Nan Kadavul நான் கடவுள்
Who is the God in Nan Kadavul?
Please click to read the article in Tamil.
When the blind (heroine?) girl is brutally beaten and disfigured by the villain, she asks the Hero the question, why none of the Christian , Muslim or Hindu Gods did not rescue her?. This statement gives an impression that the Movie tends to be atheistic by questioning the very basic belief of all religions that there exists a God that is protective and compassionate. If such a God exists, then why should many innocent people suffer and why not God save them?
Like the heroine we should ask this question to ourselves, if we are a religious person believing in the existence of a God that creates us, controls us and protects us. And is that God a Hindu, Muslim , Christian, a Buddhist or a Zorastrian?.
Compassion Needed: If there is such a God then why should innocent people suffer? When people suffer and cry for help, who actually helps them?. Only a compassionate human being alone can wipe the tears of suffering. The more we are educated and getting civilized, the less compassionate we are. We grow and cling on to more of our belief systems and then finally becoming fanatic, which then emerges in the form of terrorism threatening our own existence.
Why God? Most human beings, when helpless in life, turns towards God. The heroine in the movie is no exception, who first pleads Hindu gods, then turns towards Christian God, then the Muslim God and again Hindu Gods. But none of them saves her from the brutal inhumane villain.
When no God(s) help her, the heroine finally takes refuge in a young man named Rudran, who self proclaims “I am God” (Aham Brahmasmi). The same death that he employs to punish the villains, he also uses to relieve the heroine from suffering in life. Can we accept his action of giving her death to end suffering in life, as divine? How can we approve the Director’s portrayal of a mortal Man as God?. How can a Director who himself claims to be an atheist, use an Agori, who Self claims to be God (Aham Brahmasmi) to give relief to suffering? This aspect has confused many viewers wondering what the Director exactly is conveying through the movie.
The director who spoke through the heroine that no God helped her and all religions are only commercial business corporations, then portrays Rudra who chants "I am God - Shivoham, Shivoham". Does this mean that the director says that only Rudra-Shiva is the True God?. Certainly not. Through various symbols he has beautifully given the answer that religions does not help mankind but only spirituality (in the form of Compassion) can save mankind. (Click here to read the difference between religion and spirituality).
Story of Beggars
The core story of this movie is about the Villan "Thandavan" who uses handicapped people for his own materialistic interest by employing them in begging. He uses fear and physical abuse as a way to control the group. The whole group lives in a underground construction, not known to common public. Thandavan has few other gundas to run his business.
In that village, several years back, a father believing in an astrologer's prediction, leaves his son in Kasi. After many years , due to the mother's plea, the father goes to Kasi in search of the boy. He finds Rudra among a unique sect of ritualistic people called Agori’s. Obeying his Guru’s command, Rudra returns to his village.
Thandavan’s assistant forcefully brings a blind-singer girl (heroine) to the group. A Malayali business agent tempts thandavan to trade some of his beggar-individuals, bringing pain of separation in the group. Tempted for more profits, the agent brings a repulsive mummy-faced guy who wants to bed with the blind girl. When the blind girl refuses, the angry Thandavan brutally beats her with a stone disfiguring her face and body. She finally takes refuge in Rudran, who kills the villains as an act of punishing anti-social guys and also kills the girl to end her painful life. Rudra then returns to his Guru.
Symbolic message of the Movie
Outwardly this movie seems to be a story of about beggary, a commercial exploitation of people, both born handicapped born and forcefully handicapped by a group of villains. The director has poignantly portrayed the pains and emotions of joy in this group. A realistic sketch of the lives of beggars is shown in the movie which is a commendable job. Through these characters the director has indirectly pointed out the materialization in all walks of life.
