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Buddhism docu by Benoy K Behl wins at Madrid International Filmfest

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NEW DELHI: Indian Roots of Tibetan Buddhism by filmmaker and conservator Benoy K. Behl has won the Best Documentary Producer Award at the Madrid International Film Festival.

The film, produced by the External Publicity Division of the External Affairs Ministry, was in competition against around a 100 films from 50 countries.

An eminent art historian and filmmaker who began his career as a photographer, Behl has made 130 documentary films in the past but this is the first film that he has ever entered in an international film festival. The film has already won awards at the Bioscope Global Film Festival in Delhi where he won the Best Documentary Award and another in Noida where the film won the award of Best Script Writer. 

Behl’s films are regularly screened in universities and museums around the world. They have also been screened on Doordarshan’s National and DD Bharati channels.

Another film made by Behl Yoga: An Ancient Vision of Life was screened in 50 countries on 21 June, World Yoga Day. His photographic exhibitions on Yoga were also held by Embassies and High Commissions of India in 20 countries around the world.

The Indian Roots of Tibetan Buddhism traces its history from the vast universities of Eastern India, which had hundreds of teachers and students who came from across India and from the many countries of Asia and Buddhist philosophy. The greatest of these was at Nalanda. The scholars of Nalanda made outstanding contributions to numerous fields of study. The many acharyas or great masters at Nalanda, authored hundreds of treatise in various fields; on philosophy, metaphysics, psychology, logic, medicine, astrology, arts, literature and other subjects.  

The Dalai Lama said, “I really respect and appreciate, admire Christianity, Islam, different Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Judaism and so on. All these traditions have really brought immense benefit and hope to millions of people, in the last few thousand years, and still today and in the future also.” 

There was no written script in Tibet till the 7th century. The acceptance of the Buddhist faith entailed the understanding of subtle philosophic concepts and profound commentaries. This transfer of knowledge would not have been possible without translating and writing it down. A very sophisticated language and a script capable of preserving this knowledge had to be formulated. 

The Dalai Lama adds, “Tibetan script is very much a copy and very much similar to Sanskrit because it is based on one of the ancient Indian scripts.”

Once Buddhism reached Tibet, translations started. There was no vocabulary in Tibetan to translate Buddhist knowledge and traditions. New words were created. Therefore, eventually Sanskrit vocabulary or Sanskrit terminology and Tibetan terminology go exactly the same.

The films are shot extensively in Tibet, Kalmykia in European Russia, Ladakh, Spiti, Arunachal Pradesh, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Karnataka Behl is the director and the narrator of these films. 

Behl and assistant director Sujata Chatterji are just back in Delhi from US, Morocco and Spain. In California, they were shooting for their second epic documentary on Yoga. In Morocco, they were photographing cultural heritage monuments, as part of their vast project of documenting the spread of culture in the world during ancient and medical times.

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