The story of China’s invasion of Tibet is full of much pain and sorrow. Thousands of monasteries were destroyed, sacred texts were burned and monks were imprisoned during China’s Cultural Revolution. But “Ganden: A Joyful Land” intimately accentuates the beauty and light that came before, when the original Ganden monastery was still intact, and after, when the communities were rebuilt.
The documentary can be viewed on KQED’s World Channel as an episode of Doc World.
The documentary begins with a look inside life at Ganden, starring gorgeous landscapes and vibrant colors. Then, the very emotional history of the monastery is told by the resident monks who recall the joy and protection that Ganden brought them, and how the destruction of it hurt them. Even in the grainy, black-and-white historical footage, the vibrant way of life at Ganden is visible, emphasizing the long history of the monastery.
My main takeaway of “Ganden: A Joyful Land” was how beautiful it was. The beauty of the monastery, the monks’ traditions, their resilience and community. What especially struck me was their alternative to hate and revenge. Geshe Tenzin Jamphel said, “[I] don’t pray for Chinese leaders to die. But I do pray their good hearts come in and their bad hearts go away.” The wise words of the monks made me question my own way of life and values, and feel gratitude towards all of the good things in my life.
While “Ganden: A Joyful Land” was a peaceful watch, it was also very emotional. I recommend the documentary because it allowed me to see a peek into the present-day lives of Tibetan monks, which contrasts the typical representations of them as being archaic and living only in the past. The documentary taught me their history and strife, while still appreciating the beauty of their lives.