Asymmetry in Words and Practise

Many thanks to a reader who brought to my notice M.F. Hussain’s interview with Tehelka. Readers of this blog know my views on Hussain. The interview is interesting because this is the first piece I have read where Hussain gives us a bit of insight on his own understanding of his art. This is a departure from the Page 3 pieces replete with hurriedly-stitched quotes by the painter–all gloss and full of vacuum–and designed to reinforce the stereotype of the man–barefoot, weird, and the rebel-painter.

From this angle, the Tehelka interview gives something we can hold the man to. He cannot deny what he has said.

In the interview, Hussain welcomes all the criticisms hurled at him. He views even his violent opponents as children of the same India family, who need to be gently reprimanded and educated.

….when a child breaks something at home, you don’t throw him out, you try and explain things to him. Yeh aapas ka mamla hai. (This is a family matter.) Those opposed to my art just do not understand it. Or have never seen it.

This is a welcome perspective, and as Hussain unravels his perception of and motivations for his paintings, things get progressively clearer. We’ll examine this a little later. First, his political views.

He wants the BJP to return to power.

The only way I can come back to India, perhaps, is if the BJP comes to power at the Centre. Or maybe, Mayawati. This government has no spine. Their hands are tied. They think if they speak out or take action, they will be accused of appeasement. The irony is, out of power, the BJP uses issues like this to fan its votebank. In power, they would probably control their extreme brigades to look respectable and secular! (laughs) These are the ironies of India.

I’m surprised Hussain says this without dropping a little historical context. This government’s spinelessness is its own doing. More appropriately, the Congress party’s illustrious history of appeasement. The increase in competitive intolerance is the consequence of everybody mastering that divisive game. In Hussain’s case, the secular club led by Congress party looks a little weak and therefore unwilling to take a position on the painter.

M.F. Hussain’s views on his works, and on Indian art in general are mostly right but this knowledge has not translated into accurate pictorial depictions.

As a child, in Pandharpur, and later, Indore, I was enchanted by the Ram Lila. My friend, Mankeshwar, and I were always acting it out. The Ramayana is such a rich, powerful story, as Dr Rajagopalachari says, its myth has become a reality. But I really began to study spiritual texts when I was 19. Because of what I had been through, because I lost my mother, because I was sent away, I used to have terrible nightmares when I was about 14 or 15. All of this stopped when I was 19. I had a guru called Mohammad Ishaq— I studied the holy texts with him for two years. I also read and discussed the Gita and Upanishads and Puranas with Mankeshwar, who had become an ascetic by then. After he left for the Himalayas, I carried on studying for years afterwards. All this made me completely calm. I have never had dreams or nightmares ever again. Later, in Hyderabad, in 1968, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia suggested I paint the Ramayana. I was completely broke, but I painted 150 canvases over eight years. I read both the Valmiki and Tulsidas Ramayana (the first is much more sensual) and invited priests from Benaras to clarify and discuss the nuances with me…I’ve painted hundreds of Ganeshas in my lifetime — it is such a delightful form. I always paint a Ganesha before I begin on any large work. I also love the iconography of Shiva. The Nataraj — one of the most complex forms in the world — has evolved over thousands of years and, almost like an Einstein equation, it is the result of deep philosophical and mathematical calculations about the nature of the cosmos and physical reality. When my daughter, Raeesa wanted to get married, she did not want any ceremonies, so I drew a card announcing her marriage and sent it to relatives across the world. On the card, I had painted Parvati sitting on Shiva’s thigh, with his hand on her breast — the first marriage in the cosmos. Nudity, in Hindu culture, is a metaphor for purity. Would I insult that which I feel so close to? I come from the Suleimani community, a sub-sect of the Shias, and we have many affinities with Hindus, including the idea of reincarnation. As cultures, it is Judaism and Christianity that are emotionally more distant. But it is impossible to discuss all this with those who oppose me. Talk to them about Khajuraho, they will tell you its sculpture was built to encourage population growth and has outgrown its utility! (laughs) It is people in the villages who understand the sensual, living, evolving nature of Hindu gods. They just put orange paint on a rock, and it comes to stand for Hanuman.

