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Film Preview - In Search Of Bahubali

Press Release


After 6-weeks of R & D and location filming “JAIN ENLIGHTENMENT – A Way of Life” (over 90 hrs of film footage) from the festival of Diwali in November to mid-December 2005, a second three weeks trip was required to film the Mahamasthakabhisheka celebrations (over 20 hrs of film),  in Shravanbelgola, State of Karnataka, during February 8-11  2006. 


Unfortunately, film footage from Kirit Mehta, ASAATHA TV and Kamal Kumar Barjatiya, Rajshree Pictures, dated back to 1993 and 1980s, so to do justice to the first project: “In Search of Lord Bahubali,” the Jain Enlightenment crew flew to India to record their own spectacular film footage.  


Returning to New York, the target is to raise funds for the final professional editing with special effects, and produce a 56 min film for US and worldwide TV, to premiere during Mahavir Jayanti in April.  A short edit of 3 minutes can be reviewed on the website: www.jain-enlightenment.org.  It offers a direct appeal to Jains in America and worldwide to invest (estimated editing budget $25,000) and be part of educating North and South America and EU about Jain Dharma.  Contact and Donate to Jain Enlightenment, C/o Filmmaker Vinanti Sarkar, 425 East 51st Street, Suite 7E, New York, NY 10022, USA.  Tel/Fax: 212-759-4568.  Email: culturaldiversityfilms@msn.com.


Ondine Verges' Yatra


On day three of the Mahamasthakabhisheka, atop the Vindhyagiri hill, a special visitor, 18-years-old French actress Ondine Verges caught the attention of thousands of devotees, and became the object of many curious eyes, especially as she braved the blazing heat of the sun and participated in the religious ritual ceremony.   She spent over four hours, in the scorching sun, at times, under straw mats, without drinking water but mesmerized with everything and everyone around her.   


Surrounded by the global media, she confessed: "This fascinating trip to Shravanbelgola, via Paris to Mumbai/Bangalore, was at the invitation by New York filmmaker Vinanti Sarkar, director/producer of the JAIN ENLIGHTENMENT film/TV series.  Knowing English, French and Spanish, I was invited to host and anchor the first film on Lord Bahubali, which will be produced in the popular “Reality TV" programming format for U.S. and worldwide television networks.


 Ondine has acted in number of French independent films, docu-dramas and children's movies. She is known for her acting in "Faux Amis", a French movie, which narrates the story of how keeping bad companions can totally spoil the lives of young teenagers.  


“People in West know only about the Statue of Liberty in New York.  I will explain to them, the incredible story of Bahubali, performed in colorful charm by exquisite young children dancers from the ages of 5-15.  Why should only the people in India know and learn about this great sage of true penance and the first man to attained moksha. I have heard of "Nirvana" which is in tune with moksha.  There are so many lessons to be learned by viewers in West through the times and life of Lord Bahubali,'' she added.

"This is my fourth visit to India, but this is my very first trip to Shravanbelgola.  I am sure, I will come back to this pilgrim village, though today, it looks like a small town now with all these thousands and thousands of pilgrims.  I plan to return in the next 12 years, which dates 2018,” she added, smiling to herself, “with my husband and children, I suppose. Twelve years is a long time !”


“I am here to know more about the ancient Jain culture and philosophy, while exploring this festival – celebrated once every 12 years.  I am sure, this Mahamasthakabhisheka will remain a life time memory for me,'' Ondine Verges, told media journalists (Times of India, Indian Express, Jain Samachar, etc.).  She interviewed young Jains of her own age and talked with writers and scholars, in order to understand in more detail what was really happening.


“This film will celebrate the story of Lord Bahubali who propagates a life of penance, non violence, peace and brotherhood.  There is so much we can teach the world about Jain Dharma.  For me, understanding the significance of this ritual became important.  What I learned was that this granite stone sculpture symbolizes renunciation, self-control and subjugation of the ego as the first steps towards spiritual salvation.  Bahubali’s life is a testimony that non violence and renunciation hold the key to peace and prosperity in today’s world.”


Invited to accompany the priests and devotees, Ondine climbed the special wooden scaffolding behind the giant sculpture, where she was transformed to become one pot holder and anointed the statue with water.  She was explained the religious significance of the 108 jal kalasha (pots) being poured on Bahubali by devotees from around the world. 


"First, I stood high above the sea of humanity, stunned at the rapture and excitement as I became part of the riot of colors and exoticism associated with this religious ceremony that held me spellbound.  I watched the cascading of milk, sugarcane juice, tender coconut water, rice flower acting like mist, herbs, turmeric, sandal paste, saffron, vermilion and different varieties of ashwagandha, precious stones and 52 assortment of flowers from around the world.”



“Next, I found myself standing below - at the feet of the spectacular ever-changing colors of the 58 ft tall monolithic grey colored granite statue of Lord Bahubali.  It was a breathless experience admiring the anointing ceremony of the 1,024 years-old statue being bathed by devotees, as his body was enveloped and transformed into dazzling snowy white (milk/coconut and rice flower), to golden-yellow, sandalwood mahogany and bleeding red (saffron), whose benign smile seemed appreciative of the event.”


“It was a magnificent sight, as I stood belittled in front of the world's tallest ‘monk on the hill.’  Someone explained that the statue was erected in the Kayotsarga pose, arms dangling free and I became fascinated by his changing benign look and smile.”  Later, Odine learned that over 1,000 litres of milk, 3,000 litres of water, 250 kilograms of turmeric and sandal wood were used to keep the enchantment of changing colors, much to the awe of the world media that had gathered to document the proceedings, nearly 200 strong !


“I was repeatedly told ‘Bahubali’s image signifies the teachings of Ahimsa as the solution for all ills in this world.’   As we looked around, I was shown devotees cutting across different religious beliefs and sects: Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. who felt blessed at the feet of Lord Bahubali, transforming the ceremony into a great unifier.  The rite of the sacred bath occupies an important place in Hindu religious practice, as it does in Buddhist and Jain dharma


Bahubali’s nude form represents complete victory over earthly desire that hampers one’s spiritual ascent towards the divine.  His life is a testimony that non violence and renunciation hold the key to peace and prosperity in today’s world.”

“A young Jain I befriended explained that the festivity represented the “awakening vision” which encourages faith and motivates efforts to emulate Jains in the hope of achieving similar omniscience, purity and bliss. This in turn awakens a deep longing for true insight and knowledge.”

One gentleman explained: It is a very important step to overcoming passions, such as desire, hatred, pride, anger and greed – they all stem from partial one-sided understanding of things presumed to be the whole truth.  How many times have we embarrassingly realized the inappropriateness of our anger, jealousy, pride, or greed when we came to see the "full picture"?

Another woman emphasized: Greed for money vanishes when it is understood that money can’t buy health, friends or happiness.  Excessive pride gives way to humility when we come to appreciate the wonderful qualities and accomplishments of others.  Anger and hatred disappear when we realize that other objects, situations, or persons are no threat to us. To the extent that we appreciate that the knowledge from which the destructive passions arise is partial, we are encouraged to restrain ourselves until our understanding increases.

Miraculously enough, she was bestowed with blessing from Charukeerthi Munimaharaj, and they had a few moments discussing the religious rituals, which  fascinated the young actress.  Speaking to media journalists around them, Swamiji said, "People from the film industry have always been far from this event.  There is no restriction for anyone who wishes to visit VindhyaGiri for Mahamasthakabhisheka.  We are happy that foreign participation which increased with over 500 foreign journalists, NRIs and movie and television actors. The event is indeed gaining international attention rapidly. 


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