Every year, people of all ages, races, and creeds journey from around the world to reach Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, a secluded forest ashram in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. There, they spend three years reading, meditating, and learning Sanskrit. Why? They’re seeking the answers to life.
But enlightenment is easier said than done, according to Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the central figure in the new documentary Gurukulam. A folksy, unassuming guru clad in bright orange robes, Saraswati—who died last year—was one of the leading practitioners of the school of Hindu philosophy known as Advaita Vedanta. The philosophy teaches non-dualism, the idea that there are no substantial differences between individual elements of the physical and spiritual worlds.
Today, many Westerners