I found Kumare to be a surprisingly sweet and gentle, albeit extremely controversial, documentary; which was conceived and directed by, Vikram Gandhi, a New Jersey-born American of East Indian decent. It was beautifully filmed with excellent audio. The documentary follows Gandhi as he playfully dresses up as an Indian Guru and watches the response he gets in India and in the U.S. Then he decided to see if his alter ego as an Indian Guru, could get a following. So he went to Phoenix where he knew no one and started his own “teachings” as the Indian Guru, Kumare. His teachings consisted of made-up chants, fake “yogic” postures and a blue light meditation which he created himself. He also spoke in an Indian accent, dressed in robes, wore his hair long and behaved in a way that made people think he was not familiar with western culture.
Brought up in a Hindu family that clung to their religious rituals and beliefs, Gandhi is a bit rebellious regarding Hindu religion and spiritual practices in general. His endeavor to expose the whole Guru experience through this documentary experiment may seem quite sacrilegious, but it is cloaked in the sweet nostalgia of a loving childhood upbringing filled with sweet memories of his family’s culture.
In the film, Kumare is continually interjecting into his spiritual lessons that he his a fraud and that his students don’t need him as a guru. He would say that a guru is no more closer to God than we are. He even had his classes use a vision board to show themselves never really needing a guru. He gave his students an exercise to pretend that they were Kumare, and Kumare played the role of the student. In the exercise, they lecture Kumare on what they themselves need to do to improve their lives. Kumare was teaching them self-empowerment, which I believe, is the greatest spiritual teaching.
The film turned out to be much more loving than a documentary whose goal it was to show how easily fooled people can be about gurus. The message of self-empowerment was sweetly delivered. Highly recommended. See the trailer at the Kumare official movie website.
Read Jean Jessup’s full review