One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das

Krishna Das performing in ONE TRACK HEART: THE STORY OF KRISHNA DAS, a film by Jeremy Frindel. Photo credit: Liam Maloney. A Zeitgeist Films release. All rights reserved.

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das

Executive Producer:
Original Music by:
Production Company:
  • Substratum Films

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One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das (2013)

Opened: 05/08/2013 Limited

IFC Center05/08/2013 - 06/06/201330 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Biographical Documentary

Rated: Unrated


In 1970, a young musician named Jeffrey Kagel walked away from the American dream of rock 'n' roll stardom--turning down the lead singer slot in the band that would become Blue Oyster Cult. He sold all his possessions and moved from the suburbs of New York to the foothills of the Himalayas in search of happiness and a little-known saint named Neem Karoli Baba (or Maharaji).

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das follows Kagel's journey to India and back, his struggles with depression and drug abuse, and his eventual emergence as Krishna Das--the world-renowned spiritual teacher, chant master and Grammy-nominated recording artist. Featuring interviews with Be Here Now author and spiritual guru Ram Dass, Grammy-winning producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Metallica, Johnny Cash), New York Times bestselling author Sharon Salzberg, and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Daniel Goleman, as well as a score by Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and Devadas, One Track Heart is the inspiring story of how one man's journey continues to transform countless lives.

Director's Statement

I first met Krishna Das at a time when I was rather burnt out with the entertainment industry and looking for more meaning and direction in the things I was doing with my life. Chanting with him and hearing the stories of his time in India with his guru had a powerful effect on me and what I thought it was possible to do with my life. It has been a dream project to be able to dive deep into his world, and the world of Maharaji and his devotees, and to have the opportunity to tell his story and share it with people who might not be familiar with him.

One thing that was very clear to me was that I didn't want to make this a film overtly about spirituality. I find that films about spirituality and devotion can so easily become sentimental and a bit gooey. So I wanted to look at Krishna Das as a human being, as a character, and not as a spiritual teacher. And his life has been so dynamic, with rather extreme highs and lows, that an almost mythic arc presented itself as I was finding a shape and form during the edit. And through his life, his music and the incredible people who were interviewed for the movie, I hope this devotion and deep love comes through in the viewing experience.

Featured Cast

Krishna Das, born Jeffrey Kagel, is one of the most popular singers of Indian devotional music in the world. Layering traditional Hindu kirtan with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation, Krishna Das has been called yoga's "rock star." With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, Krishna Das--known to friends, family, and fans as simply KD--has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the bestselling chant artist of all time, with over 300,000 records sold. He has released a string of well-received albums including Pilgrim Heart, Breath of the Heart and Door of Faith; the former features the vocals of KD fan Sting, and the latter two were both produced by Rick Rubin and utilize, at the producer's request, a palette of traditional Indian instrumentation. KD is clear that he is first and foremost a devotee, with the sharing of his practice a profound act of his faith. Nevertheless, KD has become an iconic music presence, drawing in other artists, including Sting, Madonna, Beastie Boy Mike D, Steely Dan's Walter Becker, and Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen--some of whom are yoga devotees, while others are simply moved by the power of the music. In 2013 Krishna Das was nominated for the Grammy for Best New Age Album.

Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, is a contemporary American spiritual teacher and author of the seminal book Be Here Now (over two million copies sold). Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary were both Harvard professors at the forefront of the early 1960's experimentation with LSD. Due to the controversial nature of their research, Leary and Alpert were fired from Harvard in 1963, and went on to become counterculture icons for their continued promotion of LSD as a path to mind expansion. Alpert eventually felt that the chemical substances could only take him so far, and in 1967 journeyed to India in search of a path to lasting spiritual awakening. There he met a little known saint called Neem Karoli Baba (or Maharaji), who gave him the name Ram Dass, and inspired him to live a life based on the spiritual teachings of the Vedas of India. When Ram Dass returned to America he became a pivotal influence on the culture, and was one of the first people to popularize yoga and meditation in the west. For over 40 years Ram Dass has been writing books, teaching, forming charitable organizations, and is one of the most popular teachers of spirituality in America. He is also the subject of Mickey Lemle's acclaimed 2002 documentary Ram Dass Fierce Grace (which also features Krishna Das), released by Zeitgeist.

