Home > Cultural Informatics > Two Pilgrims - Paintings of Mrs. Elizabeth Sass Brunner and Elizabeth Brunner > Fairy Tales around "MY Beloved Elizabeth (Electronic Book)

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Elizabeth Brunner







Fairy Tales around

27th July 1996...

about the first exhibition of her mother's Buddhist paintings



Saturday, the 27th July 1996...  

You see in the hot season most of us would sleep on the veranda. So one morning the newspaper-walla (man) threw the newspaper on my bed as usual, and when I opened it, the news was that the ashes of Sariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana (names of two great Buddhist saints in the Pali language) were being brought to India to be installed in a newly constructed temple in ... Sanchi.  

            And all of a sudden the thought came to me that this is the time, I should open up my mother's paintings because she always kept her Buddha paintings closed up. I should go to that festival (when everybody from all parts of India and around the world would come) and exhibit mother's Buddha paintings.  

            So I went to Sanchi and many people saw mother's paintings in the exhibition.

            There the impact of Buddhism really caught up with me. I always had it ... But in Sanchi it became kind of real to me.  

            As usual I would walk all over the place to know where I was. So one late night, it was full moon, I came wandering through the tents (which had been pitched up for the guests). In one tent there was still a light. And there was an old lama sitting teaching a child monk. I was watching them through the open tent door.  

Elizabeth in the nineteen fifties

            When they seemed finished, the old lama went onto his knees to wish the child a safe journey and bid him farewell. It was done with such moving respect, it touched me very much. The child, no more than four perhaps, was special, but I don't know who he was. It was then taken by his escort, another lama, to Darjeeling or some place near there.

            The old lama saw me when they came out of the tent and blessed me. So all that atmosphere of the place inspired me very much and it remained with me life-long. And I also understood my mother much better. To face what is happening and let it happen.

            And when I was back in Delhi, something interesting happened. I felt like going to the Birla Temple, which has also a small Buddhist shrine in its temple. There the old lama was sitting performing prayers, the same one I had seen that night in Sanchi. And then I asked him via the temple warden whether I was allowed to paint him. He agreed. Luckily I had canvas and paints with me. So I painted him. I don't remember where that painting is. I must find it, I don't know ... " Elizabeth went silent over the puzzle where the painting of the old lama could be.


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Copyright Dagmar Barua 1997 Sass Brunner East West Trust, 75, Rabindra Nagar, New Delhi - 110 003