Open letter to Vir Sanghvi

This is in response to Portraits of the artist as a Qatari citizen, an editorial lamenting the exit of M F Hussain’s from Indian Citizenship.

Dear Vir,

Your editorial throws an interesting insight into the malformed definition of freedom of expression; that rests today in minds of Pseudo-secular-liberal journalists and so called key-keepers of the fourth estate.

I begin my response with a guiding quote by Swami Chinmayananda – ” To do whatever you FEEL like doing, is not freedom” .. its called licentiousness. Here a licentious individual keeps to himself, a licence to impinge on any other faith, just because he FEELS like, without being sensitive to the feelings of a community at large. The word FEELs is highlighted because his actions of what he thinks is freedom, is out of pure Feeling without any Intelligent inquiry of its outcome.

Coming straight to your article, I am not sure what feelings you have towards your own mother, but we Hindus (even those outside the “Hindu Taliban” breed as per your definition) revere Mata Saraswati, Sita and Durga nothing less than our biological mother.

i would like to quote you:

“If some Hindus are offended by Husain’s nude Saraswatis, then they can simply look away. They have no right to restrict his creativity or to deny the rest of us the opportunity to view Husain’s work.”

My question to you is.. would you or any member of your Liberal Journalists’ watering-house club, tolerate any liberal artist to paint your own mother nude, with compromising pose with your own gardener? The feeling for a hindu is the same when their mother, Goddess Parvati is shown having sex with Nandi. Nude painting of Saraswati is one of the less severe and “liberal” versions.

Does freedom to you mean, that a non-believing painter is free to make a pornographic movie on my mother and publish it within the confines of my home?

Does freedom to you mean, your neighbour, or your “brethern” getting drunk or going overdose on Bhang cupcakes (publicized on second front page of the same newspaper where you showered your grace today. The first front page, like most of our liberal media, is sold out to an advertiser) and doing a strip tease on the street… Even worse… in your living room? Well thats his freedom of expression… but do you allow that?

I am sure, in each of the above cases, you will use your “freedom” and political contacts too if necessary to retaliate.

In that case, why is it that the non-believers, as mentioned in your articles, should continue to have the “freedom” or “License” to poke their dirty nose in the faith of the believers?

Would the non-believers be comfortable if believers kept on making lewd remarks about their lifestyle? No… they wont.. and both of them peacefully coexist with the right distance and etiquettes… Which in totality define our collective freedom to THINK what we should do… and not do whatever we FEEL.

The painter is free to express his views openly, but a free democracy also obligates him to be answerable for his work and bear its responsibility to . In the US and UK there have been instances where editors and journalists have resigned, where people pointed out their irresponsibility.. Here in India, any such attempts have been quelled, with the editors continuing to review free food and booze. I guess that’s freedom.

Books like Satanic Verses, Worshipping False Gods and the Danish Cartoons are banned in India, since we believe in a culture of respecting each others faith…. Not maligning it… Atleast as a Hindu, i can vouch for my faith, and that of my close friends of other faiths. These books and MF hussains paintings may mean freedom for the artist, but it also means infuriating a large section of our population. They should be banned.. When the law of the land ignores that, and even worse, when media drunk its own world too doesn’t reflect peoples faith… parallel law takes over. Perhaps you find that interesting, since that gives you more sensation and topics to write upon.

i would like to end once again with Swami Chinmayananda’s Quote.. and i suggest every journalist, in particular, should read the book – Manual of Self Unfoldment.

“To do whatever you feel like doing is not freedom”

Freedom is being allowed to THINK what is appropriate and do that… and not do whatever you FEEL.

With deep belief in my faith,
and regards to non-belief of others,

Nagesh Pai
Saraswat and a Hindu

Hindustan Times – Mumbai Edition dated February 28, 2010

Paintings by MF Hussain viewable HERE