Varanasi, India: Beyond

Varanasi, India: Beyond

2012, Religion  -   83 Comments
Ratings: 8.47/10 from 204 users.

Varanasi, India: Beyond is an exclusive documentary featuring photographer Joey L. Set in Varanasi, India. The documentary by filmmaker Cale Glendening follows Joey and his assistant Ryan as they complete their latest photo series - Holy Men.

Almost every major religion breeds ascetics; wandering monks who have renounced all earthly possessions, dedicating their lives to the pursuit of spiritual liberation.

Their reality is dictated only by the mind, not material objects. Even death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion.

Set in the breathtaking backdrop of India, this documentary proves that capturing an amazing portrait isn't just about the latest gear or technique, but truly the subject.

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2 years ago

This documentary is 90% about the boys and their trip and only 10% about Varanasi or the culture behind it.

Deborah D
3 years ago

Having just visited Varanasi and having the pleasure of meeting Raju (one of the guides/interpreters credited in this Doco) who acted as our excellent guide on a tour of several temples in Varanasi, it was great to see many of the places we had visited again. Some of the photography in the Doco is fantastic I think..I agree with some people's criticisms but overall I enjoyed it and found it informative.

Thanks again Raju..Linda and Deborah from Perth Western Australia

4 years ago

I loved the photographs you have clicked on the ghat.

Sukriti Rai
5 years ago

Nice documentary. ..

francois jobin
5 years ago

after seeing this very very nice film India will stay in my memories for a long time. im getting old and I need to go feel this place for real

6 years ago

When i had no knowledge about Aghori Sadhus i thought of them as lost minds. Then i came to know it was me in illusion. Aghoris challenge their mind that this visible world is illusion. Everything is made from only one thing i.e. Brahm (singularity). Aghoris have to stop differentiating between a flower and mud or anything else. They have to respect everything. Its a very tough path to follow. Don't attach with anything.

greta se fossi garbo
6 years ago

have you ever seen a bramin countig money....i have and i also saw the ritual of bed time for their wives..carressing them bringing them shivas night cap...and basically making sure they stayed alive...shovinism at its beautifull...really?

greta se fossi garbo
6 years ago

nice doc .........but you know what i am sick of boys idiolising men.... get a grip only manhood idiolizes man ,womanhood just get on with live and giving life , get a grip these sadus would shun a woman for being free so make your little movies you are never going to be able to give life....sorry but i am just sick and tired of this polava,,,been there shaged them and quite frankly there is nothingh spiritual about giving up responsibility....

6 years ago

Wow! Awesome work guys! I always wonder hows the life of people in Varanasi and you guys showed me in this whole documentary. I really liked and i cant wait to go and explore more. :)

7 years ago

... Be nice if there were less segments focusing on the filmmakers in this short documentary ..

7 years ago

Beautiful picture and wisdom.

7 years ago

I cannot believe how amazing this documentary is. Watching the credits at the end had me in shock that so few people were involved in the making of this documentary because it was so well done that I thought a whole set would have had to be involved. Great job representing the people, culture, and your experiences. I want more from you guys.

7 years ago

Is this documentary about Varanasi and their people (interesting!) or a about the travel of three American boys (not so interesting!)?

8 years ago

Very nicely done, good kids, good photos. Amazing people of india always a pleasure to meet. "Good on ya", for getting out of town. I wish the young people making professional films, especially abroad, would consider "slightly" formalizing their verbal narrative presentation. There is a beauty, and clarity "certainly", in the friendly spontaneous nature of, what I call the (modern "informal" social media style). The cliches, obscure urban euphemisms, repetitious similes, "Like like ya know, like awesome" for example, need to stay on your twitter account, not in the film you work so hard to produce.

I am suggesting a chance to increase the greatness, and gravitas in your message. Human beings respond to a certain degree of formality, when engaging new experiences, new ideas, new people. It only stands to reason that the general tone, and welcoming atmosphere of the narration, in an ever so slightly formal manner, will make them feel warmly welcomed to the presentation. The piece may contain many disturbing or unfamiliar themes, that will be more easily assimilated with the right tonal delivery. It is a major factor in the training of professional diplomats, and can enhance anyones cultural experience. A peaceful, confident, mildly serious, introduction, and a conversation as if you were speaking to a college English professor, and the most important people in the world.

