Oscar winning Hollywood actress Julia Roberts became interested in Hinduism after seeing a picture of the saint Neem Karoli Baba, who died in 1973.
In an interview with anchor George Stephanopoulos for the news programme Good Morning America on ABC News on August 9, Roberts said her interest in Hinduism "came from seeing a picture of a guru called Neem Karoli Baba and I was so drawn to this picture of this person and I did not know who he was or what he was about but felt a very strong interest."
Asked by Stephanopoulos if she had met the seer, Roberts replied, "No. He passed away long before I saw his picture but you know, just very intriguing, and that is the way things come into our lives. They are not these big gate-crashing moments, it is just a little like... what is this about."
Roberts said she did practise Hinduism and added, "Hinduism is something I am very intrigued by and very interested in."
The September issue of women's fashion magazine Elle, for which Roberts, 42, is the cover girl, adds: The entire Roberts-Moder family, she reveals, goes to the temple together to 'chant and pray and celebrate. I'm definitely a practising Hindu,' says Roberts, who grew up with a Catholic mother and Baptist father.
Neem Karoli Baba, born as Lakshmi Narayan Sharma in Akbarpur (a village in Uttar Pradesh), is also known as Maharajji, and has a large number of followers in India and the West, including guru Ram Dass (author of Be Here Now), yogi Bhagwan Das, musicians Jai Uttal and Krishna Das, spiritual activist Lama Surya Das, humanitarian Dr Larry Brilliant, etc.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly travelled to India to meet him but the Baba died on September 11, 1973, before he could reach.
The Baba established dozens of temples and reportedly performed what can be called miracles.
Establishments/temples/ashrams related to his mission are spread around India, Germany, USA, etc. Some of the quotes attributed to him include: 'Love everyone, Serve everyone, Remember God and Speak the truth', 'Whenever you'll think about me, I will come to you'.
According to reports, Roberts has been interested in yoga for quite some time. She was in Haryana in September last to shoot for Eat, Pray, Love in an ashram.
In January 2009, she sported a bindi during her trip to India when she also visited the Taj Mahal with husband Danny Moder.
She has a production company called Red Om Films.
Julia Fiona Roberts, one of the most successful Hollywood actresses besides being a producer and fashion model, has won the best actress Oscar for Erin Brockovich and earned Oscar nominations for Pretty Woman and Steel Magnolias. Her Eat, Pray, Love (Ryan Murphy) is releasing in the US and Canada on August 13.
Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion in the world, has about one billion adherents.