Awake, which traces the life of Paramahansa Yogananda, releases on June 17
Steve Jobs apparently had just one book downloaded in his iPad: The Autobiography of a Yogi, according to his biography by Walter Isaacson. Lead guitarist of The Beatles, George Harrison, in his autobiography I, Me, Mine, wrote that the song ‘Dear One’ was dedicated to Yogananda, a spiritual master, and contemporary of Swami Vivekananda.
A documentary on the life of the guru who inspired millions is now releasing in India. Titled Awake: The Life of Yogananda, it traces the life of Paramahansa Yogananda from his birth in India to when he left for the U.S. as a 22-year-old to take the teachings of the East to the West, in 1920. He later emerged as one of the most popular spiritual gurus in the world, with the Los Angeles Times calling him ‘the first superstar guru of the 20th Century’.
“Any student pursuing metaphysics or spiritual studies in the West uses his lessons as a reference. It’s part of their standard textbook,” says Prabal Basu Roy, director, Diptish Investments And Fund Advisors, and a member of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India — the Indian arm of Self Realisation Fellowship, which carries on the teachings of Yogananda worldwide.
“Yogananda used the medium of kriya yoga, which is different from hatha yoga and raja yoga. It’s less about physical exercise, and more about focussing on one’s inner self to be at peace with the external world,” says Prabal. All his teachings have been collated into 182 lessons, which any spiritual seeker can take up over a period of three years. “I took up the programme in 1995, when I was a middle-level manager. His teachings, which include thoughts from all spiritual texts, transformed my life for the better. It helps you connect to your spiritual self, even as you discharge your duties as a family man or woman. It never asks you to renounce your responsibilities and go in search of your higher self. That’s why Yogananda has so many followers,” he says.
“Yogananda is not as famous as Vivekananda here, mainly because he spent most of his time in America,” says Prabal. But today, the Government is taking steps to make people aware about him, by releasing a stamp in his honour, and naming many roads after him, he adds.
Awake releases nationwide today, and will be screened for a week. Tickets are available on bookmyshow.com