Creativity vs. Religious Sentiments

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-Himanshu Bhargav, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab.

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Many of the artists have replicated the future even in their performance of dreams, example being Leonardo da Vinci’s design of chopper way back again in Sixteenth century, thereby suggesting something which is amazing for the contemporaries but truth for the years to come. However sometimes while training their independence to show through different channels of art and press, performers let their creativeness run crazy and make something that does not go well with the typical individuals. This results in a situation of tussle between creative freedom and religious sentiments. It becomes quite crucial for the artists to put a check on extremism of ideas and then occurs the question of – where should the limit be placed?

For a country like India where people identify themselves with their religion anything which may result in hurting the sentiments of the religion may change the face of country and if not curbed in time may have global repercussions too, the episode of M.F Hussain and the hardship he had to bear because of his artistic and open minded approach towards art and because of that he had to die in exile is still fresh in our memory.  Case of vandalism and violence in Delhi University campus, a few years back, by self-acclaimed cultural policemen because of the essay101 Ramayana by AK Ramanujam created a nationwide debate upon the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and expression under article 19(a) of Indian constitution. The issuance of fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his novel Satanic Verses is another story. On global level we have the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which created a huge uproar worldwide.

Held against these examples is the success of the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi which shows that people are not rigid and ready to accept a creative distortion brought into the mythological framework with open heart. Which brings out the fact that religion is not that how you portray god but it is about how you perceive god. Creative mind serves two fold purposes: one to imply what is actually being said by the artist and the other is left ambiguous, which is up to the individual to interpret it, thus while as a nude presentation of a deity is considered offensive while as a healthy presentation of mythology in anthropomorphic light goes well with the people.

Coming back to the question of how much is too much. Reasons abound for the hue and cry caused against such pieces of art. Reasons like appetite for power or serious flaws like depiction of Gods in a stigmatic position or serious flaws like making fun of god through caricatures. Many a times it is the powerful class who give their interpretation to the powerless class and thus mould their opinion according to their desire. At other times it is the sentiment attached with religion that gets hurt because of the major mistakes committed by the artist. As a result there are cases ranging from an aggressive reaction by the extremist religious outfits on some piece of art that is too mild to a global uproar on something that offends the sentiments too explicitly.

[quote]The artists should keep in mind not to hurt the sentiments of the masses while as the people should be generous enough to allow them to bring out their creativity to the maximum. If we take a domestic perspective, in a country where even ladies are not allowed to bare their skin, how can an artist dare to make nude portraits of deities and think of being at peace? People are liberal enough to allow a person to explore alternatives and be creative at expense of mythology and the example of Amish Tripathi sets here perfectly. Art will be accepted as long as it quenches the thirst of a curious mind while keeping a right balance between the fact and fantasy but checking their patience by going beyond the threshold will be outrageous.[/quote]

Religion is created for men; Men are not created for Religion.