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Posts Tagged ‘Hindu’

The Dawn: An unposted letter to PM Singh

September 23, 2012 3 comments

An ‘open’ letter by a Pakistani reporter to MMS created a huge debate in Pakistan – with more than 1100 comments. A 2ndlook at the letter.

 

Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to you and your government for considering over 900 Pakistani Hindu citizens eligible for Indian nationality. It is a great gesture indeed for the Hindus who once lived in Pakistan. I understand that Hindus remain your government’s first priority because many in your government identify with them;

Mr Singh, we all do appreciate your humanitarian policies and would urge you to expedite the citizenship process of Pakistani Hindus, however, I find it my duty to inform you that people who profess other religions in Pakistan are equally deprived of peace and should be given an opportunity to seek asylum in India. Why is this move focused towards Hindus? Don’t you think that the Indian government, while at it, should chalk out a strategic plan to cater to Pakistanis — irrespective of caste and religion — whose lives are threatened within the boundaries of Pakistan?

Various members of the Indian government are corresponding with you on the status of Hindus who migrated to India to seek shelter. One of them is Laxmikanta Chawla who, amongst many other points, stated that, “Since the Pakistani government has failed to protect its minorities from frequent atrocities so the Indian government needs to look after them.”

via An unposted letter to PM Singh | DAWN.COM.

Dear Faiza – You must understand the agreement that we have with the leaders (past) of your nation – which binds (and separates) our people together. The recognized leaders of Indian-Muslims demanded that they needed a separate country for themselves.

They got it.

All Indian Muslims who felt that they had a better future in Pakistan went to Pakistan. Any Indian Muslims still in India, who are unhappy with treatment of Muslims in India are welcome to go to Pakistan.

Indian Muslims in Pakistan have to manage their past, present and future. They demanded that right – and that was given to them. Indians Hindus who could not leave Pakistan earlier – and who are leaving now, have a right of residence in India.

There is no choice in this.

This is the agreement that binds (and separates) us. An agreement that our grandfathers made – and we have to honor it.

I do hope you now understand why the Indian government cannot start ‘treating dejected Pakistanis on equal footing as Hindus.’

If you can get your Pakistani Brothers and Sisters to withdraw their demand for Pakistan – and liquidate the country of Pakistan, the agreement will stand null and void.

All those Muslims and Christians who trusted India – have our solemn promise that we will do our best for them as Indians – which we have done.

However, if there is any disagreement on this point …

Muslims can go to Pakistan.

Christians can emigrate to Australia, UK, Canada, USA. These countries have an implicit policy of allowing Indian Christians to emigrate to these countries.

I still want to direct your attention towards the hundreds of Hazaras who are executed every day in broad daylight on the streets of Pakistan. I wanted to ask if you could lend a helping hand to the countless Christians who live in fear of being arrested or murdered for committing blasphemy in the country. The scores of civilian dying in the north-western side of Pakistan because of militancy and drone strikes could also avail your assistance, that is, if you plan to offer any; You must also realise that Christians, and even Muslims are not exactly ‘at peace’ in this country either.

You and a few representatives of the Indian government must also have a rendezvous with Ahmadis to understand how they face religious persecution in every aspect of their lives. I insist you meet with Pakistanis who are desperate to bring about a positive change in the society and see how they are threatened and harassed in ways that are unfathomable by many.

Dear Faiza – I hope you understand that I am elected by the people of India – and not by Hazaras, Christians,  of Pakistan. So, I have  no reason to think, to worry, about the people of Pakistan. I also do not need to realize any of the things that you want me to realize.

Or to offer any assistance to Pakistani citizens.

I think that all problems that Pakistanis have with Pakistan, must be addressed to the Government of Pakistan.

I am sure you would know all the details about political asylum but will reiterate that it is not easy for all Pakistanis to seek asylum in countries such as United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia as many of them do not have the resources to do the same. India remains the only hope for many people who can reach the country via Attari with minimum resources.

I don’t know what would I have done if was given an option to move to India. Perhaps, I would have moved but this is a question that will remain unanswered unless your government starts treating dejected Pakistanis on equal footing as Hindus.

Dear Faiza – With my limited understanding of asylum seekers, it may be better for Pakistanis to wait – and get their chance in United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia.

These countries are either much bigger than India – or have a population density that is lesser than India.

They also offer, by popular agreement, better ‘opportunities’ than India. India is a poor choice – even if you are making it first choice in the ‘second’ class.

Going by what Chawla said I must request you to not be so harsh on our government which is currently embroiled in a conflict with the superior judiciary and has other important tasks at hand rather than safeguarding the interest of the very people for which it was elected. It is important that you understand that the government of Pakistan is not only unable to look after its minorities but is also incapable of catering to the heavy majority and ensuring their safety.

