The 1977 movie Star Wars IV: A New Hope mentioned the Jedi knights for the first time, and they were instantly popular. They have remained the central theme of subsequent movies as well as novels and games based on that franchise. Although these knights are entirely fictional, it seems that their creator, George Lucas, has based them on a hodgepodge of religious perspectives. The movie franchises were spectacularly successful and thus now you have a group of fans calling themselves followers of Jedi-ism. With the arrival of the internet, this new religion got to spread rapidly and now has thousands of followers. Followers acknowledge the movies as fiction but recognize religious truths in various statements made throughout them, specifically those referring to the Jedi and the Force.

If the West can create a new religion from Hollywood, should Bollywood be left behind? Certainly not! A whole two years before Star Wars, Bollywood launched the career of a new goddess – Santoshi Maa!

Many do not bother at all that her story has no scriptural basis whatsoever! This new goddess has remained popular. This may be the first time that a new divine personality, her story, her rites and rituals (vrata) and the perceived benefits of becoming her devotee – all of these are derived from the movie script alone!

Let us try to understand what drives a person to this kind of worship. We all have a particular type of faith. Now who is to decide whether this faith is good or bad? Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that one’s faith is considered good, passionate or ignorant according to one’s nature. This nature dictates what kind of people one would like to associate with, and similarly what kind of music, movies, books or novels one would like to indulge in.

The contaminated modes of material nature reach the heart. Therefore according to the stance of the heart in contact with a particular mode of material nature, one’s faith is established. It should be understood that if one’s heart is in the mode of goodness, one’s faith is also in the mode of goodness. If his heart is in the mode of passion, his faith is also in the mode of passion. And if his heart is in the mode of darkness, or illusion, his faith is also thus contaminated and ofthe same quality. Thus we find different types of faith in this world, and there are different types of religions due to different types of faith.

The Gita emphatically says that the living entity is originally a fragmental part of the Supreme Lord. Thus, his consciousness is originally pure – not just in the mode of goodness but in transcendental existence (Suddha-sattva). But when contaminatedby the modes of material nature, he loses that purity. And this results in the advent of newer and newer gods and goddesses.