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.
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