Mr Singh, this might not be news to you but every life which is snubbed out in a militant or violent attack in Pakistan pushes the progress made by the handful of Pakistanis who believe in mutual respect for peace, life and religious diversity, a hundred steps back.

Dear Faiza – The Indian Government dealing with the Pakistani Government is not directed to make life difficult for the people of Pakistan. All that we demand of the Pakistani nation is that they fulfill their obligation of one nation to any another.

On any other issue you must take up the matter with your own government.

Mr Singh, many Pakistanis will refuse to openly admit this but most of us would like to be considered eligible for Indian nationality. The reason behind our desire to move is extremely simple. It is because India since 1947 has grown as a nation, an economy and a country. Despite of the poverty and other related issues, we all see India as a progressive society and in a very positive light. We all want to live in a country which is ruled by secular politicians where fascist elements are given minimum representation in the parliament; a country where people can coexist or at least consider this ideology a welcoming thought.

It is indeed with a heavy heart that I leave Pakistan today in search of a safer country — a place where I can express myself freely without being threatened and flagged as a heretic.

En route to a strange country, crossing the all too familiar roads of Karachi, I saw a poster featuring Jinnah with a small line stating “Pakistan needs you”. Mr Singh, never before did I feel such fierce emotion. The words struck me and for the first time in my life, made me realise that we all have failed Jinnah and the Pakistan he envisioned.

Like many others before and after me, I am running for safer pastures where my life will be valued and respected, leaving my fellow countrymen behind to fight with the demons that dictate the order of the day in Pakistan, my home.

Dear Faiza – The father of our nation was clear about one thing. Be the change that you want to see in others.

If there is anything that you like about India, Indians, or for that matter of any other culture, be the change that you want to see. You cannot solve the problems in Pakistan by coming to India.

To all those Indians who are leaving India, my advice is the same. You cannot fix India by leaving India.

That said, if any Indian who cannot stay in India and fix India, my advice is – leave. Go. And build a life in a country, culture, nation, people of your choice. Our best wishes go with you.

But, we have one request – Forget about us.

Not my place or position to give advice to Pakistanis – but if you pushing me, I will repeat the above advice.

You caught your Kasab but what about the numerous Kasabs who are ready to wipe out the entire population of Pakistan by flagging them as infidels, anti-Islam, pro-India, US puppets and just plain secular? What about us who continue to strive for a change, however, feel helpless at the hands of the radical elements freely roaming around in Pakistan? Is there any solace for us?

If you seek solace or advice you must go to the West – United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia. You can try France, Spain also. The Vatican is also a good place. They have centuries of practice in giving solace and advice.

The fact that it has never helped anybody is another matter. But they are seeking to save souls. They are free with advice and give solace.

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Among The Unbelievers

December 15, 2011 2 comments

Tom-tomming truimphalist growth of Christianity in India, coupled with a huge increase in NGO funding from Christian West, a grim picture of a ‘Hindu’ India under siege is being painted.

The Church retains its hold over the masses by inducing guilt. |  Cartoon By Rex F. May; Uploaded on February 02, 2011; source & courtesy - toonpool.com | Click for larger source image.

The Church retains its hold over the masses by inducing guilt. | Cartoon By Rex F. May; Uploaded on February 02, 2011; source & courtesy - toonpool.com | Click for larger source image.

The Church In India

Missionary propaganda in the last few years has painted a picture of truimphalist growth of Christianity in India. Coupled with a huge increase in NGO funding from the Christian West, a grim picture of a ‘Hindu’ India under siege is being painted.

Kill in the Name Of Christ

The bigger problem with Christianity is not the worship of Christ – but murder, war, genocide in the name of Christ.

Or in modern times, murder, war, genocide by the Christian West in the name of progress, democracy, freedom, etc.

The State and the Church

There are studies that point this growth in Christian numbers and funding started at the behest of George W.Bush. Yet there is another reality.

The Devil in Priest's clothing  |  Cartoon By Constantin Ciosu - Romania; Source & Courtesy - toonpool.com; uploaded on July 06, 2008  |  Click for larger source image.

The Devil in Priest's clothing | Cartoon By Constantin Ciosu - Romania; Source & Courtesy - toonpool.com; uploaded on July 06, 2008 | Click for larger source image.

Most of the Christian West has lost faith in the Church – and what the Church gains in India, it loses in the West. The Church also needs to tom-tom its success to keep the cash spigots open. Thus the ‘success’ of the Church leaves a lot open to questions.

Many questions.

