Titled “Soma” after the Soma (ambrosial drink of the gods) of ancient Hindu scripture Rig-Veda, Carsten Höller’s art exhibition in Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin (Germany), which ended on February six, was a grand success, reportedly attracting about 100,000 visitors.
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, starting November five last, reportedly featured 12 reindeer, eight mice, two flies and 24 canaries and offered 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 were reportedly sold.
Lauding Höller for Hinduism exploration, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), 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.