The recent Supreme court’s stand on M F Hussain’s nude portrayal of Bharat mata as being a piece of art could come as a surprise to some. Of course the so called “Hindutva” brigade is not at all happy and the so called left- secular lobby could not but betray a smile!
Now are Hindu’s really not used to having their gods and goddesses scantily or not clothed at all? The answer is no. Through out history we as people living beyond the Sindhu river have never been moralizing about nudity or overt displays of love and sex. We celebrated love, life and bodily pleasures. Look at the walls of Khajuraho or Konark temples or the various statues of fertility goddesses. To have a glimpse of how common people viewed these things read Gatha Saptashati. Now I know this is gross simplification and also anachronism, but you get the point right!
Hindu values (or the way VHP and likes would like to think about it) have changed a lot in the last two centuries and now resemble more the Victorian ideals of morality. So are they not real? Actually they are- we as Hindus today believe in Victorian ideals of morality as being the essence of being a Hindu. There is no problem with that. The problem is believing that it has always been like that or allowing politicians in fooling you to believe that way.
So is M F Hussain wrong in painting Bharat mata nude? As I said, some three hundred years back we would not have thought of it as wrong. But today we are different and we would react in a different way. Would every body join the bandwagon? I do not think so. There are still some people who see things differently or a have a more balanced perspective because of reading history.
Having said that, it is also notable that M F Hussain has never used his artistic expression to portray Islam or Christianity. It would be interesting to see how he would do it and how these religious groups react to it.
The so called left liberals and secularists are a different creed altogether. For e.g., I did not read any news about the secular brigade criticizing the Christian response to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code in India. So its the art of politics that they have mastered or what we would call engaging in selective empiricism!