And one concern

Since Judaism, Christianity and Islam share common Desert Bloc roots, it is also not surprising that the Evangelical Church also reflects concepts similar to the Darul Islam (Islamic lands), Darul Harb (Non-Islamic Lands at War with Islam), Darul Aman (Lands at Peace with Islam).

It is another matter that the worst wars in Islam were between Darul Islam or Darul Aman kingdoms.

A recent evangelical report extracted below highlights how ‘India’s Christians live among one billion Hindus.’ And why or what is the problem with that?

India’s church has grown and is getting larger. It now comprises over 70 million members, according to Operation World. That makes it the eighth largest Christian population in the world, just behind the Philippines and Nigeria, bigger than Germany and Ethiopia, and twice the size of the United Kingdom. Unlike believers in those countries, however, India’s Christians live among one billion Hindus.

Operation World counts 2,223 unreached people groups in India, over five times as many as there are in China, the next most unreached nation.

Across the vast nation, a visitor hears of unprecedented numbers of people turning to Christ. Operation Mobilization, one of India’s largest missionary groups, has grown to include 3,000 congregations in India, up from 300 in less than a decade.

A hospital-based ministry in north India has seen 8,000 baptisms over the past five years after a decade of only a handful. Operation World‘s detailed statistics show that the Indian church is growing at a rate three times that of India’s Hindu population.

The 2001 Indian census placed Christians at just over 2 percent of India’s population. But currently, Operation World puts the figure near 6 percent and notes that “Christian researchers in India indicate much higher results, even up to 9 percent.”

No one can be certain of such trends in this vast and complicated country. Religion statistics are poor, and enthusiastic reports from mission organizations may reflect only local conditions.

Todd Johnson, director of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity, says he has opted for more conservative estimates than Operation World‘s. The center’s Atlas of Global Christianity estimates 58 million Indian Christians, not 70 million. Most of the difference lies in Operation World‘s “unaffiliated” category. The unaffiliated may be part of independent fellowships, or be “insider” Hindu or Muslim followers of Christ. (via India’s Grassroots Revival | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction).

India’s belief in the benign West, if it is not a tragedy, is definitely a comedy,

India’s Partition – Unknown Aspects

September 28, 2011 3 comments

There is some weight to the argument that even ‘Hindus’ wanted Pakistan.

A cartoon in the Amrita Bazar Patrika published in May 1947, graphically captured the doubts and confusion in people's minds.5 Titled, ‘Who is Right?’ it showed four key public and political figures, H. S. Suhrawardy, Shyamaprasad Mookerjee (the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha), M. A. Jinnah and M. K. Gandhi each with a placard with their supposed propositions. Thus Suhrawardy holds ‘United Bengal in Divided India’, Mookerjee ‘Divided Bengal in United India’, Jinnah ‘Divided Bengal in Divided India’ and Gandhi holds up a sign with ‘United Bengal in United India’ (Cartoon Source - journals.cambridge.org. Attribution - Figure 1. ‘Who Is Right?’Source: Cartoon in the Hindustan Standard, 17 May 1947, 5.). Click for larger image.

A cartoon in the Amrita Bazar Patrika published in May 1947, graphically captured the doubts and confusion in people's minds.5 Titled, ‘Who is Right?’ it showed four key public and political figures, H. S. Suhrawardy, Shyamaprasad Mookerjee (the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha), M. A. Jinnah and M. K. Gandhi each with a placard with their supposed propositions. Thus Suhrawardy holds ‘United Bengal in Divided India’, Mookerjee ‘Divided Bengal in United India’, Jinnah ‘Divided Bengal in Divided India’ and Gandhi holds up a sign with ‘United Bengal in United India’ (Cartoon Source - journals.cambridge.org. Attribution - Figure 1. ‘Who Is Right?’Source: Cartoon in the Hindustan Standard, 17 May 1947, 5.). Click for larger image.

Caught between a neo-colonial narrative jointly crafted by the British and Congress Governments in India, events have a way of being losing context and substance. Jinnah as the man behind partition, is a story that is only partly true.

Three interesting incidents in that crucial period make for a counter-balance to the Jinnah-as-the-villain story that is made out.

The Gallup Poll

Over a period of at least 50 years, successive British bureaucrats and propagandists sold India the story that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together.

On April 23, 1947, the ‘Amrita Bazar Patrika’ featured results of a poll where it had asked if Bengali Hindus wanted a “separate homeland”. An overwhelming 98.3% Bengalis voted in favour, and 0.6% voted against the division of the province. On being asked about this poll, both Dutta Gupta and Singha express concern and suspicion about this poll and many other public discourses that came to conclusions that completed neglected the voice of Hindus living in East Bengal. (via ‘We can only carry India in our hearts’ – Times Of India).

