By Taj Nabi Khan
ISLAMABAD, Dec 5 (APP): The documentary film, “Gandhara: The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan”, featuring rich Buddhist heritage has showcased the Gandhara civilization that flourished between the 1st century CE to 7th century CE in different parts of the country.
The documentary sheds light on historical roots of Gandhara civilization and captures the entire landscape of historical sites with the help of drone camera.
It shows the lush green mountainous regions of the country and visible intact structures of Buddhsit historical heritage sites with panoramic scenes of high altitude mountain peaks of Pakistan.
The architectural and artistic stone works of Gandhara such as statues, stupas, monasteries, temples, houses, and the zigzag tracks leading to the historical sites of the remains make eye-catching view.
Gandhara, literally mean the land of fragrance, the name of the region included Peshawar valley, Buner, Bajaur, and hills of Swat valley — the northwestern areas of present-day Pakistan. It was this region which gave birth to one the glorious and ancient world religion — the Gandhara civilization.
Subsequently, the civilization has started spreading in all directions including Afghanistan and Potohar plateau in Punjab and Sindh.
The Gandhara civilization represents human development, knowledge, religion, art, and history as the modern city of Taxila was a famous center of learning for art, architecture, medicine, and religion.
Similarly, according to archeologists, the city was a home to the world’s oldest recognized universities as thousands of students used to come here for education from Greece, China, Sri Lanka, Syria, and other parts of the world to study philosophy, politics, music, dance, mathematics, commerce, law, art of hunting, archery, elephant lore, and warfare, etc.
The film was screened at Temple Trees on November 16 as a follow up on bilateral discussions between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It was jointly produced by the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka and Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited in collaboration with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs of Srilanka was launched in Sri Lanka on visual journey of the Gandhara Buddhist heritage sites of Pakistan.
The documentary also focuses on rich historical collection of Buddhist remains discovered from different parts of the country. The artistic work of stone crafting, relics, utensils, and other artifacts take the onlookers on a centuries old long visual journey to recapture the lifestyle of the civilization from the past. The civilization has left indelible on the historical landscape of the world history.
The documentary was launched at the Temple Trees (Prime Minister’s office) by His Excellency, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the presence of Venerable Buddhist monks, honorable Speaker of Srilankan Parliament, Cabinet and State Ministers, MPs, ambassadors of Buddhist countries, as well as business, tourism and media fraternity of Sri Lanka.
One of the Tooth Relics of the Lord Buddha, discovered from the Gandhara region was preserved in Taxila Museum. It is the region where the Gandhara Buddhist civilization reached its pinnacle of glory from 1st century AD to the 7th century AD.
The first anthropomorphic statue of Lord Buddha was created in the region now called Pakistan. Also known for one of the world’s oldest Buddhist University, Thakshashila, Taxila in Pakistan is home to some of the most sacred Buddhist artifacts found during archeological excavations around the 12th century.
The remains of the world’s largest Buddhist monastery exist in Takht-e-Bahi Mardan — it was a complex of buildings consisted of assembly halls, dining areas, and a courtyard and double-storied Buddhist living quarters. It also contained a portion of a temple with a number of stupas, a courtyard, and living cells.
In order to present this heritage to the Buddhist world in general and Sri Lanka in particular, the idea was conceived. The documentary will open up new avenues in religious tourism as well as strengthening cultural and people to people ties between the brotherly countries of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan, both local and foreign technicians including Director, Mateen Saherai and Production Controller Sajjad Mohommad (Gateway To Production, England) from England have contributed to the documentary.
The documentary is based on a screenplay that explores the historical ruins and artifacts captured in a realistic way while also exploring background historical information.
Ven. Agrahera Kassapa Thero is the Senior Adviser to the entire project. The concept and script has been prepared by the Project Consultant Director, Vidyajothi Prof. Nimal Silva.
The film is co-produced by Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited, known for producing, marketing, distribution and exhibition of international films. The sound and movie editing is done by local Srilankan artists.
According to a presser received to APP from the High Commission of Pakistan, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Ms. Kaushalya Wickramasinghe, the Chairperson of Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited said that the film is expected to be screened in local cinemas as well as on local TV channels and abroad in collaboration with international organizations.
The Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan, Mr. Tanvir Ahmad Bhatti said that “Gandhara” was conceptualized with the aim to bring people of Sri Lanka and Pakistan closer through their shared history and heritage.
Director Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Dr. Ghani-ur-Rahman told the news agency, “The Ghandara Civilization, particularly the Buddhist statue has been influenced by the Greek Civilization as it has followed the face of Greek’s Apollo god.
He said it was claimed that the Greek-turned Buddhists have introduced the sculpture-making arts and the statue of Gautama Buddha in Buddhism. This influence was more visible due to the fact that the Buddhist sculptors and the artists have learnt a great deal of new techniques and skills from the Greeks, he added.