Fake Guru. Real Lessons.

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Have you seen the documentary film Kumare yet?

For those of you who have, what did you think?

For those of you who haven’t, I highly recommend you check it out. I watched it last night and found it to be totally hilarious, poignant and very thought-provoking.

It’s the story of a young American-born man of Indian descent named Vikram Gandhi who decides, as a result of his own searching about spirituality and its teachers, to become a “guru” himself. With some clever disguises and a few helpers, he becomes “Kumare” and succeeds in gathering a small devoted following. He teaches some bogus yoga moves and mantras but also, along the way, manages to impart some real wisdom about the power of the mind, the illusion of the body/identity and the importance of recognizing one’s own personal power.

In the beginning of watching it, I grinned a lot, giggled and guffawed a few times. I even felt a little embarrassed to be a part of the Western yoga culture too. But as it went on, I became more and more entranced watching Kumare, listening to his often nonsensical words and then observing passion with which his disciples spoke about his authenticity, his teachings, his supernatural presence and on and on. Pretty wild.

One thing I found so fascinating about this film was how Vikram, the director and protagonist, underwent a real transformation himself in this process of becoming Kumare. You could tell how he actually became quite connected to these people. When he leaves his followers and tries to return to his life as a non-guru, it’s clear how purposeless and angsty he feels.

On some level we can view what he did as exploitative or whatever, but that’s not really how it came across to me. His followers, some of whom stayed in contact with him even after he “unveiled” his true identity, actually did benefit from his teachings. Kumare never claims to be anything he’s not. Repeatedly in his discourses with his students he says things along the lines of, “You don’t need me, I am not the real teacher, you have the wisdom within yourself.”

There was a lot of truth in what he shared despite his false get-up. This movie really demonstrates, in a dramatic way, that people will believe whatever they really want to believe, no matter how ungrounded in “truth” or reality it might be. Whatever we subscribe power and meaning to, we will find power and meaning there.

Anyways, I would love to hear what you think about all this.

Also, for a little more on the subject, watch the filmmaker’s interview with Stephen Colbert.

Love and Blessings,

Frances

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6 thoughts on “Fake Guru. Real Lessons.

  1. The students make the guru and this is why the relationship worked fake or not he taught, they got something out of it and it worked. In the guru and student relationship it worked. What I found interesting is how Vikram felt throughout the video. The students were open to learning and he taught them things no matter how absurd but it was what he went through is what I found interesting how he started to believe it. Kind of like Bernie Madoff and how he believed his own lies also, same kind of thing.

    • Totally. That’s an interesting analogy Brad. I too was fascinated by watching Vikram’s progression of emotions throughout the film. He started out as a cynic, a joker, but he obviously changed during the process of being Kumare….he fooled himself too.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      F

  2. The people that walked out of the room after he exposed he was a fake devastated those women . Betrayal probably the worst emotional pain a person can suffer, It will be very difficult for her to trust people for a long time or forever. it really bothers me how people get humor out of this movie . Is this what western society has come, getting laughs at whatever the cost. There has been many phoney profits in all religions and there will always be driven by money or ego just like the actor producer of Kumare. What also is very appalling there were yoga teachers involved. Very wrong.

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