THE HINDU: Editor Ram and M.F. Husain’s ‘right’ to debase Hindu Goddesses – Hilda Raja

Lady Professor IconThis letter was written to The Hindu editor N. Ram by Dr. Mrs. Hilda Raja, retired Professor of Social Sciences, Stella Maris College, Chennai, in response to an editorial favouring the painter M.F. Husain and his right to freedom of expression. Husain lives in self-imposed exile in the UAE. He has renounced his Indian citizenship in favour of Qatar citizenship. – Editor

N. Ram of The HinduDear Ram,

I have taken time to write this to you, Ram, for the simple reason that we have known you for so many years. You and The Hindu bring back happy memories. Please take what I am putting down as words that come from an agonized soul. You know that I do not mince words and what I have to say, I will. I call a spade a spade. Now it is too late for me to learn the tricks of being called a ‘secularist’ if that means a bias for one, and a bias against another.

Husain is now a citizen of Qatar. This has generated enough of heat and less of light. Qatar you know better than me, is not a country which respects democracy or freedom of expression. Husain says he has complete freedom. I challenge him to paint a picture of Mohammad fully clad!

M. F. HusainThere is no second opinion that artists have the right of freedom of expression. Is such a right restricted only to Husain? Will that right not flow to Dan Brown? Why was his film, The Da Vinci Code, not screened? Why was Satanic Verses banned? Does Salman Rushdie not have that freedom of expression? Similarly, why is Taslima Nasrin hunted and hounded and why fatwas have been issued on both these writers? Why has Qatar not offered citizenship to Taslima? In the present rioting in Shimoga, in Karnataka, against the article Taslima wrote against the tradition of burqua which appeared in the Out Look in January 2007. Nobody protested then either in Delhi or in any other part of the country. Now when it reappears in a Karnataka paper there is rioting. Is there a political agenda to create a problem in Karnataka by the intolerant goons? Why has the media not condemned this insensitivity and intolerance of the Muslims against Taslima’s views? When it comes to the Sangh Parivar it is quick to call them goons and intolerant, etc. Now who are the goons and where is this tolerance and sensitivity?

M.F. Husain's most vulgar painting: Sita riding the tail of Hanuman.Regarding Husain’s artistic freedom it seems to run unfettered in an expression of sexual perversion only when he envisages the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. There is no quarrel had he painted a nude woman sitting on the tail of a monkey. The point is he captioned it as ‘Sita’. Nobody would have protested against the sexual perversion and his orientation to sexual signs and symbols. But would he dare to caption it as ‘Fatima enjoying in Jannat with animals’?

Next example is the painting of Durga copulating with a lion. Here again his perversion is evident and so is his intent. Even that, let’s concede, cannot be faulted. Each one’s sexual orientation is each one’s business, I suppose. But he captioned it as ‘Durga’. This is the problem. It is Husain’s business to enjoy in painting his sexual perversion. But why use Durga and Sita for his perverted expressions? Use Fatima and watch the consequence. Let the media people come to his rescue then.

Now that he is in a country that gives him complete freedom, let him go ahead and paint Fatima copulating with a lion or any other animal of his choice. And then turn around and prove to India the freedom of expression he enjoys in Qatar.

Talking about freedom of expression. This is the Husain who supported Emergency and painted Indira Gandhi as Durga slaying Jayaprakash Narayan. He supported the jailing of artists and writers. Where did this freedom of expression go? And you call him secularist? Would you support the jailing of artists and writers, Ram? Would you support the abeyance of the Constitution and all that we held sacred in democracy and the excessiveness of Indira Gandhi to gag the media, writers, political opponents? Tell me honesty, why does Husain expect this freedom when he himself did not support others with the same freedom he wants? And the media has rushed to his rescue. Had it been a Ram who painted such obnoxious, degrading paintings, the reactions of the media and the elite ‘secularists’ would have been different. Because there is a different perception and index of secularism when it comes to Ram, and a different perception and index of secularism when it comes to Rahim/Husain.

M.F. HusainIt brings back to my mind an episode that happened to The Hindu some years ago (1991). You had a separate weekly page for children with cartoons, quizzes, and with poems and articles of school children. In one such weekly page The Hindu printed a venerable bearded man fully robed with head dress, mouthing some passages of the Koran, trying to teach children. It was done not only in good faith but as a part of inculcating values to children from the Koran. All hell broke loose. Your office witnessed goons who rushed in, demanded an apology, held out threats. In Ambur, Vaniambadi and Vellore the papers stands were burned, the copies of The Hindu were consigned to the fire. A threat to raise the issue in Parliament through a Private Members Bill was held out. Hectic activities went on. I am not sure of the nature and the machinations behind the scene. But The Hindu next day brought out a public apology in its front page. Where were you, Ram? How secular and tolerant were the Muslims?

