LETTER FROM EUROPE
Art Show Inspired by Rig-Veda opens in Berlin
BY RADY ANANDA
Titled “Soma” after the Soma (ambrosial drink of the gods) of ancient Hindu scripture Rig-Veda, Carsten Höller’s art exhibition opened in Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin (Germany) and will continue till February six next.
The artist was said to be inspired by a verse from Rig-Veda, which reads: “We have drunk of the soma; we have become immortal, we have seen the light; we have found the Gods.”
This complex and elaborate installation reportedly features 12 reindeer, eight mice, two flies and 24 canaries and offers an overnight stay in a bed perched on a mushroom-shaped platform and suspended above animals in the middle of the laboratory set-up at 1,000 Euros, giving guests the opportunity to spend the night in the museum and to dive into the world of soma. Almost all of the available nights have reportedly been sold.
Lauding Höller for Hinduism exploration, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged academicians and intellectuals of the world to unlock the treasures hidden in ancient Hindu texts.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that Hinduism was a storehouse of knowledge and enlightenment and, if fully researched, could provide answers to the issues facing the contemporary society.
Soma in Rig-Veda is the god who represents and animates the juice of the Soma plant. Not only are all the hymns of the ninth book of Rig-Veda, 114 in number, besides a few in other places, dedicated to his honor, but constant references occur to him in a large proportion of other hymns. Indra was said to be an enthusiastic worshipper of Soma.
Counted among the most prominent contemporary artists, Brussels (Belgium) born and Stockholm (Sweden) based Höller, 49, agricultural scientist by education, directed his quest for soma into the realm of art in the form of a hypothetical experiment.
Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart claims to be one of the largest and most important museums of contemporary art anywhere. Rig-Veda is the oldest scripture of the world still in common use. Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
“Danes have been receptive to Hinduism”, according to Danish Pluralism Project study launched by Faculty of Theology of University of Aarhus in Denmark.
“One example is yoga, which is a complex system of exercises designated as a disciplinary process of the ego, and in a wider perspective the reunion of the self and the universe. Especially, the physical exercises of yoga have won approval among the Danes…”, it adds.
This Project was to document the growing religious diversity through mapping, analyzing, and interpreting the religious pluralism in Denmark. Faculty of Theology Dean is Carsten Riis, while Pluralism Project Director is Viggo Mortensen.
Welcoming the interest in Hinduism and yoga in Denmark, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, stressed the need for separation of church and state in Denmark, where currently Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (Folkekirken) is a state church officially supported by government and headed by the Queen.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that institution of state church breached the equality of religions and the fundamentals of a secular nation. Moreover, separation might bring more independence in the decision-making process of the Church also, without any day-to-day government/legislative interference.
Rajan Zed further said that Denmark, a culturally diverse society, besides various Christian denominations, had now a considerable population of Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, non-believers, etc. There were reportedly about 12, 000 Hindus and five Hindu temples in Denmark.
Denmark is rated among nations with best quality of life, highest per capita income, and low unemployment. Its literacy rate is 100% and its hydrocarbon-rich economy is reported to be booming.