Sunday, June 26, 2011

M F Husain: Nude Saraswati

Many modern Hindus who have never seen old temples or never been to a museum identify with only one version of Saraswati - a sari-clad and jewelry-decked, modest and serene lady, who resembles more of a conservative Indian male chauvinist’s idea of a virtuous woman.

I do not know exactly when such a version has come to prominence, but it is clear that as soon as the pictures of gods started entering ordinary family man’s homes, the deity started to become conservative.  By the time Ravi Verma painted his Saraswati, it looks like such modesty was already an attribute of a Hindu Goddess.


Ravi Verma’s Saraswati:

However, many contemporary artists continued to depict their goddesses in nude but these figurines never entered the common man’s homes as deity figures.  Also, without sufficient patronage, artists could not continue painting or sculpting nude goddesses and it fell out of fashion.  In fact, India failed to produce many great artists.  Meanwhile, roadside artists started to make copies of ultraconservative versions, like that of Ravi Verma’s Saraswati, which the common man bought for few rupees to keep it at home. 

The way Indians got familiar with Ramayana through Ramanand Sagar’s version on TV, the new generation Hindus now became familiar with a sari-draped ultraconservative version of their goddesses.   But some of us know that Ramanand Sagar’s version is not the only version of Ramayana.  To say that every Rama we depict should look like Arun Govil would be nonsensical. 

Different versions of Rama: 

There are many other versions of Ramayana - some of them may sound quite shocking to those who know only the Ramanand Sagar’s version.  [Amuse yourself with some of the versions here.]

In the same way, there are other depictions of Saraswati which are quite different from these roadside drawings.  They can be found in the old Indian temples and the museums.

From Gangaikonda, Cholapuram, Tamil Nadu, 1020 AD

Saraswati, Jain Temple, Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh

Saraswati, 9th Century AD.



Saraswati, Meenakshi Temple, Madurai: Goddess Saraswathi


Saraswati:

MF Husain’s Saraswati:
Now, that you have seen these variants of Saraswati, please take a look at the variant from M F Husain and decide for yourself if his depiction is any way obscene compared to the above variants.

26 comments:

  1. MF Hussain had done thousands of paintings, and it is just a handful of paintings that has portrayal of nudity. The nudity thus depicted has to perceived from an artistic perspective, which is impossible for perverted fanatics. Nudity comes not for the sake of nudity. Those that cry foul have actually never seen these paintings at all.

    Hussain is remembered for his genius and the numerous pieces of art that he churned out and not for the handful of paintings that happen to have some nudity.

    The Saraswathi depicted here....... The numerous interpretations this piece with a few strokes can produce is a testimony of the genius of a great artist

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a matter of great regret that hardcore hindu lumpens and fanatics threatened the great genius M F Hussain and he had live the life of exile. My heart bleeds for such a great artist. I salute his services and spirit and condemn the hindu fundamentalism which cannot appreciate the art and understand the meaning of culture. Many times, I feel ashamed of myself when somebody call me hindu. I find no pride being called a hindu.

      Delete
  2. I love you for writing this. whoever you are. I like it that you have chosen to ask questions.

    take care. :-)

    PS.. would love to add you on fb or so.

    ReplyDelete
  3. While respecting the right to freedom of expression, the intention should also be considered. There is nothing wrong in potraying pictures naked, but i don't know if you know the words of Mr. Hussain... He said that he draws anyone naked in order to embarass him/her. He drew hitler naked, and said that he wanted to embarass hitler. In a picture, he drew a brahmin naked, and in the same picture he drew a Mughal ruler with full dress, and he said he potrayed naked pictures in order to embarass. He drew saraswati naked, it is ok to potray saraswati naked, many places it can be seen, but the intention with which he drew is not right. I will give an example now. Suppose one guy, who openly says that he draws nudity to embarass, draws a picture of your mother, father and your sister naked and published in an art show and explicitly states that he potrays nudity to insult, would you be able to accept it whole heartedly...? If you are able to enjoy a coffee and a nice meal with him without any hard feelings just after the exhibition, then i agree your views... otherwise i dont find any point in supporting it....

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember reading Telugu poems from my 10th textbook they were full of Sexual innuendos , there were even some Outright Graphic and Erotic descriptions of Foreplay between Gods and even Boobs of some Apsara.

    Compared to that Hussains work is pretty lite.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "To say that every Rama we depict should look like Arun Govil would be nonsensical."

    There is plenty here in the above concise summary. Most modern Hindus would agree with the above, yet loose sleep over this issue. Hope your visual examples help them look at the art, than those letters 'H u s s a i n'

    ReplyDelete
  6. "To say that every Rama we depict should look like Arun Govil would be nonsensical."

    There is plenty here in the above concise summary. Most modern Hindus would agree with the above, yet loose sleep over this issue. Hope your visual examples help them look at the art, than those letters 'H u s s a i n'

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why are the Facial features of Our Gods in Photos like these are always North Indian?

    ReplyDelete
  8. <<Suppose one guy, who openly says that he draws nudity to embarass, draws a picture of your mother, father and your sister naked and published in an art show and explicitly states that he potrays nudity to insult, would you be able to accept it .

    << I got your problem, You think Parwathi is Just "Your" Mother Godess so only Hindus have the right to represent her the way they see her fit , i totally get u, Bigot.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My dear Orwell...
    You are just on the other side of fundamentalists where you link someone who just speak freely towards the fundamentalist principles.... Hope you have some neutral views left within you... No need to bring religion in forefront. For me it is the same insult if Mr. Hussain drew Jesus or Gandhi or Obama or Sonia or even 'you' nudely. Just see the intention which lies in the mind. If drawing nude is purposefully insulting someone (he says that he draws nude to insult openly) then how to support any such act ? Of course artistic talent is to be admired. I agree.

