed, he had deeply personal reasons for what he does. Midway through the film, he explains that when he was in the fifth grade a beloved uncle committed suicide. During his high school years, two close friends did the same. He became determined to change the trajectory of his life after he experienced a traumatic motorcycle accident in his twenties.

“I don’t want to have a long life just for the sake of it,” Nemoto says. “A short life can be meaningful, too.” The Departure beautifully illustrates just how meaningful life can be.

Production companies: Drifting Cloud Productions, Roast Beef Productions, ITVS, Candescent Films, Artemis Rising Foundation
Distributor: Matson Films
Director-producer: Lana Wilson
Executive producers: Sally Jo Fifer, Lilly Hartley, Jeffrey Tarant, Mike Lerner, Diane L. Max, Regina K. Scully
Screenwriters: David Teague, Lana Wilson
Director of photography: Emily Topper
Editor: David Teague
Composer: Nathan Michel

87 minutes

[link]

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Fellowship and Grant Competitions in Buddhist Studies

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Fellowship and Grant Competitions in Buddhist Studies

Fellowship and Grant Competitions in Buddhist Studies

2017-18 Call for Applications

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) invites applications in the 2017-18 competition year of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies. In cooperation with the Foundation, ACLS offers an integrated set of fellowship and grant competitions supporting work to expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, to strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and to increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies.

Dissertation Fellowships: one-year stipends to PhD candidates for full-time preparation of dissertations

Postdoctoral Fellowships: two-year stipends to recent recipients of the PhD for residence at a university for research, writing, and teaching

Research Fellowships: one-year stipends for scholars who hold a PhD degree, with no restrictions on time from the PhD

Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations: one-year stipends for the creation of critical editions, translation of canonical texts, and translation of scholarly works

New Professorships: multi-year grants to colleges and universities to establish or expand teaching in Buddhist studies

These are global competitions. There are no restrictions as to the location of work proposed, the citizenship of applicants, or the languages of the final written product. Applications must be submitted in English. Program information and applications are available at http://www.acls.org/programs/buddhist-studies/.

Deadline for submission of fellowship applications: November 15, 2017.

Deadline for institutional applications for New Professorships: January 10, 2018.

For more information, please email BuddhistStudies@acls.org.

The American Council of Learned Societies, a private, nonprofit federation of 75 national scholarly organizations, is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. Advancing scholarship by awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies is central to ACLS’s work. This year, ACLS will award more than $20 million to over 300 scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines.

Established in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation based in Hong Kong. The Foundation’s dual mission is to foster appreciation of Chinese arts and culture to advance global learning and to cultivate deeper understanding of Buddhism in the context of contemporary life.

The Foundation’s Buddhist studies and Buddhist art programmes include the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School; a centre and an endowed professorship in Buddhist studies at Stanford University; a centre for Buddhist studies at the University of Toronto; an endowed chair and programme in Buddhism and Contemporary Society at the University of British Columbia; a multi-year lecture series at SOAS University of London; the Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation and MA programme at The Courtauld Institute of Art; the Galleries of Buddhist Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum; a three-year exhibition, Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia, opening in the Sackler Gallery in Washington in October 2017, and other exhibitions of Buddhist art around the world. www.rhfamilyfoundation.org.

The Venerable W.

The Venerable W.
NYFF 2017 Review

Independent; 100 minutes
Director: Barbet Schroeder

Written by Siddhant Adlakha on October 16, 2017

When attempting to parse the root causes of religious extremism, a common argument in western discourse involves not only pointing to Islam as an inherently violent ideology, but to Buddhism as its polar opposite; a dogma so rooted in peace and non-violence that it could not possibly result in terror. Of course, these arguments are rarely in good faith, and they are un-attuned to the full scope of the global refugee crisis and its long, macabre history. The Rohingya displacement in Myanmar has seldom touched their borders. Such is the limitation of the western lens, but it’s a lens that French director Barbet Schroeder puts to tremendous use in The Venerable W., a chronicle of our modern extremist and “fake news” climate delivered in a highly concentrated dose, so much so that its New York Film Festival screening had to be prefaced by the short film What Are You Up to, Barbet Schroeder?, in which the director explains why he felt compelled to make it.

This year’s New York Film Festival line-up (described by The Village Voice as “counterprogramming”) is rife with stories adjacent to worldwide migrant crises, but where Schroeder’s documentary deviates from its peers is its choice of subject. It is not a film about the victims of Buddhist extremism, though it most certainly makes their voices heard. It isn’t even about the perpetrators of Myanmar’s anti-Muslim violence, even though there is disturbing footage of them a-plenty. No, The Venerable W. is a film about the hateful ideologies that precede said violence, focusing almost entirely on the perspective and rhetoric of a young Theravada Buddhist leader and the founder of Myanmar’s nationalist “969” movement, Ashin Wirathu. He is our entry point in to this twisted journey, one presented in as conventionally documentarian a manner as possible; the talking head we spend most of the runtime getting to know as we’re forced to examine our own instincts.

