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Buddhism, Art  & Bollywood in India

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya
lotus-flower-offering-bodhgayaSome pictures of Bodhgaya, the holy place where Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, around 600 years B.C., marked by the beautiful Mahabodhi Temple complex. Offerings such as lotus flowers and gold leafs can be found in front of the entrance.

Behind this Mahabodhi Temple you can find the Bodhi tree, where Prince Siddhartha meditated to attain enlightenment. After he reached this highest state of consciousness he was called ‘Buddha’, meaning ‘The Enlightened One’.

In fact the tree that you’ll see nowadays is not the original one but grew out of an offspring of the original Bodhi tree.

The beautiful mother and daughter (picture left) I met in a small village, where they were fetching jugs of water from the water pump.

Geshe Lharampa Ceremony
I have been sponsoring a Tibetan Buddhist monk (the monk in the yellow hat in the picture in the center) for many years in his life support. In 2008 I was invited to attend his ceremony of ‘Geshe Lharampa’ -which is like a doctor’s degree in Buddhist philosophy in the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism – in the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Mundgod, in the southern state of Karnataka. It was the very first time we met each other and it was a very special meeting.

india-drepung-loseling-monasteryThe ceremony lasted for several days and the picture in the center shows part of the ceremony where the debate on Buddhist philosophy is taking place.

In front of the monastery this painting of the 8 Auspicious Symbols (drawn on the pavement with colored powder or pigments), to welcome the Dalai Lama when he opened this new temple hall within the complex.

Later on, in 2009 and 2014, I was asked to create the Tibetan symbols to welcome the Dalai Lama in The Netherlands.

After the week of ceremonies some of the monks joined me to Goa, where we had a lovely day in the sun all together, drinking (alcohol free) coctails in bamboo huts, playing football on the beach and enjoying the clear water, before the monks returned back to their monastery.

Monkeys & Elephants
In Varanasi the monkeys came onto the balcony where you can feed them. You have to watch out a little because they can be very cheeky and come in and snatch the whole bag of nuts out of your hands.

The center picture shows a couple of Tibetan thangka painters in Mundgod showing me their wonderful artwork.

And on the outside wall of a house in Mumbai (Bombay) I found a beautiful painting of a man riding an elephant.

Meeting the Dalai Lama
This picture of the The 14th Dalai Lama I took om my very first trip to India in 1998. It was taken in the Dalai Lama’s Namgyal monastery in Dharamsala – his current home where he fled to since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950’s.
To the Tibetans, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is seen as an emanation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara), the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Dalai Lama’s teachings after Losar
When I went back ten years later I also attended his teachings that he offers every year after Losar, Tibetan New Year.
Later on I had the chance to briefly meet the Dalai Lama in person, something I was very grateful for.

The picture in the center with Gandhi’s quote ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, was taken in Mumbai (Bombay), is something they can still learn a lot from in India today…

An extra in a Bollywood movie
As I’ve been in acting for a long time, I was super thrilled to be able to be an extra in a Bollywood Movie in Mumbai!
The gave me a beautiful sari to wear and the film set was an exclusive nightclub. There were about 100 Indian extras plus a handful of westerners. Our task was to dance to the Bollywood songs, behind the main stars (all famous soap opera actors that I didn’t know of course).
The movie is called ‘Bhanvraa’ (Honey Bee), and is directed by Dharmesh Dharshan, who’s a well known director in India.

Such great experience!

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