ഏയ്, അതോക്കെ ഒരുതരം അന്ധവിശ്വാസങ്ങൾ ആണ്. പൊറുതി ജയിക്കാൻ കഴിയാതെ വരുന്ന സന്ദർഭങ്ങളിൽ മനുഷ്യൻ കണ്ടതുന്ന ന്യായീകരണങ്ങൾ. ദൈവം ഒരു കാവില്ലേ മാത്രം താമസക്കാരനല്ല. വിശ്വം മുഴുവൻ നിറഞ്ഞു നിൽക്കുന്ന ശക്തി സ്രോതസ്സാണ്. ഗീതയിൽ കൃഷ്ണ വചനമുണ്ട് – വിശ്വാസിയും അവിശ്വാസിയും, പാപ്പിയും നല്ലവനും എല്ലാം എനിക്ക് ഒരു പോലെയാണ്. ആരാധന ഉത്സവങ്ങളും അമ്പലങ്ങളുമായി ബന്ധപ്പടുത്തിയതു ഗോത്ര സംസ്ക്കാരത്തിന്റെ ഇരുണ്ടകാലമാണ്. കർമ്മം ആണ് വിശ്വാസം. കർമ്മം തന്നേയാണ് ആരാധന.ജഗനാഥൻ, ആറാം തമ്പുരാൻ
I don’t watch a lot of Malayalam Movies. Oftentimes, when references based on them are thrown around, it goes over my head. Recently, somebody forced me to go on a spree to watch vintage classics of Mollywood. One of the first choices was the movie Aaram Thampuran. I knew nothing about the movie except that Mohanlal and Manju Warrier had performed in it. Despite the casteism, bad cinematography and overblown action sequences, the movie pleasantly surprised me. More than anything, what intrigued me was the Character of Jagannathan. The man who can do anything yet nothing. He can articulate eloquently and, at the same time, blurt out plebeian curses. He reminded me of the Absurd Hero, present in Camus’ works.
If I had to choose a single dialogue that reveals him – it would be the one above. In one frame, I got reminded of Existentialism and Sartre, Spinoza’s Theology and Virtue Ethics. It’s safe to say that Jagannathan didn’t disappoint me.
The Villagers have gathered around Jagannathan to ask his help in restoring the village festival. He is hesitant and proceeds to articulate a highly philosophical take on life. He starts out by acknowledging such festivals as trivial superstitions. For him, they are mere justifications that man finds in situations he cannot fight and win. In his book, The Gay Science, Nietzsche has his famous essay about the Death of God. It goes as follows:
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?Friedrich Nietzsche
As with all of Nietzsche’s works, the short prose unravels to many conclusions. But I want to focus on the following
What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?
Within the context of the quote, Nietzsche talks about a bigger picture of why god exists and how people coped with it. This resembles Jagannathan’s theory of justifications. Nietzsche talks about how men coped with suffering, failure and lack of meaning through constructing deities, figures in the sky that looked over them. Once the concept of god died, with the start of Renaissance and Scientific Revolution, people have no place to look up to. In Rhetoric fashion, Nietzsche asks what festivals and religions shall they invent to cope with it – as they’ve done throughout history. Similarly, Jagannathan is trying to allude to how men have always used religion as a coping mechanism, something to drive away their sorrows, something to take off responsibility of their failures. For him, we write the destiny of life, not god. We have to give life the meaning it deserves. It seems that Jagannathan is an Atheist, but that couldn’t be more wrong.
He continues his monologue about his idea of God. He says that God is not a solitary resident of any religion. It is the source of power that pervades the entire Universe. Even quoting the Bhagavad Gita – Believer and non-believer, sinner and good are all the same to me. It reminded me of Einstein’s God. The one that represents universal energy, one that doesn’t punish nor rewards and as vague as it can be, still a god. Einstein’s God was inspired by the Dutch Philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who started the movement of Pantheism. For Spinoza, the idea of an anthropocentric God seemed unappealing. His god was simply the universe manifesting itself. For him, to live a good life was to figure out how the universe works. This also points to the bigger existentialist motif of how one can be a theist yet remain an existentialist. One prominent (and perhaps the only) example of this might have been the Father of Existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard believed in a god and yet wanted man to give life meaning. As with all these thinkers, Jagannathan is set on one conclusion – even if God created the universe, he in no way decides our fates.
The breathtaking dialogue ends with the final words – Karma is Faith, Karma is worship. Karma is the idea that what goes around… comes around. Rather than Karma being a universal law, Jagannathan is describing what his moral system looks like. He does good because whatever good is given, returns back. This line of thinking is consistent with the moral side of existentialism – Virtue Ethics. Despite popular belief, neither Existentialist nor Existentialist Philosophers have advocated for moral nihilism and the destruction of morality. When you read past the layers, you’ll realize that many existential philosophers believed in moral virtues. The most prominent of them being Nietzsche. For them, doing good was intuitive. The incentive for it was clear – it brought flourishing for everyone and themselves. It seems to me that Jagannathan applies the same line of thought to his life, as demonstrated by how he handles conflict throughout the movie. Even kicking his friends out at the end as they weren’t virtuous enough.
What’s surprising is that despite the movie having casteist undertones and characters, Jagannathan never explicitly mentions nor hints at this notion. That leaves room for justifying Jagannathan. The film portrays hims as a Musical Maestro, Ruthless Fighter and the Lord of Kanimangalam. But for me, he’ll always be Jagannathan – the Pantheistic Existentialist.