Saturday, February 19, 2011
Breath Of Fire: Unleash the Dragon Within
The very first RPG i got into as a kid was Breath of Fire. First released stateside in 1994, the original title was a classic Japanese style RPG. You start as Ryu, a blue haired hero who is the last of the light dragons, a clan capable of transforming, as their name would suggest, into dragons, granting them access to immense powers. You are opposed by the dark dragons, who rule the world through their evil Empire. The game itself is a standard JRPG level grinder, with slimes and wizards and a fairly generic storyline. So why make this post? Well, for a couple of reasons.
Even in this relatively innocent game are some hard-wired cues into Eastern spiritual practices. Let's start with the name itself. The "Breath of Fire" is a breathing technique designed to augment the adherent's chi, or spirit energy. It is performed through actively breathing in through the mouth and breathing out through the nose, using the diaphragm as a 'bellows' to force the air out in a burst of rhythm. And as in my recent DragonballZ post, it all relates to Kundalini yoga, the practical method of raising the serpent energy.
Check out this post from the Kundalini yoga website on the subject:
"Breath of Fire will entirely charge the nervous system, causing the glands to secrete and purify the blood. When it is done with certain postures and movements, which are meant to put contracting (drawing in) or expanding (releasing) pressure in nerve plexuses and glandular centers, those areas are made to fire and become completely charged.
As an area becomes charged, the sexual (seminal) fluids are released into the bloodstream and flow to those charged areas, so that gradually those areas will maintain that charge and pranic pressure builds throughout the body converting Bindu (Tamasic and Rajasic energy) to Ojas (Satvic energy), which fills and permeates the entire body and mind.
The practice of Kundalini Yoga with the natural awareness and rhythm of the diaphragm in Long Deep Breathing and Breath of Fire allows the postures and kriyas to have the greatest and most complete effect in bringing the satvic field to the point where the Self recollects Itself."
The Breath of Fire unleashes one's inner serpent energy, while the game of the same name is about transforming into a dragon. Well named, but there's more.
Though Ryu's initial dragon transformations are fairly innocently named, such as SnoDr (Snow Dragon), FirDr (Fire Dragon), and BltDr (Bolt Dragon), His final two dragon forms are the Hindi 'Rudra' and Agni.
According to wikipedia, Rudra (Devanagari: रुद्र) is a Rigvedic God, associated with wind or storm, and the hunt. The name has been translated as "The Roarer", or "The Howler".
Breath of Fire's "Rudra"
Agni is even cooler:
Agni (Sanskrit: अग्नि) is a Hindu deity, one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young, because the fire is re-lit every day, and also immortal.
Breath of Fire's "Agni"
In the Rigvedic chakra system, both the Rudra and Agni centers are located at the third chakra, which is the solar plexus and belly. The Kundalini raising 'breath of fire' technique stimulates this chakra intensely, as it places a huge emphasis on breathing through the diaphragm.
Though the Agni transformation resembles Sumerian reliefs
more than its hindi counterpart,
the rest lines up pretty elegantly. Add that the final boss is a goddess who turns out to be an alien in disguise,
and this simple little game shows a surprising amount of depth. Kudos to Capcom for making it, and Square for adding some spiritual continuity into what is otherwise a fairly generic translation. Stoke your Breath of Fire and keep unleashing them Dragons!