Catching up with “The Second Buddha” of the Himalayas

Vijetha S.N
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Scholar from Nalanda University climbed many mountains to spread Buddhism

Scene from the documentary film “The Second Buddha” by Benoy K. Behl.
Scene from the documentary film “The Second Buddha” by Benoy K. Behl.

Around the Eighth Century, a scholar from Nalanda University climbed many mountains to spread the message of Buddhism. He travelled over 2,000 kilometres of inhospitable, high-altitude desert in regions where oxygen was scarce. He walked across the mountains that reach for the skies and even the passes he crossed were higher than 15,000 feet.

This man, Guru Padmasambhava, established Buddhism across the Himalayas and trans-Himalayas and soon came to be known as “The Second Buddha” and is now the subject of a documentary film by Benoy K. Behl.

“The film attempts to convey some of the drama and meaning of this great story,” says Dr. Behl, adding that the story was also about one of the most powerful personalities of world history. “Guru Padmasambhava with his magic and flamboyant masked dances dominated the Roof of the World completely in his time. The great guru not only crossed these lofty mountains and barren stretches of icy desert, he transformed the people across all these lands. Owing to him, the men and women here remain Buddhist till today.”

The film centres on a story about how the mountain people of Tibet refused to accept Buddhism and instead worshipped some “evil spirits” which they believed inhabited the mountain passes and the winds. The King then invited Guru Padmasambhava to his country. “The great guru danced the Buddhist Cham dance across all these lands, to scare away negative spirits and to purify the land for Buddhism to flourish. This monastic Cham dance is performed to this day right from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.”

The 25-minute film by Doordarshan, The Second Buddha , shot across the spectacular Himalayas and icy deserts of Ladakh and Spiti will be screened at Tibet House here this coming Sunday.



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