India Insight

Did M.F. Husain get a raw deal?

March 2, 2010

SOUTHASIA CRICKET ARTISTNewspaper reports say Maqbool Fida Husain has accepted the citizenship of Qatar.

This means that the legendary Indian painter and (sometime film director) has by default given up his Indian citizenship at the age of 94.

The decision comes after Husain’s “voluntary exile” since 2006 over court cases lodged against him for painting Hindu deities in the nude.

Many people have spoken out in his support all these years but the support was apparently not enough to keep him from in effect renouncing his citizenship.

So who is responsible for things turning out this way?

Is it the government?

For not doing enough to make him feel secure and alleviating what some saw as needless harassment of a senior artist.

After all, even small time politicians in provincial towns are able to get personal security and carbine-toting guards.

Is it society?

For being intolerant of alternative views or ignorant of its own ancient traditions of iconography.

And for letting chauvinists get the upper hand.

Is it Husain himself for what some say is lack of trust in the law of the land and unwillingness to fight it out in the courts.

And for apologising for “having hurt sentiments”, thus surrendering to the mob.

To which his supporters say this is a 94-year-old man one is talking about.

Is it fair to expect one man to fight a society’s battles?

Or is it us?

For being intolerant of alternative views and narrow interpretation of textual traditions.

And for letting chauvinists get the upper hand.

Or is it the people described as elites who in every society through history have been the main patrons and consumers of art?

Have they exerted themselves enough in this case and numerous others?

Be it the “My Name is Khan” controversy, that over Taslima Nasrin or historian James Laine’s work on Shivaji or the cause celebre Salman Rushdie whose book “The Satanic Verses” continues to be banned in India.


Comments
19 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Art, creativity and freedom of thought doesn’t mean or give anyone license to hurt, intimidate others feelings and sentiments.
He got what he deserved.
He is not the only nude artist we have in India but the difference is all other nude artists are creative enough to show their talents with out using gods and goddess.
Sucha fool should be kicked out and thats what happened.
As far as the vibrant indin media is concerned are creative enough to hold all day long debates where they have everyone who only speak for hussain and no one against hussain, which hardly qualifies to be called a debate.

Posted by Divu | Report as abusive
 

First of all, I have no doubt, he is an excellent painter. But that doesn’t mean he can draw a nude drawings of Gods, especially where people are against nudity culture. Would any community will accept, if someone draw their God in nude pose. There are lot of things to draw; I don’t know what made him to draw nude paintings of Hindus Gods. Art should not hurt people’s feeling; it must give gratification to them.

Thanks

Posted by Udumalaihero | Report as abusive
 

When living with Majority, even though you are minority, you should not disrupt harmony with which country’s billion people are living. May be you are legendary artist, but religion comes first. I really feel bad for him..as at the age of 94 he has to go through all these things.

Posted by Firehawk | Report as abusive
 

its a pure commercial decision on his part to earn more money and sponsorships as he himself pointed out during an ndtv interview that he feels tax str more unfavourable here..i think he has been a previliged citizen to get all his cases bunched into 3 only…i doubt how many people in India get such favour by the system ..not debating his work i just want to add whether he would get such freedom of expression in Qatar which is not a democratic place and governed by Sharia…..

Posted by aruntripathi | Report as abusive
 

I tried to look at the nude paintings by MFH. It is true that he did paint nude paintings of those Goddesses which have not been depicted like that anywhere. That is being insensitive on his part, nor recognizing that religion is a sensitive issue. But then he did that much earlier. Also, he apologized. Should that not be enough or do you want to lynch him? Point is MFH is not a bad guy as such but is a painter of highest class and belongs to certain category who in his passion for art failed to recognize the sensitivity of the religion and the feelings of people who believe in that. Is he a criminal. I dot think so. He was insensitive and that is his fault and people should know that a sincere apology from him is much better than court cases which is not going to wrap saree around naked Sita.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Who ever it is, when it comes to hurting People Sentiments should be given a strong punishment. No one is having right to point on Nations image and culture. Especially a person who is having social responsibility should be having a common sense to take people into right way to the beautiful life. People and Government should not encourage any person leading to miss guide people. When it comes to M.F. Husain there is no lose to INDIA. There are lakhs of Great talented painters are in INDIA, who are not in lime light. Instead of wasting time and money on M.F Husain, We can help those talented painters to reach that extra mile :-)

