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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.