This shows the effort he has put in to learn his art, something I respect. No work of Hindu art can withstand the test of time without this spiritual dimension. Hussain’s understanding of Hindu view of art is pretty accurate, his words stem from reflection, and are not mere repetitions of book knowledge. But how does he fare in application? And why do his paintings create such furore and disgust so many Hindus including me?

An answer to that question may lie in his own admission that these are concepts of the Hindu culture. But this answer needs to be sought by examining everything related to his works in the larger background of society and religion. The paintings that have aroused public outrage are starkly religious. And so are some of his utterances and actions.

First, Hussain has made it obvious that he is a practising Muslim. That doesn’t automatically mean he is anti-Hindu but his Muslimhood significantly influences his art in various ways. Islam for example, forbids painting. He indirectly admits that in the same interview.

When I was doing this, some conservative Muslims told me, why don’t you paint on Islamic themes? I said, does Islam have the same tolerance? If you get even the calligraphy wrong, they can tear down a screen.

That Hussain has successfully rebelled against this Islamic prohibition is an argument in favour of his courage and his commitment to art. If, as some people argue, art should be for its own sake, Hussain’s art should be neutral. His works are artistic testimonies to the contrary. As a person who has understood Hindu art, why has he managed to routinely offend Hindus? The reason in Hussain’s case lies beyond competitive intolerance. It is simply because he has understood Hindu art at an intellectual level. Even here, Hussain’s point doesn’t make sense. He says he is enchanted with the Ramayana but has painted Sita seated suggestively on Hanuman’s tail. Doesn’t Hussain know that Hanuman worshipped Sita as his mother? By no stretch of imagination can one perceive either spirituality or religious fervour or even artistic aesthetics in a painting that clearly sends out an incestuous message.

Nudity maybe a symbol of purity in Hinduism but context and tradition is clearly an important determinant in depicting nudity. What is the tradition of practising Hindus vis a vis nudity or nudity in art? As Arun Shourie says about Hussain’s nude Saraswathi paintings,

And as for Saraswati being depicted naked, her image is set out in our iconography, in the mantras by which we invoke her; in all these she is referred to as “….yaa shubhra vastraavritaa….”, as one “draped in white”. That white dress draping her is one of the four distinguishing marks of representations of Goddess Saraswati — the other three being that she holds beads in one hand, a book in another and the vina in a third.

You either claim that your paintings are faithful to tradition or they’re from your own imagination. If it’s the former, you are not faithful to tradition, if it’s the latter, you need to attribute a non-religious symbolism/title for your painting. Why don’t Hindus find the Shiva-Parvati or God-Goddess nude temple sculptures offensive?

In the end, Hussain’s explanations fall flat. His rebellion stops at breaking only the Islamic prohibition against painting. The logical question arises: painting what? He answers that himself.

I said, does Islam have the same tolerance? If you get even the calligraphy wrong, they can tear down a screen.

He has answered that again by withdrawing his film because he didn’t want to wound Islamic sentiments. He shows no such sensitivity while painting Hindu Gods and Goddesses but claiming that they’re works of “deep love and conviction, and [done in] celebration.” As we have seen, that is patently untrue. Without attributing ulterior motives to the man, I can say that Hussain’s works fail because he is not a practising Hindu. As paintings, they might be masterpieces, but in the Hindu view of art, art is not divorced from spirituality and philosophy. To a mere admirer of art, the sculptural masterpieces of Indian temples are classics in form, structure, proportion and geometry. To a practising Hindu, they are manifestations of the Absolute to which they offer their poojas. The rest come next, if they are significant at all.

Had Hussain understood this…

83 comments for “Asymmetry in Words and Practise

  1. February 13, 2008 at 3:36 AM

    Excellent blog Sandeep. I am a kannada Bengaloorean myself and I have a similar one at sudarshanweb.wordpress.com although I should be doing it more regularly :)

  2. anonymous coward
    February 12, 2008 at 3:30 PM
  3. aparjita
    February 11, 2008 at 2:42 PM

    ===OT my legs ache but i’m still out on that walk….