Wirathu comes of as personable. He has the kind of friendly demeanor one wouldn’t normally associate with a religious orator, like the image one might have of the Dalai Lama before ever watching his interviews. Backed by shelves of religious texts and gleefully sharing videos with us on his cell phone, he rides a distinct line between tradition and modernity, and we open the film listening to him speak about African Catfish. All seems in line with what we ought to see as Buddhist normalcy, as a peaceful, head-shaven religious leader draped in maroon and saffron tells a fable about a violent animal. However the conclusion he reaches is not concerned with non-violence. Instead, it immediately brings to mind the most violent ideologies of history, as he compares the violent sea creature from his story to Myanmar’s Muslim population. Wirathu is not your average Buddhist, as the other Buddhist leaders in the film will tell you, but he is your average extremist. Continue reading

Experts identify 25 archaeological sites in Zone IV

Islamabad
AUGUST 15, 2017 BY APP

ISLAMABAD: A team of archaeological experts has identified 25 ancient archaeological sites in Zone IV of the federal capital, through its ongoing, first ever, archaeological survey.

The Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) is conducting the survey to find potential sites for excavation, preservation and documentation, and saving the precious heritage for future generations.

The survey is being carried out by the archaeological experts who have divided Islamabad into five zones, and the objective behind the survey is to conserve the endangered archaeological sites and monuments.

“The number of identified archaeological sites and monuments has reached up to 25 in Zone IV of the capital, and most of the sites and monuments belong to the Mughal and Sikh periods,” said an official of DOAM while talking to APP.

The official said that the survey has been completed in the zone, which is the biggest zone among all five zones. The survey was discontinued due to monsoon rains and will be continued in Zone V during mid-September.

The discoveries include historical monuments, worship places of the Sikhs before partition, mosques of the Mughal period, remains of the Buddhist period and memorial of the British period wars, in the zone.

The team, conducting the survey, is comprised of archaeological experts, photographers, draftsmen and other staff members, who are recording the details of the sites for documentation and finding potential sites for excavation, said the official.

The project of conducting archaeological surveys in the capital, at the cost of Rs 2 million, was approved by National Fund for Cultural Heritage (NFCH) to address the threat of endangered sites and monuments due to climate changes and construction.

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In Mumbai’s nooks and crannies, reseachers are uncovering 1,000-year-old fragments of history

Yahoo News
Aarefa Johari
August 21, 2017

In the courtyard of a police training campus in Thane city’s Police Lines area is a small temple, one among hundreds of local Hindu temples scattered in the nooks and crannies of the Mumbai metropolitan region. Behind the temple, at the base of a large tree, lies an assortment of broken stone sculptures: two plump figurines carved on thick stone slabs, a Shiva Linga, an eight-inch disfigured head of a deity, a small Nandi bull and an intricately-carved slab of white stone depicting a meditating Mahavir.

Most devotees who visit the temple and sit in the shade of the tree barely give these discarded stone fragments a second glance.

Since 2016, however, three archaeology students from the city have taken particular interest in these forgotten stone artefacts. Over numerous visits, the students have cleaned, measured and photographed the pieces, and with the help of their professors, determined the approximate age of each object. While the Nandi bull and the Shiva Linga are perhaps more recent additions, the other stone slabs and figurines are from at least 700 or 800 years ago, dating back to the time when Mumbai and its environs were ruled by the Shilahara dynasty.

“We found this particular site by fluke, but ended up discovering such a rich store of local historical objects,” said Anuja Patwardhan, one of the three students who spent all of last year combing the streets of Thane city in search of the region’s undocumented archaeological heritage.

Patwardhan is among 40 archaeology students in Greater Mumbai who have participated in the Salsette Exploration Project, an ambitious academic research study that aims to discover and document whatever still remains of the pre-colonial archaeology of the Salsette region. Salsette refers to the larger island immediately north of the original seven islands of Bombay, extending from present-day Bandra, Kurla and Chembur to Thane in the north.

‘Surprised to see how much is still available’

The Salsette Project was started in early 2016 by three institutions: Mumbai University’s Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, the Archaeology department of Sathaye College and the India Study Centre Trust, an independent organisation dedicated to research on Indian history and culture.

Since then, two batches of archaeology students from these institutes have conducted ground surveys of the Salsette region, under the guidance of five faculty members heading the project. The researchers have sub-divided Salsette into five sectors, each under the charge of one faculty member and their team of students. The first batch of students completed their share of field work this April, and the project is now being carried forward through its second batch of students. Continue reading

Unkei – The Great Master of Buddhist Sculpture

Tokyo Museum of Art

Unkei – The Great Master of Buddhist Sculpture / Heiseikan Special Exhibition Galleries September 26, 2017 (Tue) – November 26, 2017 (Sun)

In Japan, no Buddhist sculptor is better known than Unkei. With his extraordinary artistic talent, he led a new era in sculptural expression, creating realistic works that appear before the viewer as though they were alive. For this Special Exhibition, Unkei’s masterpieces have been brought together from across Japan. These include works from Kohfukuji temple in Nara, with which he had close relations. In addition to presenting an overview of Unkei’s life as a sculptor, the origins of Unkei’s remarkable style and its transmission will also be explored through the inclusion of works by his father, Kokei, as well as his sons, Tankei and Koben.

General Information

Period Tuesday, September 26 – Sunday, November 26, 2017
Venue Heiseikan, Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)

Related Events

Kohfukuji and Unkei: Particularly on the Statues at the Hokuendo (North Octagonal Hall)
Heiseikan Auditorium October 1, 2017 (Sun) 13:30 – 15:00

The Influence of the Buddhist Sculptor Unkei: With a Focus on Koen and Zen’en Honkan Room 14 August 29, 2017 (Tue) – December 3, 2017 (Sun)
This thematic exhibition explores how sculptors inherited and transformed the style of Unkei in the Kamakura period (1192–1333).