Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Devil & The Deity

First, King Emma at Ultrabrown wrote a post about Brazilian artist Roberto Custodio's rather risque portrayal of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, then Beau Peep pointed out the use of Kali in a Bayer mosquito repellent ad, prompting The Devil to do a post on wicked depictions of Hindu deities in popular culture.

To start with, The Devil thinks that the Bayer ad is quite cool and not at all offensive -

Here the goddess has been depicted with several arms as she has been depicted traditionally but the second frame shows that when Bayer’s effect comes into play the goddess does not need several arms to keep mosquito away and your hands are free. (link)
The Roberto Custodio paintings, however, are more tricky.

Well, methinks Krishna is definitely in the mood and Shiva, whose face might possibly belong to Disney’s Aladdin, is already getting his groove on with that lingam. (link)
The male Gods are indeed presented as -

light-skinned, muscle-bound and possibly, horny, cutouts (link)

Shiva

Krishna

Hanuman

- and the female Goddesses look like ennui-laden divas -

Radha

Saraswati

Roberto Custodio is a lucky man - the people at Hindu Janajagruti Samiti have not spammed him yet. Robin Foley, an American sculptor who specializes in something called 'soft sculpture', was not as lucky when her semi-nude Durga doll became the center of controversy -

Robin Foley was not ready to withdraw the images and instead threatened to complain to the FBI. The threat did not intimidate the protestors; they replied back saying "You are free to call the entire US army" and "FBI is not greater than Goddess Durga and Lord Ganesha". Due to increasing protests Robin Foley finally removed the main image of Goddess Durga from her website and stated that she will not distribute the images of Goddess Durga even personally. (link)

Do note that Foley has put up nude images of Durga instead of the Durga doll, presumably to protest against the protestors.

The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti website, by the way, is a treasure-trove of such controversial depictions of deities. The Devil thinks that they define offensiveness so broadly that their protests have no meaning. They also have absolutely no sense of humour.

In some cases, though, such depictions are indeed difficult to defend - US artist Teresa Bergen's depiction of Shiva, Brahma, Narad and Nataraja as animals, for instance (link) -



- or paintings by Nasik based artist Dhyanesh Sonar, which depict Radha and Krishna in various amorous situations (link) -



- although, when you do think of it, when did Gods and Goddesses in India become asexual?

At the other extreme, The Devil thinks that the Durga poster displayed at an Athens bar is kitschy pop art at worst, and not really offensive (link) -

- and the International Herald Tribune's Bushiva cartoon (link) and MidDay's Osama Bin Ganesha cartoons are truely hilarious (link).

The Devil is also wondering what to make of Virgin Comic's Devi -
An avatar conceived by the Gods once again to stop the renegade God Bala, Devi is a sleek and sexy seductress that has been dispatched to the modern city of Sitapur on her latest quest. Now incarnated into a human vessel however, this Devi starts to discover a longing that none before her have ever experienced, the desire to be human. (link)
Devi’s fascination for Rahul, her increasing desire not to save humanity but to save him, not to exorcise Sitapur’s demons, but to exorcise his, now fuels her quest. This is not the story of a girl who wanted to be the Goddess but rather the Goddess who longed to be a girl. (link)
The Devil thinks Devi is uber-cool but Hindu Janajagruti Samiti might not agree, because, as King Emma says -

Seriously, who doesn’t want to see a woman share title with the mother of all Goddesses while wearing leather and falling in love with alcoholics? (link)
And finally, what about the MTV Desi Goddess? Is it sacrilege too?

Wicked Meter Rating: 10/10.

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3 Wicked Comments:

Anand said...

Check out Nina Paley's Kali as well. Fairly wicked!

Krishna said...

Maa Durga is a goddess of power.

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