27 August, 2012

Hinduism, the hidden inspiration behind Hollywood blockbusters



Matrix Trilogy and Yoga Vasistha


Anand Mathur

The core philosophy of Hollywood’s super hit trilogy “Matrix” is inspired by the philosophy of the ancient Indian text “Yoga Vasistha”. The Yoga Vasistha is the knowledge portion of the Ramayana just like The Bhagwad Gita is the knowledge portion of the “Itihas” Mahabharata.

Yoga Vasistha is a discussion between “The One” – Rama with Sage Vasistha. In it Vasistha explains the nature and reasons of Creation, of its Existence and Dissolution. It explains the indivisible relationship of the individual to the Cosmos.

There are several similarities between the text and the movie. Let us examine some of them below.

The meeting of the “ONE” – Neo, with the child prodigy at The Oracle’s residence reminds one of the dialogues between the Prince Rama and Sage Vasistha. The child says “it is not the spoon that is bending….”. Vasistha tells Rama “the Universe is but an extension of that One Self, which is you.”

Similarly the Architect tells Neo that this was the 6th time this Matrix had been created and each time Neo has been the challenge, while in the Yoga Vasistha, Vasistha says “Rama this creation has been re-created for the 76th time exactly the same way albeit with minor changes and you have been born as Lord Rama the 76th time”!!! Reminds one of the quaint statement of the Architect, “this time the experience is far more specific.”

Similarly The Frenchman tells Neo that they both have been here before and he has had the better of him each time! His speech on cause and effect are lectures on the theory of Karma.

The dialogue between Neo and Morpheus during the former’s training in the simulated Matrix is familiar too. Morpheus repeatedly exhorts Neo to overcome the conditioning of his mind in the imaginary Matrix leading Neo to perform extraordinary feats such as flying, dodging bullets, bringing Trinity to life and even stopping the machines outside the matrix!

Similarly in Yoga Vasistha, Vasistha explains to Rama that the Creation is nothing but imagination. He narrates several stories to drive home his point wherein the protagonists have created entire Universes and cities in their minds and perform extra-ordinary feats even while experiencing pain and pleasure therein! Ironically Morpheus is Neo’s teacher but only Neo is destined to break the mould, to be the One, just like Rama.

Neo gets flashes of what he has to do in the future to stop Mr. Smith and the war. The Architect tells Neo, “but we know what you will do.” The Oracle asks him, “You dream of it don’t you?” Similarly Vasistha tells Rama that the future is known; that there is no choice but to do what one will be impelled to do. He tells Rama that it is his destiny to fight Ravana and to destroy him in battle.

Neo masters his mind becoming the chosen One. It is the concept of Avatar in India. He becomes one with nature within and without the Matrix, mastering it by merging his consciousness in it. Similarly Rama too understands the Unity in the Cosmos and rejoins with his pristine ancient consciousness thereby becoming the Avatar that Vasistha has already told him he is.

Finally we should discuss the scene where Neo is blinded by Mr. Smith but can see all objects and people in golden forms. This is the classical description of the Hiranyagarbha, The Golden Cosmic Egg, in ancient Indian texts including Yoga Vasistha. This golden material is the substratum of the Cosmos, the ultimate and unbroken particle; Neo uses his complete Oneness with the Universe before the final battle to his advantage.

Introduction of characters with Indian names like Sita etc and their discussion with Neo on Karma in Matrix Reloaded also show a strong Indian influence. The chanting at the beginning of the credits of the third part, i.e. Matrix Revolutions is the ancient Indian Sanskrit salutation to the Guru…

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥

Lead us from the Unreal to the Real.
From darkness to light.
From death to immortality.
Om Peace! Om Peace! Om Peace.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

also Star Wars, Avatar, etc.

Anonymous said...

What to say about the movie Inception.. there are strong parallels between the movie and the Story of Queen Lila in Yogavashita (the idea of dream with dream.. nested realities..)

The thoughts of our Sages are simply mind blogging.. Hats off!!

Anonymous said...

Truly it is just an asset to go through such things....