    One day i will demostrate my stone throwing ability when some1 hurls a brick at me….but 2day ,i’m greedy for a debate.my response below yours:===

    Third, I also happn 2 b a gr8 fan of truth. In the spirit of that truth, I’ll presently lay out an argument contesting your pretence that any execrable idea given what is seen by some as an “artistic” form deserves protection under the rubric of “freedom of expression”. Subsequently, I will also show that freedom of speech is truly under threat not in the Hussain case, but in the Danish cartoonists and Taslima Nasreen case, both of who are under attack not only from Islamists but commie loonies as well. Don’t tuck your tail in and flee from the argument claiming injury from “abuse” even as I show you that what you claim to be “freedom of expression” is actually “freedom to abuse”

    ===i v much look forward to this===

    Let us begin with a hypothetical situation. Many more examples will follow as the argument progresses, and I hope that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is. Suppose someone pens the following poem:

    What a pity the mother of Aparajita,
    Alack is not my naughty inamorata!
    What a loss the seeds that made this damsel
    Alas were not sown by my prodigious love tool!!

    ===for those like me who have trouble with the english language/poetry and had to reread 2 get the import—yeh poet, sophisticated way mein ,ma ki gali dey raha hai===

    Will you be offended at this expression of affection for your mom by a person other than your dad?

    === yes i will ,how else will the debate proceed===

    If so, should others — say myself — give a damn?

    ===lets get something clear here—there can be only two parties to this type of a dispute:

    a) the offending one

    b) the offended one(i have claimed reciprocal rights for this group)

    when u ask whether u should give a damn, u r creating a thrid group

    c) bystander

    the locus standi of this group is more tricky and is actually a distraction to the central thrust(i think the whole question of unltd freedom of ex will get resolved when we arrive at some conclusion about rights of offended party ) but u will accuse me of ducking so here is what think:

    I make morality/politeness/good manners the basis of deciding this groups role:

    Morality—in deciding whether you must come to anothers aid.

    good manners—you should know when not to interfere in someone elses affair.

    because there is some conflict ,from eg to eg ,response will vary–choose the moral one.===

    After all your mom is not my mom, because my dad is not yours.

    ===does’nt bear repitition===

    Are you in favor of curbing freedom of poetic expression that involves your mother or wife as subject matter on the grounds that it offends you, though it may offend none other?Let us start with that question, comrade.

    ===only if you curb my freedom of expression to offend the poet in turn. i’ve already stated freedom of ex is a two way street for me.Do you agree and if not why?regards===

  4. Ot
    February 11, 2008 at 9:20 AM

    Comrade Aparajita,

    First off, I doff my hat at your flame-baiting excellence. I truly admire the way you carry it off, despite the fact that it requires a bit of shamelessness.

    Second: I will not challenge your assessment of yourself as an Idiot. That is matter truly between you and your inner voice. But to forcibly include others in your circle is no freedom of expression — about which subject I will talk at great length presently. So please refrain from attributing your problems to me next time.

    Third, I also happn 2 b a gr8 fan of truth. In the spirit of that truth, I’ll presently lay out an argument contesting your pretence that any execrable idea given what is seen by some as an “artistic” form deserves protection under the rubric of “freedom of expression”. Subsequently, I will also show that freedom of speech is truly under threat not in the Hussain case, but in the Danish cartoonists and Taslima Nasreen case, both of who are under attack not only from Islamists but commie loonies as well. Don’t tuck your tail in and flee from the argument claiming injury from “abuse” even as I show you that what you claim to be “freedom of expression” is actually “freedom to abuse”

    .Let us begin with a hypothetical situation. Many more examples will follow as the argument progresses, and I hope that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is. Suppose someone pens the following poem:

    What a pity the mother of Aparajita,
    Alack is not my naughty inamorata!
    What a loss the seeds that made this damsel
    Alas were not sown by my prodigious love tool!!

    Will you be offended at this expression of affection for your mom by a person other than your dad? If so, should others — say myself — give a damn? After all your mom is not my mom, because my dad is not yours. Are you in favor of curbing freedom of poetic expression that involves your mother or wife as subject matter on the grounds that it offends you, though it may offend none other?

    Let us start with that question, comrade.

