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“gurukulam” movie review

Gurukulam Swami

Thank goodness I watched this with Michael because it is more his kind of movie than mine, and now I can also give you a perspective from someone to whom Gurukulam is actually geared.

Gurukulam is a documentary set in the Arsha Vidya ashram in Southern India. The filmmakers take us into the everyday world of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (who died last year at the age of 85) as he leads meditations, discusses philosophy with his students and educates children about the importance of thinking good thoughts.

The Swami is charming and sometimes even funny, like when he affectionately makes fun of people who can point to the moment they were enlightened. Enlightenment is not an event that suddenly happens, he points out. You can’t say, “Sunday evening at 4:30 p.m., I got enlightenment.”

With no narration, the filmmakers give viewers a rare chance to immerse themselves in life in an ashram. We are along for the spiritual journey, as well as the daily chores, discussions, rituals and meditation.

A few people are interviewed, including an American professor who came for the three year program and stayed for a decade, eventually becoming a swami herself. There’s also a young Brit who gushes, “This is an amazing opportunity to understand the truth of everything.”

And that is when I started rolling my eyes. And why it’s good that Michael was watching, too.

He loves that stuff.

The students are there to study Advaita Vedanta, an ancient Hindu philosophy that emphasizes oneness. “I am everything” is a common expression.

Although I appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the practice — not to mention the lush forest surroundings of the natural world in which the ashram makes it home — I’m sorry but I just don’t have the patience to explore aphorisms like “What is self-evident is self-existent” and “All that is here is non-duality.”

I fell asleep before the movie ended.

I asked Michael, who meditates, does yoga and studies Buddhism, whether Gurukulam made him want to go to an ashram in India.

It did.

Not me.

If I couldn’t make it through the whole 108 minutes of the movie, I wouldn’t last a day.


  1. I cannot wait to go to India….I am with your husband. I love Buddhism….I have to see this movie,
    However my husband will be with you exploring other movies

  2. I have to see this. I am dying to go back to India….we have a love-hate relationship based on my last visit there. My only visit. But still. It really is the kind of movie I like.

  3. I have never even heard of this. But, like you, it really does not seem like a movie I’d enjoy. I’m probably not enlightened enough, but I don’t think watching such a thing would make me more so. I do appreciate your review of sorts, though. 😀

  4. Lois, this cracked me up. You’re hysterically and refreshingly authentic. I would have fallen asleep too, but so would hubby so I’m safe!

  5. I never heard of this movie! But I think you know where I would stand about seeing it. Okay, are you thinking about it? Yup. With Michael.

    I’d LOVE to go to India (not for 3 years, though) in a style like Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ll go see this movie, but Gary will side with you so off I go to see it alone. Anyone want to come with me?

    You crack me up, Lolo.

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