Wednesday, January 5, 2011


As each year draws to a close, outstanding persons are named in the media such as the best person of the year, the best Film, best music, best actor, best actress etc. They are in fact yearend balance sheet of personal achievements. This year I found Julia Roberts, famous Hollywood actress, named under a strange item ( for an actress and Model ) when she is listed among the " Religious stories of the year 2010 ". That was based on her admission to the " Elle " Magazine in last August that she had embraced Hinduism and was a practicing Hindu.

 It is an interesting story, Julia Robert’s rendezvous with religion.

 For Julia, it all started when she was in India last year for shooting the film ' Eat,pray,Love ' a movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's travel memoir. The shooting was inside a temple and the opportunity presented her to acquaint with the Hindu customs and practices in detail. She said that she had known Hinduism earlier and had developed a love for it. The love, however, culminated in the wedding there

During the course of film shooting, she came to know of  the renowned  Neem Karoli Baba, a sage and mystique of recent past and on seeing his photo she was drawn to his spiritual power and to the faith he represented.

 Julia explains it: " I came from seeing a picture of a Guru called Neem Karoli Baba and I was so drawn to this picture of this person and I did not know who he was or what he was about but felt a very strong interest "

 On asking whether she had seen Him she says: " No, he passed ( away) long before I saw his picture, but you know, ( it is) just very intriguing and that is the way things come into our lives. They are not these big gate crashing moments it is just the is this about..Hinduism is something I am very intrigued by and very interested in."

 Sri Neem Karoli Baba hails from Uttar Pradesh State of India. His name before he became a Sage was Lakshmi Narayan Sharma.  He had a large following both in India and abroad which include Humanitarian, Dr.Larry Brilliant and Apple C E O. Steve Jobs. Sage Baba left his body on September 11,1973. He established many Ashrams and temples in India and abroad. He would advise: " Love everyone, serve everyone, remember God and speak the truth. Whenever you will think about me, I will come to you”

 There is certainly some mystic factor in the instantaneous affinity that Julia Roberts felt towards that Holy man. Julia is now a devout Hindu. She goes to temple with her family " to chant,pray and celebrate ".She shaved the heads of her children and even renamed them as Laxmi, Krishna  and Ganesh.

 On reading all this, one would naturally wonder why 'pretty woman ' Julia made a real-life rendezvous with an ancient religion and especially got an instant affinity towards a Swamiji and went by His faith.

 One aspect, as I see it, is that there is fundamentally a philosophical bend for her mindset. I have read somewhere that one of her best- liked books are ‘The Alchemist' written by Paulo Coelho. and to like that book one has to have a fundamental philosophical bend in the mind. Since Hinduism is rich in philosophy she was drawn towards it.

 One other thing, life was quite generous in giving her its prized objects. She has money, fame, beauty, power and everything a person can hope for in a life. Now that the materialistic side filled fully, the mind might have turned to spiritual side remaining empty.

 The character she represented in the film, shot in India was also of a woman seeking spiritual solace in India after some traumatic divorce proceedings. It might also have influenced her one way or other at that time.

 There are many westerners who were enchanted by the eastern religions. Many of them found the religions exotic. The author Somerset Maugham was one among them. His famous novel ‘The Razor’s edge’ is written in the backdrop of a young man wandering for peace of mind and reaching finally in an Ashram in South India where he finds answers for his disturbing questions just by sitting near the Guru. The work is said to be autobiographical and the young man in the Novel is none other than Maugham himself and his Guru Bhagavan Sri. Ramana Maharshi.

 Julia also refers the Novel. She said “it is similar to patsy of ‘Razor’s edge’ by Somerset Maugham. We share a common aspect of finding peace and tranquility of mind in Hinduism, one of the oldest and respected religions of civilization”

 In a telephonic interview with an Indian Newspaper “The Hindu” she said: “No, I have no intention of demeaning any other religion simply because of my fondness for Hinduism. I don’t believe in comparing religions or human beings. A comparison is a very mean thing to do. I have received real spiritual satisfaction thru Hinduism “

 Religion is a touchy subject to handle but Julia managed it cleverly.

 Images Google

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very intresting article about julia and hinduism