It has taken me a little over 25 years, but I now think I’m beginning to get a good grasp about who and what some of the most mysterious elements of the Twin Peaks universe might be. The extreme difficulty to decipher what lies beneath the surface of the show’s narrative, the metaphysical mysteries it “occults”, is really to be credited to the powerful imagination and talent of both David Lynch and Mark Frost. Together, they have created a multilayered universe in which one can dig forever, it seems, layer after layer of meaning – there is always something more to find underneath.
My personal quest has lead me through many different grids of interpretation, not necessarily exclusive of each other: surrealism, psychoanalysis, philosophy, mythology, spirituality, etc. Theosophy definitely played an important part in this process, thanks to Mark Frost’s input, just like the writing of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa (discussed elsewhere on this blog: link).
But in the end, nothing appears more central to Twin Peaks than Hinduism (and Theosophy, of course, owes a great deal to Hinduism).
In my 2016 book Twin Peaks: Unwrapping the Plastic, I had already analyzed much of the first two seasons and the film using elements from the Upanishads, the Rigveda, the Puranas… I already knew about David Lynch’s strong interest in Transcendental Meditation and his recurring use of quotes from the Upanishads in his book Catching the Big Fish. I had also read Martha Nochimson’s excellent book David Lynch Swerves, which lays the emphasis on the importance of Indian spirituality in his work (but which mostly focused on his post Fire Walk With Me films).
Twin Peaks: The Return has opened up new perspectives for my analysis which I have been working on during the past year. It has also enabled me to dig further into some of my previous research so as to come to more satisfactory answers to some of the most cryptic parts of the show.
Let’s start with Mount Meru.
In episode 3 of the new season, Dale Cooper literally falls on the balcony of a building on top of a peak surrounded by a mauve ocean. This is the result of a long trans-dimensional fall that started in the Lodges, continued through the mysterious glass cube in New York – the fall would finally continue though an electrical device so as to reach Las Vegas, down here on planet Earth.
It then appears in episode 8 that this peak is crowned by a castle of sorts in which the Fireman and Senorita Dido live. The rocky peak and its surrounding ocean are contained within a golden ball which appears on our screens after the atomic explosion on July 16th, 1945.
What is this place? The answer lies of course in Hinduism.
Mount Meru, a golden mountain, is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. It is the most sacred object in the universe because it supports the heavens and the gods. Geographically, it is said to exist at the center of the universe in the waters of life, surrounded by seven concentric seas, each diminishing in size from the center. The Sun along with all the planets circle the mountain. The Suryasiddhanta (a Sanskrit treatise in Indian astronomy from late 4th-century or early 5th-century CE) mentions that Mt. Meru lies in ‘the middle of the Earth’ (“bhurva-madhya”) in the land of the Jambunad (Northern Hemisphere of the earth as opposed to the Southern hemisphere, referred to as Patala).
Obviously, even though Mount Meru is very high, the Lodges must be even higher up because it’s from the sky that Dale Cooper lands/crashes on the balcony of the fortress. As explained above, Mount Meru supports the heavens. There are fourteen worlds all in all, seven higher ones (Vyahrtis) and seven lower ones (Patalas), with planet Earth in-between.
Svargaloka is a set of heavenly worlds (some Puranic references equate it to the Solar System) where the righteous live in paradise before their next incarnation. Svarga is seen as a transitory place for righteous souls who have performed good deeds in their lives but are not yet ready to attain moksha, or elevation to Vaikunta, the abode of Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Abode (or to Goloka, the eternal supreme abode of Lord Krishna and Radha – the terms “Goloka” and “Vaikunta” are often synonymously used; all the Vaikuntha planets are said to be like petals of a lotus flower, and the principal part of that lotus, Goloka Vrndāvana, is the center of all the Vaikunthas). The capital of Svarga is Amaravati and its entrance is guarded by Airavata (a mythological white elephant).
Because of his fall to Mount Meru, it is reasonable to believe that the Lodges are situated somewhere in the Svargaloka, “above” the purple peak.
The link between Mount Meru and the heavens is made evident when Cooper follows Naido up the ladder she climbs to reach a metallic “raft” lost in space. This simple climb enables them to cross physical dimensions from the “earthly” realm of Mount Meru to the cosmic heavens of Svargaloka.
Interestingly, Indra, the lord of the heavens and leader of the Devas, lives on the top of Mount Meru and presides over Svargaloka. He is the god of the heavens, lightning, thunder, storms, rains and river flows – in other words, he is the god of electricity. His mythologies and powers are similar to those of Indo-European deities such as Zeus, Jupiter or Thor. He is the most referred to deity in the Rigveda and he is the one who kills the great symbolic evil (Asura) named Vritra (a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought that obstructs human prosperity and happiness). He destroys Vritra and his “deceiving forces”, and thereby brings rains and the sunshine as the friend of mankind.
I believe that this description fits perfectly with the Fireman as we meet him in The Return: a force for good who intervenes to help mankind and who lives perched on-top of the purple peak in a citadel with his wife (Senorita Dido/Indrani).
