STARWARS and HINDUISM
Following article was published in our HSC (UIUC) newsletter, "SHANTI". It is
writen by Rajan Rajbhandari. He is from Nepal. Please post any comments on thisnet.
It is a very little known fact that George Lucas, the creator of the
Star Wars world, has strong Hindu beliefs. Just as Hinduism
effects our lives, so has it effected his, which can be shown by the
fact that he has incorporated Hindu themes throughout the Star Wars
trilogy. This essay will touch, through various examples, the way Lucas
has weaved Hinduism into his movies.
Of the trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back seems
to portray Hinduism in the fullest sense. Specifically, the part when
Luke Skywalker goes to find Yoda. When he first arrives, Luke finds
himself in a forest, looking for the old, wise Yoda to learn the ways of
the Jedi. This is very like Hindu's "Ygnopavita" ceremony, where young males
run to the forest in search of the old, wise yogi, who would provide great
knowledge. Just as a yogi "tests" potential students on their patience
to enter into the arduous task of learning, so does Yoda "test" Luke by
not telling him who he is. His purpose, of course, was seeing if Luke
had patience or not.
As the training progresses, Luke learns to control what is called
"the Force." Yoda explains that everything is part of the Force, such as
the "...the tree, the rock..." etc. This Force is very similar to the
Hindu concept of the One or the Universe (in essence Om). In Hinduism it
is said that we are all part of the One, just like what Yoda said about
the Force. Simply put, it is concluded that Yoda was referring to "the
Force" as the Force of the One.
Luke also learns about illusion. In one scene, he tries to pickup
his X-wing with the Force, but fails. Yoda explains that one should not
judge anything by it's size (in essence, what we see is an illusion). He
calls all material items "crude matter" and that these are the not the
things to judge with. This scene illustrates the Hindu concept that
life is an illusion (or Maya).
During the same training scenes, Luke gets a vision of his friends
in trouble. Luke then prepares to leave to save his friends. Yoda
persuades him not to go by saying that he must finish his training
because it is more important. This exemplifies the Hindu concept of
duty over family. The duty over family lesson can be seen in stories
like the Bhagavad-Gita, where Lord Krishna tells Arjun to fight his cousins,
despite his feelings for them, because it is his duty.
At then end of the training scenes, as Luke is leaving, Ben Kenobi warns
Luke to never "give into anger and hate." This lesson of benevolence is
also taught by Mohandas Gandhi, which he derived from Hinduism.
Besides the training scenes, there are other areas of Star Wars that
portray Hinduism. For example, the concept of destiny. In Star Wars,
the word "destiny" is used many times in the context of fulfilling one's
destiny. This is very similar to duty. Another example is the
father-son relationship between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. This
parallels with Krishna and his uncle who are both related and nemesis.
Finally, one last example, Luke, being the only son, cremates Darth
Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi. Though I have heard of other
religions cremating, it is a predominantly Hindu ritual.
In the above examples I have suggested a few connections between
Hinduism and Star Wars. Of course, these are arguable, but they are a
starting point in which to provoke thought.