Buddhist teachings to be translated to videos

Instead of reading scriptures or going to temples to hear monks, Thais will soon be able to buy a video CD series aimed at spreading the Buddha's teachings to the masses. Monks, Buddhism experts and a Thai businessman are teaming up to produce a 250-part video series in an effort to sustain Thailand's spirit of Buddhism, the religion of 90 percent of the country's 65 million people.

Materialism has largely pushed aside religion in rapidly modernizing Thailand, and many look to Buddhism only for luck. "I've been to the countryside and seen abandoned temples. There were no monks," said real estate developer Sanan Sukdi, who plans to produce the videos on the Tripitaka, or Buddhist teachings.

"I was thinking of ways to help people understand Buddhism, and how to maintain religion in Thai society," he said. The project will cost 97 million baht (US$2.5 million; Ђ2 million), and the Thai-language video CDs will sell for 200 baht (US$5, Ђ4) each.

An English-language edition may be issued later, said Phra Rachamethaphon, acting rector of Mahamakut Buddhist University. "We will translate text scripts into moving pictures to encourage people to practice Buddhist teachings," he said.

Monks will spend about three months translating the Tripitaka from Pali, the now-obscure language in which it was written, into vernacular Thai. "We want to make that which is deemed difficult easy and accessible to Buddhists," he said.

The video series will summarize the Tripitaka's 45 books, which have 48,000 sections explaining the Buddha's teachings. The idea was proposed this year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Production is scheduled to start before the king's 79th birthday in December and take 48 months. Buddhism teaches compassion for all beings, and achieving inner peace through detachment from desires, reports the AP. N.U.