These surveys, were engineered by the Gallup Organization, a leading opinion-polling agency, which controlled India from UK. There was a large body of opinion and support for Muslim autonomy in Muslim majority areas – and ‘Hindu’ support for a Muslim Homeland was in this context. Also, must be the remembered that in polls like this, the question is more important than the answer.

And the reason for the result of this poll, was the questionnaire.

Lala Lajpat Rai asked for Pakistan

Another significant votary for Muslim autonomy in Muslim-majority areas was Lala Lajpat Rai – whose ideas are being projected as support for Pakistanand Partition of India.

(Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 4th May 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

(Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 4th May 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

The ‘innocent’ Indian Muslim

Just like ‘Hindu’ support for Pakistan is being twisted out of context, it is equally true of ‘Muslim’ support for Pakistan.

For another, we forget that Indian Muslims from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan did not vote for Pakistan or Jinnah.

It was a small minority, of less than 5 lakhs who voted for the Muslim League, carefully selected by the British, which was designated as representative of Muslim interests, that voted for Pakistan. From the nearly 10 crore Muslims. A fact we would do well to remember.

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League. Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population.

Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphatically Jinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sachar Committee report notwithstanding, the ‘ordinary’ Muslim before Independence was behind the general population – and remains so.


MF Husain was Hindu

July 3, 2011 3 comments
M. F. Hussain gets Qatar nationality announces the editor of Hindu - N. Ram (Image courtesy - hindu.com). Click for larger image

M. F. Hussain gets Qatar nationality announces the editor of Hindu - N. Ram (Image courtesy - hindu.com). Click for larger image

Says Pritish Nandy

Maqbool Fida Hussain never said ‘I am a ‘Hindu”. Yet, Pritish Nandy insists on claiming Hussain for ‘Hinduism’. But then, Pritish Nandy for one is not a ‘Hindu’ – in mind, spirit or thought.

Not, if he cannot understand, that what Pritish Nandy calls ‘Hinduism’ does not require everyone to go by One book, belong to One Faith, worship One god or believe in any One thing. ‘Hinduism’ would have been absolutely comfortable with MF Hussain being a Muslim. And everyone includes Maqbool Fida Hussain also.

‘Hinduism’ does not believe or accept that it  is ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ to any other body of belief. The only one thing that ‘Hinduism’ does not accept is अधर्म adharma. Injustice to any man.

Everything else goes.

‘Hinduism’ is public property

At this point here, Farrukh Dhondy joins the debate. Dhondy implies ‘Hinduism’ is public property. MF Hussain has a perfect right to do whatever he wants with ‘Hinduism’ – believes our Mr.Dhondy.

When Mother Teresa became an object of media-adulation, Hussain turned to Moter Teresa. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com.) Click for larger image.

When Mother Teresa became an object of media-adulation, Hussain turned to Moter Teresa. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com.) Click for larger image.

The Hindus don’t have a single book and certainly not one that sanctions attacks for depicting one or the other goddess and using an imaginary or live model’s form and features to do it. Those who hounded MF were barking up the wrong walking stick.

It has happened before. Raja Ravi Verma was castigated, mobbed and prosecuted for using his mistress as a model for paintings of Hindu goddesses and heroines from the epics. Ketan Mehta’s film may shed some light on how and why a notion of heresy invaded the beliefs of Hinduism.  Hinduism, should be free from such an idea.

The demolition of the temple of Somnath may be seen as insults and affronts to the communities that built them and worshipped there but not in any sense is it heresy. Breaking icons is certainly insulting. But surely MF Husain was making them? (via Indian idol maker – Hindustan Times; parts excised for brevity).

Logically, Dhondy must understand that all idol-breaking or form-distortion can happen only at ‘Hindu’ sufferance – or tolerance, if you wish. ‘Hindu’ intellectual capital is available – at no cost.

To subscribers only.

23-May After Mamata Banerjee’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections, MF Hussain sent a sketch to Hindustan Times. (Image courtesy - hindustantimes.com). Click for larger image.

23-May After Mamata Banerjee’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections, MF Hussain sent a sketch to Hindustan Times. (Image courtesy - hindustantimes.com). Click for larger image.

No ‘free’ lunch at ‘Hindu’ expense

I don’t subscribe to FT.com. I don’t talk-up, talk-down, talk-about FT.com. FT.com does not want me. Separate ways. Good for both of us.

Same thing with ‘Hinduism’, I thought.

