A film on the essence of Hinduism was screened at Akshara Theatre

In the process of drawing criticism from various quarters, the essence of Hinduism has been lost. It has, in fact, assumed negative overtones in the minds of the younger generation. In order to quell “the misconceptions associated with Hinduism”, the monks of Kauai's Hindu Monastery at Kapaa (Hawaii) decided to spread the concepts of the religion through the medium of a film. Named What is Hinduism: God, Soul & World, the film is directed by Ajay Shetty and Anasuya Vaidya and is based on the third chapter of the book “What is Hinduism”, written by the monks of the monastery.

The 27-minute film was screened at Akshara Theatre in New Delhi recently in the presence of Satguru Shri Bodhinath Vailanswamiji Maharaj and Paramacharya Palaniswamiji of Kauai along with the film's cast and crew. To welcome the monks from Hawaii, the screening was preceded by the chanting of verses from the Ishavasya Upanishad and an enactment of a scene from Ramayana by a group of children.

With Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran as the narrator, the film begins by posing questions of existence that are integral to Hinduism. It touches upon the concepts of maya, moksha, mukti and the existence of God. It further explains the four different sects within the religion – Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smritism.

The highlight of the film, however, is the dramatised “meeting of minds” between Lalleshwari (Jalabala Vaidya), Kabir (Gopal Sharman), Mirabai (Nisa Shetty) and Ramprasad Sen (Jayadevan Nair), who discuss the different interpretations of liberation. Strung artfully with voice-overs, graphics, chanting of slokas, shots of Hindu temples and narration, the film is successful in simplifying the complex ideas of Hinduism.

Discussing the film post- creening, Satguru Shri Bodhinath said, “The film shows the diversity of the religion as it allows us to choose that part which highlights our needs.”

Paramacharya, citing the reason behind the film, said, “The idea evolved from YouTube. I realised that we needed to speak to the youth about Hinduism through a friendly medium as most would not read the book.” The monk, who is the Editor-in- Chief of the magazine “Hinduism Today”, also praised the directors for “giving a voice to the book.”

Both Ajay and Anasuya have been asked to work on the remaining of the series as well. Narrating their experience, the directors said, “It was quite scary to interpret the concepts and thoughts of the book and make a film out of it.It was a challenge to retain the essence of the book within those 27 minutes.”

Talking about the genre of the film, they said, “It is a blend of different genres as it caters to all kinds of people. So there are elements of documentary, drama, one-to-one narrative as well as infotainment.”

The film, sponsored by an NRI, would be screened both in India and abroad “to spread the true essence of Hinduism.”

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