Monday 6 May 2013

The Matrix Reloaded

असतो  मा सद  गमय,
(Lead us from darkness to the light)
तमसो मा  ज्योतिर गमय, 
(Lead us from knowledge of the unreal to the real)
मृत्योरमा अमृतं  गमय.
(Lead us from fear of death to knowledge of our immortality)
शांति, शांति , शांति .
(Peace, peace, peace.)

One of the biggest and most successful franchises of all times in the world, ends their trilogy in the year 2003 with four simple lines taken from Brihadaranyaka Upanishada.
Composed into an adrenaline rushing melody by Don Davis, he named the track "Navras".

Epic, for the first time in the history of cinema, had truly found a new address. The address was by the name of The Matrix. The grandest and the most complex phenomenon had hit the world, and till that day, Nolan wouldn't have even conceptualized Inception and Cameron had already given up the idea of Avatar once. Though, some would argue that The Matrix is much more complex than Inception and much more grand than Avatar, and believe me, I would not argue back on this.

Ever thought, what made the Wachowski Brothers end their most grand, most colossal and most ambitious project with a verse out of the sacred books of Hinduism, with all the cultures of the world at their helm to look into? Of course, they had to choose something eventually,  one could argue. And that seems true for a while. But as we try to dig in deeper and try to see more than whats easily visible to the eyes, reality confronts us on its own. There are obvious signs of Hindu symbolism all over The Matrix, and the verse was not a mere chance.

Namaste and welcome to the ninth post of the blog. I wish to take up yet another used and majorly discussed topic of all times. Understanding the pan-Indian philosophy of The Matrix. While its a mighty known fact that the entire movie was based around on the concept of Karma and the notion of One-ness (Neo being an anagram of One), I would still like to talk about the lesser talked about signs and symbols present in the movie. A special thanks to my friend Rohit Batra for giving me idea about the topic.

There is no spoon: "Sab Moh Maya hai" :- One of the heavily used jargons in engineering colleges around India. The line finds its heritage in various ancient sacred texts. The word 'Maya' appears 70 times in Rig Veda and 27 times in Atharva Veda. In the earliest of texts, Maya is believed to be an illusion which lets you forget your original nature or consciousness. Scientifically, this state is equivalent to being in a state of dream. A human falls into deep sleep, and then transcends into a state of dreaming. This transition of mind from deep sleep to dream state is Maya. Maya is creation out of nothing. In other words, The Matrix itself was Maya. From Morpheus, Neo learns that how he had perceived himself in the Matrix was simply "the mental projection of your digital self".

Sati: Sati is the first person which is shown after the Matrix is destroyed. Sati, being the wife of Shiva, the god of destruction is symbolic to resurrection and peace after mayhem.

"No one can be told what the Matrix is": One of the most famous lines of the Matrix, "No one can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself", seems to have been directly picked from various chapters out of Bhagvad Gita and Shiva Purana, Ramayana, etc. In all these texts, more than explaining the concept of God and his divinity, the emphasis is on the devotion towards God, and understanding him, experiencing him.

The Unbalanced Equation: "Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix."- The Creator to Neo, The Matrix Reloaded.
Bhagvad Gita claims that evil is as important a part of the entire existence as the good. A concept well explained in Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code", this is the concept of duality. For the earth to spin, the good has to exist along with the bad. Destruction is as important as creation.

The Lotus: Neo sees a lotus towards the end of the movie. Lotus, again is a sacred symbol as per Hindu mythology, and Lord Brahma of the Divine Trinity sits on the lotus flower. Brahma is known as the creator of the Universe, and after Shiva plays his role of destruction, Brahma begins resurrection. The flower is seen at a point when the Matrix is going to be destructed, and a new Matrix will be created.

Krishna-Arjun: And now lets talk about the most interesting part of the entire Matrix-Hinduism symbolism. Doesnt the entire sequence where Morpheus introduces himself to Neo and subsequently to the Matrix and its semantics have a close resemblance to some well-known concept??

Yes, thats Krishna and Arjun for you on celluloid.

When Morpheus gives both the red and blue pills to Neo, and asks him to make a decision, he has yet not told anything about the after-effects. He lets Neo choose his destiny, much akin to Krishna asking Arjuna that acts of an individual is his sole choice. God can only be his helping hand, but the individual makes his decisions controlled by mother nature and his past Karma. This concept of Neo in total control of his own decisions and destiny comes up time and again during these sequences. When Morpheus takes Neo to meet Oracle, he says, "I can only show you the door, but you are the one who has to walk through it."

Krishna-Arjun(II): Morpheus' revelations that Neo's soul(trapped inside the Matrix) and Neo's body(trapped in the human battery farms) are completely distinct from each other and Neo, which he learns after taking the red pill, is again similar to Krishna telling Arjuna that his duties of the soul are different from his duties as the body. One can only experience the soul if he lets go of the false conceptions of the body.