Posted by SunilReddy | Report as abusive
 

M.F. Hussain,the renowned painter,knows very well that his popularity soared in India and neighbouring countries including those in the Middle-esat, after he painted Hindus deities in nude.He did not suffer at all inspite of the contrived campaign to the contrary in the Indian media.His shift to Qatar is purely out of commercial consideration.The matter may be rested at that.
Let us not forget that legendary golfers,cricketars or painters may be unmindful of others sensibilities.Debates in electronic media in India,drven by TRP, are just one-sided,with very opinionated anchors

Posted by bakwas | Report as abusive
 

People:

###################

What happened here, not even a single one in favor of MH.

Addressing Dhritarashtra, Vidura said: “There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness.” (From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli).

An even more authoritative statement about forgiveness is espoused by Krishna, who is considered to be an incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu by Hindus. Krishna said in the Gita that forgiveness is one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state. It is noteworthy that he distinguishes those good traits from those he considered to be demoniac, such as pride, self-conceit and anger (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 16, verse 3).

Village priests may open their temple ceremonies with the following beloved invocation:

O Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations: Thou art everywhere, but I worship you here; Thou art without form, but I worship you in these forms; Thou needest no praise, yet I offer you these prayers and salutations, Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations.”"”"

######################################

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Hussain didn’t get what he deserved. I think he should have been tried under Security Act as he deliberately tried to fuel riots with his shortsightedness on use of wisdom and longsightedness on making some cheap money and publicity. Going by what he has got, I believe he got a very ripe deal. He should be thanking his mohammedean background and idiotics.

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive
 

I have attempted to analyse why we, Indians, are terribly hurt by Mr. Husain’s paintings in my blog: http://chapter18.wordpress.com/2010/02/2 7/an-open-letter-to-m-f-husain/

Posted by nara | Report as abusive
 

There has been a lot of fake outrage over the nude paintings. Most of the paintings were done in the early 70′s and Indians had no problems then. Now right wing Hindu organizations have hijacked the issue.

Historically India never had issues with nudity. Look at statues and paintings in our temples. We should also not ignore the fact that majority of Indians who are poor are walking around naked or semi-naked because they cannot afford decent clothes. That is what we should be outraged about. That should violate the so-called Indian “sentiment”. Not a painting that was drawn 40 years ago.

http://www.indiafirsthand.com

Posted by IndiaFirstHand | Report as abusive
 

IndiaFirstHand:

@There has been a lot of fake outrage over the nude paintings. Most of the paintings were done in the early 70’s and Indians had no problems then.”
–Fair point. Today even MFH will not paint the same paintings in nude that he did in 1970–if he has common sense.

@Now right wing Hindu organizations have hijacked the issue.”
—- Yes they have hijacked issue but it will be unfair to call all those who complain against MFH belonging to wing Hindu organizations.

@Historically India never had issues with nudity. Look at statues and paintings in our temples.”
—Qn is were these Gods/Goddesses etc pained nude by MFH existed as nude sculpture. If not he has weak case. One cannot ignore he belongs to a different religion too. Nude sculptures are different (there is none of Sita if I know it well) and I will be surprised if right wing Hindu organizations would have been able to make a big deal out of a painting by MFH of someone already existing nude in Khajuraho.

@We should also not ignore the fact that majority of Indians who are poor are walking around naked or semi-naked because they cannot afford decent clothes. That is what we should be outraged about.”
–This is a separate issue.

But I am fine with a sincere apology from the old man. After all he has hurt the sentiments of people.

Forgiveness—-what happened to this word from Hinduism? why MFH should not be forgiven by those who believe in Hinduism?

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Forgiveness—-what happened to this word from Hinduism? why MFH should not be forgiven by those who believe in Hinduism?

Posted by RajeevK

Forgiveness is a virtue and virtue needs to be exercised with wisdom. Those who apply virtue without wisdom end in tatters, rags and are in no time, found on other side, asking, not giving.

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive
 

@Those who apply virtue without wisdom end in tatters, rags and are in no time, found on other side, asking, not giving.
Posted by Bharateey

–What you call wisdom is your paranoia.

