Why criticise the painter?
One of the persistent tragedies of great men of art is that they are misunderstood by their contemporaries. Sometime, they are also hounded out. MF Husain’s lot was no different. His critics do have a point in alleging that his paintings of Hindu goddesses were an insult to Hindu society. Do we however fully understand what the great Hindu tradition is that entitles the authors of such profound texts as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as the composer of such profane text as Kamasutra to be called Mahrishis? The greatness of the Hindu tradition is that it could scan across the entire spectrum of human experience and thought and accept the heights of Vedanta as well as the agnosticism of a Buddha and atheism of Kanada. When Kalidasa read out his Abhignana Sakuntalam in the court of King Vikramaditya, it is said, many wizened courtiers criticised it for the focus on Sringara in this greatest of all dramas. Many centures later the German poet Goethe saw in Kalidasa’s drama earth rising to heaven. Kalidasa himself was undeterred and in probably last of his great works, Kumarasambhava, he went on to describe in fine detail the first night of Shiva and his consort. Scholars down the ages have perceived in that epic poem the agony and anxiety of a people who were being attacked by a Hun invasion and the hope that the birth of Prince Kumara Gupta which the poem commemorates would be the divine signal of a rescue from the invaders that was coming. We might wonder what would have happened to Kalidasa had he lived in the 21st century India and just written Kumarasambhava with all those explicit scenes – that book would have been burned in public and Kalidasa would have been banished and the book proscribed. So too the Sanskrit poet who compared literature and music to the two breasts of Saraswati (ekam apadamadhuram, anayd alochanamritam) would have faced public anger like Husain did. It should be a matter of pride for any Indian that this country unlike many others, has stood firm in its breadth of vision encompassing all aspects of life. That is why the Chauhan Hindu kings let the artists of Khajuraho sculpt the explicit scenes of bodily enjoyment on the temples that they built. Both Hindu and Jain traditions include naked sanyasis stomping the streets with no one throwing stones at them; Instead passing people pay obeisance to these monks. We have the great sculpture at Sravanbelagola in Karnataka and also at Karkal of Sri Gomateswara, a tirthankara in Jain tradition whom Hindus too worship. In all his nakedness this great Jain divine person in his larger than life statue sculpted out of a single stone, can only evoke our awe and wonder as well as a joined palm of salutation to his illumined personality. Husain is not alone in exploring the divine in its diverse aspects. Raja Ravi Varma who cannot be accused of anti-Hindu bias, drew the scene in which the adolescent Krishna watches the gopis bathing naked in the lake. Only a great painter like Raja Ravi Varma could penetrate the profundity of the scene while small men could only perceive the obscenity in it. Millions worship the image of Goddess Kali in her nearly bare bodied dance after having slain the demon raktabindasura. We have a whole treasure of rasalila paintings, some of them on the walls of many famous temples, invoking the dalliance of Krishna with the gopis in different stages of undress in which the pandits have perceived the yearnings of the atman wanting to reach out for the joy in the dance with the paramatma; had the moral police been around they would have destroyed them long ago.
Even in the Western tradition great artists have captured and expressed eternal power of creativity in the human being in the best way only they could, especially during the Renaissance period. On the roof of the Sistine chapel Michael Angelo painted the origin of man with the human figure quite naked. It is said this shocked some of the cardinals who with the then Pope had the first sight of this priceless painting. They demanded that the nakedness be covered but the Pope asked them not to interfere with the artists’ work. The sculpture of David throwing the stone in Rome portrays a naked Biblical hero- for four hundred years now no one has asked that David be clothed. Your critics have a point in asking whether Husain would have dared to make a similar portrayal of the divine figures in Islam. Certainly he would not; had he done that he would have gone against the Islamic tradition. How can we forget that that tradition refined by the Persian touch gave us the Taj Mahal. But to attribute in the portraits of Hindu goddesses that Husain did, an anti-Hindu bias and bring in an entire community in it, is to stretch prejudice to a breaking point. History has its temple breakers; it also has souls like Ustad Allauddin Khan who bowed before the Durga in creating great music and offered to this country both Ravi Shankar and Akbar Ali Khan and a great repertoire of Hindustani music, both vocal and instrumental or the Dagar brothers who or a Ustad Bismilla Khan who enthralled an unbelieving Iranian diplomat the divinity of music by taking him to the premises of the Bhairav temple at Varanasi and there rendering on his shehnai raag bhairav. Almost the whole of India regretted when Husain chose to reject Indian citizenship in the wake of the over 900 defamation cases instituted against him and chose to be citizen of Qatar; but what about several other artists and writers who have preferred American or British citizenship to Indian for reasons best known to them even though they were not hounded out as Husain was? True, artists are a difficult lot to understand and much more so to appreciate; but great art has over the ages survived overcoming the world of small men in many places on this earth throughout history. It is a decline of India from the days when artists could courageously sculpt the murals on Khajuraho temples to the present day when not just Husain, even an academic dare not say an adverse word about the heroes of the day without attracting stone pelters to his doorstep. I always thank God there were no moral police when Vtsyayana wrote Kamasutra or Kalidasa the Kumarasambhava.
—RAJENDRA PRABHU, D-601, Panchseel Apts. Sector-4, Plot No-24, Dwaraka, New Delhi-110 075
Renovation of a historic temple (Organiser, 24.7.2011); The article on Lord Narasimha Moorthi Temple renovation in Malappuram District of Kerala deserves space on the front page. The story of temple located in an area with no Hindu habitations within two kilometers of radius, desecration and destruction five times and renovation soon after each time tells the episode of Hindu heroes who command our homage. The true test of Hinduism vitality is how it could survive in the hostile environment. A strong Hindu survival instinct can alone save Hinduism and Hindus. Darwin’s theory of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ ought to be our ideology. No community or civilisation vanish because of murders and destruction but from lack of strong survival instinct.
—K DAMODAR REDDY, 9-6-365, Champapet, PO Vaisali Nagar, Hyderabad-500 079
A history of crimes against India This refers to the letter by Tanvir Fatima in ‘Reader’s Forum’, Organiser dated 10-7-2011, under heading ‘A history of crimes against India’. She has tried to prove, that Timur was secular, he killed both Hindus and Muslims in Delhi, did not invade for the spread of Islam, but for wealth. I happened to meet Prof Balraj Madhok on 25.12.1989, at his house in New Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi, and was with him for more than an hour. During conversation, he told me, that he had discussion with the head of Department of History, Kabul University during his visit to Afghanistan. The discussion was regarding the history and name of mountains named as ‘Hindu Kush’ in Central Asia. Prof Madhok was told by the Head of the Department that, when Timur reached these mountains carrying thousands of enslaved Hindus loaded on camel backs, his general told Timur, that he had no food and water to feed these slaves. Timur ordered, that they all should be slaughtered. Thus these mountains were named as Hindu Kush.‘Kush’ in Persian means slaughter. Muslim invaders never indulged in such large scale slaughter of unarmed civil Muslim population. They slaughtered only the Hindus whom they call ‘Kafirs’.
—ANAND PRAKASH, 72/ Sector-8, Panchkula-134 109
Get rid of the black money economy The Supreme Court recently questioned the Central Government regarding what it did about the huge quantity of black money in the country. Lot of black money transactions, particularly in house purchase and bribery take place in cash. Votes in the Parliament or outside are also purchased in cash. To stop this, currency notes of denomination greater than Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 must be abolished as suggested by Baba Ramdev. All financial transactions involving amounts larger than Rs 2,000 must be made by cheque or credit/debit cards. Generation of black money will stop by this way. Prevention is better than cure. When illiterate persons can use mobile phones they can also use credit cards. Since government has conceded the right to education, every citizen must be taught by government to use credit cards and be familiar with banking. At present there is a lot of black money in our economy and this is one reason of inflation and price rise. Unfortunately most of the people are not aware of this and suffer as a result.
—KESHAV ACHARYA, [email protected]
Slap to UPA government Reciprocal appointment of Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the Supreme Court to unearth black money deposited in Swiss banks by the Indian nationals is nothing but a big slap to Congress led UPA government. It is a seal put by the apex court on the incompetency of UPA government. This act (work) which was supposed to be done by the government was done by the Judiciary. UPA government is neither serious nor interested in this respect because of lack of its will power.
—SRIDHAR V KULKARNI, Kalyan (West) Maharashtra
Gita lessons in MP schools Felt very happy after reading the news that Madhaya Pradesh government will start Bhagawat Gita lessons in schools. It will be part of the syllabus. I appreciate the views of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan that Gita should be taught in schools so that students learn the holy texts and follow its principles in life. The best part is that students don’t need to quote the shlokas from Gita. They will only be taught lessons to relate the holy teachings to life . I hope that other states will also follow in suit.
