Gita On The Green: … or finally, finally, an explanation for Will Smith’s MMC’in in his last movie, courtesy of a book review by Phil Catalfo in the March/April copy of Yoga Journal magazine.

If you saw the Robert Redford-directed film The Legend of Bagger Vance, released last fall — it starred Matt Damon as a dispirited golf champion and Will Smith as his enigmatic spiritual guide — you probably didn’t realize the story was inspired by the ancient Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

For one thing, the despondent golfer’s name, Rannulph Junnah, or “R. Junnah,” is a clever transliteration of Arjuna, the warrior prince whose existential dilemma is at the heart of the Gita. And Junah’s mystical caddy bears a similarly resonant name: “Bagger Vance” is just a slight stretch from Bhagavan, a term for God, one of whose manifestations in Hinduism is Krishna — who, in the Gita, appears to the troubled Arjuna and exhorts him to act, to accept the role life has given him, to be who he truly is: the transcendent Self at the core of his being. …

But the film’s Junnah never aspired to anything higher than a level of inner calm sufficient to whack the hell out of a golf ball and rekindle an old love affair gone tragically bad. …

Rosen’s exegesis is delightful for its Gita scholarship, for the fun he has integrating the language of golf with the language of yoga (“yoga means ‘to link'”), and especially for his deconstruction of the novel in the the light of the Gita.

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