Without being a subscriber to ‘Hinduism’, others can use, accept ‘Hindu’ ideas, concepts, standards, clearly at ‘Hindu’ sufferance. Especially if an ‘artist’ wishes to make commercial profit by using ‘Hindu’ capital. Maqbool Fida Hussain wants to combine ‘Hindu’ sufferance, (or tolerance, maybe broad-mindedness), with Islāmic sensitivity (blasphemy, no idols and portraits), for his personal gain.

Hussain painted freely and frankly – nude goddesses, dark monks, rib-lined horses, elephants playing veenas, nations in distress – in canvases executed with style and showmanship, spreading artistic excitement across society.

But never an Islāmic theme – unless you want to count Meenaxi as an Islāmic theme! Why?

Now, Maqbool Fida Hussain used and adopted Islāmic standards, when it came to Islām. He should have stayed with Islāmic standards. Don’t portray any gods and goddesses.

MF Hussain sketches Madhuri Dixit from the film - Dil to Pagal Hai.

MF Hussain sketches Madhuri Dixit from the film - Dil to Pagal Hai.

Even Maqbool Fida Hussain cannot be chalk and cheese.

Everything to everyone

Maqbool Fida Hussain rode on the coat tails of  every media-star to gain publicity for himself. Vijay Tendulkar to Madhuri Dixit, Anushka Sharma to Mother Teresa. From Prabhu Deva to MS Subbalakshmi. He quickly made out a silly painting of Mamta Banerji’s election victory in Bengal – to keep himself in media-focus.

Maqbool Fida Hussain has always blown in whichever direction, the wind blows. He tried to be an admirer of playwright Tendulkar (and Sakharam Binder) when Vijay Tendulkar was bigger than Sachin Tendulkar – and supported Indira Gandhi’s Emergency when she was in power. Nandyभाई, Maqbool Fida Hussain cannot be ‘Hindu’ in spirit – and admire Mother Teresa’s blatant superior ‘Christian conversion’ therapy for  inferior ‘Hindus’.

Year - 2006; Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman displayed at an exhibition by Nafisa Ali - an actress-turned-social-worker. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Year - 2006; Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman displayed at an exhibition by Nafisa Ali - an actress-turned-social-worker. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Did I miss MF Hussain standing up for artistic freedom of the Prophet Mohammed cartoonist – or oppose Sarkozy’s hijab ban? Not a word in support of Salman Rushdie? Or why his ‘voluntary’ restraint from subjects that Islam forbids – which was Maqbool Fida Hussain’s own religion?

Did I see a single painting by Maqbool Fida Hussain on Muslim themes – maybe a Battle of Karbala, or Prophet Mohammed’s return to Mecca? Why is it that he wanted all his ‘freedom’ to caricature भारत माता Bharat-mata (Mother India) and ‘teen-deviyaan’?

In India, against ‘Hindus’?

In Qatar he found freedom

Maqbool Fida Hussain, in the same breath, cannot admire भारत माता Bharat-mata, take Qatari citizenship, and in death prefer to be buried in London (actually just outside London). By these actions, Maqbool Fida Hussain proved that all his claims of ‘artistic’ integrity and ‘artistic’ freedom were that much hot air. India lost nothing. It was for Maqbool Fida Hussian to decide if he was losing anything, by going away from भारत माता Bharat-mata.

Maqbool Fida Hussain choice of Qatar as his new country of residence, would not have given him more freedom. Qatar (pop. 3,00,000 lakhs approx.) is slightly larger than Maqbool Fida Hussain’s hometown of Pandharpur (pop. 1,00,000 approx.) but has a GDP which is 10% of India’s GDP – anchored to oil earnings. Did he raise his voice against Qatar’s support to Saudi Arabian troops sent to crush dissent in Bahrain? Or against the forced deportation by Qatar, of Libyan dissident, Eman al-Obeidi – back to Benghazi, Libya?

Picasso’s Art & Practices

Picasso’s (1881-1973) greatest skill was in his self publicity and the way the prices for his paintings were managed. This publicity and price manipulation operation was initially managed by promoters like André Level of the La Peau de l’Ours Art Club (Skin of the Bear group) – for a 20% cut to the artist. Picasso dealt with a number of agents initially – but mainly, Clovis Sagot, Ambroise Vollard, Wilhelm Uhde and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.

Later this promotions were managed by Picasso himself and Paul Rosenberg, his chief agent and a close cabal of people who used media effectively. First among 20th century artists, ‘Picasso was a gifted self-publicist who knew the rules of media manipulation. He openly encouraged a few hand-picked photographers to inhabit the house and studio.’

Family of Saltimbanques |  Pablo Picasso  |  1905 |  Chester Dale Collection 1963.10.190   | Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC  | Click for larger image.

Family of Saltimbanques | Pablo Picasso | 1905 | Chester Dale Collection 1963.10.190 | Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC | Click for larger image.

