Avatar at the Asian, part II

Having now seen the movie Avatar, I can’t say there’s much Hindu lore in it beyond the word “avatar” and an approximation of its ancient concept.

It’s true that the hero of Avatar, like the Hindu deity Vishnu, has blue skin and rides a mighty sun bird, but hey, we’re in the realm of myth, and X doesn’t have to be derived from Y.

Here’s a painting from the museum’s collection showing a very blue Vishnu (and his consort) riding through the sky on the great bird Garuda. It’s from the north Indian state of Rajasthan, and dates from around 1760.

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If you see the movie and notice other connections with Hindu lore, write in and tell us, OK?

3 Responses to “Avatar at the Asian, part II”

  1. Aichi Alex  on December 30th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Yeah I didn’t see too much Hindu lore in it either, honestly its just a mashup of Dances with Wolves & Pocahontas as far as I can tell.

  2. erica  on January 5th, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I love this painting! The colors are amazing an there’s a beautiful combination of fierceness and tenderness.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Avatar soon, though Aichi Alex’s comparison doesn’t leave me terribly optimistic. Last night my yoga teacher compared Avatar the Bhagavad Gita, saying that both are examples of a half-mortal-half-spiritual being descending to Earth when it was imperiled. Part of her point was that we’re all half mortal and half spirit.

    Since I can go on and on about yoga these days, I thought I’d share that this is the mythic bird that Garudasana http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/785, usually described as eagle pose, references. Certainly eagles are majestic in their own right, but learning about Garuda took my energy in the posture up a level.

  3. Ana  on January 5th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I wonder if any such association is undeserved…

    Granted, the script seems to mash picking from any number of ideological quips of the decade, and some do argue that all mildly successful preaching unavoidably touches the same set of deeply seated human fantasies as religions do. Rather disturbing thought, to say the least.

    More interestingly [demanding seriously teeth-grinding effort!] the present story reminds me of any number of myths detailing the maladjustment of gods and mortals attempting to function in the other’s realm. Some of these come deny the desired middle ground between the two natures, and so does the scriptwriter here, come to think of it.

    Unfortunately, I cannot pin down right now an Indian myth with similar dramatic structure. It’s been a while since reading through them [and I am still grateful for the lucky encounter with those books, even as a diminished memory!]

    Just hope the Avatar-makers will not pick the related incarnation of the dual nature idea in a more familiar religion for a sequel script. Now, that would be really scary… Bet tuppence they will.


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