The Legend of Bagger Vance vs. Bhagavad Gita
The 2000 film The Legend of Bagger Vance tells the story of a man named Rannulph Junah, who was a very talented golfer when he was young. He had planned on playing his whole life, until he fought in World War I and became traumatized. Years later, his old lover Adele decides to hold a four-round, two-day exhibition match in order to recover her family’s lost fortune. The match consists of two talented golfers, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen.
In order to gain local support, Adele asks Junah if he’d be willing to play. With some soul searching and help from a caddy, Bagger Vance, Junah is able to fight his demons and play his best in the match.
The film is loosely based on the sacred Hindu text called the Bhagavad Gita. The warrior in the story, Arjuna (whom Junah was based upon) refuses to fight in a battle. The god Krishna (whom Bagger Vance was based upon) appears to him during the battle and leads him to becoming the great warrior that he was meant to be.
Both stories are based upon themes of self-actualization and becoming the best version of yourself you can be. The Hindu principle of Varna, which means duty, is also an important theme in the story. Varna is the idea that your duty is what should lead you in life and you should not worry about the results of your actions, just try the best you possibly can.
The sacred Hindi text is a story of self-actualization. Arjuna is faced with an existential crisis in the beginning of the story. He questions who he is and what he wants his life to be about. He wonders if what he does with his life is more important than the people in it, whom he loves. All these questions are much more intimidating when they are being asked in battle, where if he answers a question wrong, lives are at stake. He sees his family and friends in the audience, and his anxiety level rises. He says, “My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting mood, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. In fact, my whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning” (1.28-29).
Clearly horrified, Arjuna surrenders and says to Krishna, “I will not fight.” After he surrenders, Arjuna asks for the guide of Krishna by saying, “Now I am confused about duty and have lost all sense due to weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me what is best for me. I state it now directly: I am Your disciple- a soul surrendered unto You. Please tell me what to do” (2.7). Similarly, in The Legend of Bagger Vance, during the match, Junah feels completely discouraged, and that he’s lost his talent entirely. He becomes overwhelmed with the crowd of people, and refuses to participate in the rest of the match. He explains to Bagger that “This whole endeavor is a freak show. A joke. What good will any of it do me, or anyone attached to it?” It is during this moment that Junah reaches his moment of eternal turmoil, which relates him to Arjuna.
Both stories also rely heavily on the relationship between a guru and his student. Arjuna submits all his worries to Krishna and asks him for his help. Junah thinks of Bagger in the same way, as his mentor but also as his friend. He states, “I’m lost, Bagger. Help me, my friend and mentor, tell me what to do.” Both stories demonstrate the importance of having a guru, or a guide to help you throughout life.
The main theme in both stories is self-actualization, or becoming the best you can be. Bagger explains to Junah that it is important that he enjoys the game and does his best and not whether he wins or loses. This relates to the Hindu principle of Varna. He says that he was born with a natural talent, and it is his duty to perfect it. Bagger Vance states, “I believe that each of us possesses, inside ourselves one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone. It is folly to try to teach us another, or to mold us to some ideal version of the perfect swing. Each player possesses only that one swing that he was born with, that swing which existed within him before he ever picked up a club.”
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna also states that developing your own talents is essential to living a good life. He states, “It is better to engage in one’s own natural work, even though one may perform it imperfectly than to accept another’s work and perform in perfectly.” The Hindu principle of Varnashrama is demonstrated in the themes of these two stories. It is important for a person to engage in their own, unique, God-given talents. This is what will lead a person to success. At the end of the film, Bagger Vance leaves Junah to finish the game for himself, believing that he has taught him everything he needs to know to be successful.
Both The Legend of Bagger Vance and Bhagavad Gita demonstrate themes of self-actualization. They also show Hindu beliefs of Varna, which states that doing your duty is what is important in life, and not the results from it. A person needs to develop their own natural abilities, and this is the best way to become the person you were meant to be.
Cite this The Legend of Bagger Vance
The Legend of Bagger Vance. (2016, May 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-legend-of-bagger-vance/