Among India's one billion people exists a passionate and (to Western minds) eccentric community of 13 million Yogis. They live in a world never seen on film.
Paula Fouce?s NAKED IN ASHES is a groundbreaking documentary; which offers an unprecedented look at the Eastern Yogi. These mystics leave everything material to embark on a spiritual quest. With honest simplicity;NAKED IN ASHES provides a magical glimpse into the world of these sages who find deep meaning in a life of chastity; austerity; and utter devotion.From covering themselves for warmth in the ashes of the dead; to pulling automobiles by their genitalia; the film's candid portraits of ascetics whose only quest is to experience the Divine captivates both the eye and mind.
I've heard a lot about the sadhus of India, and always wanted to get to the Kumbha Mela, a religious festival which happens every 12 or so years, but this was my first opportunity to see any of that at all. This is a very good movie, but it needs to be approached differently from your average flick. For one thing it's a documentary. The other thing is, this is a documentary about something which is notoriously difficult to film; the spiritual life. So we have Leilapostgrad commenting here that it's a stupid waste of time, which for her, it was. There's lots going on in this film that you're just not going to get any sense of from watching the screen. These sadhus are powerful people, and they are the cultural backbone of Indian society; as they mention briefly in the movie, once these guys are gone, Indian culture will be dead. It's quite true. They maintain the shrines, take in abandoned children, perform healings, and generally attend to the spiritual needs of the masses. This is vital to Indian society, and indeed in most places in the world it is a similar story. The renunciates and spiritual folks serve the needs of the people. Like Tibet (before the Chinese.) Like Thailand. Like Africa.
But since this a film about intangibles, that aspect is difficult to see. So if you don't have any background in the culture, this is going to be a very flat experience for you.
What impressed me the most: The general happiness of these men. Just watching them put me at ease and lifted my spirits. The fact that they live on almost no food at all, that sure impressed me cause they're mostly all in good shape, climb mountains, etc. The walking on snow was the least of it.
I was also impressed by the sheer numbers of humanity. A billion Indians in the country. 13 million sadhus. A couple of million at the Kumbha Mela. Yikes! So see this film, if you're prepared. Otherwise you'll be feeling ripped off and outraged like Little Miss Postgrad.
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