The English language press and channels like to see M. F. Hussain as the unassailable peak of creativity, and demonise those protesting against his nudes of Hindu deities. While I do not accept attacks and vandalism of any sort against anybody, however objectionable the activities of the person may be, after going through some of Hussain’s paintings I definitely do not think that he is without blame.
Hanuman is an inspirational character in Indian mythology….He is the icon of purity, service, humility, superhuman power and divine aspiration.
Valmiki’s Ramayana paints such a sublime picture of his impeccable character in canto after canto of the Sundara Kanda and in many cantos of the Kishkinda and Yuddha Kanda! Both Kamban in Tamil and Tulsidas in Avadhi ( a literary dialect of Hindusthani) were highly inspired by Valmiki’s portrayal of Hanuman, and produced their own great versions of his character. Tamil scholars in fact suggest that Kamban identified himself with Hanuman.
Sita’s character too is held in high esteem by Indians…except of course the feminists who cannot digest the sufferings she was put through by Rama. Of course nobody can force them to change their opinion. Rajagopalachari, India’s first and last governor general, who translated the Ramayana in Tamil and English has himself criticised Rama for the slaying of Vali and also for the banishment of the pregnant Sita. This is the sort of freedom Hinduism offers people.
Hussain, of course, is a painter with a fine brush, but he has gone overboard in depicting Hanuman and Sita. In one painting he has a naked Sita straddling Hanuman’s tail…and in another a naked Ravana and Sita.
Hussain has always been known to court publicity and controversy….but with such paintings he has shown a grotesque aspect of his personality.
I cannot object if he indeed sees the sublime characters in this way…but when he paints them and circulates them in public he should be prepared to face the music.
But I want no ugly notes in that music. If there were, there would be no difference between Hussain and those opposing him.
Even when I think that certain beliefs held by people of various religions are rather naive…I would not say so. I believe that conduct and character are more important than dogmas and religious doctrines…One should live by one’s religious faith…not make it a question of contention and argument.
There is nothing more reprehensible than poohpoohing the faith of other people.
There is nothing more ugly than pouring ridicule on objects venerated by others (even if the ridicule was justified in some way).
Let us all realise this and work for making the world a happier place for those who are handicapped and sick, poor and uneducated, rather than fighting over the nudes of a nonagenerian who is perhaps going to be overtaken by dementia this day or the next.