Day, Ukraine

Day, Ukraine

Avatar: James Cameron's Ode to Lord Krishna


"Pardon me, do you have a minute? Then I'll tell you a story you probably haven't heard - one about a hero from another planet. … The sensational plot of Avatar, which now has columnists and bloggers wearing out their keyboards, was committed to palm leaves thousands of years ago in elegant Sanskrit lettering."


By Maxim Chaikovsky, exclusively for Day


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


February 12, 2010


Ukraine - Day - Original Article (Russian)

The blue-skinned avatar of Lord Krishna, with his jungle Princess Radha, from the Hindu Bhagavata Purana, circa about 1,000 years before Christ.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Carl Diorio on the secret of Avatar's success., 00:00:49, Mar. 7 RealVideo

MOSCOW: Pardon me, do you have a minute? Then I'll tell you a story you probably haven't heard - one about a hero from another planet.


He's handsome and has dark blue skin, thick black hair, yellow lines on his forehead and a fearless heart, has descended from the heavens and has found shelter with a lost jungle tribe. He quickly becomes more attached to the forest-dwellers than his alien kin, and decides to stay with them forever. The tribe lives amid deposits of a precious mineral, but considers it simply rubble.


The previous relatives of our hero, the haughty sky people, were angry with the forest-dwellers due to their attachment to the land, and so try to destroy the entire tribe - along with the defector. Defending his newfound people, the hero flies on monsters, establishes a connection with the beasts, and speaks in code to trees that can grant wishes, and which grow at the foot of a sacred mountain.


But the central inspiration of our heroes' life is the forest king's beautiful daughter - who initially rejects him as childish. But she is forced to teach him the local customs and soon falls in love with him, meeting him secretly at night and tying her life to his.


And then … Pardon me, what's our hero's name, you ask? Yes, he was sometimes called an "avatar." But … But how do you know? No, he's not a disabled Marine. Our hero is a cowherd. … Unobtanium? One moment, if memory serves, the precious mineral of the story is called "cintamani" - a kind of philosopher's stone that can convert lead into gold. No, there are no colonels mentioned in the story.


IMAX? … What are you talking about? I haven't been to the movies since October. I just returned from India, where for three months straight, I floated down the Ganges in a kayak. My friend told me the story one evening around a campfire. No, not James Cameron. My friend from Mumbai - his name is Jay Kumar Ohm. He's a mean kayaker, by the way. What's that? The name of the hero? What? Nah, definitely not Jake Sully. Absolutely sure. I even wrote it down so I wouldn't forget. The hero's name is Krishna - to his friends, just Kanha.


[Editor's Note: According to Wikipedia, Krishna is sometimes considered an avatar of Lord Vishnu, and at others he's an independent deity, supreme in his own right.]


* * *


According to Hindu legend, 5,000 years ago, a Vedic sage named Vyasa composed the Bhagavata, a chronicle of the acts of Krishna's avatar on earth. Combining deep philosophy with Hollywood-type action, the Bhagavata epic became the leitmotif of Eastern spirituality, art, drama, sculpture and poetry, as well as architectural masterpieces like Angkor Vatu.


It turns out that the sensational plot of Avatar, which now has columnists and bloggers of every kind wearing out their keyboards, was committed to palm leaves thousands of years ago in elegant Sanskrit lettering. There, the blue-skinned avatar of Krishna flies the giant Garuda to the noble tribe of Vrajah, which lives in the forest of Vrindavan amid precious ore of "cintamani" stone. There, the sacred Govardhan Hill hovers above the ground where the Tree of Wishes grows, under which Krishna's new tribe hides from an "air attack" by his sky brethren. That is where beautiful native girl Radha lives - whose love of Krishna fills the ancient legend with life and meaning.



But James Cameron need not fret. In contrast to modern playwrights and science fiction writers, Vyasa is hardly likely to sue for plagiarism and seek redress for copyright infringement. Besides, to his credit, Cameron openly admitted to borrowing the name of the film and the blue color of the Na'vi from sacred Hindu texts. It was due only to the regrettable delay in the invention of 3D-cameras that the ancient epic’s conceptual semi-twin became reality millennia after.


Perhaps for some, the film is all too real. In a recent article headlined, "Audiences Experience Avatar Blues," CNN reported incidents of mass depression and even suicidal thoughts among Avatar fans.  



Movie fans are obsessed with the theme of being reborn into another life as a blue-skinned Na'vi on beautiful Pandora - images that now torment them with unrelenting déjà vu - delightfully familiar, yet agonizingly out of reach.



Vedomosti, Russia: Avatar's Appeal: We Know We're Bad, But Want to Be Good

Le Monde, France: Avatar: Nothing But a 'Stupid Justification for War!'

Die Zeit, Germany: Avatar: A Shameful Example of Western Cultural Imperialism

Cyberpress, Canada: The Film Avatar is the 'Apocalypse Now of the Virtual Age'

Vedomosti, Russia: Krylatskiy Townspeople Treated Like Avatar Natives

Komsomolskaya Pravda: Communists Say Cameron 'Robbed' Soviet SciFi

BolPress, Bolivia: Jesus Christ and the Movie Avatar

China Daily, China: Twisting Avatar to Fit China's Paradigm

De Standaard, Belgium: What Does Avatar Mean to You?

Russia Today, Russia: Communists Demand 'Ban' on Movie Avatar

Jornal De Angola, Angola: Avatar Holds Out Hope for Something Better


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Without disputing the possible underlying psychiatric causes of "Pandoramania," Bhagavata Purana offers a different, unconventional explanation: the inability to miss that which you have never personally experienced. Just like, as the ancient epic insists - and Socrates would surely agree: To feel a yearning for a world of the beauty and integrity of Pandora, the dull reflection of which is Earth, would only be possible if all of us, including Cameron, had emerged from its actual prototype.


Although surreal, the point of view of the Bhagavatam leads one to a consoling diagnosis: the "Avatar blues" isn't a mental disorder, but an awakened nostalgia - "a longing to return, in thought and reality, to one's past, one's homeland, one's family or friend, or to something lost or past." And by indulging in this longing just a little … who knows? Perhaps the ancient sage was right? And perhaps, kayaking down the river of my life to its source, I will at some point open my eyes amid wish-granting trees, hovering mountains and a noble tribe led by a blue-skinned hero - and will remain with them forever.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March 13, 10:57pm]



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