Mitch Horowitz: The Secret Wisdom of an Ersatz Guru

In the recently released documentary “Kumaré,” filmmaker Vikram Gandhi, who grew up in a Hindu family in New Jersey and graduated from Columbia University, sets out to skewer the ersatz yogic and Eastern philosophies that have been embraced by New Age enthusiasts in America.

Taking a leaf from Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat,” Mr. Gandhi adopts the persona of a guru named Kumaré, or divine child. Complete with beard, flowing robes and a pitch-perfect imitation of his grandmother’s Indian lilt, Mr. Gandhi/Kumaré heads for southern Arizona, where his spiritual-sounding bromides (“illusion is truth”) attract a circle of 15 devotees, who see him as an authentic spiritual guide.

Anyone who has ever rolled his eyes at strip-mall yoga centers, Beverly Hills ashrams or commercial perfumes with names like Atman (Sanskrit for “true self”) will appreciate the film’s sendup of New Age movements and transplanted Eastern spirituality.

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