Well, this is of the past. Today it is worse because the communal temperature in this country is at an all high: even a small friction can ignite and destroy the country’s peace and harmony. It is against this background that one should view Husain who is bent on abusing and insulting the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Respect for religious sentiments, need to maintain peace and harmony should also be part of the agenda of an artist, if he is great. If it is absent then he cannot say that he respects India and express his longing for India.

Let’s face it. He is a fugitive of law. Age and religion are immaterial. What does the media want? That he be absolved by the courts?

Even for that he has to appear in the courts. He cannot run away. After all this is the country where he lived and gave expression to his perverted, sadistic, erotic, artistic mind under freedom of expression. I simply cannot jump into the bandwagon of the elite ‘secularist’ and uphold what he had done. With his brush he had committed jihad-bloodletting.

KhajurahoThe issue is not just nudity. Yes, the temples, the frescoes in Konarak and Khajuraho, have nude figures. But does it say that they are Sita, Durga or any goddess? We have the Yoni and the Phallus as sacred signs of Life – of Siva and Shakti. Take these icons to the streets, paint them, give the painting a caption, it becomes vulgar. Times have changed. Even granted that our ancients sculptured and painted naked forms and figures, with a perverted mind to demean religion there is no license to repeat that in today’s changed political and social scenario, and it is not a sign of secularism and tolerance. I repeat there is no quarrel with nudity: painters have time and again found in it the perfection of God’s hand craft.

Let me wish Husain peace in Qatar – the totalitarian regime with zero tolerance! May be he will convince the regime there to permit freedom of expression in word, writing and painting. For this he could start experimenting painting forms, and figure of Mohammad the Prophet, and his family. And may I fervently wish that the media, especially The Hindu, does not discriminate goons. Let it not substitute tolerance for intolerance when it comes to Rahim and Anthony, and another index for Ram.

I hope you will read this in the same spirit that I have written. All the best to you Ram.

Dr. Mrs. Hilda Raja
Vadodara, Gujarat

M. F. Husain’s alien concept of Bharat Mata

Husain's Bharat Mata

Husain has stated that he paints images naked when he has contempt for them. He has contempt for Bharat Mata so he paints her without dress or decoration. He is aware that this deeply offends Hindus who revere Bharat Mata as a nurturing mother and goddess, but spiting Hindus pleases his primitive jihadi psyche as much as exposing Sita to profane public view or dismembering Hanuman does. Husain lives in exile in Dubai because he is afraid to face the Hindus in India he so despises. – IS

28 Responses

  1. Its easy to critisis anything its not easy to make good environ. what is planted that’s it gets you. plant good get good. u r responsible for what you do ? either its alla, jesus or hindu gods. No god says to sail life on others sentiments. do not hurt others will have their term for the same. every creature has unique power use it to accomplish duty for some creative work. your work should be beyond earth. do not make your mind to only go around earth. May the good save your useful work

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  3. well read this article very late and i can understand dr Hilda’s response to Hussain’s paintings…it does hurt ones religious sentiments…………but she forgets while expecting MF Hussain to name “sita” as ‘ Hz Fatima’ ,that there is no such description of her & monkey in Islam…… nor her life in heaven or earth….her she rode on a lion(Durga).Contrary to such descriptions in Ramayana or very temple…ao there is no parael & no comparison.
    Besides,reading the article i realized why Islam from the very beginning is opposed to idol worship & painting of God or Prophets.It gives others weird ideas & opportunity to mis-use….
    I do not agree with Dr Hilda…where nude figures in temples across india are concerned..they are infact gods n goddesses.all museums too are full on them…and they do provide fertile grounds for artists like Hussain in mordern times as it did many many years ago…

    • Yes, Hinduism is a highly visual, experiential and intensely expressive religion. It believes in living religion. But the line between experience, expression and insult is thin. Thankfully, Hinduism can easily surmount puerile and infantile interpretations. And thankfully, it is free of the tyranny of the book and all the stupidities that rise from it. The richness of interpretation that also leads to malicious aberrations like Hussain, also helps Hinduism to live without the help of any Revelation. The light is within every individual and he or she can find it without help from any priest or preacher.

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  10. What Hussain has done……Islam never entertain………infact…the Holy Quran says…do not say…”i repeat” do not say any bad words about other’s God….then how come Hussain’s work to be appreciable……no way……indeed he was wrong.

  11. You are right. In the name of Secularism we can NOT loose our Identity or Rights or Submit to bullshit.
    Hindu-Ram is first try to be TRUE then Secular.

