Awake: The Life of Yogananda
Title and year:
Awake: The Life of Yogananda (2014)
Narrator: Anupam Kher
Actors: Debdas Roy (infant Mukunda); Rohit Kar (boy Mukunda); Sovan Jana (teenage Mukunda); Supriyo Dutta (adult Yogananda); Sucharita Das (Yogananda’s mother); Tanmoy Kormocar (Lahiri Mahasaya); Dilip Ghosh (Sri Yukteswar)
Also featuring: Deepak Chopra, George Harrison, Krishna Das, Russell Simmons, Swami Kriyananda and many more, as themselves; accompanied by interviews on the effects of meditation on our functioning.
Producers: Paola di Florio, Lisa Leeman, Peter Raider
“AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda” is a hagiography (a biography of a saint or venerated person), in the form of a documentary about Paramahansa Yogananda (5 January 1893 – 7 March 1952) born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, Yogananda was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the concepts of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his teachings. His book Autobiography of a Yogi is a spiritual classic that continues to inspire countless others to this very day.
Yogananda touched the lives of such people as Deepak Chopra, George Harrison, Russell Simmons, numerous yogis and millions of seekers worldwide, inspiring them to turn their attention inward and become self-realized.
The films starts in the womb, in which the child Mukunda/Yogananda was already aware that he was spirit. It covers his upbringing, the loss of his beloved mom at an early age, his visions throughout life, his life with Sri Yukteswar, his voyage to America and the tough challenges he faced there due to the huge difference between his devoted life and the life in post war America, an era of emerging freedom.
That same freedom also helped Americans open and receive Yogananda’s message, despite his Indian appearance which was completely foreign to Americans in those days. Paramahansa Yogananda drew in and reached masses of people through his piercing eyes, impressive voice and compelling speeches on positively transforming our lives.
AWAKE is more than just a biography; archival material is combined with personal interviews, recreations based on Yogananda’s life, metaphoric imagery and footage taken at Harvard (Harvard’s Divinity School) and the university of Pennsylvania (the Center of Science and Spirituality). It took 3 years’ and filming in 30 countries to collect the material needed to compose this comprehensive documentary. AWAKE examines the science of yoga through the ages, around the world and also explores why millions of people feel inclined to turn their focus inwards in pursuit of self-realization. Yogananda was even talking about neuroplasticity 50 years before doctors got interested in it; creating new patterns of thinking to transform ourselves.
AWAKE in my eyes is complementary to the “Autobiography of a Yogi” as it lends an insight on Yogananda’s life through the perspectives of laymen, admirers, devotees and noted men of science interested and impressed by what meditation can achieve.
Both the book and this documentary convey that yoga is a science and a way of life; “Use the body, but it is really about the mind!”. The film and Yogananda’s teachings invite us to a vast and comprehensive paradigm that encompasses God, the mysteries of life meditation, along with the keys of focus and concentration necessary to explore our very own selves. For a singular meaty exposure to the essence of Yogananda and yogic life, both this film and the book come highly recommended. I defy anyone to not be inspired, compelled or otherwise beneficially changed by what’s encountered here, even to a small extent.
The film draws you in from the beginning when Yogananda conveys that, “I was awake in my mother’s womb”. To any thinking person this is a substantial and impressive statement and gives a level of insight as to what it must have been like to have been around Paramahansa Yogananda, experiencing his elevated teachings, extraordinary insights, powers and presence.
In addition, a good sound system made listening to the music score a treat.
- 800 copies of “Autobiography of a Yogi” were handed to people who attended Steve Jobs’ memorial service; it is said to be the only e-book he had on his iPad!
- “Will is what transforms thought into energy!”
- “As soon as I change my consciousness, I see everything as if it were a motion picture.”
- “The search lights of your senses are turned outward, but when you will reverse the search lights -through Kriya Yoga- and be concentrated in the spine, you will behold the Maker!”
- “Don’t take my word for anything; apply these techniques and see for yourselves!”
- “Most important is to create a church within yourself!”
Read more at the Official Awake website