    In any case that doesn't mean shouting anti Hussain slogans everywhere. That too is rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous:

    While respecting the right to freedom of expression, the intention should also be considered.

    Intentions are subjective and should not be legalized.

    … but i don't know if you know the words of Mr. Hussain... He said that he draws anyone naked in order to embarass him/her. He drew hitler naked, and said that he wanted to embarass hitler.

    I guess you must be new to this blog. We have debated this before.

    So far, no one has provided the source for this allegation – that M F Husain painted Hitler in nude because he wanted to embarrass Hitler or because he didn’t like Hitler. Until a source is provided, I would like to disbelieve it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @sujai
    just a hypothetical example.
    instead of hindu gods and godeses, if he draws nude pics of telangana thalli, kcr his children or vijayashanthi, will u react in the same "whats the big deal in it" way???

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are somewhat desperate and continue the beaten track of criticizing "some Hindus".

    ReplyDelete
  13. In your first post after MF's death you gave plenty of references to ur past posts. Yet you keep on harping same point.
    You chose not to answer some crucial questions by others in previous posts.

    ReplyDelete
  14. just a hypothetical example.
    instead of hindu gods and godeses, if he draws nude pics of telangana thalli, kcr his children or vijayashanthi, will u react in the same "whats the big deal in it" way???


    Anonymous,

    you sound very novice about 'views' of neo-liberals.

    we are in the age of legal gay marriages. Most liberal thinkers are in favor of it as it 'natural'.
    (Sujai, spare me I do not know your stand on this:-))

    I would not be surprised if these people support 'incest'. They have great example from history 'Alexander the great'. They can easily bring similar examples from across the globe.

    Well! You may questions what is the link between MF and incest. My reasoning is once you are liberal there is nothing like "how much liberal" and we can support any combination of human relations based on "what is worng?" or "it is natural".

    ReplyDelete
  15. 1 thing I'd like 2 say....was Hussain an atheist...????I don't think so...den how did he have the right 2 hurt the feelings of another religion,when he believed in a certain 1...????& did he painted ne nude pictures of mohammed...???I guess not...I'm an atheist...but still....u can't hurt others feelings,being a part of a different community...its like "I have artistic independance....so I'll do nething,if any ques is risen...simple,I'll ask dem 2 view it artistically..."...???!!!Isn't it an unjust...????

    ReplyDelete
  16. It is almost 3 weeks since Gluam Md. Vastanvi was removed from VC of Darul Uloom Deoband.
    His sin? Praising Narender Modi.

    Interestingly the entire neo-liberal, secular does not see it as obstructing of freedom of expression.

    Different rules for different religions.

    ReplyDelete
  17. if mr. hussain is so interested, or enthusiastic to draw nudes,why doesn't he draw a prophet mohamed or some muslim lady nude, AND let me see him live in SECULAR INDIA,or any where in the world,
    india has become too cheap for every tom ,DICK,and harry, thanks to the power hungry politicians, craving for vote banks,protecting some in the name of minority and neglecting others,deliberately,
    dont think im a pervert , im an artist, but i dont draw some thing that hurts others religious feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Its not the mistake of Mofo its the weakness of Hindus who are weak in general, a bunch of Christians make the Govt to stop a movie which they oppose, Muslims are able to force the Govt to ban Taslima Nasrin's book...despite being majority Hindus fail to make Govt ban the mofo. because of this weakness these secular people dare to put their views on hindus but never on muslims, no blogger show their interest defending Taslima as much as they defend MOFO.

    I feel threatened to being a Hindu in this country.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nudity is holy. Every cannot go nude.
    Obscenity is in the eye of beholder. Did we ever ask Hussain if he drew Saraswati nude because he wanted to embarass her or because he felt nothing wrong with such depiction? Please look at the motherhood like a child who looks for Jnana Dugdhaara or Flow of Milk of Knowledge from the mother. Hinduism was or is never against nudity. The thoughts are pure. do not judge it with a different mindset.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The unwarranted outrage in parliament over the cartoon of Dr.Ambedkar riding a snail(constitution) appearing in a NCERT text book , and insult heaped on the two well-known scholars (mid-May 2012) make sense of M.F.Hussain's cartoon of Saraswati-
    The outrage on Saraswati has caused her to hide under her Lotus-seat inside the pond!

    ReplyDelete
  21. so let's make nude paintings of jesuus and mohamad or indian painters' independence is only bound to degenerate hindu deities

    ReplyDelete
  22. people who think and draw nude goddess...they don't have respect for their mother, sister and they will think every women are naked, in fact their mother, sister, daughter and they also...so thinking and drawing nude women is just a dirty play of hormones...if there are any person who think that their mother is goddess for them, then please stop those mad people who thinking and drawing goddess nude. Stop yourself Mr. MF Husain...

    ReplyDelete
  23. give me MF Hussain's mothers's photo I will draw it nude....dirty old man.....must have gone to hell and suffering for all the sins........

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think it is terribly sad that the culture which gave the world the Khajuraho temples and the Kama Sutra has fallen so far.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Pagal huwa he hussain......

    ReplyDelete

Dear Commenters:
Please identify yourself. At least use a pseudonym. Otherwise there will be too many *Anonymous*; making it confusing.

Do NOT write personal information or whereabouts about the author or other commenters. You are free to write about yourself. Please do not use abusive language. Do not indulge in personal attacks and insults.

Write comments which are relevant and make sense so that the debate remains healthy.