    Thanks
    Hari

  12. […] THE HINDU: Editor Ram and M.F. Husain’s ‘right’ to debase Hindu Goddesses – … […]

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  14. Mr. Adhikari is right when he says Qatar is irrelevant. What is relevant and greatly delightful, however, is that this abominable creature and anti-Hindu, Husain, is no more a citizen of the sacred Hindu homeland that is India on which, he takes a sadistic pleasure, in heaping insult by depicting her and the adorable deities of her children ,the Hindus, in the nude. Mr. Adhikari is angry at the inability of our democratic culture to protect the right of an artist to express himself in a way he likes.. It is my advice to Mr. Adhikari to cool his nerves. As far as India is a Hindu majority nation nothing will stop an artist from expressing himself the way he likes. But I must tell Mr. Adhikari not to mistake Husain for a genuine painter. He is a jihadi painter whose mission is to vilify the Hindu kafirs and their motherland.Remember the destruction of the Bamiyan by the talibans. Is Husain’s painting of Devi Sita, Devi Durga and other Hindu deities in a highly objectionable manner any different from the vandalism of the talibans? Mr. Adhikari wants to know what is so perverted about drawing mythological figures in the nude. I will answer that. But , before that let me tell Mr. Adhikari , Devi Durga and Devi Sarswati and any other Hindu deities are no mythological figures. They are the manifestations of the eternal and ever present divine Supreme Consciousness that creates sustains and destroys the creation. It is this utter disregard for the Hindu sensibilities that is perverted about Husain’s paintings.And who are these renowned critics? Are the opinions of the critics{ who must have been slander -agenst like wendy Doniger} more significant than the Hindu feelings.Besides, who allowed them to pass any comments at the first place in this issue. A very silly argument is often extended by the apologists of Husain’s paintings that Hindu temples like the Konark and Khajuraho depict nude sculptures of the deities.It is nonsensical.It is these apologists who make a hue and cry by calling Hindus regressive and anti- progressive whenever they try to take pride in their glorious past. Now the same people are reminding us of our past. What irony. Lastly, I have a suggestion for Husain and painters of his ilk that whenever they think of drawing such obnoxious drawings they first try their hands at drawing their mothers in the naked copulating with dogs.

    • Marvelous comment !!!!!!!!!! I must congratulate Sri Chidananda mohapatra for having posted a fitting reply to shut the mouth of anti-Hindu sympathizers like gautam adhikari.

  15. I fully endorse Abhi’s characterisation of Rama, Sita, Hanuman and Bharata as our very life and breath. Rajaji, generally not given to demonstration of emotion, was moved to write in his introductory note to his Tamil translation of Valmiki Ramayana –”Till the Ganga and Cauvery flow, the Ramayana will protect the men, women and children of India like an affectionate mother by their side. Listen folks…The question whether reading and hearing the Ramayana is of any benefit has been settled centuries ago by the Tamilian Kamban”. Rajaji was a great administrator and a model of integrity. He was the champion of a market economy decades before anyone thought of it in India. But he considered his expositions of Ramayana as his greatest service to Indians. That shows how deep the influence of the Ramayana is on Indians.

  16. Gautam Kumar’s answers are themselves full of logical loopholes.

    1. Quatar may be so intolerant that if Husain paints Muhammad even clothed, they will have him stoned, but then it is not about Qatar, utters Adhikari.

    If Husain can live in a country that is much more intolerant than us, why cant he live in India? Why is he and his mediawalla sycophants pretending that he is in a paradise of freedom? Why did Husain accept a hell of repression as his adopted country? What happened to his love for freedom of expression, what about the right of artists whom Qatar suppresses? All this makes me feel Husain doesnt give a rat’s behind about freedom of expressionm what do you feel Mr Adhikari? I also notice you kept your mouth shut about his sycophancy of Indira Gandhi, I would have loved to see your response, but you could only come up same liberal tripe.

    2. What is so ‘perverted’ about Husain’s drawing mythological figures in the nude?

    They are not mythological figures, dunderhead, when will you all understand this; they are living breathing parts of our being. Until you have the courage to paint your wife and mother and daughter naked and show it all of us, lick this argument back into your mouth.

    3. We don’t want to force anyone to our viewpoint by ransacking galleries or burning works of art or physically threatening those who disagree with us, Hindu or Muslim.

    What to do Adhikari Saheb, when the government utters extreme profanities against us: ‘Ram was a myth’; and your vaunted courts are too impotent to intervene in Muslim appeasement cases, this is what happens. Selective implementation of Constitution doesn’t help, and you must all use your brains apart from reading out the Constitution like a parrot. And assuming that even we say yes, his galleries should not be burnt, he will still remain the same evil retard.

  17. Gautam Adhikari and other anti-Hindu fanatics are suffering from an impotent rage at being rendered irrelevant after serving all their lives debasing Hinduism and admiring the foreign cults. Had India not been under slavery for so many years, people of his ilk would have been lesser. Inferiority complex, self-debasment, dhimmitude, etc., are an integral part of his being. Husain’s right to pervertize Hinduism is ok, but the right of billions of us to feel offended is not ok, doing so automatically makes you a Hindu fanatic.

    So I guess Gautam babu will have to live with Hindu fanatics for a long time to come, who knows one day his kids may seat him in a chair and verbally strip him of all his dignity for perpetuating this ignoble Hindu-bashing all his life and bringing shame to them, assuming he is a Hindu.

  18. I agree with Dr. Hilda Raja and second her sentiments. But I don’t think that only the captioning of the paintings as ‘Sita’ and ‘Durga’ was wrong. While the portions having to do with Sita and Hanuman in the Valmiki Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana and Tulsi’s Ramcharitmanas are the most sublime in any literature anywhere in the world, where did Hussain get this idea of making his Sita straddle his Hanuman’s tail? It is entirely in his imagination. While our communists and pseudo secularists shout ‘tolerance’ at the Hindus, they keep mum when it comes to Muslims and Christians. Why is that? With Hindus split by language, class and caste, as well as numerous sects, I think Hinduism must be declared a minority religion…And of course it is the one religion which most of the English language media love to despise.

  19. It is not only The Hindu and The New Indian Express that have tried to put up a secular defence of Husain, the Deccan Chronicle has done so too through its Congress columnist Jayanti Natarajan. I sent the following letter to the Deccan Chronicle on March 1st but it has never been published.

    This refers to Jayanti Natarajan’s article “No more Husains” (DC, March 1). One does not have to be a Bajrang Dal cowboy to be offended by M.F. Husain’s paintings of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and, indeed, Hindus themselves. Any sensitive Indian who values India’s pluralistic social and religious culture would be offended by his vulgar paintings of a nude Sita Devi “pole dancing” on a naked Hanuman’s tail or Durga Devi copulating with a lion. These paintings represent Husain’s personal and contemptuous view of Hindu civilization.They are not acceptable in India as public art works (as they will not be acceptable in Qatar). Freedom of expression like all freedoms, entails responsibility and sensitivity to the feelings of the community one lives in; it is not a licence to trample on the religious beliefs of others. Had Husain first caricatured his own prophet Mohammad without any clothes, we could accept the argument that all are equal in the artist’s eye and that he had not singled out Hindus for ridicule.

  20. We are not aware that Comrade Ram published Dr. Raja’s letter in his little newspaper. If he did, pls tell us when or where so that we may give him some democratic, freedom of expression credits.

    A similar letter to this was sent to the pharasee editor-in-chief Aditya Sinha of The New Indian Express. He also did not have the courtesy to give Dr. Raja any space or the courage to to make her very well thought out rejoinder to The Hindu editorial public.

    Our secular editors are loud-mouthed cowards at best. But the real fault lies with Hindu intellectuals and moneybags who are not able to publish a quality mainstream national newspaper that would give space to the Hindu point of view.

  21. Congratulations to Dr. Mrs. Hilda Raja for the well researched letter to Shri Ram. Of course thanks to Shri Ram for publishing the letter in The Hindu. What impressed me was the pain taken by Dr. Mrs. Hilda Raja in collating all the relevant information.

  22. The best way to counteract this is to ask our Hindu painters to paint Abhrahamic Devils (Heathens and Fakirs have nothing Divine). We can paint them in our sandals and water closets. Our Hindu brethren is quite equipped to ape the west. So we can try this and wait for the secular media’s left brain’s response. If we shy away they will take over. Might is right in the modern democracy.

  23. Logic seems to be in short supply in Gautam Adhikari’s response to Dr. Hilda Raja’s comment on Husain’s predicament and alleged high art. Firstly, her highlighting of the absence of democracy and freedom in Qatar, chosen by Husain as his new home, is perfectly relevant since it says something about his respect for the very values being espoused in defending his right to paint as he pleases. Secondly, why the self-confessedly irreligious Mr. Adhikari has a special dispensation to dictate how the religious-minded should react to Husain’s sacrilegious art rather escapes me. Thirdly, if the opinion of bona fide international (wow!) aesthetes suffices to vindicate his depiction of bestilaity by Hindu deities that should surely hold true for the Prophet and his retinue being displayed in the nude as well. Except that Husain has said that painting of Hitler in the nude was his special way of disparaging him.

  24. Dr. Hilda Raja’s letter has been replied to by Gautam Adhikar, a former executive editor of the Times of India, 16 March 2010. He acknowledges Hilda Raja’s argument but like all Indian secular editors, he leaves out those parts which don’t serve his purpose. Dr. Raja’s argument cannot be faulted and should be carefully read before going to Gautam Adhikari’s edit. It is available at Times of India: Why should we shut up?

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