Thanks to David Lynch’s active involvement in the Transcendental Meditation movement initiated by the now deceased Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it is now clear that Twin Peaks owes a great deal to Vedic mythology. I underlined this fact in my 2016 book Twin Peaks: Unwrapping the Plastic and I strongly feel that The Return only confirms this idea. I believe that several of the central mysteries at the heart of the series and film can be “solved” using this key and that the metaphysical structure of this world is built using elements taken from this religious tradition.
Who is the dreamer? What is the white horse? What is the mysterious ocean with a peak in its middle, crowned by a castle of sorts? These are some of the questions which might be answered by studying Hindu myths closely.
First of all, let’s note that a central element of this mythology is Vishnu, the “preserver” in the Hindu trinity (Trimurti) that includes Brahma and Shiva. He lies in a dream-like state on the serpent Adisesha Ananta who is Time, without beginning or end. As if he is seeing a dream, Vishnu watches Brahma create the Universe. By the act of watching his dream, Vishnu sustains the Universe.
There is a strong probability that this myth is to be connected to the scene when Gordon Cole meets Monica Belluci in Paris. Since the stability of the Universe is about to collapse because of the conflict between various time lines, remembering that Vishnu is the one whose role it is to keep the integrity of the multiverse appears appropriate.
Vishnu is known to ride on the Garuda, a legendary bird. In Hinduism, Garuda is a divine eagle-like sun bird and the king of birds. Garuda’s links to Vishnu – the Hindu god who fights injustice and destroys evil in his various avatars to preserve dharma – has made him an iconic symbol of a king’s duty and power. Interestingly, it is possible to notice the same infinity/Ouroboros sign drawn by Phillip Jeffries as a machine on the image below, where Vishnu and Lakshmi fly atop Garuda in a sea of stars.
Also, the thunderbird we see on Steven’s car is similar to Gardua. The logo on his hood resembles much the one found on many flags, such as the Indonesian one below.
When Vishnu wakes from his dream, one cycle of Creation ends. In Hinduism, the world goes through four stages (or ages or yugas) as part of a ‘cycle of yugas’ described in the Sanskrit scriptures. David Lynch regularly talks about the present time, the Kali Yuga (the Dark Age), supposed to last 432,000 years. For instance, for those who can read French, one can find Lynch discussing the Kali Yuga in the following issue of Cahiers du Cinéma (link).
It is interesting to note that the Kali Yuga will end with the arrival of Kalki (the destroyer of filth), nemesis of demon Kali (worshipped as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe) and 10th avatar of Vishnu.
The Purana scriptures foretell that Kalki will be atop a white horse with a drawn blazing sword. He is the harbinger of the end time in Hindu eschatology, after which he will usher in Satya Yuga” (the Age of Truth, when humanity is governed by gods, sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age”).
Who will ride the white horse in Twin Peaks?
To return to Vishnu dreaming the Universe on the serpent Adisesha Ananta, one should note that they float for all eternity on the waters of the Ksheer Sagar (otherwise known as the ocean of Cosmic Consciousness). This is of course reminiscent of what Lynch wrote about Transcendental Meditation in his book Catching the Big Fish. This ocean in Hindu cosmology is the Ocean of milk, the fifth from the center of the seven oceans. Difficult not to make a link to the ocean first seen in episode 3 of The Return. The connection is ever more obvious when one finds out that some relationships between the milk ocean and Goloka, the planet of Krishna, may be found. Krishna is the same as Vishnu, who lives in a white castle on the ocean of milk and on other hand, Krishna is the same as Vishnu, but He lives on Goloka, a planet of cows.
Here is an image of Vishnu dreaming worlds next to the Fireman invoking Laura Palmer’s orb:
Humans not only live on Earth with a salt water ocean, but there are other oceans like the sweet water ocean among these 7 oceans that humans may aspire to live in. The material world is compared to the ocean of fault, especially in Kali-Yuga, so a way to go out of this matter is to enter the ocean of bliss – in the eternal world of Vaikuntha (the celestial abode of Vishnu, the preserver – a sort of Fireman… Vaikuntha is an abode exclusive to him, his consort the goddess Lakshmi – senorita Dido? – and other liberated souls. They are blessed with pure bliss and happiness in the company of the supreme being for all eternity).
