Kumaré. Filmmaker creates fake guru builds real following

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ex-l

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Kumaré. Filmmaker creates fake guru builds real following

Post24 May 2020

American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi created a fake guru persona called Kumaré to expose people's desire to believe and how easy it is to fool and exploit them. With a change of haircut, the growing of a beard, and a silly Indian accent, he goes on to build a real following.

I won't spoil the plot for anyone but his plan was not malicious and he always intended to expose himself ... but found it hard because of how nice his followers were, and how much he became to mean for them.

As someone who, as a BK, has been on both sides of being a sincere seeker and playing a guru (as a BK "teacher"), I found this toe curlingly and cringingly close to the bone. It was very hard to watch, even though it was done with gentleness and humour. Recommend viewing if you can face "looking in the mirror".

What I found interesting is how similar his venture was to how the BKs started in the West, with an "imported" India guru-figure who could barely speak English [Dadi Janki], and his two "convincers"; one a younger attractive English speaking Indian woman (actually an Indian-American again putting on a desi accent) who speaks on his behalf and does promotion [Jayanti Kirpalani], and an attractive Western Yoga fan convert [name your pick of any early Western BK]. It's a model they continue to exploit when starting new centers.

Vikram often tries to make it as obvious as he can, even telling people he's a fake, or making up ridiculous "Yoga" exercises (Pete Townsend windmill guitar playing), or translating corporate slogans like "Just Do It" (Nike), into Sanskrit. But people don't get it, so invested in playing their part they are.

The funny thing is, people's lives do change for the better hence challenging the claims of the likes of the Brahma Kumaris. He makes it absolutely clear he has no supernatural powers, no god, that everything is made up and yet people still make it work for them. His only background was, again as with the BKs, a childhood education in his family HInduism on which he based his creation.

The BKs always used to say they were not gurus but, in fact, BKism is a sort of identikit instant guru business model; a logo, a mantra, a uniform, some aphorism and maxims, a credible sounding but fake backstory ... which they 'sell' along with a unique territory to business investors who comes along and wants to open up their own BK ashram and off which they take a commission in a pyramid style model. The center takes 10% of followers income (more if they can get it), the zone takes 10% of the centers income (plus more if they can get it through various tag on products), the headquarters get a % of that (plus more incidental donations via retreats if they can get it).

* [Those figures are illustrative, not rigid or specific. The BKs are more flexible than that and operate on a case-by-case, improvised basis]

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ex-l

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Re: Kumaré. Filmmaker creates fake guru builds real followin

Post24 May 2020

Funny quote from the movie.
Kumaré wrote:
"This symbol is your religion symbol?"
"No, it is just Mickey Mouse."

Response from a commentator on Youtube
Hakudohshi

You'd be shocked how many people are just waiting for someone to come and give them all the answers. Tell them how to live their lives, how to speak, how to act, even how to think. It's not that they're stupid, it's just that so many people are ... lost, adrift, without purpose, or at least with a sense of having no purpose. They're vulnerable to con-men, and films like this show that, hopefully it'll dissuade some of them from putting their lives in the hands of others.

One spoiler that I will offer is that after the unveiling most of the adherents remained in good relationship with the filmmaker ... except the owner of the hatha Yoga centre at which he first started his movement.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Kumaré. Filmmaker creates fake guru builds real followin

Post25 May 2020

I watched that a few years ago, it was screened here on television. An excellent social experiment and observation.

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