On Christmas Day, thousands of English people got a chance to see a little of Vrindavan Dhama in The Hidden Story of Jesus.
Channel 4 (UK) broadcast this extended documentary about the life of Jesus and how it's viewed by other faith traditions, including Vaishnavism. The program researchers visited ISKCON's Radha Krishna temple in central London and were given lots of information and contact details for other expert sources to interview, both at the OCHS in Oxford and in Vrindavan, India.
Personally, I think they treated Vaishnavism and devotion to Krishna with great sensitivity, and the scenes of Vrindavan, kirtans and temples certainly contributed a sparkle to the film's first 15 minutes. For this to be shown on Christmas Day, in the evening, was definitely an exercise in adventurous and courageous programming.
The narrator / interviewer of the film, Dr. Robert Beckford, is himself a Christian, so the film's sub-text is that Jesus Christ is such a figure that all the world's religions have some sort of an opinion on him. There is also an attempt to highlight the commonality between all the faith traditions. This, of course, is helpful in today's climate, albeit somewhat counter-productive when it comes time to teach a specific tradition.
All things considered, the film will have helped people to understand many important messages. And perhaps, for some, it will have been their very first exposure to kirtan and the Krishna tradition. At the very least, we must wonder at the phenomenon of Hare Krishna kirtan being broadcast to thousands of homes in England on Christmas Day!
Missed this piece of thought-provoking television? Watch it here.