  5. Ot
    February 11, 2008 at 9:19 AM

    Comrade Aparajita,First off, I doff my hat at your flame-baiting excellence. I truly admire the way you carry it off, despite the fact that it requires a bit of shamelessness.Second: I will not challenge your assessment of yourself as an Idiot. That is matter truly between you and your inner voice. But to forcibly include others in your circle is no freedom of expression — about which subject I will talk at great length presently. So please refrain from attributing your problems to me next time.Third, I also happn 2 b a gr8 fan of truth. In the spirit of that truth, I’ll presently lay out an argument contesting your pretence that any execrable idea given what is seen by some as an “artistic” form deserves protection under the rubric of “freedom of expression”. Subsequently, I will also show that freedom of speech is truly under threat not in the Hussain case, but in the Danish cartoonists and Taslima Nasreen case, both of who are under attack not only from Islamists but commie loonies as well. Don’t tuck your tail in and flee from the argument claiming injury from “abuse” even as I show you that what you claim to be “freedom of expression” is actually “freedom to abuse”.Let us begin with a hypothetical situation. Many more examples will follow as the argument progresses, and I hope that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is. Suppose someone pens the following poem:What a pity the mother of Aparajita,Alack is not my naughty inamorata!What a loss the seeds that made this damselAlas were not sown by my prodigious love tool!!Will you be offended at this expression of affection for your mom by a person other than your dad? If so, should others — say myself –   give a damn? After all your mom is not my mom, because my dad is not yours. Are you in favor of curbing freedom of poetic expression that involves your mother or wife as subject matter on the grounds that it offends you, though it may offend none other?Let us start with that question, comrade.

  6. aparjita
    February 10, 2008 at 12:49 AM

    I know Sandeeps post was a specific reference to MF Hussain but underlying that is the question whether there should be unlimited freedom of expression?My own views are slowly veering to -no there should not be, and those that advocate it are being hypocritical ….

    I have picked up these points from Sailendra Mathurs post but this is @ to anyone who cares to punch holes in my arguements without hurling accusations ,attributing motives, or calling me names.Here goes:

    Ok, I would beg to differ with the majority. Above all, I believe in the individual’s right to freedom of expression.

    ===all individuals ?generally when people make this point they are refering to a special interest group –the artists(or offenders).My point is– those who vent against those artists(the offended or offendee ) are also expressing themselves–why not unlimited freedom for them also?===

    What that boils down to is, MF Hussain is free to paint what he wants.

    ===ok===

    If you don’t like his paintings, don’t buy them.

    ===ok===

    Heck, don’t even look at them.

    ===i won’t===

    But you cannot burn them or vandalize the art galleries.

    ===y?vandalisation can come in the form of a picture too.does it matter what weapon u use for murdering?a gun/a sword/a knife or in this case a picture?so if an artist is allowed to vandalise i should get the same rights===

    That would be akin to the Muslim destruction of Nalanda university.

    ===i)for the moment lets eliminate muslims from the debate.lets keep things simple.if we need an analogy lets use the meri ma/teri ma one(everybody may not love hinduism but everybody will love their mother–this way hackles are not raised).

    ii) the point being made is again respect on the basis of reciprocity—if u want total freedom of expression this is the key.

    iii) from ii) above it follows those who offend(artists) must in turn be prepared to get offended themselves,hence artists should not crib when their painting and gallery are set on fire.===

    Saying that his paintings hurt our religious or pious sentiments and hence they should be banned is bull.

    ===follows from above===

    By the same arguments, we will never be able to criticize the actions of the paed Mohammad, because the Muslims will claim our criticism hurts them.

    ===

    i) again the same principle of reciprocal rights.

    ii) i want to raise a point here.does’nt good manners and politeness amount to anything in this world?could’nt we /should’nt we extend our private manners (eg we don’t interfere in affairs of our neighbours), to communities /other religions .After all isn’t good manners the lubricant of civilization?

    iii) i want to make a small note on criticism,why i am allowed to criticise my mother and not u, “old ideas must be challenged”etc –but this after someone responds/is interested at all in carrying the debate any further.===

    By the same argument Muslims would be right in wanting to kill Taslima, and the Vatican would be right in condemning Da Vinci Code.

