Angulimala

Angulimala

I do not usually watch movies, and I only very rarely post them here, but this is a very fine retelling of the traditional Angulimāla story.

It has occurred to me many times that the Buddhist tradition is full of great stories that would convert well into modern media, but so far very little has been done in this regard.

This film, which has English subtitles, was made in Thailand in 2003, and it is as dark and foreboding as its central character, who is born Ahimsaka (meaning: Non-Violent), but turns into Angulimāla (Finger-Necklace, from the necklace he makes of his victims fingers).

How he makes that transition is interesting indeed, as he wishes at first to prevent bandits from hurting themselves (and others) any further, by killing them. Later he starts killing anybody, simply to relieve them of their suffering in this world.

He is led astray in this through his high levels of meditative achievement, unmatched with insight, which put him in touch with the God of the Mountain, who is really a Māra in disguise – and we should always remember that Māra Devaputta is one of the highest gods in the sense-spheres (Kāmaloka).

While about to kill his own Mother to fulfil his vow to kill 1,000 people (and attain the Dhamma-core), the Buddha appears in a blazing light, and converts him by showing him how to really end suffering.

Angulimāla gains right view and ordains, but he is followed by the remembrance of his deeds, and even as a monk the people attack and stone him when he tries to enter the village for alms.

The film is something of a psychological thriller, something of a horror story, but the interesting thing is that it is all told from a Buddhist perspective, and we understand in the end that, despite his background, even he can attain Awakening.

 

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