—RAMINDER SINGH, B-234, Naraina Industrial, Area, Phase-1
Voter no longer can be lured with gifts The recent Assembly election results reflect that political parties and their leaders cannot take the voter for a ride, nor can they lure them with freebies and gifts. With a spate of scams, anger against corruption is now back on the national agenda. Also the anger of the electorate over corruption had been simmering for quite some time. The public has sent a clear signal that it will now not tolerate corruption and will not allow political parties to plunder national wealth any more.
—MANMOHAN KRISHNA MALHOTRA, F-4, Model Town-1, Delhi
What is the need for NAC Delhi’s CM Sheila Dikshit has attacked the idea of creating institutions which are unaccountable while responding to a question on the need for Lokpal. Will she care to explain what is the need for a National Advisory Council (NAC) when there is a big contingent of council of ministers aided by a vast bureaucracy and Planning Commission? The NAC is nothing but a parallel Cabinet without accountability.
—RANJANA UPADHYAYA, Gumti No. 5, Kanpur
Congress playing tricks with reforms The too-clever-by-half Congress worthies believe that they are the most cunning politicians who can masquerade tricks as policy reforms to ensure that the ‘Grand Old Party’ continues in power. First, the Union government increased fuel price and then the State governments were directed to lower their taxes on petroleum products which will marginally reduce the price but significantly effect the State’s tax collections. Since the Congress ruled States obeyed their political masters, the non-Congress states cannot run the risk of reducing their State revenues for pandering the whims and fancies of New Delhi. Now there is a strong possibility that the Congress will blame the Opposition of being indifferent to the plight of the poor. In addition, speculation that such steps are aimed at adjusting the excessive amount of money spent on the NAC, which is nothing more than a congregation of Hindu-baiters whose role aim is to consolidate Muslim and Christian votes for the Congress, bound to raise the hackles of every common man.
—MANISH GARG, UP
Will the corrupt ever be brought to book? A single fiber may not be strong enough to tie the noose around the necks of corrupt people but wind and twist it to make a strong rope to hang them, who are wallowing in ill-begotten wealth amassed in ever so many dubious ways leaving the large majority helpless and poverty-stricken. Why this avarice for wealth? Not in hundreds or lakhs but in lakhs of crores. Don’t they realise that it is humiliating when they are unmasked tried in the court of law and sent to jail? Don’t they know when they loot their own country they stand despised, debased and depreciated? Corruption is a pestilence that has been let loose by stinking minds and avaricious brains billing all virtues, principles and ethics. It is repugnant and nauseating to read in our dailies scams and cheating all in lacs of crores. Patriotism, moral values and ethics have an been buried by these corrupt people at the altar of rapacity. Will the corrupt people be brought to book? What with corruption reaching an explosive level in all departments and corporate sectors, how long will people tolerate this menace? Why are we voting again and again for these undeserving candidates? Answer is simple an straight forward. We the voters are to be blamed. Gifts in the form of cash and kind are offered and we accept them with impunity not realising the grievous and grave mistakes we are making and betraying our country by conniving with greedy and power hungry politicians.
—SHANTA DYUTHIKAR, 39, 15th, Cross, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru-3
Is India ruled by ‘a bunch of softies or nincompoops? India continues to be the target of terrorists and with each terrorist attack, the incompetence and inefficiency of the Government at the Centre is more than exposed. Of course, it is a different matter when it comes to deal with innocent and unarmed Hindus who assemble to voice their protest against corruption and black money. The way Baba Ramdev and his thousands of followers were subjected to police brutalities at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi showed how this UPA just for gaining political mileage in its all out efforts to stay in power could easily ride rough shod over Hindu sentiments and feelings and win laurels from pseudo secularists and baiters of Hinduism. After every terrorist attack, the latest being in Mumbai, the most favoured target of anti-national forces, as usual the weakest Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ Sonia Gandhi fly down to stand by the injured in hospitals to express their sympathy and the Union Home Minister, P Chidambaran, as usual looks clueless, but is smart enough to say that all terrorist groups, exported and home grown, are on the radar. And the search and then investigation follow, thereafter trial and it drags on. By then, another terrorist strike. Why can’t India take lesson from America, Britain, Spain and even Bangladesh? There has been no repeat of terrorist attacks in these countries. Israel is another classic example of how terrorists and their henchmen could be taught a lesson for life. Bangladesh caretaker government eliminated forever the dreaded terrorist outfit ‘Bangla Bhai’ which struck in all the 66 districts of the country simultaneously. Awami League led Government of Shiekh Hasina has not only acted decisively but firmly with all the terrorist groups and north-east militants. The most unfortunate part is that Congress has a leader who did not hesitate to call Osama as‘Ladenji’ when the whole world expressed its relief at his end. America has shown it has the guts and will to not only shoot dead a ‘terrorist’ but also bury him five fathom down the sea. After a train was bombed in Madrid in 2004, killing nearly 200 people, the masterminds and their cohorts of that deadliest attack in the west since the September 11, 2000 strikes against USA, only after 4 months of trial were sentenced to 40,000 years in prison, although under Spanish law maximum they can spend behind bars is 40 years. In our country, trial has to keep on running at huge public cost and even after the Supreme Court confirms death sentence of a convict, he has to be kept safe, hale and hearty, because winning election is more important than secure the life and property of countrymen. Those who die, a few words of condolence follow and those who loose their limbs and are maimed for life have no other option than to resign themselves to their fate, not of their making . Are we ruled by “a bunch of softies or nincompoops’?. Every sensible Indian might be searching for an answer.