    ===and let Taslima/Dan Brown fight their own battle–sounds harsh even as i write but i think this is right?===

    Why should our religious sensibilities be more important than Husain’s right to artistic expression?

    ===revert the ?.y is his artistic expression more important than my religious sensibilities?===

    And who decides what is more important in a set of conflicting interests? If it is going to be decided by brute force, then we are not living in the enlightened 21st century but in 7th century Arabia,

    ===it will be self correcting–you don’t abuse my mother , i won’t abuse yours===

    Our barbarism cannot be justified on grounds of Islamic barbarism. We are not competing with them for the bottom spot of the world’s most intolerant ideologies. I am sure most people on this forum won’t agree with me, but this was just my two cents on the issue.

    ===i’ll ignore this for now===

    By the by, I have seen some of Hussain’s paintings, and while I don’t understand art much, I did not feel mortally offended by looking at them.

    ===i should’nt address this but hussain thus far is also not –mortally wounded===

    Its just that they did not strike me as deserving of much attention.

    ===a large subset of the population thinks otherwise.democracy is decided by majority vote ,so there has to be some allowance for majority sentiments===

    Any1 think otherwise???

  7. aparjita
    February 10, 2008 at 12:46 AM

    @kumar
    sometimes u feel a little more tolerant towards ur own idiots

    I hope your ‘u’ doesn’t refer to me since my scron/contempt for the artist/paintings would not be any different irrespective of his religious affiliations.

    ===let me correct myself “sometimes one(in case of further doubt i don’t mean by it a universal one) feels a little more tolerant 2wards ones own idiots(as currently i feel for OT who is calling me a comrade)===

    hmmm…no…..not for me–who was it that said “he maybe a Son of a bitch but he is our SoB” makes sense to me.

    I understand; without that line of reasoning, rest of the argument crumbles. But for some SOB is a SOB, ain’t matter if the SOB is ‘ours’ our ‘theirs’.

    ===neither of us is giving reasons/evidence y it should be so–so you r as much entitled to your opinion as i am to mine===

    Take a poll here and see as to how many around here would have approved/admired MH’s work if MH stood for say Mahendra Haldipur or Michael Hart?

    ===it seems u already know what the majority opnion will b .i don’t mind even if i am in the minority of one,i’m not specially seeking to join the bandwagon.for me logic/reason/morals (someone was discounting all these above)all matter to arrive at some conclusion.my thoughts on freedom of expression are slowly crystalising but about that in the next post.and once again it is perfectly ok by me if you think otherwise.regards===

  8. aparjita
    February 10, 2008 at 12:43 AM

    @Ot
    I am really amazed how some of you otherwise smart guys can be so easily duped into walking into the trap set by Comrade Aparajita.

    ===i presume that ur a fellow hindutvadi or alternatively like me a fascist pig–so i am only going to shake my head in disbelief and then take my this talk :

    “sometimes u feel a little more tolerant towards ur own idiots”

    out for a walk.regards===

  9. aparjita
    February 10, 2008 at 12:41 AM

    @ashish
    Aparajita:

    No one called you a philistine! Jee-eeez! Please read posts fully before replying. Thanks
    ===I want to acquaint u with this word — it begins with I ends with Y and the middle three letters, in the same order are R,O and N–but i think somehow u won’t get it.regards.===

  10. Kumar
    February 9, 2008 at 6:44 PM

    Aparajita:

    ===sometimes u feel a little more tolerant towards ur own idiots===

    I hope your ‘u’ doesn’t refer to me since my scron/contempt for the artist/paintings would not be any different irrespective of his religious affiliations.

    ==hmmm…no…..not for me–who was it that said “he maybe a Son of a bitch but he is our SoB” makes sense to me.===

    I understand; without that line of reasoning, rest of the argument crumbles. But for some SOB is a SOB, ain’t matter if the SOB is ‘ours’ our ‘theirs’.

    Take a poll here and see as to how many around here would have approved/admired MH’s work if MH stood for say Mahendra Haldipur or Michael Hart?

  11. Kumar
    February 9, 2008 at 6:32 PM

    Sanjay, You seem to be new around here, but I could gassing.

