Queen Vaideihi Shadow Puppet Play


Grade Level: 6, 8, High School, Young Adult, Adult

Keywords: Pure Land Buddhism


  • After this lesson, the student will understand the story behind the Meditation Sutra


  • Stage (alt. a rear projection screen)
    • Butcher paper (8 feet x 3 feet)
    • Tape
    • 2x 5 feet long PVC piping
  • Script: Queen Vaideihi Play
  • Pens
  • Projector capable of "flipping" the picture for rear projection
  • Chopsticks (ten or so, depending on use)
  • Black heavy stock paper
  • Scissors
  • Brads (to make articulated limbs)
  • Powerpoint presentation of the scenary
  • Laptop


This is at least a 4 day lesson: 1 to start and design the puppet 2. to finish the puppets, 3. to rehearse

and 4 to present.

  • If desired and if needed, create the "screen" by:
    1. Putting down a large 8x3 ft table on its side. (table top toward audience)
    2. Taping the PVC pipes vertically to the table legs
    3. Tape the butcher paper across the pipes
  • Setup the projector for rear projection
  • Connect the laptop to the projector.
  • Bring up the powerpoint presentation on the laptop


  1. Opening Gassho,
  2. Introduce or Review (verbally) the Meditation Sutra
    1. One of the 3 Pure Land Sutras
    2. Unlike the others it tells a story with Shakamuni Buddha in it.
    3. It has a section where the Shakamuni Buddha talks of images of the Pure Land to comtemplate which will bring about Enlightenment. That is why sometimes this sutra is called the "Comtemplation Sutra"
  3. Show the San Jose Betsuin video (13 min)
  4. Explain the parts of the script. Assign parts (does not have to be the final assignments)
  5. Read the script.
  6. Have the students design and make the puppets. They may choose to articulate the arm or not.
    1. Assign to teams for each character.
    2. Use pencil to draw out the outlines.
    3. Cut out
    4. Put chopsticks on the bottom so they can be moved. Use tape to put them on well.
    5. The key is that the students design the puppets although to save time (especially for the younger grades, they may already be outlined. )
  7. Rehearse.
    1. You need at least 3 puppeteers and one person to control the powerpoint
    2. Practice a scene at a time.
  8. Invite other grades/parents to a presentation
  9. Present.
    1. This may be recorded.
  10. Review
    1. Ask the students what they liked, what they learned. This maybe done at the beginning of the next section.


  • Review.


It is possible to record the whole thing in order to present it to a larger group. This presentation will only work for about 16 people in the audience as the screen is small.


Mas Nishimura nish221.at.gmail.com, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 2014

Unable to find the Queen Vaideihi Play file to upload.