“Avatar : A Spiritual Discourse”

165 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » "Avatar : A Spiritual Discourse"

By Navkishori Devi Dasi

While James Cameron’s Magnum Opus - Avatar thrills its audience with technological gimmickry it also attempts to showcase a higher spiritual culture. The type of indirect preaching weaved into the film compels the audience to think and accept beyond what they believe in, without making them feel uncomfortable about wanting to change. How can we include this style of presentation in our outreach programs maybe something worth pondering upon.

The movie has created waves worldwide and some of its important messages can be used as metaphors in our preaching. This article attempts to present some of the metaphors, with the hope that it can help the frontline preachers and book distributors.

The film is set in the year 2154 on Pandora, a fictional distant planet. Humans from the RDA company led by Parker Selfridge and Colonel Quaritch are engaged in mining Pandora’s reserves of a precious mineral Unobtanium, while the Na’vi — the race of humanoids indigenous to the moon — resist the colonists’ expansion, which threatens the continued existence of the Na’vi and the Pandoran ecosystem.
Neytiri is the Princess of the Na’vi and Jake Sully is a part of the Avatar Program, in which humans remotely control Human/Na’vi hybrids to safely navigate the Pandora. He was originally assigned to gather intelligence that would help Colonel Quaritch discover a way to force the Na’vi to leave Hometree, or destroy it if necessary. The Na’vi occupation of Hometree was blocking the RDA’s access to the very large deposit of Unobtanium.

Concept of the Soul
Neytiri, saves Jake Sully from a pack of viper wolves, after she sees a sign from their Higher Power Eywa. She has to kill one of the wolves to save him. She isn’t very happy about killing and prays for the animal’s soul so that it goes back to where it belongs. Just this scene itself can be used to convey many messages to people - right from animals having a soul, looking at needless killing with disdain, viewing all living entities equally and accepting signs from God and acting as per His desire.
As a farewell to the dead the Na’vi say “Your spirit goes with Eywa, your body stays behind to become part of the People”. They greet each other by saying “I see you” which means “I see the soul within your body.”

Surrender to a Higher Authority
Eywa is the guiding force and the deity of Pandora and the Na’vi, and Mo’at – Neytiri’s mother is the “Guru”. The Na’vi are in surrender to this Higher Power and interpret Her signs through their “Guru”. For instance, Neytiri is about to kill Jake but because of a sign from Eywa she not only refrains from doing so, but also protects him from the viper wolves and the other Na’vi who also refrain from killing Jake after hearing about the sign from Eywa. They accept the Mo’at’s interpretation of the Eywa’s sign – to accept Jake as one of them. It’s almost like the disciples considering the Guru’s word as final. It is evident in this and some of the other scenes that because of this surrender to Eywa and Mo’at there is no conflict between the Na’vi. This limits the scope for self motivated rash actions.

Peace Formula- BG 5.29
The Na’vi accept the Supremacy of the Eywa over everything and consider her as their well wisher. The movie depicts the positive benefits of a society living by this principle. The entire clan works in this consciousness resulting in peace and harmony. At one point Neytiri says to Jake “all energy is borrowed and at some point you have to give it back”. This again brings up the point that we are not the proprietors of anything.

Protection and Reciprocation of the Supreme
When Jake prays to the Eywa for protection and help to fight against the army attack , Neytiri’s response “Our Great Mother does not take sides, Jake. She protects only the balance of life.”- shows that the Lord is impartial. Towards the end of the movie we are witness to the Eywa’s reciprocation to Jake’s prayers which indicates how the Lord protects His devotees. She sends her agents in the form of the entire fauna of the Pandora to protect the Na’vi from the army attack.