The supreme planet in that ocean of Truth is Goloka, though only a few persons out of thousands and thousands may come to the conclusion of Absolute Truth and may subsequently live on this planet of cows (the most sacred animal for Hindus, a symbol of good nature, purity, motherhood and prosperity), where the milk ocean exists. Vaikuntha is like a job place of Krishna, but Goloka is like a home of Krishna.
As will become apparent below, the way Goloka is traditionally depicted resembles the drawing seen above Sonny Jim’s bed, the one of a pink planet next to a much smaller blue one.
As for the link with cows, one remembers when David Lynch Used a live cow in 2006 to campaign for Laura Dern’s Oscar nomination, for her leading role in Inland Empire to be acknowledged by the Academy.
The idea of cows and of an ocean of milk should probably be linked to another myth from Hinduism: the one of The Churning of the Ocean, which explains the origin of amrita, the nectar of immortality. The Devas formed an alliance with the Asuras (the good and the bad deities) to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality and to share it among themselves. However, Vishnu told the Devas that he would arrange for them alone to obtain the nectar. Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, a serpent, became the churning rope.
Is it possible that the peak on top of which is located the castle of the Fireman and senorita Dido be Mount Mandara? Did the nuclear explosion of episode 8 function as a sort of second churning of the ocean of milk?
What is certain is the fact that in modern cosmology, the Milky way is similarly depicted as a white spiral cloud. The rotating spiral galaxy structure of the milky way correlates with the ocean of milk being churned, and the Super massive Black hole at its center correlates with the extremely heavy Mount Mandara.
In my book Twin Peaks: Unwrapping the Plastic, I described the Lodges as a secret garden of sorts (a Temenos, to use the jungian term), which one can access via Glastonbury Grove, a liminal place where it is possible to meet the gods. The idea of the Lodges as a hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) came to me for several reasons, which include the now famous words of The Arm: “Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always music in the air”. I also noted that the chevron motif was a traditional way to depict water, which I linked to the fountains found in most gardens.
It now seems to me that the garden in question might very well be associated to planet Goloka and its ocean of milk. The Lodges might be some sort of antechamber to this edenic planet, Kirsna’s eternal home. Here is a description of Goloka, found in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
“Goloka is always full of cows. There are many waterfalls, which are always pouring water, and the sound is so sweet that it covers the sound of the crickets. And because water flows all over, the forest always looks very green and beautiful. The inhabitants of Vrindavana are never disturbed by the scorching heat of the sun or high summer temperatures. The lakes of Vrindavana are surrounded by green grasses, and various kinds of lotus flowers bloom there. The air blowing in Vrindavana carries the aromatic pollen of those lotus flowers. When the particles of water from the waves of the Yamuna River, the lakes, and the waterfalls touch the bodies of the inhabitants of Vrindavana, they automatically feel a cooling effect. Vrindavana is such a nice place. Flowers are always blooming, and there are even various kinds of decorated deer. Birds are chirping, peacocks are crowing and dancing, and bees are humming. The cuckoos there sing nicely in five kinds of tunes. Krishna, the reservoir of pleasure, blowing His flute, accompanied by His elder brother Balarama and the other cowherd boys and the cows, enters the beautiful forest of Vrindavana to enjoy the atmosphere. They walk into the midst of newly grown leaves of trees whose flowers resembled peacock feathers. They are garlanded by those flowers and decorated with saffron chalk. Sometimes they are dancing and singing and sometimes wrestling with one another. While Krishna dances, some of the cowherd boys sing and others play on flutes; some bugle on buffalo horns or clap their hands, praising Krishna, ‘Dear brother, You are dancing very nicely.’ ”
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