An open letter to M.F.Husain
Mr. Maqbool Fida Husain,
It has been a week of great relief for many of us here in India as we believed that with the conferment of Qatar nationality for you, the controversy surrounding you would at least subside, if not end. But then it was not to be so. The media is now on an overdrive projecting you as a victim of a malicious campaign and that your blasphemous depictions of the venerated mother and other deities are nothing more than an artist’s freedom for creative expressions. Some call it a sad day for India while a few other headlines yell it as a national shame. As a lay Indian but nevertheless a proud Indian, I will try to explain to you why I feel terribly hurt, nay, deeply humiliated, by your artistic profanity, a sense of outrage that a large section of my countrymen share with me.
In one of the beautiful compositions found in the puranas, the sages invoke the mother as ” Shrimata Shrimaharagyi Shrimatsimha Saneshvari…” ” The one divine mother of all, the great empress of the whole universe, great sovereign enthroned on the lion” thus capturing the extolled stature and the enthralling magnificence of Shakti, the feminine aspect of the Divine. The great seers goes on to describe her as “Nirlepa Nirmala Nitya Nirakara Nirakula ” “one who is free from all affectations of external contacts, free from all impurities, who is eternal, who is not limited to and by any form and is never agitated”. She is “Nishkalanka”, the one without a blemish. And if you portray such a pristine purity in vulgar nudity and in disparaging union with a lion, will we not be hurt?
The Vedas describe Goddess Lakshmi as an embodiment of absolute bliss and the bestower of all prosperity and who is supreme over all created beings. “The Shri Suktam” glorifies her as “Chandra Prabhasyam Yashesham Jwalantim” “who is beautiful like the moon, who shines bright, blazing with renown”. And if such a one whose grace can confer all happiness, wealth and joy is depicted in derogatory nudity sitting over Ganesha’s head, will we not be hurt?
And when you paint Sita Maa, who is worshipped as the epitome of chastity, “Pathivritha Shiromani”, as sitting on the lap of Ravana, again in nudity, will we not be hurt? And when you trample upon and demean the most sacred relationship between her and Hanuman, will we not be hurt?
Your cursed brush has not even spared the motherland and your besmirched representation of her not only smacks of a vulgarity of the most debasing variety but also of a certain mischievousness. Does this also come under artistic freedom? We appreciate you for the honourable and the fully decked up representations of your mother, your daughter, Faiz and Ghalib in your paintings. But when this courtesy is not extended to our goddesses, will we not be hurt? Maybe you meant it to be so.
What Duryodhana could not do to Draupadi, you, Mr. Husain, though figuratively, did it to our goddesses and to our motherland.
A gross transgression!
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