To say that The Matrix was solely based on Hinduism alone, would be baseless. To claim that The Matrix was the only movie based on Hindu concepts, is again baseless. However, Hindu themes did form one of the most important baselines of the entire trilogy. Though we may find certain obvious and hidden references of Hindu symbolism in a number of movies like Inception, Avatar, etc, I chose The Matrix as it perfectly embraces Hinduism concepts like the Karma, Holy Trinity, etc and presents its own implementation of it, much to the viewer's delight.
Maybe, and just maybe the Wachowski brothers didnt have this much "Hinduism" in mind when conceptualizing The Matrix, but then that further strengthens the scientific base of Hinduism. It automatically applies to every modern and scientific concept of the world.

दैवी  ह्येसा  गुणमयी  मामा  माया  दुरत्यया 
मामेव  ये  प्रपद्यन्ते  मायामेतम  तरन्ति  ते
(Bhagvad Gita ShlokaII.4)

In other words,
"Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"

I would like to end the post as of now, and would like to know what you thought about it.
Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
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  1. Very Nice Sapan !!! In-depth analysis and lot of
    relevant cites from vedas

    My wife told me once, you never understand movie like Matrix and Inception until you practice Yoga, meditation and really understand ancient history of India (She is an active member of ‘’Art of living’’ and reached to that level where she can teach all these practices). She watched Matrix and Inception again after doing these courses and explain what these movies all about.

    Really Impressive…… Great going so far

    1. Namaste Sandeep!
      Thanks for reading the post through and liking the content.
      Only through strict discipline and devotion can one really have a stable frame of mind when too much grief or happiness doesnt affect much. Only such a mind can understand the most complex of all puzzles. And Yoga, is definitely a way to reach such a state.
      and regarding ancient history of India, I always say, we had what all it takes to be a superpower, only the intent is lost now

  2. great one yaar !!! Good going.

  3. Grat one yaar !!!

    Good GoinG. By the You both learning this or what ?

    1. Namaste Kaushal!
      Thanks a lot for reading and liking the post. Every post I write, I learn through them, and then through the insightful comments, like the one above, by Sandeep helps me learn more

  4. Gr8 Sapan bhaiyya.....!!!!!
    Even whenever i see Matrix i also observe several similarities with Bhagwad Gita. It talks about karma.
    A very knowledgeable share.

    1. Yes, and in 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy, they have even kept 3 Indian characters specifically to drive home their point. The reason why both the later versions didnt do that good, was because it was too close to Indian ideologies, than western

  5. Hr8 share bhaiyya.....!!!
    Even i felt a lot of similarities of Matrix with Bhagwad Gita.
    I think the film maker must have took its concept from our religion & Gita.

  6. Hats off Sapan ....
    I absolutely had no idea that you have such a deep insight into the movie analysis ...
    I had an idea that Matrix is somewhat inspired from Bhagwad Gita, but just a vogue one. All I could understand the concepts of Real and Dream world, Karma in the movie ... this blog gives a real depth into that understanding of mine ... and why Bhagwad Gita and other such holy writings are called the greatest knowledge of the universe ...

    Really great work .... Kepp it up !!!

    1. Namaste Ankit!

      Thanks a lot for reading through the blog and liking the post.
      I would request you to go through the other links as well, and do share your views with me

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Mayank for reading through the post

  8. excellent post.i am impressed with your interest in mythology .

  9. Thanks a lot Saurabh!!!!

  10. Matrix was a great movie...talking in symbolism..the way our ancient Hindu gurus have done.
    liked your have done a great deal of research for the same.

    What I like today is, now Hindu ideas and symbolism have found a place in such Hollywood movies...which were spiritual and practical in the same place. As the ideas get popular , so will the people get aware of the mysteries of the world and the almighty god.

    Keep penning :)

    1. Namaste!!
      Thanks for taking out time to read through this and liking the post.
      The only complaint I have is with our attitude. If a Hollywood bigwig makes a movie out of basic concepts from Hinduism, we make it a topic to talk about all the time.
      However, if an Indian writer or movie maker does the same, he is bombarded with criticism.
      We need to take pride in things which belong to us

  11. As the film released long back, the first time I saw it, materialistically it was similar to our gods doing magic and miracles. But I didn't get the inner meaning of the whole thing. But people were saying the same that Matrix has got the Hindu ideology.

    1. Namaste Subhamahi!!!
      Even I was amazed by the miracles and magic you talk about.
      The more we go on diving deep into the concepts, the more we get to learn the symbolisms and the signs thrown all across the movie by the makers.
      The interesting part, of course is the amount of Hinduism it wraps up

  12. Great work. Really appreciate the effort and interest. I'm glad to found a group who believes in India greatness (which we lost over a period of time). Surely, the reason is attitude. Look forward to reading more..

    1. Namaste Anshi!
      Thanks a lot for liking the post and I hope you like the rest of the posts as well..
      Couldnt agree more, attitude is the reason which binds us together

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  14. The Matrix Trilogy - a greatest modern myth of 21st century

  15. Nice description and its true that movie resembles with the Hindu Mysticism.

  16. Another parallel is also the name of the movie. Matrix means mother and in Hinduism the Matrika (mother) also known as Shakti is the source of the universe and all its illusions. That doesn't make her bad though since she has the ability to lift the illusions she created when we truly need her to (the Oracle in the movie perhaps).