To most of us Nietzsche immortalizes the atheistic right. It was he who first said, ”God is dead”. A literal interpretation of this statement should make one accept that Nietzsche did not believe in the concept of an overarching force that runs this universe and if at all there ever was one, Nietzsche just declared him dead. Could it be that it was the existing concept of God (in Nietzsche’s era and his geographical space) that Nietzsche did not conform to or believe in. Was Nietzsche simply anti-Christian or was he anti-God?
His criticism of Christianity was primarily on the grounds that it lay too much of emphasis on morality and he on the contrary praised the Greek Hyperborean and even Pre-Christian Paganism. His extolling of the Apollonian and Dionysian philosophies leads us to somehow believe that it was Abrahamic religions that he seemed to be against and not God. Am I being too simplistic in understanding Nietzsche or have I eaten the flesh and thrown the bones to the dogs.
In his pioneering work “Thus Spake Zarathustra” Nietzsche talks of the concept of Übermensch(translated as Superman or Overman or Superhuman).He describes human beings as a stage of transition from apes to Ubermensch. The metaphor or the symbol of the Ubermensch stems from the Nietzschean idea of self-overcoming. One of the passages where Zarathustra speaks to the Ubermensch reads like this,” "All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughing stock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.”
In all these questions Nietzsche exhorts a human being to achieve what he/she is capable of becoming ie The Ubermensch. How similar is the concept of Ubermensch to the concept of Shiva (especially in Kashmir Saivism) or is there no connection whatsoever? I am tempted, maybe out of my ignorance or non-Saivahood or not being an Ubermensch, to believe that the concepts are similar. I will try and explain to myself.
According to Kashmir Saivism all of us have the capacity to become Siva. Depending upon what state and stage of consciousness any living form is, determines his distance from Shivahood (I am using this word for lack of a better word in my epistemological vocabulary).So we are somehow somewhere between the apes and the Siva. Are we? Are we in the process of attaining The Ubermensch. Are so much of us still a worm, a worm whose consciousness is limited? From what I understand of the concept of Ubermensch is the freedom to be or Swantatrya as we would call it in Kashmir Saivism. Only when one attains the state of Ubermensch can one claim to attain freedom from bondage. Am I getting it right?
Shiva as we know him today hasn’t been the same through the ages. Many scholars have compared Shiva to the Greek God Dionysus and not without reason. The early iconography and attributes of Rudra Shiva are in many ways similar to that of Dionysus. Both are Patron agricultural gods, have a certain sense of madness associated with them but it is the ecstasy factor that makes the resemblance quite striking. The bull, the serpent and the wine are iconographic similarities that are too hard to miss. Nietzsche has placed great virtue in Dionysian philosophy and its concepts of celebration of nature, intuitiveness, chaos and intoxication. Was Nietzsche’s Ubermensch a celebrant much like Abhinavgupt’s Bhairava(or Shiva) in Vypat Charachar Bhav Vishesam or am I intoxicated too much by Dionysus-Shiva?