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Thursday, 31 December 2015

OMG! You Wont Believe Star Wars is Based on These Two Famous Ancient Indian Texts. Read the Truth!

The Jedi in the Lotus: An Eastern Look at Star Wars
By Steven J. Rosen
This book looks at the underlying basis of George Lucas' successful film series, showing how it is, in many cases, based on Indic texts, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Naturally, the market for this book is not only students of Hinduism and Eastern spirituality – my usual market – but also fans of the film series, which amounts to literally millions of people. When the Phantom Menace (the first Star Wars prequel) came out in 1999, it was hailed as the most anticipated movie of all time, and it did incredibly well at the box office. What's more, when the video and DVD were recently released, the sales were unprecedented. Now, the next film in the series is due out this month (May 2002), and fans say that this will be the best of them all. Six months after that, Lucasfilms will release the video and DVD of that film, and two years later, the final installment of the Star Wars series is scheduled for release, meaning that the epic fantasy series will be on people's minds for years to come. I ask those of you associated with the Infinity Foundation to help me find a publisher for this work. Time is of the essence.

An outline of my book is as follows:
o The introduction reveals the basic connection: It describes how myths are embedded in the consciousness, in the soul, and have therefore manifested in similar ways throughout the world. Ancient Indian myths are perhaps the earliest examples of these world myths, while Star Wars is merely among the most contemporary. The correlations are many, and they will all be explored throughout the book. I look at George Lucas' major influences, from Flash Gordon to Joseph Campbell, and how Indian tales form the central core around which his series is modelled.

o In Chapter One, I elaborate on the story of Rama as well as that of the Pandavas. In addition, I outline the chronology of events in Star Wars and show overlapping themes and points of similarity and difference.

o Chapter Two explains "the Force," showing its correlation with both Maha-Maya (God's external energy of illusion) and Yoga-Maya (God's internal positive spiritual energy), since The Force has both bad and good dimensions. I will also compare the Force to various manifestations of shakti and to Brahman, the impersonal aspect of the Supreme, for there is much similarity in these concepts. Students of Indian religion will balk at the East-Indian ideas Lucas freely uses when constructing his idea of the Force.

o The Third Chapter will explain the underlying message of the Star Wars films, especially its idea that light and dark aspects of reality can be analogized with Nature vs. Machine paradigms. Each film in the Star Wars series offers food for thought regarding the "organic as opposed to the mechanic," and our Third Chapter will look at them all.

o Perhaps most importantly, in the Fourth Chapter, I will show that just as Star Wars takes place in deep space, most of the battles in the Ramayana take place in sophisticated aircrafts, and Arjuna, too, in the Mahabharata, is said to engage in many battles while in outer space. The Vimana shastras show that ancient India somehow knew of elaborate aircraft and boasted an awareness of advanced technology. While I point out that much of this may be relegated to the realm of fantasy, it is indeed curious that ancient texts engage these very Star Wars-like ideas.

o The Fifth Chapter will elaborate on Yoda's relationship with Luke Skywalker, which is essentially a Guru-Disciple relationship. I will explain their interaction in terms of Indian texts and show how the teacher/pupil dynamic is nowhere as developed as in India. I will also show parallels between India's system of yoga and that which is taught by the Jedi knights.

This will lead into an examination of kshatriya dharma, for the the Jedi knight concept is obviously an extrapolation of the codes of India's warrior caste.

o The Afterword will sum up the religious components of the film series and explore spiritual elements in many other similar films. In conclusion, I will show that ancient Indian traditions were well ahead of their time, and even today have much to offer the world.
Source: infinityfoundation 

The moderns of ancient India

Rigveda, Kamasutra, Arthashastra – A rich legacy of abjuring violence against women

Nirbhaya’s rape-murder and the outpouring of protest and anguish that followed invites us to imagine a society in which women are free agents. One which fully accepts that women have the right to make independent decisions – whether in their romantic and sexual lives or in the pursuit of education and work.
A society that discourages violence against women and condemns even marital rape. If violence occurs, society does not stigmatise the woman victim or blame her for somehow having incited the violence but does its best to offer her support and sympathy.