No need of wisdom, even common sense tells that 95yrd old MF Hussain will not end you “in tatters, rags” unless you think that MF Hussain is an old man representing someone wicked, young and strong force which is conspiring to end you and thus must not be forgiven.

The paranoia of ending up makes forgiveness hard to exercise. I wonder with this anything can be forgiven.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

–What you call wisdom is your paranoia. RajeevK

1) The above remark is personal in nature

2) Your statement of forgiveness is extended flawed application of imagination. In Mahabahrat Vidur gives the quoted forgiveness lecture to Dhritrashtr who was in power and was oriented towards giving peace to a disturbed king who was unable to prioritize between love for son/ love for justice.

3) MF Hussain is a repetitive offender who won’t apply the same standards to portray Islam

4) MF Hussain can also be called as mentally sick because he does so deliberately in order to gain cheap fame and money

Also, stick to topic… Be original… Lifting some statements which have no relevance here doesn’t serve purpose.

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive
 

Bharateey:

@1) The above remark is personal in nature.
—-I do not know why, but if I hurt your sentiments, I beg your forgiveness!

My intention was a genuine curiosity to find out “Why must I not call your “wisdom” as an ulterior motive that I sensed?”

2.Your statement of forgiveness is extended flawed application of imagination.
—Who is to judge the wisdom but does it not strike you that wisdom is rare. Still most people (you included) in seem to be wise over MFH issue, almost all at this blog. Hmmmm!!!

You are not just anti-MFH over the issue at hand, you are anti-Muslim—-plain and simple. You vindicate me by saying “MF Hussain is a repetitive offender who won’t apply the same standards to portray Islam.” If he gets Muhammad naked (PBUH), will you forgive him? Wisdom ra ra are your sweetening agents will not sell hate.

@Also, stick to topic…”
–As you would have appreciated, I am talking relevant issue here and you vindicate me as I mentioned.

@Be original… Lifting some statements which have no relevance here doesn’t serve purpose.
—-Duh! you are saying as if you made a discovery. It is not called lifting the statements when it is clear. I can rewrite. Would it make a difference. What a waste of time!

@4) MF Hussain can also be called as mentally sick because he does so deliberately in order to gain cheap fame and money.”
—Psychiatrist and rehabilitation is the prescription for “mentally sick”, not prison. Are not mentally sick the ones to be forgiven and rehabilitated.

By various means, it has been amply shown that Hindus are angry at MFH at his stupidity for taking certain religion for granted. Their reasons are genuine. But there are Hindu radicals like you who call for blood not because he stripped Sita (and others) who is sacred, but it is fact that the the act has been done by MFH who is a Muslim painter.

Here is wisdom (this is original): The best way for someone to show the power, in certain cases (not all), is to press person’s windpipe to a point of death but not kill him so that he can live to appreciate that his stupid act meant difference between life and death and he has been forgiven to live life and nor repeat the same mistake. To me, this is much better show of power.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Art in all its forms manifest the culture of a period and specifically individuals who share this engagement. All forms of Art which practice the stream of antagonizing any particular creed of human race be it religion, caste, geography should be detested in its extreme scale. MFH has practiced the most obnoxious forms of culture while owning up a onerous role in defining the culture of this era. He has immensly njoyed the bountiful approach professed by Hindu culture to exercise restrain towards any moves attempting to smear its practice & thriving on this principle. In order to ensure the coming generations are able to approach the culture in its right perspective required cleansing of flith slinged by acts of MFH in the guise of Art forms needs to be exercised.

Posted by VenkatIyer | Report as abusive
 

Yes Art should not have boundaries but Art should not disrespect other persons belief. If MF is free artist he should paint all painting in similar fashion but if you see his painting you can see partiality.
If you saw his paintings about his family and religion he always respect his family and disrespect Indian God and India as a country

http://www.hindujagruti.org/activities/c ampaigns/national/mfhussain-campaign/

He always got inspired to paint India God Mother India, but he never painted nude his own mother or daughter.

Posted by mail_harry | Report as abusive
 

He miss used the freedom given to him, he hurt all hindus.

Posted by RRP | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •