Cultural Connections and the Bhagavad-Gita
Honors World Literature (Ebarvia)
Yoda and Yoga
The Bhagavad-Gita may well have been Yoda's manual for teaching Luke Skywalker the way of the Jedi.
By Steven J. Rosen
At first glance, it might seem that "Star Wars" and Hinduism have little in common. The "Star Wars" films are
modern science-fiction classics, created as entertainment. They make use of futuristic spaceships and imaginative
weapons that the real world has not yet seen. Hinduism, for its part, is an ancient religious tradition–or, more
explicitly, a family of religious traditions, such as Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism--meant for spiritual
enhancement and personal fulfillment. What, if anything, do the films have to do with the religion?
My thesis is simple. Lucas, the creator of "Star Wars," was heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell, the famed
mythologist. Campbell’s preferred stock of philosophical stories comes from India. This is well known. Campbell
explained the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the principal epics of contemporary Hinduism, to Lucas, who digested
their many stories and gave them back to us as "Star Wars." Lucas himself says that he was “influenced by Eastern
myths.” Here’s one example I use in my forthcoming book, drawing on the first film of the series, which was released
A beautiful princess is kidnapped by a powerful but evil warlord. With determined urgency, a mysterious non-human
entity delivers a distress call to a budding young hero. The youthful hero, a prince, comes to the princess’s rescue,
aided by a noble creature that is half-man and half-animal. In the end, after a war that epitomizes the perennial battle
between good and evil, the beautiful maiden returns home. The valiant efforts of the prince and his comrade, who
were assisted by an army of anthropomorphic bears in the fight to return the princess to safety, are duly rewarded, and
peace and righteousness once again engulf the kingdom.