Centuries after he walked the earth, Buddha continues to inspire and shape millions around the world
New Delhi: “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”Clearly, this Buddhist philosophy continues to guide the Inner Path Festival of Buddhism, which has just concluded its third year with a fete that was much larger and had much more to offer than previous years.Held in the Alliance Francaise de Delhi from 21 to 24 November, the festival had discourses, art exhibitions, photo exhibitions, and even a Kung Fu performance by seven nuns, apart from around sixteen feature and short films based on Buddhist philosophy. The Festival was in association with IBC, Korean Cultural Centre, Art Konsult, Kalpataru Trust and IBIS Hotel.The Inner Path Festival of Buddhism was organized by the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) India, the International Buddhist Confederation and Alliance Francaise de Delhi in association with the Korean Cultural Centre.Around sixteen feature and documentary films were screened during the festival, and interestingly a large number of them centered round women empowerment.
These included “The Buddha’s Forgotten Nuns” by Wiriya Sati from Australia, “Khandro – A women’s path of peace” by Babeth M VanLoo from the Netherands, “Avalokitesvara” by Zan Xin of China, and “Kung Fu Nuns” by Chandramouli Basu of India. The films include three films from the United Stated by John Bush — Dharma River, Prajna Earth and Vajra Sky over Tibet, and two films by Royston Tan from Singapore — Little Note and Popiah, apart from the India-Nepal-US co-production Padyatra: A Green Odyssey.In fact, seven nuns actually demonstrated Kung Fu during the Festival. The opening day also featured a concert by the Singing Nun – Ani Choying Drolma of Nepal.
Other events included an Exhibition Looking Inward which had works by twenty artists, encompassing the mediums of painting, calligraphy, sculpture, photography and ceramics. The myriad manifestations reflected diverse and highly personal introspection, interpretations of Buddhist philosophy, and creative vision.
These included a show of traditional ink painting scrolls by Aruna Vasudev, founder-President of NETPAC and founder The Inner Path Festival; and exhibitions of renowned contemporary Indian artists such as Arpana Caur, Niren Sen Gupta, Shobha Broota, Sidharth, and the late Sohan Qadri; paintings by the 12th Kenting Tai Situpa; calligraphy by Bryan Mulvihill, Rajeev Kumar, and Qamar Dagar; Tibetan calligraphic art by Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar; photography by Cannon Hersey, Felicia Murray, Kshipra Simon, and Shefali Munjal; photographic works by the artists Deepak Tandon and Saba Hasan; photographs of the Kalachakra, Ladakh – 1976 by the artist Jasleen; and ceramic works and an installation by the artist Siraj Saxena.
A panel discussion was held with participation by a number of artists, filmmakers and philosophers. They included Arpana Caur, Aruna Vasudev, filmmaker Babeth M. VanLoo, artist Bryan Mulvihill, Dato Dr. G. K. Ananda Kumaraseri, Geshe Thubten Jinpa, Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar, Jasleen, Kshipra Simon, and Qamar Dagar. Elizabeth Rogers, curator of the exhibition, moderated the dialogue. Issues addressed were: creativity and artistic expression; contemporary visions of Buddhist philosophy; and individual explorations of these themes in diverse mediums.
Beyond Painting: Manifestation of Spirit was a demonstration of Thangka painting by author, documentary filmmaker, sculptor, teacher and painter Sidharth accompanied by guitarist Aman Nath from Mumbai. Sidharth introduced his myriad organic materials and illustrated his preparation techniques.
The meanings of colour, of the scientific arrangement of sacred geometry and his personal interpretation of scripts and iconography in his work were discussed, followed by questions from the audience.
Another Exhibition was held on The Magic Life of Milarepa: Tibet’s Great Yogi. Milarepa, a graphic comic-strip book by the Dutch artist Eva van Dam was presented by Chokyi Palmo. Originally published by Shambhala Press in the United States in 1991, and then translated across the globe, it shall be published in 10 Indian languages. It portrays the legendary exploits of Tibetan Buddhism’s most renowned saint. The artist/illustrator Eva van Dam travelled extensively in Tibet and resided in Nepal, where she studied the iconography of Tibetan religious art.
Eminent persons including Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar (Regional director), Arpana Caur (first lady contemporary painter and 20 years into Buddhist paintings), Bebeth M Vanloo (Director of Khandro – A woman’s Path of Peace), and Dr. G. K. Ananda Kumaraseri (President of Human Development and Peace Foundation), and Geshe Thubten Jinpa (Director of 108 Yaks- A Journey of Love and Freedom) and artists like Vinita Dasgupta and Kshipra Simon spoke on Buddhism.
Geshe Jangchup Choeden who had been appointed by the Dalai Lama as the Abbot of the prestigious and historic Gaden Shartse Monastery said in his discourse that Tantra which was seen negatively in India was part of Buddhism. “Tantra is the study to emphasize on Physical movement while dealing with Inner Meditation”. Tantra can only be learnt through empowerment and knowledge and then teach others.
Dr Dato Ananda Kumaraseri, a career ambassador for over 30 years, talked about the teaching pattern in India as well in the world. He said “every country fails in their teaching system. This system should change because education is not only about examinations it is also about the wellness of the Human mind”. He shared the content of his own books and also emphasized his concept of “Living by Buddhism”.
Ms Aruna Vasudev, Director of the event, said “she is honored and proud to be the Director because she gets the opportunity to share the stage with immensely talented artists”.
An annual event, The Inner Path Festival of Buddhism attempts to take forward the renewed interest in Buddhist thought to a wider range of urban audiences by presenting celebrated works of visual and performing arts and other forms of creative and cultural expression, philosophy, discourse and discussions related to Buddhism from across the world. This endeavour becomes especially important at a time when the national secular culture is threatened by violence and strife.