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Drunken Angel: Sanada – what’s in a name?

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    If you do an internet search for the names Sanada, Sananda or Sanda, you discover that the name is loaded with spiritual meaning (warning: you will also uncover a lot of new age stuff). I have actually been aware of this for around ten years now when one of my favourite artists, Terence Trent D’Arby, adopted the rather grandiose name Sananda Maitreya.

    However, even if I am aware of the loaded nature of Sanada/Sananda/Sanda, it has never become quite clear to me what it in reality stands for. It seems to be some sort of a term for Jesus, or his consciousness, but in a system very different from the Christian mythology.

    What I have been able to gather is that Sanada is the name given to Jesus in “other realms”, Jesus/Sanada being some sort of an enlightened being or healer who travels cyclically to spread… well, whatever enlightened beings and healers spread. Love? Enlightenment?

    What bothers me is that I have not been able to find a single reliable source to piece together what exactly is going on. When and where did the Sanada myth/cult begin, what exactly is the system behind it, how has it developed? The system seems to be strongly linked to Buddhism, but as far as I can see the sites that promote Sanada are pretty much about what I would term “new age Buddhism”, rather than the more traditional strands of Buddhism. It also seems to sometimes connect with the legend that Jesus never died (or died but returned) and lived afterwards in India where he was eventually buried.

    In other sources, Sanada appears to be some sort of a space man, beaming messages to people who then write them down. You’ll find plenty of messages from him if you do a simple Google search.

    Perhaps my consciousness just isn’t wide enough to comprehend what is going on. Any more enlightened members here, or someone more in the know?

    In the end it may be, and in fact very probably is, a simple coincidence that Kurosawa’s angel-like Sanada is named as he is. It is a Japanese name, after all. Although not a very common one, I think?



    There is another meaning of “Sanda”-the term refers to a martial art-like “Wushu” but an older tradition and implies a bare-handed struggle.

    I can see Sanada as both a bare-handed fighter, and a would-be savior.

    I wonder if a comprehensive study of the naming of characters in Kuroswa’s work has been done, and if it shows any particular interest in symbolic naming of characters? In Seven Samurai the names have a “feel”- and in “Red Beard” there is a feel, but is there anything corresponding to literary tradition? You know-those questions that we were asked in high school when we read the “Scarlet Letter”: ” Consider the characters Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. How are their names symbolic?”



    There is another meaning of “Sanda”-the term refers to a martial art-like “Wushu” but an older tradition and implies a bare-handed struggle.

    That’s interesting! Sanada is, indeed, a fighter, although at least in the film he does seem to specialise in missile weapons. 😉

    I haven’t come across any comprehensive study of Kurosawa’s character names. Too bad that it is something that would probably really require a Japanese person to work on, as a gaijin like myself would most probably not be able to pick up the nuances or any possible historical references.



    It would be very interesting to find some possible importance to the character’s name. Indeed we would likely need a highly knowledgeable Japanese literary person….. Basically a native Japanese version of Vili. 😛

    Great post, but I got nothing to offer.


    Jon Hooper

    I’ve been ploughing through some of those New Age websites and must say I’m more confused than when I started. I agree with Jeremy – unless we find a Japanese Vili we’re stumped.

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