Recently some esoteric portions of Indian Imprints, an 18-episode documentary on Hinduism flourishing in Southeast Asia, were screened at the India International Centre, a rendezvous of art and culture cognoscenti in Delhi. Presently the documentary serial is aired by DD India and DD Bharati with DD National to soon follow telecasting it.
Hinduism has splurged on different soils than India with aplomb panache. The entire Southeast Asian archipelago bears testimony to this fact. Acclaimed filmmaker Dr S. Krishnaswamy et al spearheaded a mission to discover this trajectory of transmigration to alien strand and unravel these endemic mutant forms of Hinduism still flourishing there.
Krishnaswamy Associates Private Limited, KAPL gang embarked on filming at 100 locations in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam that abound with Hindu monuments and Hindu traditions are throbbing high. Their get going ran roughshod when they lost airline baggage including 600 kgs of professional accoutrement and yet didn'tlet go things slipshod. They stood perilous moments of reel-life drama as well when a 6.3 Richter tremor rocked them at Yogyakurta in Indonesia. It all happened during their filming tenure. ?I will never forget that experience. The spire of the famous temple (at Prambanan) was there on our lenses until the quake. Then we saw that its sides were damaged. The temple was closed and we were cut off for the next few days?, reminisces Gita Krishnaraj. Such were the travails and tribulations confronted by the KAPL team.
At the onset of the screening, the narrator glides you to Dieng in Indonesia flanked by volcanic plateaus, you envisage a huge crater belching smoke and amidst that rugged landscape, Krishnaswamy aptly calling it ?the cradle of life and religion?, has some of the earliest Hindu temples located here.
Revelations follow. The world'slargest Islamic nation Indonesia stages Ramayana ballet en troupe by 200 Muslim artistes or so. In Thailand, the royal head priest still chants Sanskrit slokas. The north gate of the Great Wall of China bears the longest and one of the oldest inscriptions in Sanskrit from the Lotus Sutra dating back to 256 BC. And to everyone'sknowledge, the largest temple complex exists at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The reverence expressed by non-Hindus towards Hindu tradition is awe rising. In Cambodia, none other than Her Royal Highness Princess Bhupha Devi herself takes onus to groom young dancers. The documentary is girdled by eruditions of Prof Lokesh Chandra, an authority in himself. We witness scintillating tapestry of Hinduism in multitudinous facets spanning across countries transcending the parochialism of caste, creed and religion. You run into an ancient Brahma temple right on a bustling street of Bangkok and find milling crowd making a beeline to offer their adjurations. You get to hear an interview with a former Malaysian PM himself a Muslim exhorting his Muslim countrymen to know the rich Hindu legacy and shun religious fanaticism. The episodes also highlight deplorable fallouts of atrocious American carpet-bombing of the World Heritage Site of My Son, Vietnam that razed down around 50 of the 70 Hindu temples that had prevailed for more than a thousand years.
?In my travels and in our research we found the predominant influence is Tamil, of the Pallava and Chola kingdoms, the Alwars and Nayanars, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata?, opines Dr S. Krishnaswamy. He laments, ?Not a single travelogue exists for many of these places, in entire world. Except for the pioneering work of a few Indian historians, India has not paid adequate attention to exploring the glorious relationship between India and the rest of Asia? an intimate bond of over two millennia.?
The filmmaker, Dr S. Krishnaswamy, in verity Indian impresario has for more than four decades assiduously and relentlessly pursued his avowed interest to uphold India'sheritage onto the world. He espouses gonzo journalism and instead wants to unravel the true soul of India. Mr I.K. Gujral the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting heaped kudos on him: ?After seeing his film (an earlier one), I feel prouder to be an Indian. We need ambassadors like Krishnaswamy who can tell the world what India is, and what a rich heritage we have.? Similar interjection came from Nobel Laureate Elia Kazan for one of his earlier films: ?Your film awakened me to India. I was acquainted with many of the cold facts you touch on. But your film gave them the heat of life.? And quite so, umpteen national and international awards flowed on Dr S. Krishnaswamy.
The discerning audience at the screening had likes of Indian ambassadors to these countries, art and culture aficionado Karan Singh, all gaga over pecking a peek into these stashed Hindu legacies. This riveting documentary is a veritable tour-de-force bound to prove a delectable platter to all and sundry cutting across lines.
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