Monday, October 20, 2008

Teen Yogi in IMAX's "Mystic India"

An Incredible True Journey

Mystic India: An Incredible Journey of Inspiration is a new large-format film opening at Phipps IMAX® Theater on Friday, September 23. It was created to honor and share the essence of India, using the story of Neelkanth, a child yogi, as a connecting thread. As explained in the film, yogis are special individuals who undertake a journey to attain a deep understanding of the existence of life. In the process, they develop amazing powers of body and mind through the means of yoga, meditation, and self-discipline.

Yogi Neelkanth was a real figure in Indian history. Mystic India begins with the story of Yogi Neelkanth’s life on June 29, 1792, a pivotal day when the 11-year-old yogi set off on his journey of spiritual awakening. Having resolved to embrace the challenges of nature, Yogi Neelkanth left his home and walked alone into the cold, stormy night carrying nothing—no maps, no money, no food. Yogi Neelkanth’s walk lasted seven years and covered 8,000 miles.

In the film, his footsteps map the length and breadth of India, taking him through its dense jungles, fertile plains, majestic mountains, mighty rivers, and peaceful coastlines.

Along the way, Yogi Neelkanth took part in rituals and celebrations and visited some of India’s most revered temples. But by far the most arduous portion of his journey was through the Himalayas. For six months, in freezing temperatures with no shelter, Yogi Neelkanth trekked barefoot through snow and ice and bathed in ice-covered water. Yogi Neelkanth’s survival may have been due in part to a system of meditation known as Tum-mo or “inner fire,” which has been shown to raise a person’s temperature as much as 17 degrees, according to a study by the Harvard Medical School.

Eventually, Yogi Neelkanth reached Muktinath at 12,500 feet, where an ancient temple of Lord Vishnu stands, circled by 108 waterspouts. For the next five years, Yogi Neelkanth would remain there, meditating and performing the severe austerities of a yogi, and gaining insights into the nature of life.

Having grown older and wiser, Yogi Neelkanth departed the temple, and traveled deeper into India for the next two years, passing through the rainforests of Assam, the jungles of the Sunderbans, to the shores of Jagannath Puri, and through the villages of Kerala. He ended his journey in the village of Loj in Gujarat, where a local saint and teacher, Ramanand Swami, persuaded Yogi Neelkanth to become his successor.

He was renamed Bhagwan Swaminarayan. And for the remainder of his life, Yogi Neelkanth devoted his efforts to social reform, equality, and nonviolence (ahimsa). He dug wells and ponds for the poor and personally distributed food to the needy. He urged people to treat women with respect and ended female infanticide, a practice in which newborn baby girls were drowned in pots of milk. Yogi Neelkanth also constructed six beautiful temples before dying in 1830.

Background on Neelkanth
Lead Character in Mystic India,
Opening at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Friday, September 23, 2008


Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by generous funding from the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). IMAX® is a registered trademark of Imax Corporation. ©2005 Denver Museum of Nature & Science. IMAX® is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation

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