He fairly flattened journalists by the display of his wealth and connections. Nearly forty years later, Christian Zervos, an art historian and writer, recalls Picasso’s wealth, kept in the vaults of Banque de France. After the Great Depression, when many great fortunes in Europe and USA, had been wiped out, Picassos wealth was in ‘packages, piled one atop another to the height, say, of Picasso . . . And do you know what there was inside? Banknotes! Yes, sir, banknotes, the largest denomination that existed in France then, which was enormous.’

Picasso was an ‘extremely rich and famous man who came pretty near to doing whatever he wanted. The Picasso of the 1920s could charm the king of Spain, mesmerise Proust, shrug off Hemingway. He was news wherever he appeared.’ He could switch between various styles – and painted in ‘Neoclassical styles’ to attract “the patronage of aristocratic circles he encountered through his friendships with two impresarios, the poet Jean Cocteau and Eugenia Errazuriz, a woman of great taste and social prestige.’

Not above making compromises between cubism and surrealism, as his buyers and patrons wanted, he rarely gave press conferences. Instead he plied impresarios, journalists with his socializing, and with his ‘uncanny party trick of drawing a portrait upside-down while sitting opposite its subject so that, as the drawing unfolded, it would appear right-side-up to his inevitably amused subject.’ Hundreds of these Picasso drawings and sketches are scattered across Europe and USA, which he gave way for free.

Femme aux cheveux jaunes, December 1931 | From the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/Gagosian Gallery | Image courtesy - online.wsj.com | Click for larger image.

Femme aux cheveux jaunes, December 1931 | From the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/Gagosian Gallery | Image courtesy - online.wsj.com | Click for larger image.

In this he was ably assisted by the presence of his ballerina wife, Olga Khokhlova, a pretty ballerina from St Petersburg, with Diaghlieff’s ballet company, and his agent Paul Rosenberg.

Paul Rosenburg (also an agent of Georges Braque and Henri Matisse) left behind a huge fortune in paintings. Even after losing a vast number of these paintings to the Nazis. Through his son, Alexandre, Paul Rosenberg is the grandfather-in-law of one-time IMF chief, Dominique Strauss Kahn. Picasso’s other significant agents were Ambroise Vollard, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Leonce Rosenberg, and Georges Wildenstein.

Picasso’s mistress of eight years, Marie-Thérèse Walter (who he met at a Paris Metro station) and his wife were also the subject of his many paintings. In recent times, Picasso has even been compared to Princess Diana for his self-publicity. The many women in Picasso’s life added a patina of glamour that many of his competitors lacked.

The French artist Fernande Olivier, as model and muse, bridged Picasso’s Rose Period to Cubism. Miss Khokhlova, in the 1920s, stirred his return to Neo-classicism. The photographer Dora Maar documented and inspired Picasso’s involvement with the Spanish Civil War, including “Guernica” (1937). And the painter and author Françoise Gilot was his chief consort during his postwar period. From 1953 until Picasso’s death, at age 92 in 1973, Jacqueline Roque attended the artist during his ferocious, erotic and peace-loving late phase, in which “Hippie” Picasso, anticipating 1980s Neo-Expressionism, reimagined the Old Masters.

Now, as for paying off the critics, do it. Yes, as much as some critics pretend to not be on the take, they are — in some way or another. The best art critics accepted gifts: Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg. Artists frequently offer me a gift after I’ve written them up. I just take it. I feel I’d insult them or be condescending and inhuman if I said something like, “It’s my policy not to accept gifts.” Lighten up. We’re all in the family.

So be generous in giving gifts, but beware of the greedy opportunists who expect a gift without having the intention of reciprocating, like people attending your openings who ask for a “quick sketch” instead of just an autograph. If you do one, they’ll all line up expecting a freebie. With other artists, it’s best to do straightforward trades instead of gifts. And with friends outside the art world, wait for their birthday or Christmas. (via artnet.com Magazine Features – Ask Mark Kostabi).

Leave alone Prophet Mohammed’s portrait, could he have done a Battle of Karbala painting in Qatar?

Money made him contemptuous of India – and Indians

Maqbool Fida Hussain’s disregard of Indian judicial norms antagonized the courts. His refusal to acknowledge his ‘unwarranted’ liberties with ‘Hinduism’, precipitated matters. A simple statement that he will ‘explore’ ‘Hindu’ themes within norms would have been enough. His arrogant and rough shod dismissal of ‘Hindu’ sentiment, gave an opening to right-wing ‘Hindu’ sentiment.

No double-standards. The simple point that the ‘Hindu’ Brigade wanted. Usually this hunting with hounds and running with hares is called hypocrisy.