Rick Rubin is a well-known record producer and the co-president of Columbia Records. He is also the co-founder of Def Jam Records and the founder of American Recordings. In 2007 he was listed as one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World," and MTV called him "the most important producer of the last 20 years." Rubin has produced records for Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Beastie Boys, the Dixie Chicks, Jay- Z, U2 and many others. He has produced two recordings with Krishna Das, 2001's Breath of the Heart, and 2003's Door of Faith.

Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist, author and science journalist. His 1995 book Emotional Intelligence was on the New York Times bestseller list for 18 months, with more than five million copies in print in 40 languages, and has been a bestseller in many countries. He has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. Goleman and Krishna Das met when both were studying with Ram Dass in the late 1960s, and traveled together on their first visit to India in 1970.

Dr. Larry Brilliant is a physician, author, and the former director of Google's philanthropic arm, In 1970, Dr. Brilliant was traveling through India and Bangladesh on medical relief efforts when he met Maharaji. He stayed for several years at the ashram with Maharaji, who instructed him to help cure smallpox in India. From 1973--1976 he was one of the main players in the World Health Organization's successful Smallpox Eradication program. Dr. Brilliant went on to found the Seva Foundation, and in 2006 won the Ted Prize. He currently oversees the "Skoll Global Threat Fund" established by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll.

Sharon Salzberg is a New York Times bestselling author and an influential teacher of Buddhist meditation practices in the West. In 1974 she co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. She is in high demand as a speaker, has taught alongside the Dalai Lama, and travels the world teaching meditation and mindfulness. She is the author of six books and has contributed to numerous magazines including Time, Oprah's O Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Tricycle, and Shambhala Sun. Salzberg and Krishna Das met on a series of meditation retreats in Bodh Gaya, India, in 1971 and have remained close friends and colleagues ever since.

Jason Becker is an American neo-classical metal guitarist and composer. In 1989 he was acclaimed as one of the most skilled guitar players in the world, and joined David Lee Roth's band. While recording his first record with the band, Jason was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and given 3--5 years to live. He soon lost the ability to even pick up the guitar, and eventually lost the ability to speak or move, but continued to compose music through a special eye-motion technology developed by his father. Jason began practicing meditation and became a devotee of the Indian guru Amma. He has defied the expectations of medical experts, still surviving with the disease more than 20 years after being diagnosed.

Lama Surya Das is an American-born lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He has been studying Tibetan Buddhism for over 40 years--including with teachers of the Dalai Lama's--and has twice completed the traditional three-year meditation cloistered retreat at his teachers' monastery. He has written many books on Buddhism and meditation, travels the world teaching, and has been featured in numerous publications and major media. Surya Das and Krishna Das met in India in 1972 when Surya Das was studying with Maharaji.

Sharon Gannon and David Life founded Jivamukti Yoga in 1984, and are two of the most prominent yoga teachers in America. Their students include Sting, Madonna, Trudy Styler, Russell Simmons, Christy Turlington, Willem Dafoe, Mike D and Donna Karan.

About the Filmmakers

Jeremy Frindel (Director, Editor, Cinematographer)

Jeremy Frindel has been immersed in the world of movies and music for most of his life. He earned a BA in Film Scoring from the Berklee College of Music in 2001, and has been engaged in the many aspects of filmmaking ever since. He has worked as an editor and sound editor on films such as Junebug, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and Bernard and Doris. One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das is his first feature film. Jeremy also co-founded the Brooklyn Yoga School, a by-donation yoga center voted "Best of New York" by New York Magazine.

J. Mascis (Composer)

J. Mascis is best known as the singer, guitarist and songwriter for the rock band Dinosaur Jr., who were highly influential in the alternative rock movement of the 1990s. In 2012 Spin Magazine listed Mascis at #5 in their "100 Most Influential Guitarists of All Time." Squier Guitars has a J Mascis signature model guitar, and Mascis has his own bobblehead doll.

Andrew Jones (Executive Producer)

Andrew Jones is an International Business Director at JWT Advertising Agency. In his over 20 year of advertising experience Andrew has been responsible for helping to launch the Mastercard "Priceless" campaign as well as campaigns for Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Stouffers, Southern Comfort, Pfizer, and many more. He is also a dedicated yoga teacher and student, teaching weekly classes and as part of the teacher training staff at Dharma Yoga New York.

Mike Harrop (Producer)

Mike Harrop is an independent New York-based producer. Recently, he's served as Executive Producer on Edward Burns' The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, which premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, and David Greer's Burning Blue, which will be released 2013. Past producing credits include Newlyweds and Nice Guy Johnny.