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Why are Hindu deities the target of creative artists?

Saturday May 26 2007 00:00 IST

S Gurumurthy

A caveat at the start. As the secular media argues that what is unprintable is part of the sacred freedoms, what cannot be printed is forced to be explained in print! The heart of the issue is this.

Depict Jesus Christ crucified on the Cross with his hands hanging on two sides of the Cross and his feet at the bottom. It is not a completed art. But if it is improved upon ‘creatively’, then it gets completed as an art piece! Yes, believe this is all art and freedom. More.

Make a large size painting showing a woman in nude. This is only partly an art. If the painter ‘creatively’ adds a feature to it by showing as if a baby is being delivered, even then it is not fully an art piece. But if he writes at the bottom of his ‘creative’ piece “Durga Mata”, it becomes a completed art!

These art pieces and other paintings showing Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in similar “creative” forms kept in the exhibition of the Faculty of Arts in Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda led to protest by people, FIRs against their author and finally police action.

The entire secular media set upon Narendra Modi accusing him of moral policing and destroying artistic freedom. There were demonstrations by artists and liberals in Delhi and Mumbai. “If there is no freedom there is no art,” yelled the demonstrators. But no one cared to ask or know what was the creative art for which these secular liberals, columnists and protestors stood.

They should have had the guts to tell the people the kind of creative art for which they were demanding freedom. Had they shown those ‘creative’ paintings at Baroda in their protest meetings and asked the people what was wrong with them then they would have been honest.

But they would not dare print or show the provocation for the trouble in Baroda. Again the FIR against the creative artist was filed not by any Hindu chauvinist. It was a Christian hurt by the way Christ had been vandalised who filed the FIR.

Denigrating Hindu Gods and Goddesses exclusively is the specialised creativity for many artists. The chief among them is the most celebrated of them all - Hussein. He has depicted almost all Hindu Gods and Goddesses, why even Bharat Mata, in nude form.

Unfortunately for the secular protestors, in Baroda the creative artist had included Jesus Christ among the denigrated that led to a Christian filing the FIR and police action consequently. But even this - that Jesus was vandalised and a Christian had filed the case - was suppressed by the secular media to abuse Modi as if it was all the work of some Hindu goons!

Why are the Hindu Gods and Goddesses the chosen target of these creative artists and their secular supporters? It is simple. There is no one to issue a fatwa or to organise protests the way the other religions, including the cousin of the Hindu faith the Sikhs for instance, can do.

This is not how the VHP or any Shankaracharya is lamenting. This is what the Delhi High Court implied when it held (in April 2004) Hussein guilty of hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindus.

Justice Kapur said: “Religious deities.....are held in highest esteem and over a period become part of one's day-to-day religious life to such an extent that anything adverse said or printed or painted hurts the religious feelings immensely. Any objectionable, demeaning caricature or painting of religious deities or gods or goddesses of any particular religion creates disharmony and ill-will among different communities. Even if it is presumed that such a painting is a piece of art still one cannot be oblivious of the fact that depiction of these deities or goddesses in full nudity comes within the mischief of deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of concerned religion as these goddesses are worshiped by crores of people .... Under the garb of freedom of expression no person can be allowed to hurt the religious feelings of any class of people. This should be known more to the petitioner who belongs to a different religion. If the petitioner wants to gauge the depth and the unflinching nature of religious feelings he may venture and try his hand at his own or any other religion and see how sensitive religious feelings and beliefs are.”

Nothing more needs to be added. Will the seculars ask Hussein to try his hand at his religion as Justice Kapur has suggested? Far from it, they did not even print this judgment!

gurumurthy@epmltd.com

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