Though no one ever accused MF Hussain of being a hypocrite.

Gobbling publicity like Pac-man

Maqbool Fida Hussain never evolved from being a hoardings painter. Except when it came to publicity. His dual standards, his blatant contradictions would have easily made him an object of ridicule. Instead he managed respect and consideration. To manage this amount of media attention, Government attention – even international attention, surely, is some evolution. For one single man.

Maqbool Fida Hussain was finally a gargantuan machine that consumed huge amounts of media attention. His ‘artistic’ talents were surely hugely surpassed by his media management. This publicity and MF Hussain strutting his commercial exploitation of ‘Hindu’ constructs provoked the ‘Hindu’ Brigade’s backlash. His cars, or the striptease that he organized on his birthday (some 25 years ago), reeked of ostentation. Private displays of wealth in India will not arouse reaction. But such ceaseless publicity-seeking …

No wonder people called him India’s Picasso.

Reaction on Ground Zero

Indian Muslims have ignored this issue of ‘artistic freedom’ for ‘Muslims’ at ‘Hindu’ expense. But Indian liberal-progressives, steeped in Western polity, see confrontation and conflict as the answer to such ‘artistic’ restrictions.

Negotiated ‘freedom’ as in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, is seen as a cop-out.

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Does India ignore Sikhs?

June 17, 2011 3 comments
Births and deaths in Mumbai city (Graphic courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for a larger copy.

Births and deaths in Mumbai city (Graphic courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for a larger copy.

Bending backwards

Christian community in the city recorded negative population growth as against Hindus and Muslims who are growing at a faster rate, birth and death figures from the civic health department showed.

Last year, 3,763 infants were born to Christians while 3,887 members of the community died, indicating a fall in growth rate. (via Mumbai’s Christian population falls – The Times of India).

Tales from the table

Now the same study also showed that in absolute numbers, Sikh births had reduced from 315 to 298. Whereas Christian births had increased by a nominal number – from 3749 to 3763. All other communities showed increase in absolute number of births – except Sikhs and (Others).

If Delhi has too many Sikhs, Mumbai needs some Sikhs. Their can-do attitude, their jugaad, is something that seems to be bubbling forever. Every city in the world needs some Sikhs.

But this report does not mention the decline in Sikh births at all. Not once. In fact the word Sikh does not appear even once in the post. When it comes to Sikhs, whether it is the 1984 riots or attacks on Sikhs in USA, we all seem to be keeping quiet.

What’s with us?

Understanding Ravana is essential!

February 4, 2011 27 comments
Soldiers of Ayodhya being attacked by bandits in a forest (Image link courtesy - mumbaimirror). Click for larger image.

Soldiers of Ayodhya being attacked by bandits in a forest (Image link courtesy - mumbaimirror). Click for larger image.

Most of the rakshasas have been humanised and the 10 heads of Ravan do not find mention. “People are bad from inside,” says Goel. “It doesn’t manifest physically. The 10 heads were a metaphor for the ten qualities of Ravan – valour, generosity, intelligence, knowledgeable, etc. We chose to elaborate those qualities instead of showing the heads,” says Goel.

In contrast, Ram is shabby looking, with a thick unkempt beard, long hair and no ornaments. “Being forest dwellers, Ram and Laxman could not shave every day,” explains Goel. Since this is Ravan’s story, the role of Ram’s kin has been minimised to make place for more fleshed out characters from Ravan’s family. (via The legend of the fallen one, Lifestyle – Sunday Read – Mumbai Mirror).

Ravana deserves study

This is a most interesting project. To fully and really understand Indian classics, texts and scriptures, the idea of Asuras needs to understood. I am not sure how much these writers have understood the Asura concept – and its link with slavery. They seem to be more interested in ‘balancing’ the picture, rather than ‘righting’ the picture.

Demonising Ravana

Ravana was not a demon (which is a bad English equivalent of Asura) but an asura. And some Indians have taken the easy way out, by demonising Ravana. I hope these ‘creators’ understand that demonising Ravana, or romanticising him too, is counter-productive.

Understanding Ravana is essential!

Astronomy and dating of Indian texts

December 14, 2010 5 comments
DATING THE ERA OF LORD RAM:Discover The Actual Dates Of The Lifetime Of Lord Ram (Paperback) by  Pushkar Bhatnagar

DATING THE ERA OF LORD RAM:Discover The Actual Dates Of The Lifetime Of Lord Ram (Paperback) by Pushkar Bhatnagar. Click for larger image.

A new 2ndlooker …

Ganesh Arnaal, a web pioneer, the brain behind mdspeak.com, and a recent 2ndlooker, took the trouble of sending over two books to me. The first book was Dating the Era of Lord Ram by Pushkar Bhatnagar.

