//Putting clothes on a Goddess

Putting clothes on a Goddess

A.R.Kanangi , Saturday, April 22, 2006 11:0:4 IST

Adi Shankarachrya said: “God, I have sinned trying to put clothes on you”. And there are 900 complaints against Husain who innocently chose not to put clothes on the painting of a Goddess

Adi Shankaracharya, who propounded the Advita philosophy: “God, I have sinned trying to put clothes on you; I have sinned giving form to one who has no form.”
And there are 900 complaints against him — an artist — who chose not to put clothes on a God or a Goddess. They are accusing him of not putting clothes on a Goddess — the formless one.
What Husain does is modern art – with nowhere forms. Even if he puts clothes on someone, that person may look stark naked. It could be an unseen reality, a figment of the imagination. And above all — innocence.
Why are they after Husain’s blood? A cartoon in a Danish paper was objectionable. The artist who made it wanted to insult the prophet, show his face as resembling a terrorist. There was a clear motive there – an effort to hurt, an effort to ridicule Islam.
And there are some who produce toilet paper with the image of God, Rama embossed on it or show Durga on whisky posters.
But when Husain paints Goddess Lakshmi or Saraswati, he has no such objectionable motive. He has not the slightest intention to be disrespectful. Like Adi Shankaracharya, he is not happy about putting man-made appeal on them. Perhaps that is why he is painting them nude.
That’s it, the important thing is the motive.
Three top artists of our country are Muslims — Husain, Raza and Tyeb Mehta. I know the first two — Husain and Raza – very well. Both of them are interested in Hinduism – not so much perhaps the rituals – but its philosophy and mystery. Raza’s Bindu series, which stunned the world and got him great acclaim would never have emerged if he was not deeply interested in the accumulated, universal, cosmic knowledge of Hindu thinkers down the ages.
And then Tyeb Mehta is painting Kali, the terrible Goddess and it would not have attracted global attention if he did not have a brush with the Hindu philosophy.
None of these artists would ever dream of desecrating other religious and intentionally hurting anyone.
As for nudity, India has an unabashed leader record. Go and see what’s on the walls of temples and important monuments. And at Kajuraho, Gods, Goddesses, apsaras and others are not only nude, but are engaged in sensuous poses. The sculptors who have done these immortal works are not insulting Gods and Goddesses. Actually, it is claimed, reveal a spiritual scenario. The sculptors of the past were not inhabited and they were free to express themselves. Their revelations, their exposures do not amount to even one per cent of nudity in Husain’s works.
In India, there is a bold, uninhibited approach to nudity. We do not see it as physical. For instance, there is nothing physical about the phallus we worship – Shiv lingam.  It is perhaps the thought behind it, the mystery and wonder that we see in it. And there is the divine Mahavira who stands tall atop rocks who is worshipped by millions of people belonging to all religions.
It is all the same kind of innocence which is there in Husain’s paintings.

Homeless Sonia
There are thousands in Mumbai and in Delhi who do not have a proper roof over their heads. Hopelessly they search for a home – the security and warmth which a home brings.
They need not lose heart. There is a VIP in Delhi who is just like them – one of them – without a house.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi no house of her own.
She is homeless. Just think of that. The president of the Congress, a member of the Nehru family does not possess a house. That’s what she said. In a poll declaration, Sonia Gandhi has said she has no house. She has an ancestral house – but that is in Italy. Estimated cost of the house: 12.45 lakh.
And Mrs Sonia Gandhi does not own a car also. She owns jewellery worth a little over Rs 21 lakh. It is possible the jewellery she has was purchased long ago. Time was when a ten gram of gold cost only Rs 20. About 50 years ago, it was just Rs 200.
Now it is Rs 9000 for 10 grams. Calculated at the current rate, Sonia’s gold could be
over Rs two crore.
Politicians of yesteryear had to present an image of poverty. Being wealthy was a disqualification. Those days rich politicians took great care to conceal their income.
Even today, they try to do so. They do not however go down in the eyes of the people if they have money. Politicians today flaunt their wealth. They own huge property – hundreds of acres of land, buildings, many kgs of jewellery, educational institutions, multiple cars, have shares in companies. They do not have to present an image of poverty to get people’s vote.

Down the manhole
It was a terrible experience. I had seen that manhole wide open in the morning near Sassoon Docks. And in the afternoon, there was a cloudburst. The street was flooded – the Colaba causeway. There was no bus or taxi plying after the Electric House.
There was lightning and thunder as I walked down the road — towards the post office. The water reached almost my chest. I had to push myself hard as I made my way through the huge flood. And at Sassoon Docks, I remembered. The manhole! Where was it exactly? On the left of the street, in the middle? Should I go back? It was night – about 11 p.m. No going back now.
I reached home safe.
But not all people in Mumbai are lucky. There are open manholes along many streets. A man fell down a manhole on the Andheri-Kurla road last week. He was drowned. A Bandra girl who went down a manhole had a miraculous escape. In the rainy season, a manhole poses deadly danger. As one walks through a flooded street, one cannot tell whether a manhole is open or not.
When a manhole death occurs, the blame game starts. Several authorities blame one another. They all do the digging and even those who have nothing to do with manhole, tamper with them. The BMC blames the MMRDA and the MMRDA blames the BMC.
And even as they blame each other, the ill-fated, hapless man or woman steps into the manhole and dies. A terrible, gasping stinking end…