I got the biggest yoga geek-out smile this year when Krishna Das was nominated for and performed at the 2013 Grammy Awards, where he was hailed as “yoga’s rockstar.” But hey, me and the other 300,000 people who have bought his records, used his music in our yoga class playlists, and went to his live kirtans already knew that! I’m glad the rest of the world is finally catching up.
One of the things I love best about Krishna is seeing him perform live. Krishna is a master storyteller and spins great tales about his guru Need Karoli Baba, aka Maharaji. So it is only fitting that a filmmaker by the name of Jeremy Frindel decided it would be an awesome idea to make a documentary about the definitive story of spiritual teacher and musician Krishna Das.
ONE TRACK HEART premiers in New York City
and hits theaters Wednesday, May 8.
I got the opportunity to interview Jeremy about the making of this movie, and the story goes that, after becoming completely burnt out from many long years in the cut-throat film business, Jeremy signed himself up for a 10-day silent retreat at the Vipassana Retreat Center. How’s that for making a drastic lifestyle change? The experience changed his life and he started practicing yoga and studying with Dharma Mitra and was introduced to Krishna Das. Jeremy immediately connected to Krishna and saw the real depth of his spiritual power unfold over the next few years. He got the idea to make the documentary and in a huge leap of faith approached Krishna about the project. What happened next, in Jeremy’s words, was amazing because Krishna said yes! No less than two weeks after putting the idea out there, Jeremy had the funding for the movie, a camera, and was in the Bahamas shooting the film at one of Krishna’s performances.
I can’t even tell you how much I love this story. It is proof in point that – no matter what you want to do in life – you can’t let fear get in the way. It truly is amazing what can happen if you ask. The answer may just be yes, but you’ll never get the opportunity to realize your dreams if you never ask the question!
I’ve already had the opportunity to see the documentary, and I highly recommend you check out the schedule of screenings throughout the US. I am hoping for a Cleveland area screening. Zeitgeist Films, the distributor, is still booking screenings, and the film will eventually come out on DVD.
Here’s another cool story: The first time One Track Heart was shared with audiences was at the Maui Film Festival just about three days after the final editing was completed. It was so well received that it won Best Documentary at the festival.
Krishna Das in India in ONE TRACK HEART: THE STORY OF KRISHNA DAS, a film by Jeremy Frindel. A Zeitgeist Films release. Photo: Balaram Das
A big part of the documentary tells the story of how Jeffrey Kagel, aka Krishna, found his way from the suburbs of Long Island to the foothills of the Himalayas in search of happiness and the spiritual teachings of Maharaji. One segment that didn’t make it into the movie (but that Jeremy shared with me) is from Dr. Larry Brilliant, explaining why the connection between the guru and his students is so extraordinary. Larry explained that it is not that the Maharaji loves everyone unconditionally; it is that when he is with the guru he loves everybody. This showed him what is possible when you open up to it.
One thing that I bet most Krishna Das fans don’t know is that KD was a rock musician in the States before his journey to India. He got a call one day from his manager inviting him to be the lead singer in the band that would eventually become Blue Oyster Cult. Becoming a rockstar had always been Krishna’s dream, but he walked away from it. I asked Jeremy if it was something that Krishna has regretted, and he told me that the answer was definitively no. Apparently Krishna was surprised at how easy it was to answer. He knew that he had been turned onto something that was much bigger, that it was his priority, his calling, to go to India and study with his guru.
Thankfully, Krishna listened to his heart, and Blue Oyster Cult’s loss was the gain of kirtan yogi fans around the world. One Track Heart tells the incredible story of his spiritual journey with lots of interview footage from Krishna, clips from concerts, and interviews with awesome yoga peeps like Wah!, Jai Uttal, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Ram Dass, Rick Rubin, and Sharon Salzberg, to name a few.
If you live in New York City, head on out to the IFC Center to catch the premier on Wednesday, May 8 and it will be there through May 16. There are a bunch of cool talks after the NYC screenings with Jeremy, Elana Brower, Ram Dass, and Sharon Salzburg, so check out the schedule.
Streaming the 2013 Grammy’s Live from my laptop to watch KD perform!
The current theatre schedule of dates can be found here, and please follow One Track Heart on Twitter and Facebook and help me spread the word about this cool new flick about my favorite yoga rockstar Krishna Das.
If you live in the New York area, please also check out the Brooklyn Yoga School, a by-donation yoga center voted “Best of New York” by New York Magazine and co-founded by Jeremy Frindel.
If you are a yoga teacher, you have inevitably purchased a Krishna Das CD and lovingly put his songs on your yoga class playlists. If you are a yoga student, I hope you have had the opportunity to come into some deep stretches or savasana with the hauntingly beautiful sound of Krishna chanting, “By Your Grace Jai Gurudev,” from his Heart as Wide as the World album.