The 1999 film The Matrix was not only a critical and commercial blockbuster, it also explored deep existential questions about meaning, purpose, identity and authenticity. Based on the premise that reality is a dream and that life is an illusion, The Matrix is one of the most overtly philosophical movies ever to come out of Hollywood. In this talk, renowned Hindu monk Gadadhara Pandit Dasa will juxtapose The Matrix with the Bhagavad Gita, a foundational sacred Hindu text. Using clips from the film, he will analyze the shared aspirations and struggles of Neo from The Matrix and Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gita. In doing so, he will uncover the hidden dimensions of The Matrix and Hindu theology.
Gadadhara Pandit Dasa (also known as Pandit) was born in Kanpur, India and moved to Los Angeles with his parents in 1980. After living abroad as an adolescent, he moved to New York City in 1995.
Pandit entered the monastic order in 1999 after spending some months in a monastery in Mumbai, India. In 2001, Pandit began his campus ministry efforts in colleges in the New York area, including SUNY Albany, where he taught an accredited course on the Bhagavad Gita in 2003, Queens College, SUNY Purchase, Rutgers, Princeton, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and most recently Columbia University where he now focuses most of his efforts.
Pandit is the first-ever Hindu chaplain for Columbia University and New York University. His work at the universities, yoga studios, and retreat centers includes facilitating vegetarian cooking classes, mantra meditation workshops, discussions on the ancient Hindu classic, the Bhagavad Gita and utilizing popular Hollywood movies to introduce Vedic teachings and concepts. Pandit has led similar sessions at Columbia's Business School, Teachers College, and Union Theological Seminary.
Pandit spoke at a TEDx conference organized by Teachers College at Columbia University. He is a regular contributor for the Huffington Post. Pandit was featured in the NPR piece "Long Days and Short Nights of a Hindu Monk," and he has also appeared in the PBS Documentary on the Bhagavad Gita, as well as The New York Times. He also is a participant in the interfaith community and dialogue of New York City.