Everyone a begger? Beggars use various costumes of Gods and Goddesses, Godmen, movie artists businessmen etc. The Symbolism of this core theme is that human life is merely lived begging for materialism. The very human body, education, and talents are used like beggars for materialism. All commercial corporations and religious organizations are only doing materialistic business in this world. In the name of divinity, temples and churches and religious organizations are only interested in materialistic wealth using the Gods and Goddesses to beg. This is symbolized as beggars using the cosmetics of Murugan, Krishna, Hanuman, Andal and even as movie stars etc.
The concept of using the human body for begging is reiterated in Ilayaraja's melodious musical score - Pichai pathiram enthi vanthen). The lyrics mean that we come to this world with a begging bowl which is nothing but made of blood, flesh and nervous tissues. The cause for this birth is our own itchai or desire.
The director has shown this vested materialistic interest in all walks of life including human relations. Look at the emotional business that the mother does to Arya. "I have given birth to you with so much difficulty for 10 months". Most of the human relations have no real-love, everything is for give and take business policy. The word “love” is used to someone only if there is a reciprocating benefit. This benefit-based-love is the opposite of Compassion or un-conditional love. Unfortunately the business-love is mistaken for un-conditional-love . Each member in such a business-relation-love begs for each other’s love. Love is no more for love sake. It is only for benefits.
When Rudra quotes the Pattinathar song, explaining the role of the mother and her role in life, we see a clear-faced mother who utters the word "He is a Swyambu", which means that which is not created, it is Self.
Spirit and Matter: In Indian spiritual philosophy, Spirit (Self or Aham) is Swyambu which means that which is uncreated or that always exists. Matter originates or is created from this Spirit or Consciousness. According to Ancient Indian Science, since matter is created , then it is subjected to undergo changes. This is in tune with the Modern science that the matter undergoes evolution to different non-living and living-beings. Vedas says finally after reaching the pinnacle of Human evolution, through the Human body, one realizes one self as not as matter but as Spirit (Aham). The Indian Spiritual masters symbolized this matter recognizing the Self as Sakthi merging with Shiva.
Ego - the Villain: The feeling of "I" as matter (materialization) instead of the Self (Aham) is called as “Ahamkaara” or Ego. The villain “Thandavan” represents the Ego that controls our life through fear and insecurity feeling. The few moments of pleasures keep our life going, but on the whole the life is only a commercial business for the Ego. It is the Ego in us that controls all our thoughts, like Thandavan controlling all the beggars. We are unaware of this Ego controlling us and take it for granted, which is termed as Maya.
This reality, we conveniently ignore and finally get frustrated with life when we face deep sorrow in life due to our Ego. This is the time we seek for complete relief from suffering in life. The only thing that can relieve us from suffering is knowing our real Self as the Spirit or Self (Aham). This Spirit (Aham) which is free from bondages can only relieve us from the bondages of the Ego control. This is very beautifully symbolically shown when the heroine grasps the legs of Rudra, the Hero for help, like Sakthi (Energy-matter) merging with Spirit (Shiva). She wears a red-skirt symbolizing Sakthi and finally merging with Shiva. The unification is symbolized though the red- eye like symbol in Rudra’s forehead and the throat of the Blind girl.
Aham Brahmasmi – I am God
The blind girl awakening the sleeping Rudra is the best scene in the movie. It is the awakening of sleeping spirit in us. If we are not aware of this spirit, then Ego in us will exploit us and we will go into a life of of frustration. This spirit is the Aham, which Rudra identifies as Aham Brahmasmi – Nan Kadavul. This Maha vakya is from BrihadAraNya- Upanaishad, the explanatory notes of Vedas.
This Spirit is the Consciousness in us, which is also the source of all creation and is the only one reality. This Consciousness is called as God (many names) in different religions. This awakening is the very purpose of life. This can happen only under the tutelage of a Guru. This is why the Guru is shown the beginning and the end of the movie.
Rudra in Indian Spiritual philosophy represents the awakened power of consciousness to destroy "Ego". The destruction of Ego alone can give us liberation. This is what the heroine cries for. She says not only this birth but all future births she wants to avoid. This is symbolically given in the movie. She suffers from the Ego represented as the villain who controls her and is the cause of her suffering. The same message holds good for us too. We are not the Ego, but the Ego in us control us and end up in suffering. Moksha or Mukthi is our liberation from the control of Ego. We keep taking births after births step step to get release from the Ego.
