This last weekend I had a truly once in a lifetime photography opportunity when I spent three days at the Amrit Yoga Institute in the Ocala National Forest in North Central Florida photographing Bhagavan Das, Kali and Yogi Gurudev Amrit Desai.
Bhagavan Das, or Baba, has been called “a teacher, performer and the last living cultural icon of the 60’s. As Ram Das’s mentor (author of Be Here Now) he ushered in the New Age Spiritual Movement being the first Kirtan Artist in America. His groundbreaking album “Ah” (1971) produced by Jimmi Hendrix’s manager Michael Jeffrey’s was the first World Music album from Electric Ladyland. Bhagavan Das has also toured with Allen Ginsberg, opened for the Grateful Dead and sang with Bob Dylan.”
How did this come about? A few weeks ago I attended a performance (a Kirtan) by Bhagavan Das in Miami Beach at the Synergy Yoga Center and I took a few candid photos which I forwarded to his partner Kali. The next day Kali inquired about hiring me to do more photography and a formal portrait so she could have updated photos of Baba for the website and publicity materials.
And I also had the unique opportunity of a private portrait session with the Amrit Institute’s founder: Yogi Amrit Desai. Yogi Desai or Gurudev as most people call him “is recognized as one of the pioneers of the authentic teachings of yoga in the West. Gurudev is a Yoga master who also founded the Kripalu Center and was married to Urmila Desai, who was co-author of The Ayurvedic Cookbook. Kripalu and Amrit Method practices are now taught by more than 5,000 certified teachers in 40 countries.”
After the photo session, Gurudev and his son Malay gave me a tour of his home where he showed me his various shrines and and his excellent oil paintings he does in his spare time.
As you can imagine, this was an experience I’ll never forget.
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