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Awake: The Life of Yogananda

Muenzinger Auditorium

Awake: The Life of Yogananda

Fittingly enlightening, "Awake: The Life of Yogananda" is a vivid, elegantly assembled portrait of the savvy guru with the cherubic face and penetrating gaze who brought meditation to the West.

Although the name Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) may not ring a bell, his teachings had a lifelong influence on the likes of George Harrison and Steve Jobs, who kept a digital copy of "Autobiography of a Yogi" on his iPad.

Heeding a metaphysical calling to leave India for materialistic America, Yogananda initially landed at Boston Harbor at the dawn of the Roaring '20s but eventually realized that Los Angeles would offer a greater wellspring of disciples looking to get their om on.

His first Self-Realization Fellowship was established atop Mt. Washington, drawing a range of ardent followers, including insurance tycoon and benefactor James J. Lynn.

But when Yogananda took his teachings to the South, he experienced a rude spiritual awakening upon discovering orange robe-wearing, long-haired, brown-skinned men weren't exactly warmly embraced.

It wasn't long before he was smeared as the leader of a love cult preying on married women.

Funded by the Self-Realization Fellowship but co-directed by Paola Di Florio and Lisa Leeman with an open, inquisitive mind, the film offers an absorbing glimpse into the life and times of the world's first superstar swami.

— Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

Awake: The Life of Yogananda

Tue February 17, 2015, 7:30 only, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2014, English, Color, 87 min, DP, 1.85:1, NR • official site

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