    My apologies for not putting the sarcasm quotes around the post. But even if I did, you wouldn’t have noticed the difference – happens due to poor reading skills or consumption of the different gases from different bottoms.

    And please don’t gas up on this post please.

  12. Ashish
    February 9, 2008 at 5:37 AM

    Sanjay:

    You misunderstood. Some people have used US xtians “tolerating” Piss Christ as an example of Xtian Tolerance. I was saying that US xtians grudgingly left Piss Christ alone because they already have a huge a lot going for them. As you have pointed out, Xtians will not be so forgiving when they are threatened in other places. In the US they own so much of the country, that these little threats don’t bother them, they know their empire will not even be be scratched.

    Hindus, on the other hand, are constantly under attack, and can not afford to take things lying down..

  13. Shanth
    February 9, 2008 at 5:16 AM

    Hey Guys,
    I am happy at the fact that we all agree that there is a lot of work to do. Hinduism has be a revelation to me in the recent years. I am finding many things fascinating. For a person who was on the margins of pan-theism and renouncement of religions to acceptance of Hinduism I think I have undertook a long journey. The simple truths that are enshrined in this wonderful lifestyle that evolved over a thousands of years advocating some of the best practices to lead a fruitful life on Earth is worth propagating and fighting for. Sajay I am fully with you when you said we should believe in something to fight for.
    Tomorrow’s wars will fought with information and we have to gear ourselves for it.

    Again we ought to thank Sandeep for bringing us together.

  14. February 9, 2008 at 3:42 AM

    As far as global warming is concerned, the way you are gassing from your bottom, you seem to be a bigger threat to the world’s environment than the Hindu lamps.

  15. February 9, 2008 at 3:41 AM

    “since the time those maurading Aryans rode down the Khyber pass in their horse chariots”

    Only people who smoke pot today believe in the Aryan invasion theory. Which brand do you prefer?

  16. Kumar
    February 9, 2008 at 2:40 AM

    Gujjubhai, Any chances that global warming could have influenced MFH to draw those controversial images? Billion Hindus lighting lamps at idols (at least) since the time those maurading Aryans rode down the Khyber pass in their horse chariots
    - that’s a lot of heat man.

  17. Gujjubhai
    February 9, 2008 at 12:46 AM

    Sandeep,

    Thank you : I am glad that you find my arguments stimulating. I have very modest ability to write anything more than a couple of paragraphs, so I must respectfully decline to write the piece. However, my thinking on this topic is by and large captured in the comments I made and you should feel free to use any or all of them in your own piece. Attribution etc is an immaterial triviality, just getting my thoughts published in your blog and the ideas debated by a larger audience is reward enough for me.

    For me, the best thing in this interview is where MFH mentions his dismay at our art students not studying Coomaraswamy. That struck a note as it’s the exact concern I’ve had for a long time. And the reason why he expresses he has the concern is the same as mine. It all relates to how I see the Indian education system as an instrument of mental colonization producing self-hating, aspiring-to-be-white, neo-slaves who always denigrate our heritage while looking up to even the trashiest pieces of Western Culture. For example, I am deeply troubled to see Rakhi Sawant do a Michael Jackson:
    http://www.humsurfer.com/view/rakhi-sawant-a-k-a-michael-jackson
    This is not because I find it vulgar or anything. It is troubling because it’s been about 20 years since MJ has been thrown away from any public respect for being a pedophile! I am shocked to see the *popularity* of such aping of a third-rate, has-been pop-singer. Also read Prakash Karat’s interview on Rajiv Srinivasan’s website where he talks about being religious until he was 14-15 but then it seems he was clearly influenced by the priests at his convent school and turned a Marxist in Scotland.

    There are deep fundamental reasons and power plays that explain why India is full of p-sec self-hating lefties. It’s been my quest to understand how this works through analysis of money, education, media etc as well as the psychoanalysis of the self-hating Indians I run into every day in my life. I urge you to undertake this experiment and understand what the root cause of such mental-moulding is. The results will shock you with their uniformity. The greatest threat against Hinduism is not taking on this power play that creates enemies out of Hindus themselves. It’s as if the enemy is Agent Smith in Matrix – whoever is touched by one agent becomes an agent himself and goes over to the other side. Hindus must look beyond the individual agents and fight against the agent-producing mechanism. That is one hell of a tough fight and one that we are currently losing pretty badly.