Such a society sounds like a utopian dream – particularly in a country still plagued by khap panchayat judgments ordering gang rape as a punishment for women suspected of “inappropriate relationships” and statements by politicians blaming women for rape. However, we wouldn’t have to travel far in space to find this utopia. We simply need to board a time machine, and jump straight into Rigvedic India.

The Rigveda does mention a rape. The victim is Ushas (Dawn), who flees to a cave, traumatised. She is then befriended by minstrel rishis who track her to her hidden dwelling, and offer praise and support. Singers gather in front of Ushas’s cave praising her radiance and lustre and persuading her to come out, which she eventually does.

In one of the hymns the rapist is punished; an arrow is shot at him. Society did not judge Ushas. It rallied to her aid, boosting her morale and helping her emerge from post-traumatic depression into a happy and normal life.

The society of the scriptures stigmatised neither the rape survivor nor the children born as a result of rape. A father who abandoned such a child was looked down upon, whosoever he might be.

Several Puranic texts chronicle the mighty Brihaspati’s rape of his brother’s wife, Mamata. The child was raised by his maternal grandparents before being adopted by King Bharata. He also became extremely learned. He and his descendants composed the hymns that constitute Book 6 of the Rigveda. While the child prospered, Brihaspati was despised. Mamata was neither stigmatised, nor abandoned by her husband.
In the Ramayana, the Suryavanshi prince, Danda, a serial rapist is exiled by his father to the Dandakaranya forest, where he proceeds to rape his teacher Shukracharya’s daughter Abja. Incensed, Shukracharya curses Danda – he and his entire clan perish.

Meanwhile, the regent discovers that Abja had conceived from the rape. He brings her to the Suryavanshi capital, Ayodhya, with great honour. She becomes queen and her child, Harit, later ascends the throne. Not only did the rape victim and her child flourish; no one questioned their rights to the throne. Illegitimacy carried no stigma.

Besides sexual violence, physical or psychological violence against women is discouraged in the Rigveda, as illustrated by the famous funeral hymn. A woman who lies down, depressed, beside her dead husband is urged to get up and embrace the world of the living – with laughter, good food and song. She is even encouraged to take the hand of a suitor who could be a potential second husband.

Some Vedic women, far from being helpless and victim-like, were very martial. In a famous hymn about Mudgala’s wife, robbers steal his entire stock of cattle. The couple is left with an old bull and a creaky wooden cart with one wheel missing. After Mudgala makes some ad hoc repairs, the couple give chase, his wife holding the reins and driving the cart drawn by the bull. Her skill ensures that they capture all their own cattle as well as some of their raiders’.

Other Vedic hymns mention a woman warrior, Vishpala, who fought at night in the Battle of Khela. Losing a leg in battle did not faze the lady. She got an iron leg made and rejoined the battle.

Leap forward now in time to Vatsyayana and his Kamasutra. Vatsyayana warns husbands (especially in the context of arranged marriages) not to force themselves on their wives: “Women, being of a tender nature, want tender beginnings, and when they are forcibly approached by men with whom they are but slightly acquainted, they sometimes suddenly become haters of sexual connection, and sometimes even haters of the male sex. The man should therefore approach the girl according to her liking.”

Vatsyayana is equally against date rape; he points out that it has similar effects on the woman who is “forcibly enjoyed” by “one who does not understand the hearts of girls”: she begins to hate sex and mankind in general. Again, no disposition to blame women for being raped; the responsibility lies squarely with the rapist.

Nor does marriage give a man an inalienable right to his wife’s person – quite a revolutionary idea when marital rape is not criminalised even in modern society. Both Vatsyayana and Kautilya, the author of the Arthashastra, maintain that wives could resort to divorce (with the option of remarriage) under some circumstances. Thus, women trapped in violent marriages were not without an exit strategy.

It would be ideal if violence against women simply didn’t exist. If this is impossible, the best alternative is a society where a woman’s self-worth and honour are not diminished simply by a crime against her person. Hopefully, we can use our distant ancestors’ social norms for inspiration in moving towards such a society.
The writer is associate professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University

Source: TOI