—JYOTI LAL CHOWDHURY, Ukilpatty, Silchar, Assam – 7 88 004
Gita: Must for every one (Organiser, 17.7.2011); It is really a matter of pleasure to know that ex-Prime Minister of Turky, a Muslim, had faith in Gita and used to read it daily during Second World War. Gandhiji treated Gita as his mother. To day, former President of India Shri APJ Abdul Kalam is a great admirer of Gita. Similarly Shri Deepak Chopra has been very famous for his largely attended discourses on Gita , by the people of all religions in USA. Today Gita has become well known scripture all over the world and has created great interest among intelligentia. But most disgusting part is that in India the secular and Islamic communalists are calling it as saffron and communal agenda, when it has been proposed to be part of school curriculum. They do not realise that Gita was a source of strength to freedom fighters. Moreover Gandhiji always recommended it to youth. Does Gita preach hatred? No, this philosophy was bestowed upon human beings by Lord Krishna long before the advent of Islam and Christianity in India, which are the cause of communalism and separatism. This scripture is for the benefit of all irrespective of race, caste, creed and facts. That is why, it is becoming popular in the world. Will secularist like to understand this?
—HS MEHTANI, 89/7, East Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi-26
Reviving rich heritage of India I felt very happy to learn that from the last about two decades, Bharatiya Prakratik Chikitsa and Yoga Sansthan is actively engaged in the wider fields of yoga and naturopathy in India and abroad focusing their development, demonstration, promotion, propagation, research, training and publication to revive the rich heritage coming down to us from our great seers, the beacons of great human learning and practical fruitful experience. The dire need of the day is to effectively and successfully fetch the desired relief to the suffering of humanity which is undergoing various troublesome complications and resultant disorders having crept into our bodies by stages.It is basically due to dreadful result of widespread fast food, vicious thinking, polluted environment, unchecked adulteration in edibles and haphazard haste in every day living. Remaining healthy is the greatest bliss of Mother Nature manifesting a pious canvass of Almighty God’s love in its purest form. The track leading to it needs concentrated attention with utmost priority. Simple and steady natural daily life routine with sincere attitude keeps human life energetic, preserve strength thereby increasing flow of smooth human life-spam. This many enable one to acquire bright divine light giving a clear message of ray of hope for the people caught in the pitch darkness of ignorance and despair. On the other side, staggering and unbridled way of life may lead one to a painful suffering ending up having led a purposeless life.
—MM PRABHAKAR, N-85, Dwarkapuri, Navin Shahdara, Delhi-32
Why not put PM under Lokpal? The government’s refusal to bring the PM and the acts of MP’s under the scanner of the Lokpal speaks volumes about its intentions. Ultimately a toothless Lokpal Bill will not be able to check corruption in high places. The argument that the PM’s office will suffer erosion of prestige and authority if it is brought under the ambit of the Lokpal is untenable. Already the office of the CM and other members of the higher bureaucracy have been place under the Lokpal. Has it damaged their prestige? If not then why should PM alone be provided immunity form Lokpal.
—VINOD SHARMA, email
It will be hugely appreciated if letters from our esteemed readers for the ‘Reader’s Forum’ are either neatly typed or preferably emailed.
In the article European, American Museums: Fortified Havens For Plunder From India, by Radha Rajan, issue dated 14.8.11, kindly read the caption on page 52 as, Portion of Mathura Lion Capital instead of Portion of Lion Capital, Sarnath.