Stepping away from its cyberpunk themes, “The Matrix” also contains some heady commentary about the life of a messiah, as seen through the Buddhist cycle of karma. It’s not the first story to do that, however, and those intrigued by Neo’s entrapment in a cycle that wasn’t ever meant to end might fall in love with Sam, the reluctant Hindu god at the heart of “Lord of Light.”
Sam is his shortened name, from Mahasatmatman. That’s one of the first clues that this world of Hindu myth isn’t quite right. That’s no name from the epics, nor is it quite right for what Sam actually is. But Sam could definitely have a drink with Neo. It’s up to both of them to navigate a world unhappily forced into a rigid cycle of karma and caste and to break the chains of the “gods” with a revolt that begins in faith. Yes, “Lord of Light” is classic science fiction; these “gods” are evolved humans, using the weapons of their ancient faith to repress alien worlds. And just like the Hindu Yuga cycles, so too will history repeat. Sam must become Buddha (or Samma Sambuddho, for the Samming of it all), and free a world via enlightenment.