Taking Shelter
When the Na’vi experience the very first partial destruction of their planet and their Hometree , you don’t see them lamenting , venting their frustration and scheming against the humans. What you see is all of them accepting their fate and taking shelter at the Eywa knowing that they are powerless. In stark contrast is Colonel Quaritch’s mood even when he has lost all the army and the arsenal. He says to Jake “Nothing is over while I’m still breathing!”. Even when everything is lost the false ego still considers itself to be the controller “īśvaro ‘ham ahaḿ bhogī siddho ‘haḿ balavān sukhī” (BG 16.14)

Workers in different modes
Colonel Quaritch and Dr. Grace Augustine – the project scientist are working on the same project. Grace and other scientists personify workers in the mode of goodness who are satisfied by their intellectual pursuit. They neither want Pandora’s ecosystem to be destroyed nor the Na’vi to be killed. Colonel Quaritch and Parker Selfridge, head of the RDA Company, personify mode of passion and ignorance. Due to their greed they lose all good sense and are ready to destroy an entire race. Srila Prabhupada explains this in the purport to BG 14.9 “In the mode of ignorance, whatever one does is good neither for him nor for anyone.”

Harmony of a society driven by principles
How the Na’vi live as a harmonious society by following set principles and regulations can be used as a metaphor to explain the positive impact of Varnashrama. There is a concept of a King -Eytukan who is guided by a spiritual leader Mo’at . Eytukan acts as a true Kstariya King concerned with the well being of his clan. His last words to his daughter Neytiri are to protect the people. None of the Na’vi seemed to be driven by the principle of gaining more than they need and are satisfied with their individual position in their clan.

Other interesting concepts
The Na’vi are considered to be born twice through a metaphor similar to preparation and initiation. The initiated Na’vi use a Banshee bird for flying. The Banshee follows the orders of his master through the mind. The concept is very similar to Garuda and to that of airplanes in the heavenly planets which fly by mantric hymns -SB 4.6.27 .The Hallelujah Mountains are the flying mountains on Pandora - Flying mountains have a mention in the in SB 6.12.26, SB 8.11.34 . The Na’vi Hometree seems to indicate a reference to the Banyan Tree in BG Chapter 15 in the sense of the living entities performing most of their activities there.

Some Great Lines
Mo’at talking to Jake “We have tried to teach other Sky People… It is hard to fill a cup which is already full.” (Na’vi refer to humans as Sky People).

Mo’at to Jake when she instructs Neytiri to train Jake “Learn well Jake Sully, then we will see if your insanity can be cured. “- referring to the insane greed driven mindset of the humans.

The RDA company wants to present a carrot to the Na’vi so that they can get control of Unobtanium. The Na’vi though seemingly primitive are actually advanced in the mode of goodness and are completely self-satisfied in their environment and lifestyle. Jake says to Selfridge and Quaritch “They’re not going to make a deal. A light beer and blue jeans? There’s nothing that we have that they want.” Jake’s response indicates that the so- called advancement of modern civilization in the mode of passion and ignorance does not mean much to them.

James Cameron has surely presented more than a science fiction extravaganza as evident from his own statement taken from the Avatar wiki: “the Na’vi represent something that is our higher selves, or our aspirational selves, what we would like to think we are, and that even though there are good humans within the film, the humans “represent what we know to be the parts of ourselves that are trashing our world and maybe condemning ourselves to a grim future”.”

convert this post to pdf.
165 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » "Avatar : A Spiritual Discourse"

You must login before replying.

Home » "Avatar : A Spiritual Discourse"
Author: Administrator Administrator's website Administrator's email
Post Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Categories: Articles
Trackback: Trackback
Please support dandavats.com.
Click here to know why

