Light of the Bhagavata, a new 25-minute film by ISKCON guru and GBC Bhaktivaibhava Swami, brings to life the timeless wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, teaching the viewer about the nature of the soul and taking them on a meditative and enlightening journey from planet earth, through galaxies, to the eternal, blissful world of freedom from all anxieties.
The film is designed to appeal to newcomers who are curious about Krishna consciousness and would like to find true inner peace and serenity in today’s hectic life, as well as to practicing devotees who want to strengthen their faith and understanding of Gita philosophy.
Bhaktivaibhava Swami’s initial concept for the film came around fifteen years ago, when he began developing visual media with Veda Vision, a studio based in Prague, Czech Republic, and intended to create a movie based on Srila Prabhupada’s book Light of the Bhagavata.
“But because of his very intensive schedule, traveling around the world as a GBC member and preacher, he did not have the time,” explains Nila Madhava Das, the general assistant on the film and temple president at the Harinama Mandir preaching center in Prague. “Until he was stranded in Czech Republic due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and decided to continue the projects he had wanted to do in the past.”
Work on the film began in January 2021. The initial idea of creating a film based on the book Light of the Bhagavata evolved into a film based on Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which Bhaktivaibhava Swami and Nila Madhava felt would lend itself to a more dynamic visual presentation. The title remained the same: “Light of the Bhagavata means the teachings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which also describes the Bhagavad-gita,” Nila Madhava explains.
The film presents the main topics of the Bhagavad-gita from the teaching that “you are not this body, you are a spirit soul” to karma, reincarnation, and the modes of nature, to the different types of yoga, the goal of yoga, Lord Krishna, and finally returning back home, back to Godhead.
Following the storyline created with Bhaktivaibhava Swami, Nila Madhava, who has been Maharaja’s personal assistant for many years, assembled the script from Bhagavad-gita verses, some Srimad-Bhagavatam verses, and excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s purports. While many verses are heard as they are, some are rephrased slightly to match the visual sequences that bring the Gita’s teachings to life.
Due to the pandemic and the high cost of traveling, these visuals, which Bhaktivaibhava Swami and Nila Madhava first planned to shoot themselves in different locations around the world, are instead created from carefully selected, high-quality stock footage. Masterful editing ties it all together, as do 3D animations of the spirit soul, the Lord in the heart, the higher planetary systems, Lord Vishnu on the causal ocean, and other scenes, with some elements created by Bhaktivaibhava Swami himself.
Two original scenes were shot by the filmmakers – one depicting a devotee, played by Nila Madhava, reading the Bhagavad-gita in an ancient South Indian temple; and another showing Radha and Krishna and the cowherd boys in Goloka Vrindavana. Both were filmed against a green screen, with Bhaktivaibhava Swami creating the beautiful computer-generated nature scenes around them. Meanwhile, the Radha Krishna scenes star local children from the Krisnuv Dvur (Krishna’s Yard) farm community, 50 kilometers from Prague.
Tying everything together are the deep, warm and clear tones of narrator Steve Hudson, a professional communications and voiceover trainer whom Bhakti Vaibhava Swami developed a working relationship with after taking his course.
Completed in summer 2021, Light of the Bhagavata was screened during the Janmashtami festival at the Krishna’s Yard farm, when Covid restrictions had somewhat eased. Due to increased restrictions soon after, the film has not received any other screenings but was released for all to see on YouTube in November. In the future, when possible, Bhaktivaibhava Swami hopes for more public screenings.
The response so far from both devotees and newcomers has been very positive, which the filmmakers hope will lead to the realization of Bhaktivaibhava Swami’s main aim.
“The main goal of the movie is to inspire people to read Prabhupada’s books,” Nila Madhava says. “Maharaja would like to bring Prabhupada’s books closer through different videos and movies, in order to help people more deeply appreciate the knowledge Srila Prabhupada gave us. The promotion of Prabhupada’s books at the end of the film, he said, is one of its main highlights.”
Watch Light of the Bhagavata here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AQ0VBP1sOc
Jan 23, 2022
Anandini Tikunov (8th-grade student)
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org