Sixty seconds’ worth of distance run

A few years ago, using Valmiki Ramayan and the Planetarium software, the late Pushkar Bhatnagar was able to verify the dates in Valmiki Ramayan – which are presumably that of the real Raghu Ramchandra’s life also. Results were further tested on two other astronomy software platforms by Pushkar Bhatnagar, suffering from cancer of the kidney.

Ancient astronomy

Valmiki Ramayan provides some 50 astronomical descriptions – a combination of planets, stars, sun, moon, solar and lunar eclipses, seasons, months, weather and climate. All allusions do not give all details, but lesser descriptions fit the geater matrix.

Some of the planetary and star positions, given in Valmiki Ramayan, visible to the naked eye, occur once in 25,920 years, explains Pushkar Bhatnagar. For instance, 2 solar eclipses and 1 lunar eclipse in a short span of 11 months are described in Valmiki Ramayan.

The cosmic spectacle on Sri Rama Navami – 10th January 5114 BCE – Birth Day of Rama Observation at 12.30 p.m. (Picture from Dating the Era of Lord Ram by Pushkar Bhatnagar; picture courtesy - kalyan98.wordpress.com).

The cosmic spectacle on Sri Rama Navami – 10th January 5114 BCE – Birth Day of Rama Observation at 12.30 p.m. (Picture from Dating the Era of Lord Ram by Pushkar Bhatnagar; picture courtesy - kalyan98.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

Assuming that Raghu Ramchandra was born in the last 30,000 years, Pushkar Bhatnagar has worked out the birthdate of Raghu Ramchandra – 10th January, 5114 BC, 7000 years ago. This inner consistency in Valmiki Ramayan is remarkable – considering that we are talking about a 7000 years old text.

Augean stables

The one apparent drawback in Pushkar Bhatnagar’s book is the lack of an index. Surprising omission. Apart from technical errors like English calendar. What he calls the English calendar is actually the Gregorian calendar – a recent invention, which is a simple solar calendar.

The Indian calendar system is more comprehensive – synchronizing the lunar, solar, planetary and constellation movements. The only one of its kind in history. To add to this complexity, throw in a competing system. The Shaka Samvat calendar, used in Western and South India. The Indian calendar system requires fabulous mathematical skills, tools and techniques. These were skills that thousands of Indians students of jyotish gyan mastered and transmitted across centuries.

Cynics is what cynic does

There has been speculation that these astronomical observations in ancient Indian texts were ‘recent’ insertions or simply a ‘mythological’ technique. Pushkar Bhatnagar claims that some unnamed Western historians have alleged that these astronomical observations were mala fide insertions to ‘back-date’ Indian history.

Shakuntala Devi reveals a few of her 'tricks' in her book - Figuring - The Joy Of Numbers  By Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi reveals a few of her 'tricks' in her book - Figuring - The Joy Of Numbers By Shakuntala Devi

Pushkar Bhatnagar depends on modern mathematics to certify that such mathematical calculations were not possible in ancient or even during colonial periods – but only after the advent of computers and modern astronomical softwares. Hence, Pushkar Bhatnagar claims, these astronomical observations in Valmiki Ramayan are not subsequent insertions.

Shakuntala Devi

He is wrong. Shakuntala Devi Paranjpe, an Indian mathematical wizard, could do huge calculations in milliseconds to seconds. In some cases, faster than computers, is something, she says, she learnt from her father.

Unlike many other calculating prodigies, for example Truman Henry Safford, her abilities did not wane in adulthood. In 1977 she extracted the 23rd root of a 201-digit number mentally. On June 18, 1980 she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers 7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779 picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She answered the question in 28 seconds. However, this time is more likely the time for dictating the answer (a 26-digit number) than the time for the mental calculation (the time of 28 seconds was quoted on her own website). Her correct answer was 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730. This event is mentioned on page 26 of the 1995 Guinness Book of Records ISBN 0-553-56942-2.

Shakuntala Devi - Photo courtesy - reuters.com; By Vijay Mathur).

Shakuntala Devi - Photo courtesy - reuters.com; By Vijay Mathur). Click for larger image.

Shakuntala Devi Paranjpe’s father was adept at jyotish gyan – apart from acrobatics, card tricks, etc. Jyotish gyan, one of the six vedangs, necessary to understand the vedas. Hence, these calculations were possible in ancient (and modern times) using Indian mathematical tools. But not by using modern mathematical tools.

The answer lies in exposing the cynicism – and not by giving answers or convincing them. Remember – what Peter says about Paul, says more about Peter than about Paul.

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