ARLINGTON, Va. (Diya TV) — PBS stations are set to broadcast “America’s First Guru,” a documentary chronicling Swami Vivekananda’s significant impact on American culture and religion. Directed by Raja Choudhury, the film delves into Vivekananda’s introduction of Yoga and Vedanta during the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religion.

Raja Choudhury’s feature-length documentary, “America’s First Guru,” is scheduled to air on Public Television in May 2024. The film tells the story of how Yoga, Vedanta, and the core ideals of Indian Wisdom made their debut in the American mainstream conversation in 1893. This pivotal moment occurred with the arrival of Swami Vivekananda at the inaugural World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago. In just six short years, Vivekananda traversed the nation, reshaping American religion, culture, interfaith dialogue, and gender equality. Embracing the universality and pluralism of all faiths, he profoundly altered the Western perception of India, earning him the title of “America’s First Guru.”

Choudhury’s collaboration with WTTW PBS Chicago began three years ago when they expressed enthusiasm for the project and offered to present it to the Public Television audience. Production commenced in the winter of 2022, generously supported by major funding and underwriting from The Dharma Endowment Foundation (Michael Singer), Sumir Chadha, Surja Bose, and other contributors. The role of Swami Vivekananda was portrayed by New York actor Samrat Chakrabarti. The documentary also features insights from Swami Sarvapriyananda, Swami Medhananda, Ruth Harris, AL Bardach, Jeffery Long, and Phil Goldberg.

Leading up to the May broadcast, special preview screenings of the documentary will be held at prestigious venues including Princeton University, Harvard University, NYC, LA, Chicago, and The Bay Area. Following the broadcast, the film will be available for streaming on the PBS App and Prime Video.

Raja Choudhury’s connection with Swami Vivekananda dates back to his childhood, influenced by his father’s devotion to Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. This journey led him to study architecture in London before relocating to America in 1998. In New York City, Choudhury studied under the esteemed Ramakrishna Mission Monk, Swami Adiswarananda, further deepening his admiration for Vivekananda’s teachings.

Choudhury’s filmmaking career took off in India, where he won the National Film Award in 2014 for his documentary “The Quantum Indians.” Now back in America since 2021, Choudhury is bringing Swami Vivekananda’s story to new audiences worldwide with “America’s First Guru.” He sees the documentary as breaking a glass ceiling for Indian storytellers on American Public Television, marking the beginning of a remarkable journey in portraying the Indian-American narrative and its ongoing influence on the world.