Awake: The Life of Yogananda (2014)

PG   |    |  Documentary


Awake: The Life of Yogananda (2014) Poster

Unique biopic about Yogananda, telling the story of his life and influence on yoga, religion and science, combining re-enactment, interviews, and verité.


7.3/10
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8 August 2014 | danaterrell-lcsw
10
| An Objective and Understated Telling of an Amazing Life
I'll make it clear from the start, that I am not fully objective. I've been a devoted follower of the Self-Realization path for 34 years now. But I'm deeply impressed at the care of the filmmakers and the courage of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in opening up to a film project in which they desired an outside, award-wining team of documentarians to tell Yogananda's story with objective journalism.

Yogananda's life is full of miracles, which a reading of his Autobiography of a Yogi will reveal. The movie did not emphasize the miracles at all. When it referred to a few, it was with such a light touch that you could miss it if you weren't paying close attention. Some members were disappointed in this. One omission was the fact that a month after Yogananda's death, his body still did not show any signs of decay. The morticians at Forest Lawn signed a letter attesting to the incorruptibility of the yogi's body. In Yogananda's humility, I believe he himself would be very pleased with the film. The heart of his message was crystal clear: the purpose of SRF is to help sincere souls awaken to God's presence within by forming a personal relationship with God through meditation on His/Her peace, love and joy.

As a devotee, I had never heard the detailed stories of betrayal and threats on his life that the film revealed. It impressed me that a number of times, the tests and trials tempted Yogananda to give up his mission and return to his beloved Guru in India. However, his sincere, intimate relationship with God always helped him return to his work, and at one point rebuild his organization from the ground up after one very close friend/brother disciple betrayed him in a number of ways. This deeply touched me. I respect that Yogananda himself, and SRF as a whole did not waste time bemoaning difficulties or gossiping about the weaknesses of others. They kept their focus on the mission. The information only came out once journalists determined it was important information about Yogananda, putting him in the context of a life of challenges, and an American culture with its racism and fear of new ideas and foreign persons.

The movie will come out in select theaters in October 2014. Watch for it in your city. I think you will find it inspiring, interesting, unique. It was created with a wisdom and a devotion that is rare in filmmaking. Congratulations to the filmmakers! I think it is worthy of an Academy Award Nomination for Best Documentary.

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