Zen Katha - a play by Partap SharmaZen Katha (2004) is the story of Bodhidharma, founder of Zen and the martial arts. Revered in China, Okinawa and Japan, the Indian monk Bodhidharma was, until the writing, performance and publication of this play, almost forgotten in his homeland, India.
Zen Katha tells the story of how Bodhidharma, born a prince in South India in the fifth century, had to discover ways to excel at unarmed combat because the royal Pallavas prided themselves on their wrestling skills. The prince became a monk and travelled to China. There, his strange behaviour let to various piquant situations. He became not only the Founding Patriarch of Zen but also the first peaceful fighting monk. As Chief Abbot of the Monastery of Shaolin, he initiated the tradition that now makes it unique.
Zen Katha (play)The play was first produced by the Primetime Theatre Company and directed by Lillete Dubey. It opened on 15 August 2004 at the Sophia Bhabha Hall, Mumbai. Subsequently, the production travelled to other cities including Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Dubai, Singapore and Hongkong.
Partap spent 9 years travelling in the footsteps of Bodhidharma, who had taught Zen and the martial arts, centuries ago, at the Chinese monastery of Shaolin-se. He became an enthusiast of Zen Buddhism and felt guided by the spirit of Bodhidharama over the years as he earned his black belt in karate.
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Reviews:"...brilliant playwright Partap Sharma. A prominent fan of his work was the prize-winning African writer, Wole Soyinka!"- Saeed Jaffrey, in An Actor's Journey.
"...a very considerable writer".- Walter Allen in The Listener.
...discovered his own voice. It is not the voice of Arthur Miller or John Osborne. It is Partap Sharma." - Alyque Padamsee in A Double Life.
"Once in a blue moon comes along a play that is so beautiful, so mesmerizing that it warrants a second look on the very next day. We saw Zen Katha twice in two days and felt enriched and uplifted both the times. It is certainly the best play of the year. Everything works perfectly." - Ruby Lilaowala in Afternoon Despatch and Courier, Mumbai.
"Zen Katha is a play that tells an extraordinary man's tale… culminating with his discovery of an alternative way of being." - Mumbai Theatre Guide.
"Zen-ith of beauty and simplicity." - Shana Maria Verghis, The Pioneer, Delhi.
"Sterling performances…..subtle humour. The dialogues are crisp and intertwined with Zen philosophy, like ' Empty the mind, but mind the empty' or ' See rest in motion and motion in rest." - Dr. P. V. Vaidyanathan, Life Positive.
"Fascinating story." - Mid-day, Mumbai.
"A memorable experience for viewers." - The Tribune, Chandigarh.
"Vibrant and dynamic. Breathtaking martial arts." - The Times of India.