Indrani, also known as Shashi, is one of the seven Matrikas (mother goddesses). She has a significance in Vedic in developing the idea of Shakti which denotes power, the feminine personified might. According to the Rig Veda, Shachi is considered a most fortunate female for Indra granted her immortality. It is said that he chose her over all of the other goddesses because of her magnetic attractions. is a goddess who, even though from a father of demonish origin, is pure, the most beautiful, kind and the one who was a wonder to many eyes.
A brilliant article written by Croatian scholar Karla Lončar that I will soon publish in the upcoming Fall/Winter special issue dedicated to Twin Peaks of the Supernatural Studies Journal insists (among other mind-bending associations with astrology and discussions about the role of Saturn in relationship to Twin Peaks) on the links between the Fireman and Jupiter, based notably on the motif that appears on the floor in his fortress, which resembles the atmosphere of the Solar System’s giant.
The above mentioned links between Indra and Zeus/Jupiter make a lot of sense in relationship to this imagery. His connection to Thor also appears to be of importance since it is the Giant who presides overs Freddie Sykes’ metamorphosis into a person gifted with the strength of a demi-god, thanks to the green garden glove that he leads him to (“Both Indra and Thor are storm gods, with powers over lightning and thunder, both carry hammer or equivalent, for both the weapon returns to their hand after they hurl it, both are associated with bulls in the earliest layer of respective texts, both use thunder as a battle-cry, both are heroic leaders, both protectors of mankind, both are described with legends about “milking the cloud-cows”, both are benevolent giants, gods of strength, of life, of marriage and the healing gods, both are worshiped in respective texts on mountains and in forests”). This glove functions similarly to Thor’s hammer Mjölnir, a weapon that functions with the power of a thunderbolt, a weapon he uses to subdue BOB-the-snake/dragon, the equivalent in Twin Peaks to Indra’s fight against Vritra with Vajra. (“The Rigveda states that the weapon was made for Indra by Tvastar, the maker of divine instruments. The associated story describes Indra using the vajra, which he held in his hand, to slay the asura Vritra who took the form of a serpent”).
Returning to the idea that Svarga is a transitory place for righteous souls not yet ready to attain moksha (freedom from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth), one needs to remember an important quote from the original series:
The Red Room (or is it the Lodges as a whole?) is such a transitory place, a waiting room on the path to rebirth (down to Earth) or spiritual elevation to a superior Loka. And as in Hinduism, though deities appear to be distinct from each other and constitute a vast pantheon, in the end they are all essentially One: the transcendental Brahman, the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. “Brahman pervades the whole universe. All forms and aspects of Brahman are Brahman only”.
“In sections 4.5–6 of the Maitri Upanishad, students ask their Vedic Guru (teacher) about which god is best among gods they name, a list that includes Agni. The Guru replies that they are all supreme, all merely forms of the Brahman, the whole world is Brahman. So pick anyone, suggests the Upanishad, meditate and adore that one, then meditate over them all, then deny and discard the individuality of every one of these gods including of Agni, thus journey unto the universal, for a communion with the Purusha, the Atman”.
“Some Sanskrit mystics locate seven planes of being, the seven spiritual lokas or worlds within the body of Kala Hamsa, the Swan out of Time and Space…“ (The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky). Within the Hindu faith and its symbolism, the Swan or Hamsa represents the Supreme Spirit or Ultimate Reality; that is, the metaphysical creative and cosmic principles known as Brahman. In Western terms, the hamsa represents the God in the Hindu pantheon. At the same time it was a genderless or androgynous figure which united the fundamental forces of Shiva and Shakti and all dualities, including the intake and release of the breath. (link)
I have regularly argued about the importance of eggs, swans and geese in Twin Peaks, and in particular in relationship to The Return. You may read more about my thoughts on the subject of ducks/swans/geese here: link.
In my book, I described the Red Room as a secret garden, a hortus conclusus hidden in a (Glastonbury) grove where human can meet deities, as in the Temenos of classical Greece. One of the things that led me to this conclusion, besides the omnipresence of statues of Venus (the goddess of garden), was the famous quote from The Arm about birds and music (followed by a dance).
Now, if we follow the line of reasoning concerning Mount Meru, Indra and Svargaloka, we come to a description of his gardens. We learn that the heaven of Lord Indra is a region for the virtuous alone with celestial gardens called Nandana planted with sacred trees and sweet-scented flowers. The fragrant groves are occupied by Apsaras. Low sweet music plays. Indra’s abode is eight hundred miles in circumference and forty miles in height. The inhabitants of Amaravati (the capital of Svarga, built by Lord Vishwakarma, the architect of the gods) are entertained by music, dancing and every sort of festivity.
One last short thought concerning the role of the gods in Twin Peaks (in relationship to the way they act in the Vedas). When Andy gets teleported to the Fireman’s fortress after his visit at Jack Rabbit’s Palace, this is highly reminiscent of how Indian deities used to summon human beings: “When a great god thinks of anyone, that person immediately appears before him, summoned and transported by telekinesis“.
This is all for the moment. I will come back soon with more reflections concerning similar themes… as well as ideas about the role of the Pleiades in the world of Twin Peaks.
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