  • A.C.B. Swami Prabhupada (14)
  • Adiguru das (3)
  • Anuttama dasa (9)
  • Badrinarayan dasa (7)
  • Basu Ghosh Das (14)
  • BB Govinda Swami (24)
  • Bhurijana dasa (31)
  • Bir Krishna Goswami (5)
  • Braja Sevaki Devi Dasi (13)
  • Caitanya Caran das (17)
  • Caru Das (42)
  • Citraka dasa (35)
  • Danavir Goswami (12)
  • Dayananda das (11)
  • Deena Bandhu dasa (40)
  • Ekendra das (4)
  • Gaurav Mittal (4)
  • GBC (67)
  • Gokulananda Das (14)
  • Hari-sauri dasa (25)
  • Hridayananda das Goswami (7)
  • Indradyumna Swami (69)
  • Janananda das (4)
  • Janananda Gosvami (18)
  • Karnamrita dasa (31)
  • Karuna Purna dasi (4)
  • Kaunteya Das (11)
  • Kavicandra Swami (28)
  • Kesava Krsna Dasa (47)
  • Krishna Dharma das (6)
  • Kurma Rupa Das (25)
  • Madhavananda Das (11)
  • Mahatma das (16)
  • Malati devi dasi (18)
  • Mayapur Sasi dasa (31)
  • Nandanandana das (18)
  • Payonidhi das (11)
  • Praghosa Dasa (36)
  • Radha Mohan Dasa (22)
  • Radhanath Swami (12)
  • Ravindra Svarupa dasa (8)
  • Romapada Swami (16)
  • Satyaraja Dasa (19)
  • Shyamasundara Dasa (8)
  • Sita Pati Das (15)
  • Sivarama Swami (12)
  • Tamohara das (7)
  • Tamoharadasa (7)
  • Urmila Devi Dasi (19)
  • Vaisesika Dasa (6)
  • Vineet Chander (10)
  • akincana.com
  • Bhaktimarga Swami's blog
  • Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  • Bhaktivedanta Institute (Alachua)
  • Bhaktivedanta Manor
  • Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network
  • Cooking with Kurma
  • Darshan of SS Radha-Londonisvara
  • Dharmapatnis
  • Diary of a Traveling Preacher
  • Forbidden Archeology
  • Gaudiya Vaisnava texts
  • Indradyumna Swami Media
  • ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry
  • ISKCON Health & Welfare Ministry
  • ISKCON's Congregational Development Ministry
  • Iskcon-desire-tree
  • Iskcon.com
  • Jayadvaita Swami's personal site
  • Krishna Dharma's website
  • Krishna Lila Entertainment
  • Krishna.com
  • matchlessgifts.org
  • Mayapur Academy
  • Mayapur International School
  • Ministry of Educational Development
  • Palace of the Soul
  • Parisisvara
  • prabhupadavani.org
  • Radio Krsna Central
  • Saligrama Sila site
  • Sridham Mayapura
  • The Bhaktivedanta Archives
  • The ISKCON Sannyasa Ministry
  • Trivikrama Swami
  • Vaisnava Calendar
  • Vaisnava Calendar Reminder
  • Vaisnava care website
  • Vanipedia
  • varnashrama.org
  • Vedic Astrologer
  • Vedic knowledge online
  • Vedic view on controversial issues
  • Website in Bengali language

  • Alachua Temple Live Podcast
  • Articles by authors
  • Comments by author
  • Donate through searching
  • Founder Acarya
  • Incoming Links
  • Iskcon Radio stations
  • Iskcon Universe Feed
  • Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
  • Krishna conscious "youtube"
  • Krishna Conscious Media
  • Most commented articles
  • Most read articles
  • New Dwaraka Archived Lectures
  • Polls
  • Stats
  • Temple webcams
  • Thanks!
  • The last seven day's most read articles

  • Shrila Bhaktivedhanta Saraswati Thakur’s Birthday 2010
  • Caitanya’s Sannyasa, Prabhupada’s Mercy
  • History Made in Vrindavan Kumbha Mela
  • Foundation of Bhakti Yoga Course at Bhaktivedanta College Radhadesh
  • From Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur
  • Festival Videos
  • “Avatar : A Spiritual Discourse”
  • Aravade 1 year Inauguration festival - pics
  • Srila Prabhupada’s glorious Visit to Kumbha mela – 2010 ( Vrindavan )
  • Romeo, Rama - and the rebelious Riff-Raff

  • German flag Spanish flag French flag Italian flag Portuguese flag Dutch flag Greek flag Japanese flag South Korean flag Russian flag Chinese flag

    "Artwork and photos courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com. Used with permission"