    Thanks again for creating this wonderful blog.

  18. February 9, 2008 at 12:32 AM

    “A people who believe in nothing will always lose to an enemy that believes in something.”

    Do Hindus believe in something? If they do, then it is worth defending. Both Christians and Muslims defend their beliefts aggressively, and that is why have captured so much territory in the world over the years.

  19. February 8, 2008 at 9:47 PM

    “Protestors belonging to Christian organisations staged a noisy demonstration in front of Prasad’s IMAX theatre in Hyderabad and broke the booking counter’s glass panes, forcing the management to stop screening the controversial film The Da Vinci Code on Friday afternoon.

    A group of 50 volunteers of All India Christian United Front gathered in front of the theatre, holding placards and raising slogans. Theatre management cancelled the show that was to begin at 3.15 pm.”

    http://us.rediff.com/movies/2006/jun/23davinci.htm

  20. February 8, 2008 at 9:43 PM

    “In general, about using the “Piss Christ” painting as a counterexample to MFH:”

    That is a bad example. What about the rioting and ransaking of a theater by Christians in Hyderabad when it was showing Da Vinci Code? What about Christian threats to any Hindu in Nagaland who dares to light crackers on Diwali?

  21. Ashish
    February 8, 2008 at 7:32 PM

    In general, about using the “Piss Christ” painting as a counterexample to MFH:

    Xtians in the US protest against but do not vandalize this painting of jesus showered in pee.

    Please realize that xtians in US have a *lot* going for them. They have a voice in both the houses of Congress, they have a big voice in the White House. The Southern Baptists have deep pockets. They have many media outlets for Jesus, many full-blown Church-only channels, and the mainstream cable ckhannel FOX which is very much pro-xtian. When anyone talks of “religion” in the US, xtianity is the only thing they mean. They will talk about sub-divisions within xtianity, like Lutheran, Methodist, Unitarian, Catholic, Protestant, etc., as if there was nothing else in the world.

    They can afford to let the odd painting slide. Its no big deal at all for them.

    Hindus in India do not have a thousandth part of the rights that xtians have arrogated for themselves in the us. When we do, lets talk of “tolerating” MFH. But until then, any comparison is apples-to-oranges.,,

  22. Ashish
    February 8, 2008 at 7:18 PM

    Aparajita:

    No one called you a philistine! Jee-eeez! Please read posts fully before replying. Thanks.

  23. cd1
    February 8, 2008 at 2:20 PM

    gujjubhai,

    >Why is the first instinct always to lash out with acts of >physical violence without thinking through the >consequences?

    hinduwadi’s first instinct is to use physical violence? ummm, i think you confusing hinduism with the “religion of piss”. ram was called a drunkard by karunanadhi who vowed to press ahead with ram setu. but the project has been effectively stalled by the vhp without shedding a drop of blood:
    http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=223&page=2
    compare that to the 100+ casualities as a result of the danish cartoons.

    soft power is as important as hard power and believe me the hindutvawadis do practice soft power: ravi shankar/mata/mahrishi at the rich/international level, baba ramdev/morari-bapu at middle-class level, vhp(with eklavaya/ghar-vapasi programs) at the poorest level.

    media’s power, alteast in india is absolutely over-rated. once and only once…the bofors scandal has it changed the course of political history in india. rest of the time they act like your stray neighborhood dog — 1 out of 1000 times it will alert you to the thief, the other 999 times absolutely random and pointless barking. witness the entir media pitted against modi in gujarat and the bizarrely funny spectacle of interviewing solanki/vaghela on the cm’s post on election-result day. but the public humors the tv-wallahs because seeing rakhi sawant pontificate on animal rights is entertaining enough…but don’t confuse power with cheap publicity:
    http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=223&page=3

    hindutvawadis follow the ancient wisdom layed out by: sAma, dAna, bheda and daNDa. but a bunch of fools starting with gandhi/nehru object to the danda part. how will united nations look at the violence. what will the economist think of hindu’s acting out in self-defense….well kolkata would in bangladesh instead of india if not for one of original the hindutvawadis:
    http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=223&page=25

