What does Katniss Everdeen have in common with the Hindu God Rama? Laxmi, author of The Destiny of Shaitan, explains.
“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?
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.”
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.)
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.
Do you have more examples of western science fiction drawing from Indian mythology? Do let me know.
About The Destiny of Shaitan
Partially set in a futuristic Bombay, this coming of age story is painted against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world.
When Tiina accompanies Yudi on a mission to save the universe from the ruthless Shaitan, she seeks more than the end of the tyrant; she seeks herself. Driven by greed and fear for his own survival, Shaitan bulldozes his way through the galaxy, destroying everything in his path. Tiina wants Yudi to destroy Shaitan, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Shaitan being killed by his son. But she finds that Yudi is hesitant to do so. The final showdown between Tiina, Yudi, and Shaitan has unexpected consequences, for Shaitan will do anything in his power to win the fight. The stakes are high and the combatants determined. Will Shaitan’s ultimate destiny be fulfilled?
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About Laxmi Hariharan
While born in India, Laxmi Hariharan has lived in Singapore and Hong Kong and is now based in London. She has written for various publications including The Times of India, The Independent, Inside Singapore, Inside Hong Kong and Asian Age. Indian mythology inspires her work. When not writing, this chai-swigging technophile enjoys long walks in the woods, growing eye-catching flowers and indulging her inner geek. Her debut novel is The Destiny of Shaitan.
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