Deos and Deities

Who’d have thought that the government move against deodorant ads would get a saffron person to state:

“I guess these guidelines do not apply when it comes to painting Hindu gods and goddesses in nude and/or erotic positions."

Well, that was what my Inbox had and it is something that keeps coming up in discussions too. 

My reply in full:

Dear X ji:

I do not believe these ads have much of an impact, but am I to assume you have no problems with such ads? Does the Shiv Sena not routinely tear up posters on hoardings that it finds objectionable? What about protests during Valentine’s Day? Most religious groups inflict such morality on people without even taking recourse to the legal process.

The analogy of paintings of Hindu deities naked or in certain positions is not quite the same. These depictions are there in temples and ancient art. Most of contemporary art does not demean the figures. And let us not forget that guidelines or no guidelines the people behind such paintings do bear the brunt. In our country we have a very strong unofficial system of policing. Sadly, it does not come out when the country is in real danger.

I can only guess that your next query or thought would be, ah, and what do Muslims do when there is a cartoon drawn about their Prophet? As a non-practising person with some basic knowledge, I think it has to do with non-idolatory. Islam has no visible images at all; we do not know what the Prophet looks like. So, like most vain people we’d want a more Christ-like or even Santa-like image rather than some skewed Aladdin. It has to do with aesthetics.

Now, you may well ask, what would a mullah whose face is covered with a bush know about aesthetics? And what is aesthetic about shouting slogans and doing other undesirable things?

Claudia and calligraphy

I agree, but in this respect all religious proponents have the same degree of enthusiasm. Recently an Australian swimwear company had images of Goddess Lakshmi; some years ago model Claudia Schiffer walked down the ramp wearing a dress with Islamic calligraphy drawn on the top; pop star Madonna used Sanskrit shlokas in some songs, someone else belts out some exclamatory lines from the Quran; there have been occasions when even Buddhists have been hurt because some wine was called Maya. There have been objections and protests.

The protestors showing what they do not want shown!
I think the oft-quoted bit from the Bhagwad Gita can be applied across the board:

Karmani ave adhikars te
ma phalesu kadachana
ma karmaphal hetur bhoo
ma sangostu akramani

“Thou hast power only to act not over the result thereof. Act thou therefore without prospect of the result and without succcumbing to inaction.”

Everyone acts the way they deem fit for fear of inaction.


PS: Sorry about the long rant but traditionally the majority has appeased the minority so I assume some indulgence! (Please take this in the right light spirit.)

- Note ends -

I did not copy the pictures in the email, though.My views on the deo ads have already been expressed here


  1. FV,

    It is
    "Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadhachan"

    It is God's word and hence immutable, O believer!

  2. F&F:

    Oh, so what did I write? Same thing, but with pregnant Sanskrit pauses.

    When you say it is god's word etc, are you talking on behalf of god/godliness and addressing me as believer (as you have done in the past) or are you just happy to see a Mossie play Hindu-Hindu? :)

  3. FV,

    I would be immensely happy if I see you becoming Hindu rather than just playing Hindu-Hindu. Eternal optimism? :)

  4. If it's me you want in the fold, then it isn't optimism, but hara-kiri....


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.