An open letter to M.F.Husain

February 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm 8 comments

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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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rekhabaala  |  February 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Liked it. Very well written. When did art give the creative freedom to hurt people’s sentiments? So true!!! Hope you are reading my blog as well 🙂 I thought the post on typing would ring a bell with all Kochiites!

  • 2. umesh kumar  |  February 28, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Do the authorities has given special permission to these jockers to depict the mother in such a shameless manner. why not he try his luck in some other countries. Is there any limit for free of expression, thought….

  • 3. Rubi  |  March 5, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Um yea… I beleive in the creative expression, but yea, Maqbool has an overdrive while painting the deities.

  • 4. Suneetha  |  March 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Hi Narayanan

    Very well said, you have put into words what I have been thinking. I guess you wiull be interested in a similar post, which you can read here

    warm regards


  • 5. UmmON  |  March 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    everyone has a right to be hurt. but no one has a right to gag another person’s freedom of expression… not in a democracy. not in india.
    i am not defending MFH’s paintings. but i sure as hell won’t fault him for choosing to moving away from his country. if he has attacked hindus/hinduism by portraying a nude sita, let’s protest. get a petition running, file a case; not by attacking his house and family.
    i also have a problem with comparing india and qatar, just ‘cos he would choose qatar over india. it’s a gross injustice to india, and all it stands for, to do that.
    qatar is a closed, hypocritical society – i live here, i should know. but a 95-year-old man choosing to accept it’s citizenship is not any worse than a young iit-grad (subsidised fee and all) moving to greener, western pastures.
    we are making the whole MFH issue about his paintings alone, even when people are defending him.
    it isn’t. it’s about a growing intolerance in our country… about how we bristle at the remotest hint of a slight or criticism.

    ps: sorry about the long rant, and pardon my non-cap entry (that’s my latest tick). popped over here from rekha balaa’s blog.

    • 6. rakesh  |  March 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      once it happened that a goon (a gentle one rather) was encroaching his neighbour’s land. When the owner objected he “advised” him to take the legal route and there was no need for the fight.
      Next day the owner’s 6’3” 110 kg black belt karate younger brother came from the village and gave a nice visit to the encroacher. By the evening the encroachments disappeared. no lairs (i prefer this word!) were needed.
      Had we done this treatment earliar to mr H there wd hv been no problem except that his paintings were still be selling if at all at the futpaths

  • 7. Anil  |  April 16, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    If you don’t like MF Husain’s work, please go out and make some of your own. The antidote to bad speech is more speech, not censorship, goonda-ism, or rejoicing in kicking people out of the country.

  • 8. brokenradius  |  March 9, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    All religions are lying, in particular when they try to interfere with politics. I hope that soon all people will free their minds from religious indoctrination and intollerance. Their is not a single religion on earth that derserves the right to tell people whats right or wrong. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, its all the same bullshit and will all soon be abandoned. Free minded and educated people don’t need any higher deity, however it is called.


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