Chakra Discussions

The Ramayana movie project: a lesson

by Janaka Stagnaro

Posted January 21, 2005

It is with great reservation that I write this as I tend to stay out of the dirt; however, I am hoping that something that I see as very negative become positive by using it as an example from which all may learn. Out of curiosity, I plugged in a name from my past to see what tricks he might be up to and, for some reason, I was surprised that he was still at it (but then again, not too surprised). I noticed that he wrote a review about his project. I could only shake my head as I saw that he used his birth name as the "reporter", writing highly of himself using his Vedic name. Nothing seems to have changed. I do not write this out of malice for the human being, but out of disgust for the actions I witnessed when I was involved in this project.

Around 12 years ago a very passionate man came to me for a tarot reading about his project -- a movie about the Ramayana. As I was a lover of Rama and his pastimes this producer invited me to help out on the project. I have never met anybody with such one-pointed concentration (or was it obsession?) as I drove him here and there for him to plug the movie. Since I had a new family and needed to support them he promised me percentage points in the film as well as other tidbits after the eventual release that, of course, would earn millions of dollars. Such point distribution he often would promise others whom he convinced to help in the project, if he didn't get them -- there were many -- to do it simply for the love for God.

This is where things get sticky. When the mission is "spiritual", a whole lot of manipulation can happen. If one asks for compensation for one's time to make a living in the world then one is being egotistical, a-spiritual. "If you love God you would help. Trust and you will be rewarded." It's kind of like the Patriot Act or anything else a politician may be pushing: "If you love America, you will support this law." This is a common ploy. So what happens is that the one in charge holds a lot of power, dispensing rewards when or if he/she feels fit -- kind of like an emperor or guru. But since the project is "spiritual", then the end justifies whatever means is needed. Nothing new here either: all we have to do is to look at Iraq and all the killing done in either the name of freedom or of Allah.

Iraq is a good example because, when there is a war, then it is victory at any cost; and if it is a bellum justum, all the better. The producer of this film saw it as a war -- a war against demonic powers opposing the movie (but coming from someone who believes that he is the reincarnation of Muhammad, well, I guess that is not too surprising). The off and on time I was on this project, working in the hyperbolizing bowels of Hollywood, my stomach started to turn at the deceptions to get people involved, all done in Krishna's Name. Everyone was expendable as long as the project succeeded. And everybody was welcomed, no matter what their character, as long as they might help move the project forward. Hell, if some guy walked in with ten heads and a wad of cash, there was no way he was going to be turned away: "By having him in the project his karma will be purified." I eventually walked away.

For me, my gratitude goes out to him and other 'teachers' who taught me about the need to honor that the means is by far the safer road in coming to the end; for certainly integrity will have been the guiding force. I highly suspect those whose actions do not reflect the highest character strengths while saying that they are acting in God's Name. So may we all not become blinded by lofty promises and support only those who act with integrity, who set examples for us and our children to follow.

May those who read this wield the sword of discrimination and beware of producers in devotee's clothing.