Birth & Re-births: The blind heroine in the end cries that she is tired of being changed hands (group) after hands (group) symbolizing our own births and rebirths. She says she is sick of it and wants to end it. The births and rebirths are very painful (death and birth) because we already get attached to members of family and friends. It is painful at both the ends. This reminds us the scenes when heroine is separated from her old group to a new group of Thandavan. The feeling of separation from the old group is akin to our lamenting for death of our relative. In the new birth (new place) it is painful for accustoming to the new relations. Guru's says this is why new-born babies cry. All relations are temporary and so are considered as unreal (changing) . This is symbolized through the dialogues of the heroine who talks about the father she misses, was not her real father.
Cosmic creation: Nan Kadavul is one the best movies ever produced with the deep questions of our own inner quest. The movie starts with the beautiful cosmic creation and our own being (remember the pictures of galaxy and revolving planets).
What we see is not always real, example, the Earth looks like stationary and the Sun revolves. The truth is the opposite, so do not believe the senses. The director aptly has chosen the old "Kannadasan's song - kannai Nambathe, unnai emattrum.
Modern science has helped us to understand many natural phenomenon of the universe, but is struck with the very basic question of our Human Consciousness. Science can only quench this thirst with the help of Spirituality and not through Religion.
Discovering our own spiritual nature is the ultimate purpose of Mankind. We are not just this material body but the spirit (Self or Aham). This inner awakening burns out all desires that spews new karmas, the seed for future births. When desires later transforms into lust, the Ego tortures us. The lust (kaama veri) has an ugly face which is symbolized as the character who wants to have sex with the blind heroine.
The malayali Nair agent shows the ways of how changing the products for season and location can bring better business. This is shown as his interest to trade the beggars in his custody. These different faces of Ego has to be transcended. This is shown as killing of the villains. Only by killing the Ego villain within us, we can attain liberation. This death is a punishment for the Ego, but a varam (blessing) for the Individual. In Indian spirituality, this killing of Ego is depicted through various rituals.
Rituals: All rituals have this aim of inner transformation. Unfortunately rituals are done in religion without an understanding of this inner transformation. These are indirectly criticized through the prostitute who laments that in December month because of ritualistic marghazhi month and Sabarimalai season she has to starve. Rituals are done just for ritual sake without the awareness of the inner transformation. Hence people continue to do evil actions even after performing the rituals.
There are many many deep information coded in this wonderful movie. All the actors especially Arya and Pooja, and the supporting actors have done a very commendable work. It is a life time opportunity they have got which they have done the best. Arya's walk is so commendable, showing the energy of Rudra. Puja depicts the pathetic state especially in the climax. All the handicapped children and villains have done a great job in the movie.
Where and who is the God?
A Hindu or Christian might worship in front of on idol or image of Jesus or Ganesha or kaali. A Muslim might pray without an idol or image in open air. However the mode of worship it is , all their prayers are spoken to within their Self (Aham). No one prays so loud to an unseen God far up in the sky. Every religious person says the prayer silently to one Self (Aham) with the belief that God is hearing their prayer.
Then the question is where and who is God?.
The closest distance between us and God is our own Self (Aham). What we share with us and God is the “Self” (Aham). It is the Self (Aham) that prays to the Self (Aham), silently. So the prayers are towards our own Self (Aham) and the results also comes to the Self (Aham). A religious person believes that the God to whom he or she is praying is somewhere outside in the universe. They do not realize that they speak silently to their own Self (Aham).
A spiritual person is aware of this truth that the Self (Aham) is God and sees this Self, as the same in everyone and everything. This is the key difference between a religious and Spiritual person. This truth is what is proclaimed as “Aham Brahmasmi” – I am God, the God in Nan Kadavul movie.
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