An example would be the seemingly ancient, but still highly relevant stylistic presentations, of people like Edward R Murrow, Lowell Thomas, Jaques Cousteau, Walter Cronkite while obviously of another time, and century, they all had a certain dignified, "international" "respectful formality" worthy of individual diplomacy in a world full of hundreds of languages, and thousands of dialects. It was the nature of the age in which they lived. It was a time when crossing oceans, and continents, meeting ancient cultures, was still a serious, and daunting adventure, only for the strong, the wealthy, and the well educated. The superior English speaking, skills, and disciplined communication skills, left you feeling that the presenter, and therefore the message had great gravitas, and a reassuring quality that left you spellbound. Being formal has absolutely nothing to do with snobbery, but every thing to do with communication, respect, and mutual understanding. You deserve to be viewed with respect for your disciplined work, the audience will respond with respect if you give it to them. Nice film.

8 years ago

anyone knows what is the music playing at the very end of the movie?

A Mariposa
8 years ago

While beautifully filmed this is not a good documentary. Is it about sadhus, India, or the guys doing the photo shoots? It's neither here nor there. It would have been better just to make a docu about the sadhus. The photographers are boring docu subjects though they seem like nice enough guys.

Devon Jones
8 years ago

This was amazing; it felt like all of the best parts of a documentary mixed with all the best parts of what you would see from the point of view of friends travelling together.

Raj Kamal Khare
9 years ago

Beautiful docuementary. I am indian but never been to Varanasi. One day I would definitely go.
Nice effort. Loved it.

9 years ago

Very stylized artificial images which I think totally contradicts what it means to be a Sadhu . Sadhus renounce the material world yet these images couldn't be more "material" thus I am not a big fan of the work. or the filming of the work...would rather see a more documentary approach to the subject matter.....having the elderly renunciate rowing the boat down the river was so contrived it was almost embarrassing.....don't get me wrong the images are sharp and well lit but how many Sadhus really participate in fashion shoots....

9 years ago

Have been to Varanessi a few times over te course of 20 years, magical place. Brilliant photography guys! Keep it up!

Christine Hewitt
9 years ago

Guys! You have incredible video and photo skills. Props to you, seriously! But please stop making your movies about you, and start editing to focus on the subjects you are capturing.
Then in 10 years or something, make a doc about you and all the docs you did.

9 years ago

Thank you for making this film. Really needed to see this today.

Equality balanced
9 years ago

Beautiful... If whoever feels this is egotistic then they are focusing on something that is rooted in themselves rather then just being the witness and experiencing the beauty of these people... So glad this was made

9 years ago

very good one.... liked it a lot!!!

Crna Zora
9 years ago

realy nice work, thank you

9 years ago

I spent some time in Varanasi a couple years back and you guys captured the soul of the city. The photos were outstanding! You actually brought tears to my eyes from all the memories that came flooding back.

9 years ago

seriosly guys, what a waste of my time. If you are going to educate people about Varanasi, stick to the subject and not your ego selves....pathetic really!!! Go meditate!

10 years ago

Beautifully shot and definitely interesting however not as informative as I was hoping. Being Hindu myself, I was a little taken aback by some of the generalizations. Many of the comments made gave the impression that all of these practices apply to Hinduism as a whole. There are so many different types of Hinduism that it would have been nice to know about how this particular group of people differs from the rest as a prelude to the documentary. There were some inaccuracies in the facts however with language barriers and whatnot, it is understandable. But overall, really great to see people taking interest in something so abstract in comparison to their daily lives. And wow you have some guts eating that food. I've never even eaten common street food in India so I am impressed!

10 years ago

Loved the shots and how it was filmed... sadly they seemed more interested in promoting their work and skills rather than actually telling the story and history of varanasi..

samuel lyddy
10 years ago

a beautifully shot documentary however, uninformative and seemingly self indulgent rubbish. I think all this has is wonderful shots yet I wonder what these guys actually learnt as what comes from their mouths seems to be not well read, much like they only took in what they saw and collected varied information from guide books. If one was to make a documentary about a heavily spiritual place such as Varanasi, why wouldn't the documentary bring forth more facts and give the watcher a better understanding rather than surface superficialities. This comes across in the end like a film clip, focussing on the talent behind the shots rather than the knowledge and information.Superficial.

10 years ago

Dear friends Rumi says:
O son,burst thy chains and be free! How long wilt thou be a bondsman to silver and gold?
the pitcher, the eye of the covetous, never becomes full: the oyster-shell is not filled with pearls until it is contented.
In fact, one of the way to be happy and approach to happiness to release all possess and interest which are tied in our heart. But that doesn't mean we should leave the society and go to the desert! That means we have to tear up all the strings which are connected our heart with this material world and of course, that is very challenging and painful, because of our Ego!!!

10 years ago

Amazing words of wisdom from Mahesh!

