Religion | 1960 | Sound | Colour
A fairly comprehensive introduction to Buddhism in its native setting of India and South East Asia including dramatised sequences of the Buddha's lifestory and atmospheric Oriental scenes of pagodas at sunrise and so on in the 1960's
Buddhist family sits cross-legged on the floor of a Thai monastery in prayer or meditation. A golden statue of the Buddha shines enlightenment.
On the busy streets of Bangkok Thailand Buddhist monks in saffron robes accept rice and food from lay-persons who hope to gain religious merit for their kindness.
Buddhists attending a public religious ceremony in a grand temple draped in flowers. A sacred pagoda under construction and a close up of the roofers hard at work. More pagodas surrounding the temple and two Buddhists approach a statue to give praise.
Modern workers using factory machines for farming are juxtaposed in the next scene with a traditional farmer in the field with his cattle. The challenge that every day life presents to the Buddhist is introduced in the narrative.
A map indicates the predominance of Buddhism in Tibet, Burma [ Myanmar ], Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and its practice from Ceylon [ Sri Lanka ] to Japan.
The antiquity of Buddhism is discussed. A statue of Buddha as a young man called Siddharta Guatama in gold looms large and impressive.
In the gardens of a contemporary Indian estate the early life story of Guatama is dramatised / re-enacted. Gautama strolls through his father's lush gardens, both father and son are wearing resplendant silks and turbans and they are talking as they walk. A hindu Brahmin priest appears and sits cross-legged on the grass next to Gautama as his father leaves and begins to instruct Guatama on the subjects of "the transmigration of the soul" and "re-incarnation".
Indian people crowd throught the town waving red flags in an "elaborate Hindu ritual" typical of the pompousness which will ultimately lead Gautama to reject the Hindu religion. An old man crosses Gautama's path and he turns to watch him clearly troubled by this display of infirmity and old age. A sick man sits by the side of the road. Four people carry a corpse by. An ascetic monk sits in contemplation.
Gautama is seen now leaving his home town along a dirtroad, perhaps at sunrise, and the narrator explains how his horror and sadness for the previous events had made him want to leave. Gautama wanders across bleak rural Indian landscapes with his five ascetic companions.
A statue of an ascetic monk looking tired and worn represents Gautama's disappointment with his life as a wandering monk and we hear direct quotes from the Buddha.
Gautama sits beneath the Bodhi tree meditating shortly before his enlightenment.
A statue representing Gautama as a worldly man before his enlightenment. Another figure shows the Buddha "serene and blissfull" having attained Nirvana.
Long shots of the park where Buddha gave his first sermon after reaching his blissfull state of wisdom. Buddha sits in the park with several disciples at his feet hearing him expound the Buddhist doctrines of the Four Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
An orange-robed monk reads aloud to young disciples on the steps of the temple.
A female Thai teacher writes on the blackboard to illustrate the principle of "right speech" and her pupils open their books in synchrony suggesting "right conduct". Thai farmers in straw hats work in the fields to show "right livelihood". "right effort" is depicted as a gang of workers digging a hole for some city construction. Two older Thai women show "right mindfulness" or "concentration" in prayer. The young disciples on the steps of the temple at the monk's feet serve to illustrate the eighth part of the noble path, "contemplation".
The Wheel of Dharma or Law carved in stone is shown in close-up on the side of a temple. King Ashoka's statue visually introduces us to the missionary activity of Buddhism from 200BC to 600AD. The map traces the Eastward movement of the religion from India to Burma [now Myanmar]; Northwards to Tibet; Westward "as far as Greece"; and South towards Ceylon [now Sri Lanka].
The trade routes between India and China are also indicated on the map as is te flow of Buddhist influence from China out to Tibet, Korea, Indo-China, Mongolia and Japan.
A Hinayana monk talks to a layperson in the street while this 'lesser' or 'smaller' vehicle of Buddhism [the literal meaning of the term 'Hinayana'] is introduced into the narrative. A Tibetan temple front introduces Mahayana [the 'greater vehicle' of ] Buddhism or Lamaism and the monks or Lamas are busy spinning prayer-wheels.
Rare anthropological footage of a war-dance performed by the Lamas wearing terrifying masks and elaborate costumes reckoned to frighten-off "evil spirits". Actually quite a comical dance!
The sect of Mahayana Buddhism known as Zen is introduced by the narrator as we see a Japanese monk performing the sacred Japanese tea-ceremony.
A Japanese sand garden has three stone markers. A monk sits quietly nearby contemplating them. Sunset-red pagodas and Thai landscapes fade out.
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