Nick Watt and Scott Shulman recently wrote an article discussing a character named “Kumare” with long hair, a full beard and bare feet, “wrapped in a saffron sarong.” The article says that Kumare became “a spiritual beacon for a curious bunch of truth seekers in Phoenix.”
Kumare’s real name is Vikram Gandhi, and according to the article, “is actually a hip 33-year-old filmmaker from New Jersey, who created a fake ‘yogalebrity’ persona but wound up with a real American following.”
Gandhi is the filmmaker of the movie “Kumare: The True Story of a False Prophet.” He says his film is “about the general absurdity of what we all believe.” The article says that Ghandi believed he could find a deeper truth by establishing himself as a religious leader and started using an Indian accent. However, Gandhi continues to tell his followers that Kumare is not a real guru, that the only real truth is within yourself.
From our perspective the irony of this story is not that a number of westerners were duped into believing a fake guru, but that someone thought it would be interesting to deceive people who were actually looking for spiritual guidance.
While Mr. Gandhi’s prefabricated spiritual message, stated to satisfy the spiritual narcissism of his followers was “You don’t need any one else, the only guru you need is yourself’ and that it would obviously appeal to an egotistical, self-centered cross section of people, The fact that Mr. Gandhi knew that these can be easily misled and consciously chose to mislead others are two different subjects.
Ask the number of people who followed Osho, Sai Baba, Nityananda among others, if they thought such a deception was helpful or harmful and the answer would be quite clear.
There are some people who may be so emotionally distraught that they may become clinically depressed or even contemplate suicide. Does Mr. Gandhi take ownership for the people he hurts in an effort to make a point?
A real spiritual guide does not ever harm others in order to make a point.
Yes, there are many false gurus in the world, but the fact that people keep searching tells us that the soul cries out for answers. It is not the fault of the individual if a wolf in sheep’s clothing appears to deceive those sincerely crying for guidance.
That a person would do such a thing for a film project is shameful.
“Kumare” may expose the desperate desire of some to believe, but it also quite unintentionally exposes the desire of others to deceive.