    and i could give a thousand other examples between 1948 and 2008…but the most recent one of taslima. she has self-censored herself and apologized. but that’s not enough. the “dhimmi” dasmunshi is demanding the she “bow down” and grovel further before she can released from virtual house arrest. on the other hand, sudershan-ji and togadia(who have made the same utterances as taslima) strut around india like the lions that they are, because of…the threat of reactive violence. if the “daNda” of the sangh parivar was not there, by tomorrow all the temples in 25%+ muslim areas in india would be burnt to the ground….but but but the gandhi parivar would protect the hindus…like it protected the pandits(it’s own family caste morever) in kashmir?

  24. Sandeep
    February 8, 2008 at 12:04 PM

    Gujjubhai and the other guy (sorry not enough time to fish out your name),

    I have a suggestion for both of you. Can each of you write a piece laying out your arguments? I find your arguments stimulating. I shall publish them as a post with due attribution, etc.

    If you’re interested, please send me an email at sanwriterATgmailDOTCOM.

  25. Kishkindhaa
    February 8, 2008 at 5:48 AM

    Media is a only a dream for Hindus. Anti-Hindus even control the Temples.

    This is not only a result of 50+ years of Nehruvian control but also the dismal outcome from the past 800 years of foreign control where the framework of the discourse has been defined by abrahamics. The very premise of dividing everything Indian/Hindu into Sacred versus Secular domains forces Hindus to engage their enemies on the enemy terms. What are you going to do when a christain asks you whether your tikka is a “religious” symbol? If you even answer the question, you will have fallen into a trap. And they never relent. It always continues.

  26. Gujjubhai
    February 8, 2008 at 4:26 AM

    Fresh off the press from the Economist:

    http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10651857

    Of course, many commentators here may pretend that the Economist doesn’t matter. People who see the Economist as the most prestigious media brand in the world and consider it a magazine that is extremely influential among the ruling elite around the world would beg to differ.

    The questions that have always troubled me is this : why are Hindutvawadis not paying any attention to the consistent narrative all across the media – whether Western or Indian – that portrays Hinduism and Hindutva in a negative light? Why is it that they do not see it as a tremendous threat to Hinduism’s and India’s soft power? Why is it that they do not see that soft power matters as much, if not more, in today’s world than hard power? Why is the first instinct always to lash out with acts of physical violence without thinking through the consequences? Why do they not think of exercising soft power to achieve their goals which can be a lot more effective in the achievement of their goals?

    In a world where leaked photographs from Abu Gharaib are a more effective in the psychological war than the billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands soldiers fighting in the physical war, media matters more than ever before. Hindutva movement is in the desperate need of a Josef Nye.

  27. Ot
    February 8, 2008 at 12:30 AM

    I am really amazed how some of you otherwise smart guys can be so easily duped into walking into the trap set by Comrade Aparajita.

  28. aparjita
    February 8, 2008 at 12:15 AM

    @kumar
    If you find it offensive that MFH, a muslim, painted nude Hindu icons, then that’s not a very tolerant perspective either.

    ===kumar i’m not competing for that “most tolerant perspective” slot/trophy===

    Let’s clear something upfront, his art and attitude would be equally (if not more) offensive if he was a Hindu.

    ===hmmm…no…..not for me–who was it that said “he maybe a Son of a bitch but he is our SoB” makes sense to me.===

    An idiot is an idiot; doesn’t matter if kneels towards Mecca or bathes in Ganges.

    ===sometimes u feel a little more tolerant towards ur own idiots===

  29. aparjita
    February 8, 2008 at 12:08 AM

    @ashish
    ===Don’t worry my views r my own and no reflection on your original comparison.

    you want me to see aesthetics in his art ?I don’t .And u r welcome to call me a philistine . I don’t care .

    When i c his “painting” of Sita Ma, i c neither art nor aesthetic value, but vandalisation of all that i hold sacred.I do not know whether that qualifies as “commonsense” but that is my honest reaction,and thats how many hindus will perceive it too..

    regards===

Leave a Comment