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Showcasing ancient Buddhist monasteries and art

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Benoy K. Behl
Benoy K. Behl

Madhur Tankha

Photo exhibition by art historian opens this Monday

NEW DELHI: A month-long photo exhibition of noted art historian and film-maker Benoy K. Behl presenting a comprehensive depiction of the original chain of Buddhist monasteries opens at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts here this coming Monday.

“The Monasteries of Rinchen Zangpo: In India and Tibet” places the monasteries in their true perspective and shows the roots of this form of Buddhism and its art. It will be inaugurated by Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.

Representing many years of Mr. Behl’s work of research and documentation across Ladakh, Spiti, Kinnaur and Tibet, the exhibition offers another look at Indian history. According to Mr. Behl, besides the great monasteries of Eastern India, Kashmir was the centre of Buddhism from which this religious culture and art were originally derived. “It is, in fact, Kashmiri artists who were invited to make, paint and sculpt the original chain of 108 monasteries initiated by Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055).”

The exhibition presents 80 photographs taken by Mr. Behl over the past 16 years.

Rinchen Zangpo, who became famous as “Lhotsawa -- The Great Translator”, supervised the construction of many monasteries and temples, which became exquisite and brilliant jewels of the faith, set in the midst of the vast spaces of the trans-Himalayan desert.

The second diffusion of Buddhism in the trans-Himalayas, which was begun by King Yeshe ‘Od and Rinchen Zangpo, was a new dawn of the faith.

The light of knowledge that they brought was to continue forever in these vast regions. The legendary 108 monasteries made at this time became the backbone of the revival of Buddhism. These monasteries had wall paintings and sculptures made inside them by Kashmiri artists. Mr. Behl’s film, “The Oneness of Creation (Cosmopolitan Culture of Ancient India)”, will be screened at India Habitat Centre this Sunday.

In fact, IHC is going to screen one film by Mr. Behl every month at Gulmohar Hall over the next 26 months.

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