The Inspiration Games
“It was India which invented the bow & arrow” my Dad blustered over the phone from Bombay, “remember Arjuna’s skill at archery? How he could concentrate till he saw nothing else but the target and shoot it with unerring precision time after time….” He had just returned from seeing the Hunger Games at his local multiplex, when my weekly Sunday phone call had sparked off this conversation; with him insisting that the cross-bow was an Indian invention. “Uh! Dad,” I protested, “not everything in science fiction comes from Indian mythology….” I was, as usual, embarrassed by his well known theme of India shining and claiming ownership of emerging trends. Yet his comment gave me pause for thought. I began to wonder if he had a point?
Lord Rama with his bow from centuries ago!
|Katniss in The Hunger Games|
Cut to a few years back, when, on one of my annual trips to Bombay, the extended family had trooped off en masse to see Avatar in 3D at the brand new IMAX theatre in Bombay. I sat next to my father enjoying his excitement as he leaned forward to perch precariously close to the edge of the seat, fascinated by the incredible images flashing across the cinema screen.
Avatar inspired by Indian mythology? Who would have thought!
And as the scene with the Tree of Souls which has a neural link to the Na’vi uniting them all as one, unfolded, he gasped in surprise shaking his head; explaining to me later that Ayurveda the Indian system of traditional medicine had a very similar concept of unity. That, all living creatures are linked to this planet and are one with Earth. The concept of blue people itself was familiar as many Indian Gods are depicted in similar fashion.
Blue people are also inspired by Indian mythology.
Flying chariots, Gods teleporting at will across dimensions, powerful weapons of war that could destroy entire armies, revolving discs & guided swords spewing fiery sparks which would return to their owners after hitting its target, illusions which could frighten without hurting, and the massive bow which only Rama could string to win the heart of the beautiful Sita… Hmmm! I had seen these scenes countless times over the years in my mind’s eye, thanks to the nightly treat of bedtime stories from Indian mythology that my grandmother narrated to me through my childhood years.
|Flying across the Universe|
Amar Chitra Katha (Indian comic books) took over where my grandmother left off, yet what chance did a teenager’s raging hormones stand against tight bodysuits, plunging necklines, fanatical crime fighting and passionate love stories. With the first Superman movie I was in love with caped crusaders – Spiderman, Legion of Superheroes (my personal favourite) Green Lantern, Wonder Woman not to mention Tarzan &Phantom and much later Conan the Barbarian – I lived happily with them for a very long time. And then I stumbled across the gaming world which is proud to borrow from Indian mythology. Take for example Asura’s Wrath an action video game released February 2012. According to the game’s producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, “Asura’s Wrath takes elements from Hindu mythology and blends them with science fiction. In the game, Asura is a demigod fighting to reclaim his daughter from the deities who kidnapped her and banished him from earth.”
Asura’s Wrath (Asura means demon in Hindi)
Or for that matter Xena the Warrior Princess’ trademark chakram which looks and acts very similar to the famed sudarshan chakra (Lord Vishnu’s deadly weapon of choice – a golden discus which cuts through the target and returns to owner.)
Lord Vishnu’s Chakra
Over the years I realised that Hollywood and the West have looked to Indian mythology for inspiration. But time has come full circle, with a brave new breed of Indian fantasy writers seeking to carry on the tradition of the ancient epics. Check out the brilliant Ramayana 3392 AD from New York based Liquid comics and the seductive Devi.
Ramayana 3392 AD
Do you have more examples of western science fiction drawing from Indian mythology? Do let me know.
About the Author: Laxmi Hariharan was born in India. She lived in Singapore and Hong Kong and is now based in London. She is inspired by Indian mythology. When not writing, this chai-swigging, technophile enjoys long walks in the woods and growing eye catching flowers. Her debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/szqsew. Reach Laxmi here: