As a 28-year-old Indian, I take strong exception to the publication of Gautaman Bhaskaran’s March 9 article, “Intolerance in India putting artists to flight.“
First, the portrayal of secularism has been skewed by the journalist. As important as freedom to practice one’s religion is, it is the duty of every secular citizen to allow others to practice their religion without hindering or abusing their sentiments and beliefs. This is the cornerstone of secular India. M.F. Husain (cited by Bhaskaran), in the name of art and in his enthusiasm to demean Hinduism and its gods, has violated this principle.
Second, Husain has depicted Adolf Hitler in the nude, claiming that his reason for doing so stems from his hatred of Hitler. Yet, when asked to explain why he has depicted Hindu gods in the nude, he changes his tune and says he did it to show their purity. Such double-speak cannot be tolerated. He has also depicted Mother India nude and in a vulgar manner.
Third, it is amazing how Husain’s “art” has targeted only Hindu gods with remarkable accuracy while avoiding the depiction of any god from another religion in a similar manner.
I also wish to clear up the huge misconception about the nude paintings at Khajuraho, India. Historians who have researched these paintings have concluded that these are not figures of gods and goddesses at all. No culture or religion would stoop to depicting their gods in the nude.
Hinduism, being one of the oldest religions in the world, does not rely on conversions to grow. The very reason for its survival until today is its peaceful perseverance and its ability to understand and accommodate other religions and faiths. Husain has overstepped his right [to free artistic expression] by hurting the sentiments and beliefs of millions of Hindus. The article speaking in his favor is biased and does not represent a correct picture of secular India.
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