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... more »?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.« less
"I WANT TO DANCE!" ~ Intense Spirituality For The 21st Cen
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 11/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Story of the Kumbh Mela in Hindu Mythology: Long ago the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) were fighting over a pot (Kumbh) containing the "Nectar of Immortality." Indra grabbed the pot and raced for the heavens as the demons pursued not far behind in an epic chase that lasted for twelve days. To the Gods one day is equal to one year. Thus was born the Pot Festival, the Kumbh Mela, celebrated every twelve years to commerate Indra's heroic deed.
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!""
A beautiful film....touching and real.
Anthony J. Bell | Berkeley, CA | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kumbh Mela, although a religious festival, could also be compared to 100 Burning Man Festivals happening in the same place (or 1000 Woodstocks). This documentary, the first to capture the taste and flavour of this remarkable gathering of humans (watch others jump on the bandwagon...) is really quite superb. No attempt is made to deliver a judgement of the event. Film-makers Benazzo and Day, who are never seen or heard during the movie, cleverly let the images and participants themselves define the experience for the viewer. In front of their camera, spiritually-minded folks from India and all round the world, mix with wide-eyed Westerners to create a fascinating juxtaposition of worldviews. Universal truths, beyond dogma and doctrine, bubble below the surface of the movie, surfacing occasionally, as when the Dalai Lama chats to a hushed audience in a large tent. There are other moments of high comedy. A young Indian devotee accompanies the film-makers, enthusiastically explaining what is going on. They meet an attractive spiritually curious blonde nurse from New York, and as the days roll on, and the young guru answers her questions on the Vedanta, they strike up a strong friendship. He confesses privately to the camera just how deeply touched he is by her inner light. She, meanwhile, works to distinguish the holy from the more worldly facts of male attention. This exemplifies the success of the movie: the eternal mixes with mundane, as one shaman sings beautifully to the lord, another hauls a car by his foreskin. A mother loses her child, and finds it again...someone is buried alive as a religious stunt... the crew stumbles across a bizarre Indian transvestite theatre. All of this is played out in the lush backround of the Ganges, the air thick with a depth of colour that seems to only exist on the subcontinent. The layers of the visual (it is really most beautifully filmed), are complimented by a haunting soundtrack. Day's editing establishs the perfect pace, relaxing the viewer slowly into a sublime state where they can almost smell the fires and incense. And when, at the end, everyone runs into the Ganges, in a flow of ecstatic human joy that can actually be seen from space, the viewer's heart and soul seems to leap along with the mass of jumping, splashing Kumbh Melans. I can't recommend this movie too highly. I found it deeply touching and more "real" than any attempt to "sell a story" of why humans are on earth and what it all means. Buy this, and if you can, project it on a large screen for your friends."
Laura De Giorgio | Canada | 11/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I watched this movie, I couldn't help thinking that this movie is the reason that God created cameras and movies and technology - to capture and spread across the world the spirit of The Kumbh Mela, the biggest spiritual gathering in history, with 70 million people loving, honoring, sharing and celebrating One Infinite Spirit, one wondrous life expressing in so many colorful ways through all people and through all spiritual traditions. The movie is extraordinarily powerful because its message is the message of truth (truth which seems to be sadly lacking in many spiritual institutions in the West) - truth that no matter what is your spiritual orientation, the Infinite Spirit can be known only through LOVE for ALL. This movie is so incredibly heartwarming because here you get to see people not only talking about the truth, but actually expressing it - living it - they radiate love and so they bring heaven on earth. As you watch this movie, you too may find yourself immersed in an ocean of pure love. That is why the movie compels you to see it again and again. And then, make sure to share it with other people because in the west most people are truly starved for love. Most people need to see that enjoying lots of love begins by giving lots of love to everyone that crosses your path."
Totally inspiring and FUN
C. Draves | 09/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i didnt know what to expect really, but this movie was AMAZING. there are so many incredible (and weird) spiritual practices in India, and it was cool to see the dalai lama too - listening to him speak is phenomenal.
i've never been to india, but now i definitely want to go!
very very highly recommended."
Webmaster please note: this is a correction!
K Zethmayr | Wisconsin, USA | 09/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a correction for a review submitted earlier. The most glaring error was "a event." Please replace the earlier text with the one that follows below the **** line.
********* 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."