Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is Nietzsche’s "Übermensch” Shiva?

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?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Turncoat Loses

There are days when I am so full of kindness that my milk of it is over spilling its edges. Today is one such day. I want to help someone. I thought of so many people who may need money. Then suddenly I realised that our friend Sajjad Lone has just lost his security deposit of Rs 10000.00 because he polled less than 10% of the total number of votes in Barramulla constituency.
Would you believe it?
I had to pinch myself into believing that Sajjad Lone,the one and only Sajjad Lone-the darling of the Indian Media, a face we consistently see on our television screens as the “young voice of Kashmiris”,the Sajjad Lone who till the other day was a separatist, the Sajjad Lone who did not even have the courage to cry when his father was killed by the very separatists that he stood for all these years, the Sajjad Lone who barked during television debates during Amarnath agitation, the Sajjad Lone-the great betrayer of his own people and finally the Sajjad Lone who contested elections and sadly lost deposit, face and maybe political future too.
The day he took a U-turn, a Kashmiri Muslim friend of mine told me, mark my words”he will lose badly”. I did not quite believe him then and I had reasons enough. My friend is no political analyst. He isn’t a politician or a journalist either. Yet somehow his words were prophetic because he was an ordinary man on the street who did not base his comments on euphoria. He wasn’t like those journalists who wrote columns and centre pieces on Sajjad Lone. He wasn’t like the Editors’ of our English Dailies or News Channels who had already made Sajjad a house hold name among the Indian masses. In his loss I also see the loss of credibility of all those people who somehow want to make us believe that the separatists are some force by themselves. Sajjad Lone has just proved them wrong.
It gives me immense pleasure that people like Lone lose. They deserve to lose not because we want them to or that we dont want peace to return to the valley but because they are betrayers and betrayers deserve a kick on their ass. It is because of people like him that Kashmir is a festering wound. It is because we have no dearth of such people who changed sides because it suited them that way. I may never have liked Sajjad’s polity but would have respected him had he gone to grave as a separatist. But maybe I was expecting too much from a man in whose veins runs the blood of a turn-coat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Invisible Exiles: Kashmiri Pandits (Published in Vijayvani)

The present crisis in Sri Lanka has once again brought to fore the issue of internally displaced people. Everyone from the United Nations to the European Union to the Foreign Ministers of Britain and France wants to visit the refugee camps of the Tamils, displaced by the war between LTTE and the Sri Lankan army.
The Indian Government seems so over-concerned about the safety, security and well-being of Lankan Tamils that it has sent two topmost secretaries to meet the Sri Lankan President. What is more, almost every now and then one senior functionary of the Government of India issues statements and puts pressure on Colombo to ensure the best relief and rehabilitation measures for the internally displaced Tamil refugees. This solicitude is utterly missing when it comes to India’s own displaced refugees - the Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits).
The complete post is here

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sajjad Lone's U-turn(Published in Vijayvani)

Che Kamyu Kareneay taveez pan
Yaaro van bale yaaro van

Who hath cast thy spell on thou?
Speak up my friend, speak up

Wahab Khar, the 18th century poet, probably had the power to see future. How else does one explain the above verse, unless he knew that Sajjad Lone, the most vociferous of the Kashmir separatists, would one day take a U-turn (strategic, not ideological, let us be clear) and join the election fray.
Intrigue has always been a part of Kashmir’s history, and Kashmir’s leaders have more often than not been treacherous and perfidious. Sajjad Lone can be no exception.
The complete post is at the link below

Dead End

Dead End
The road to what was once my home in Kashmir....zuv chum bramaan ghare gachehae..