The Paduka of the Guru
The aim of this film is to chronicle the enigmatic and controversial life and legacy of the late religious philosopher Dr. Bibhuti Singh Yadav, from his birth into a low-caste cow-herding clan in a remote rural village of North India to his career as an international scholar and Professor of Indian Religions at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.
The film integrates into Yadav’s biography an ancient and enduring ritual performed exclusively by members of the Yadav family and rooted in a myth that narrates the Yadav’s identity as a low caste clan who rejected Indra, the high caste god of storm, rain and thunder, to devote their worship to Krishna, himself a member of the low caste Yadav clan. This myth is well known to all India but this particular ritual – Karaha – is not and has never been previously documented. The Yadav ritual specialists defy laws of physics by bathing in clay cauldrons of boiling hot milk and immersing their nearly naked limbs and torso in the raging flames of the holy sacrificial fire. The ritual is a sensational, dramatic, mimetic re-enactment of the identity defining moment in the mythical history of the Yadav family.