Borobudur, Pathway to Enlightenment


Part of PBS’ Treasures of the World series this is an excellent documentary on the rediscovery of Borobudur, its meaning and the various preservation efforts that have been made since it was retrieved from the jungle in the early 19th century.

Borobudur was built in the 9th century during the Śailendra period, a Malay dynasty that ruled from Sumatra, but the workers and craftsmen, of course, were Javanese inspired by their Indian predecessors.

The monument is a 3-dimensional maṇḍala belonging to the Tantric tradition, which leads the devotee through the various levels of existence up and to the freedom encountered on its topmost storey.

Along the way there are lessons in kamma, the protective gods, the Bodhisattva’s quest, his last life and Awakening, and his future disciples’ own quest for ultimate release.

The film includes many of the scenes found on the monument and some descriptions of what they represent, and some very old archive photographs also, all of which are worth seeing.

The film concludes with a look at the huge international effort that went into the most recent restoration which took a total of eight years, as a million stones were disassembled, renovated and then reassembled.

The Borobudur part of this film starts half way through the embedded video; the first half is a really interesting look at the building of the Taj Mahal, so if that interests you start the film from the beginning.


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