Curl up with a cup of warm hot tea and steep yourself in this meditative and intimate documentary about day to day life in a Vedantic ashram in a remote part of India.

Filmed partly ‘cinema verite’ style (where the camera attempts to just be an observer and not comment or lead the viewer towards a specific conclusion) this film wanders around the environment of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in the jungle of Southern India.

“Gurukulam’ means the house or extended family of guru. This particular gurukulam is led by Swami Dyananda Saraswati. HIs teachings of Vedanta philosophy, as well as the intimate personal moments that are revealed in this film, are particularly poignant given that he passed away shortly after the film was made.

For the most part, the documentary simply wanders around the sheltered compound. There are very few deliberate interviews as the film allows the images of mundane, yet magical life at the ashram speak for itself—and speak it does. Gurukulam paints a beautiful portrait of pure and simple ashram life, as the film chronicles the academic, spiritual and domestic daily rituals of life devoted to the study of Indian philosophy.

An old woman sweeping the pathway with a crude broom, a young man walking by jabbering on his cell phone—the theme of the juxtaposition of the modern and ancient running throughout the film reminds the viewer of the timelessness of these teachings. The philosophy of Vedanta has been studied for thousands of years, and hopefully, will continue this way for thousands to come.

Directed by Jilian Elizabeth and Neil Dalal. Matson Films. See this on the big screen when Gurukulam opens June 10 in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Monica Film Center and Playhouse 7.

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