True Story of a False Guru

The American Buddhist blog has a very interesting article that really fits the theme of yesterday’s post about being careful about what guru you follow.

He speaks about a documentary movie where a disillusioned Hindu man sets out to prove that gurus can be anyone, whether qualified or not. It apparently examines the current landscape of American spirituality, particularly in the “yoga movement.”

I’m very interested to see this movie!

Thus builds the climax of the film: Kumare’s “unveiling.” 

While the film has had its touching moments, and plenty of funny ones, this is where it becomes most gripping. Kumare’s whole philosophy has been that he is an illusion, an unnecessary reflection of the goodness within his students. Yet, just as in pretty much any religious context, the students have projected  a certain degree of holiness, otherness, and specialness upon him and then take some pleasure or joy in their relationship with that special otherness. If he not only tells them that he is not special, but actually shows them, what will they do?

See his post at:

I think this leads to another interesting effect, which is that it seems like sometimes it doesn’t matter if your guru is enlightened or not. It appears that perhaps even a guru who knows he is not the ultimate source of wisdom can still inspire people to find Truth within themselves. I’ve heard it said that devotion to a master provides the same karmic benefits of devotion whether the master is worthy or not. This is something I’m not sure about (as it seems like being devoted to a master like Hitler could not lead to good things!), but this is a concept that I am interested in examining further. I think this movie will be a great start.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Agni Ashwin

    I think the projection of all goodness onto a guru is probably a necessary stage in spiritual development: “all goodness” now has a human, rather than a merely invisible, form. Eventually, the projection stops, and one enters into a mature (rather than childish, or adolescent) relationship with the guru.

    • Ambaa

      I think you are absolutely right about that! It does seem like a normal step in one’s spiritual development.

  • Doug

    Can you do a post on Hinduism’s stance on relavent moral issues (at least in America) like abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception, etc.? From your older posts, it sounds like Hindu morality is rather subjective and varies from person to person. If that’s case, what’s the point? Is Hinduism even concerned with/have a stance on these issues?

    • Ambaa

      That’s a good question. I will think on those issues. Sounds like good posts for Thursday philosophy days.

      • Agni Ashwin

        “Hinduism Today” has an article about some of these issues: .

        The editors of “Hinduism Today” come from a particular Shaiva lineage. Other Hindus may or may not have similar perspectives.

        • Ambaa

          Thank you for the link! I love their magazine.

  • brazzer

    Great post, thanks for the insight!