Susan Ernst
10 years ago

A FEW YEARS BACK....I also dreamed of going to India,possibly to live. In Mumbia. Bought my passport. Packed my bags...was just ready to purchase my plane ticket. And my older children talked me out of not leaving, America.
I guess I can't blame them for this. And I still could have possibly just went to visit, but now its probably too late. I have some major issues with my spine, now. So I would not get to see everything like you guys did.
I too....really injoyed every second, of this video. And felt like I was also right there. Keep up the good work guys. Your photography, ROCKS!

Thanya Ganapathy
10 years ago

Absolutely loved the entire 44 minutes that i spent watching the video. And the words Mahesh was brilliant. This documentary leaves you feeling calm and peaceful. It's beautiful.
And each frame is equally breathe taking. Along with the background music and listening to what you have to say from your experiences. I felt I was with you on the trip for those 44 mins. Absolutely Amazing.
You guys are amazing, and I hope to see more of your work.
All the very best! =)

Carolyn McAuley
10 years ago

I see this documentary,the world they portray,and from Canada,I am envious. I wish this life was available to me as an option...My fantasy is when in school I was given the option of enlightenment as a life style, rather then the traditional list. This lifestyle of peace and contemplation is compatible to all the yearnings I felt most of my childhood...Thanks for presenting it. It now becomes part of my personal archive that confirms such passion for life without not contrary in every question...I am a this lifestyle available to females...or is my skeleton seen by God,unqualified...?

10 years ago

This is the documentary my boyfriend set out to make in 2003. He collected many, many hours of documentary from around India. When he returned the professor who was to help him make it into a documentary was found dead. The hours of footage sit in the apartment, a lost dream, gathering dust. The Kali mask stares down at me as I write this....

Borner X
10 years ago

Not much to say. Last minutes were more than enough.
Whatever we think, feel or make ourselves to do, we have to know, we are one.

10 years ago

Great documentary. Very well done in all respects.

10 years ago

Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities of the world. I am glad they presented what it is and no satirical or funny commentary. they saw with western eyes what the life is is in that eastern city without bias. This is what needs to be done. Faith is one of the oldest rituals of life. Indians have their faith and others have their own, we need to respect that basic fact.

10 years ago

awsome guys good work , at least u guys try to under stand what is hindus about ......Never End Peace And Love........jay sumbo

10 years ago

awsome guys at least u try to understand hindus
Never End Peace And Love , good work

jaidip koodali
10 years ago

you can say one thing about Benares,and,in the same breath say the exact opposite and both would be true

10 years ago

Well I was disappointed. More than a doc about varanasi or the saddhus, its a doc about 3 white boys go to india..
Its all "wow, thats amazing..." and shows very little insight about hinduism or even about saddhus.
Real saddhus would not allow themselves to be filmed, the ones filmed were the ones who are (to quote an indian friend who I met in varanasi) the tv saddhus.
Didn't film the naked ones, didn't even include the fact that smoking of the sacred weed is an integral part of their religious observance.
Yankees need to get out more.

steven dolci
10 years ago

I really love this film it's beautiful

10 years ago

yes the city has its own aura and it can be felt only when u live there and be the part of that aura... its aura is very dynamic in nature though city has never been destroyed till now after its existence...really a very good documentary...i thanx god all mighty that he gave me the chance to be called banarasi.... har har mahadev

10 years ago

Great documentary indeed! One needs no particular interest in the subject in order to appriciate the great composition of the visual material. Furthermore, I liked the vision of the artist on how to make a good portrait of a person.

10 years ago

One of the very good documentaries i have seen... will have a copy in my records.

10 years ago

Swimming in that polluted river doesn't seem wise

10 years ago

the Bhagavad Gita 2:71-72: "They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of "I", "me" and "mine" to be united with the Lord. This is the supreme state. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality."

It would seem that Sadhu's take this passage to its literal end point for the prospect of experiencing emptiness. Emptiness, in Eastern traditions, refers to a state of non-resistance, non-judgement, and non-attachment.

Its not about negating these concepts, but of forgoing their very existence. To negate an attachment is to empower its existence in the mind. Move beyond the very construct of attachment, and liberation fills the void. The mystics of Western religions refer to this liberation as God, which makes God an experience as opposed to a literal being.

I itch to know whether such a mental state exists, yet the very act of desiring to achieve such a state is an attachment. In seeking, or desiring, enlightenment, one can never attain enlightenment. Enlightenment is the absence of desire, thus the Eastern principle of emptiness.

10 years ago

Outstanding, great Doc, really enjoy it.
and the ending statements by the sadhu is just awesome, left me speechless