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Naga, the Eternal Yogi on - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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Naked, covered in ash, and quite literally standing for years on end. These are not your typical yoga enthusiasts. They are the holy gurus of India who contort themselves and dedicate their lives to extreme practices, all in the name of distancing themselves from the material world.

“Ash is the material part of life. To cover oneself with it means to dress oneself with stars”. Sharvan Puri Ji is a young ascetic. He is travelling from his home, with the ancient monastic order of the Naga Baba, to the festival of Khumb Mela. Sharvan sees his asceticism and spirituality as a benefit to all humankind, animals, and the living Earth itself. Yoga is an antidote to the materialism that pervades modern society.

In the build-up to Khumb Mela the Yogi travel across the countryside learning from other austere practitioners of their faith. As Sharvan travels he encounters female Yogini hermits who live in the caves, child Yogi, and the spirits of those who have been dead for millennia. Through each of these meetings we learn about the history and make-up of the Yogic ascetic culture.

“Austerity makes us understand life from within”, says Bhola Giri Bapu, a Yogi who for 28 years has not lowered his left arm, nor cut his fingernails. The significance of austerity, or ‘tapasya’, is to remove oneself from the temporal and material world; to contemplate and be in touch with our souls, which is also the soul of God. As Bhola says “politics and religion are worth nothing. Life is the divine soul and the divine soul is life!”

‘Mela’ means meeting in Sanskrit. Khumb Mela began as an opportunity for the Yogis to share their tapasya with the people. This tradition is still strong to this day as Yogi like Sharvan offer guidance and comfort to people overwhelmed and overtaken by the superficiality and materialism of modern life.

An intimate, often eye opening, portrait of modern day Indian Yogis that sheds light on the significance Yogic culture plays in modern day India, and why Yoga, in different forms, has spread throughout the globe.


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