NEW Shortcut To Nirvana (DVD)
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This enthralling documentary treks to the heart of the largest gathering of humanity on Earth: the Kumbh Mela. The huge festival has been held in India every 12 years for over two millennia, but is little known in the West—until now. The film spectacularly captures the sheer spiritual bliss, eternal wisdom and candid joy that envelop both the festival’s pilgrims and world-renowned gurus in attendance. SHORTCUT TO NIRVANA also features a special appearance by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
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No one seems to know for sure exactly how long this festival has been celebrated. Some sources say the Kumbh Mela has an unbroken history going back to 200 B.C. while others push the date back as far as 500 B.C. Whatever the case one thing is certain, it's the longest running religious festival in history. The most recent addition of the festival occurred in 2001 and an estimated crowd of over 70 million pilgrims attended making this event the largest gathering of mankind in the history of the world!
Considering the immense history and the staggering logistics involved in attempting to encapsulate the heart and soul of such an event into one film, the filmmakers certainly faced an absolutely mind-boggling task. Yet somehow, someway Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day have accomplished the impossible with the release of their masterpiece, 'Short Cut to Nirvana!'
There is so much going on in this film that it's difficult to decide where to begin and what to focus on. Witnessing such an incredible mass of humanity gathered in one place at one time is enough to take your breath away. However don't become too absorbed in the exotic landscape or you'll miss out on a wealth of wonderful information provided by the commentary and numerous interviews interspersed throughout, making this documentary as fascinating intellectually as it is spiritually and emotionally.
Pure and simple, this is the best documentary on spirituality I have ever seen! There are no visible flaws in this production; cinematography, storyline and soundtrack all come together to provide the ultimate viewing experience of the Kumbh Mela. The only thing better would to actually be there.
This is a film that demands repeat viewings to fully absorb and appreciate the immensity and profound impact of the Kumbh Mela. However in the final analysis you will discover that human words and emotions are inadequate in describing what is seen, heard and felt during this magnificent production so lovingly provided by Benazzo and Day. You will find yourself reduced to one simple statement to be echoed along with the vast multitude of devotees gathered along the banks of the Ganges for a ritual bathing, the highlight of the festival. "Hail Holy Mother Ganga!"
********* the corrected review:
A glimpse into the biggest spiritual gathering on Earth in terms of numbers of participants. I came to the film as an eggheady Christian looking for common ground with other spiritual corners of the globe. Shortcut to Nirvana is a superb vehicle for such connection.
As others have stated, Kumbh Mela is too vast a festival to be crammed into a nutshell, and the filmmakers have not tried to do so. What they give us is a warm, enthusiastic overview of an event that moves a rich variety of people to community and vitality in their quest for godly energy. This westerner felt moved and encouraged to see Hindus of widely differing practices, as well as the Dalai Lama, and all seekers who attended, peacefully embracing each other's humanity and expressing their faith or searching for understanding. Shortcut to Nirvana will not tell you all you never knew about the Hindu world, nor the other worlds it touches. It may well inspire you to seek more understanding about those realms.
If you are looking for the sensational aspect of mystic India, this is perhaps a good movie to watch. I was dissappointed! This film fails to capture the spiritual intent and solemnity of the Kumbh Mela. Pilgrims eagerly look forward this rare festival for spiritual reasons! These "other diversions" are meant to inspire us to move beyond the material limitations. The story line of the film was weak and failed to inspire many of those who watched it with me.