Caption This

The following image was sent to me by email; it comes from the Times of India; I don’t know the artist or the original context in which it was printed:

okrishna radhillary.jpg

Please provide a caption or title. avoiding the use of the word “kala.”

I should acknowledge that at least one conservative Hindu website has declared that they find the above image offensive. Do readers agree?

(As I understand it, images of deities in the Hindu tradition are widely appropriated and reinterpreted in the culture. They don’t have the same “forbidden” status that they do in, say, Islam. While I can definitely see how a nude image of a Hindu deity not normally represented as nude might be offensive, I think a comic or satirical gloss on a revered story from the tradition, as in the image above, isn’t that uncommon. I am, as always, open to hearing other points of view…)

151 thoughts on “Caption This

  1. 100 · Huey said

    “Face it Hillary. Once you go Barack, you never go back.”

    “Hillary, it could be worse. We could’ve been on the cover of VOGUE, instead of Lebron and Gisele.”

  2. Hillary to working class: “Sure, Obama uses his words very cleverly, but you can see he’s clearly to my right!”

  3. Hindus don’t have much of a persecution complex, at least not to the extent of some of the other religious groups. That can be a good thing when it comes to trivial things like this picture, but it’s troubling in other circumstances. It’s one of the reasons why you don’t hear too many Hindus complaining about what’s going in the North-East, with groups like the NLFT.

  4. The Ceylon Don, it’s mostly Catholics/Christians who are involved in using the religious icons of other religions in derogatory ways. This is especially the case with Hindu and Buddhist iconography whether it be Hindu deities on toilet seats and shoes or Buddha images on bikini crotch areas and as garden ornaments. But one can imagine if Hindus or Buddhists did that with, say, an image of Jesus or Mary, what the reaction would be. People would be running about screaming “persecution” and “relgious intolerance.”

  5. Hilarious image. I’m actually offended by Hillary portrayed as a “beautiful gopika”. Let’s hope “Hindus” don’t get into the habit of getting offended at the drop of a hat.

    I should acknowledge that at least one conservative Hindu website has declared that they find the above image offensive. Do readers agree?

    :-) Looks like there are some jobless people whose only duty is to scan all the newspapers and images all over the world to find “offensive” and “blasphemous” images.

  6. The comments from the site condeming i was hillarious. “This is deeply shocking to hindus”, no its not its deeply shocking to some nutcases sho happends to be hindus.

  7. 6 · Raja said

    WHAT I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO SEE IS THE UPROAR IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OR AMONGST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, IF SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENED TO THEM. THAT WOULD BE A SHOW TO WATCH!!

    Happens all the time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ

    Instead of fighting the speech, maybe understanding why it was done and what is behind it should be our focus.

    (Yes I know Wiki is not the world’s most accurate source but it was quick)

  8. Why do you care? It was printed in Times of India; it is for Indians to decide weather it is appropriate or not. Non Indians have no business to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable in Indian society. Go bother about your own country.

  9. i wonder if the indians have more of a problem if the deities were depicted as blacks. then, they’d probably get even more angry. these hindu gods look italian and germanic to me! they’ve got blue eyes and white skin. that offends me, because it sends out the message that depicting the gods with brown skin and brown/black eyes is not good enough.

    i personally think that the hindus are angrier to the fact that the god is depicted as a black man vs. a white man.

  10. Indian,

    I think the blogger was referring to Hindus and not Indians and was just asking for opinions and not making decisions on anyone’s behalf. :-)

  11. Non Indians have no business to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable in Indian society.

    But do Non non Indians have any business to decide whether it is acceptable or unacceptable for non Indians to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable in Indian society?

  12. Oh god, i am fed up with Hindus (i am one, although an agnostic) trying to enter the “getting outraged” sweepstakes in a desperate attempt to get the world to take itself seriously. I showed it to a few people in my family and not one had even a slightly negative reaction. I think it’s good to have fun with these images since they are good natured.

  13. Non Indians have no business to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable in Indian society. Go bother about your own country.

    Now we’re non-Indians? Wow, no wonder I am an American-Born “Confused” Desi!

  14. Obama: If you quit the race by Janmashtami, I’ll stop my fortnighly Satyabhama visits. Hillary: Be my running mate, and you can have Satyabhama and all the gopikas you want. Bill has taught me to share.

    M. Nam

  15. I actually really like this graphic (and I am one who cringes at most appropriations/manipulations of hindu images, for what it’s worth). It resonates on several levels with the political race as well as mythology, for me. There seems to be much thought put into this image, so that it doesn’t read to me like a cheap joke.

  16. 101 · Huey said

    <

    blockquote>100 · Huey said

    “Hillary, it could be worse. We could’ve been on the cover of VOGUE, instead of Lebron and Gisele.”

    LOL!!!! that is the best reaction i’ve heard so far! clearly he artist just trying to garner attention for himself. in fact the picture is so ridiculous that i can’t imagine anyone being seriously offended. i showed to my mom and she laughed. george allen is offensive. this is not. let’s get mad about something that matters, like the ongoing sexual slavery of children. that pisses me off. this is just a joke. lighten up!!

  17. Boston_Mahesh, are you kidding me? The name of Lord Krishna is translated as black in Sanskrit and he, like most other God-figures in Hinduism, are depicted with black murtis sometimes. There are paintings in which Lord Krishna is presented in blue and that colour is used to signify his infinite and transcendent nature.

  18. I couldn’t agree with you more, Pravin. It’s usually some of the Hindus who have been exposed to the general political correctness that surrounds matters of religion in the West that start acting up when these trivial things happen with respect to Hinduism. I can appreciate the fact that they care about real matters of Hindu persecution sometimes, for example, with the ethnic cleansing of Hindus and some of the native animists that is happening in parts of the NE, but this is just silly.

  19. It looks like it is just meant to be a politcal cartoon and nothing more. The artist(s) who probably made it is/are probably Hindu themselves and it is not offensive to me. Maybe someone might find the American flag used as a sari blouse and scarf offensive, though.

  20. Palab:

    I like your argument and your benefit-of-the-doubt. However, i noticed that in India, the people there are quite sensitive of depicting the gods as being Anglo-Saxon and not as a brown Indian. Even Krishna these days is losing his blue-tan: http://www.lordkrishna.info/wp-content/krishna11.jpg .

    I hate seeing Hindu gods depicted with whitish skin and blue/gray eyes and brown hair. It seems as if Christians are depicting their God, Jesus Christ, as having darker and more semitic features (as he should be depicted since he was a Western Asian). Another words, Jesus is getting depicted as being more brown and rightfully so.

    Ironically, Indians are depicting their gods as being more and more white. One day, Krishna is going to one day wear horned Viking helmets and Jesus is going to start wearing a turban.

    121 · palab said

    Boston_Mahesh, are you kidding me? The name of Lord Krishna is translated as black in Sanskrit and he, like most other God-figures in Hinduism, are depicted with black murtis sometimes. There are paintings in which Lord Krishna is presented in blue and that colour is used to signify his infinite and transcendent nature.
  21. ” people there are quite sensitive of depicting the gods as being Anglo-Saxon and not as a brown Indian.”

    come on, that’s a bit ridiculous…most photos of hindu deities tend to look like desis…I’ve never seen one that looks “Anglo Saxon,” especially Krishna. The closest thing you’ll get is a white marble statue. And even then, his facial features look indian. It’s more common for a temple to have a black statue of krishna and white marble Radha. And in South India, he’s straight up black granite (as are all the deities in the temples)

  22. 124 · boston_mahesh said

    Palab: Ironically, Indians are depicting their gods as being more and more white. One day, Krishna is going to one day wear horned Viking helmets and Jesus is going to start wearing a turban. 121 · palab said
    Boston_Mahesh, are you kidding me? The name of Lord Krishna is translated as black in Sanskrit and he, like most other God-figures in Hinduism, are depicted with black murtis sometimes. There are paintings in which Lord Krishna is presented in blue and that colour is used to signify his infinite and transcendent nature.

    This is how Krishna is depicted. The murtis at Puri Jagannatha are carved of wood, and stand well over 7 ft tall. My mother tells me it’s the nicest Krishna she has seen, ever. At a lot of multi-murti mandirs in the US, you can see both Srinathji and Jagannatha and his siblings in murti form. This is the traditional depiction of Krishna. This hasn’t changed, and is not about to. Even the blue Krishna is more of a steel blue, like the dark rain clouds. Very different from the blue of Shiva as Neelakantha or the one with the blue throat.

    Here is Srinathji of Nathdwara and a number of other renditions of the guy here and here are Balabhadra (aka Balarama), sis Subhadra, and younger brother Jagannatha aka Krishna

  23. http://lh6.google.com/anuradhakumaresan/RmhOTWCIK7I/AAAAAAAAAXE/06z2d3Ydb1k/9.jpg

    Here’s a pic of a European-looking goddess. I suppose that this could be factually accurate, since Krishna, a black guy, has a white girlfriend, and you know what they say about black men! Just kidding.

    However, if it offended you that I referred to krishna as a “black man”, then you’ve fallen into the “white-is-superior” trap.

    I find myself offended by the Europeanization of Hindu gods/goddesses. Why couldn’t they be depicted as having curly hair, flatter noses, and brown/blacker skin?

  24. The statue is made out of marble. It’s going to look ‘white’. I’ve visited temples around the US and in India and I haven’t noticed this ‘Europeanization’ you’re referring to and looking over some of the responses here, it seems like most of the other posters haven’t either.

    I already pointed out that Lord Krishna’s name is translated as black in sanskrit. I should add that Kali ma’s name is also derived from the feminine word for black in Sanskrit, so it seems to me that you’re argument is somewhat moot, unless, of course, you can provide valid support for your unsubstantiated assertions, rather than posting arbitrary images from Google.

  25. http://religion.beloblog.com/archives/ganesha.jpg is a pic of a brown-haired, white-skinned, and blue eyed ganesha. Last I checked, elephants have dark gray/black skin and always black eyes.

    If you do an image search on Google for “marble Krishna”, on the first page, there are 18 images of Krishna. Only one of the images is black, and the other 17 are white. Here is the URL: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=marble+krishna&btnG=Search+Images
    Moreover, many of the white images of Krishna, a black-skinned god, has him with blue eyes. What’s up with that? How come he can’t look like Tupac? I’d pour out my liquor just to see a dark-skinned, brown-eyed, Krishna. Or at this point, I’d get a tattoo of the word “Thug Zindagi” on my chest for a dark-grey, black-eyed Ganesha.

    Without a doubt, this European idealization of Hindu gods is just another manifestation of India’s inferiority complex to European/Western people.

    129 · palab said

    The statue is made out of marble. It’s going to look ‘white’. I’ve visited temples around the US and in India and I haven’t noticed this ‘Europeanization’ you’re referring to and looking over some of the responses here, it seems like most of the other posters haven’t either. I already pointed out that Lord Krishna’s name is translated as black in sanskrit. I should add that Kali ma’s name is also derived from the feminine word for black in Sanskrit, so it seems to me that you’re argument is somewhat moot, unless, of course, you can provide valid support for your unsubstantiated assertions, rather than posting arbitrary images from Google.
  26. If you do an image search on Google for “marble Krishna”, on the first page, there are 18 images of Krishna.

    Wow. Anything made out of marble is going to look white. It doesn’t matter of it’s Krishna, Jesus, or Zeus.

    Once again, posting arbitrary images from google or from random blogs doesn’t amount to making a point.

  27. Your point about marble being white is well taken. I agree that marble is mostly white. I wonder why the Hindus don’t use granite to make statues of gods/goddesses?

    However, I totally believe that my aribtrary images from Google makes a point. Those “arbitrary” pictures (your own words) always show Anglo-Saxon Ganesh wearing the Republican elephant’s emblem. Those randomly selected pictures highlight the fact that Hindus have such an inferiority complex when it comes to their brown skin and dark eyes. Even if we take marble statues out of the picture, we can always see that the Hindus have always white-washed – both literally and figuratively – the Hindu gods. Really soon, the demons of Hindus will be depicted as brown, if it hasn’t been done already.

    Maybe the Prophet Mohammad, PBUH, had it right when he banned all human depictions. Maybe this Hindu inferiority complex and white-supremacy of Hindus (i.e. Anglo-Saxon Ganesha in my first hyperlink) is one of the reasons why 30% of all Desis are Muslims.

    Also, even the Indian depictions of Christ has his feature de-Anglicized and more Desi-style, since Jesus was a Middle-Eastern (i.e. he looked like a Palestine). Without a doubt, the Christian Indian is more “brown-friendly”. Ditto for Sikhism.

    133 · palab said

    If you do an image search on Google for “marble Krishna”, on the first page, there are 18 images of Krishna.
    Wow. Anything made out of marble is going to look white. It doesn’t matter of it’s Krishna, Jesus, or Zeus. Once again, posting arbitrary images from google or from random blogs doesn’t amount to making a point.
  28. Murtis are made out of various materials. There’s no ‘Anglo-Saxon’ conspiracy to use marble. You’re just rambling now. The statue of Lord Venkateshwara, the main deity of the Tirupathi temple, arguably the most auspicious of all Hindu temples, is pure black.

  29. 134 · boston_mahesh said

    Your point about marble being white is well taken. I agree that marble is mostly white. I wonder why the Hindus don’t use granite to make statues of gods/goddesses? However, I totally believe that my aribtrary images from Google makes a point. Those “arbitrary” pictures (your own words) always show Anglo-Saxon Ganesh wearing the Republican elephant’s emblem. Those randomly selected pictures highlight the fact that Hindus have such an inferiority complex when it comes to their brown skin and dark eyes. Even if we take marble statues out of the picture, we can always see that the Hindus have always white-washed – both literally and figuratively – the Hindu gods. Really soon, the demons of Hindus will be depicted as brown, if it hasn’t been done already.

    Oh wow! Why not just search for “krishna idol/statue” and see how many dark and how many fair? They all happen to be the colour of the original metal/stone. Btw, Ganesha statues for sale on internet are for different target market. Just attending Ganesha Chathurthi in India will tell you how many Ganesha’s have blue eyes. Last year I checked, none! I have seen white, pink, yellow and blue bodied Ganesha statues.

    Marble and Granite are both expensive stones. While Marble is relatively easy to sculpt (softer), Granite is not. It is also difficult to polish Granite statues to the same degree as Marble ones. That makes Granite statues much more expensive depending on where you are in India. Granite ones are mostly used in South Indian temples since Granite is aplenty in Deccan and there are skilled sculptors in the region.

    I don’t see how random Hindu religious art for consumption in West makes all Hindus leaning towards Anglo-Saxon images. I dont’ get it.

  30. I have a feeling that you’re in denial about the Aryan Migration Theory into the Indus Valley Civilization as well.

    135 · palab said

    Murtis are made out of various materials. There’s no ‘Anglo-Saxon’ conspiracy to use marble. You’re just rambling now. The statue of Lord Venkateshwara, the main deity of the Tirupathi temple, arguably the most auspicious of all Hindu temples, is pure black.
  31. 135 · palab said

    Murtis are made out of various materials. There’s no ‘Anglo-Saxon’ conspiracy to use marble. You’re just rambling now. The statue of Lord Venkateshwara, the main deity of the Tirupathi temple, arguably the most auspicious of all Hindu temples, is pure black.

    i do not believe the stone statues matter, as they very artistic depictions of the gods and sometimes dont even look like real people. It is the artist’s preference on what stone they like to use and they’re not going to paint the stone black, that is just stupid from an artistic point of view.

    I am noticing though the trend in the modern god pictures is that the gods have straighter hair and smaller more caucasian eyes, whereas all the scriptures and shlokas describe them with curley locks or even matted dreds (shiva) and with large round eyes. Other than that they look pretty desi to me. They are just fair, but the pictures ALWAYS were, there is nothing wrong in that since a number of desis are [yes, even those of primarily Dravidian decent - (some of my family members)]

    And Krishna and Rama i understand because they came to Earth and all that AS INDIANs, but our gods are supposed to be CELESTIAL, UNIVERSAL beings, who said they belonged to any particular race? Although i can’t picture any artist depicting them as black (african) it is up to the artist how they envision them. I mean Michael Angelo’s depiction of God looked nothing like Morgan Freeman and honestly i never heard anybody arguing about it. Why are we arguing?

  32. I have a feeling you haven’t understood Max Mueller’s (the man who introduced the Sanskrit word for an a spiritual and enlightened person, Arya, into the English language) works very well:

    “I have declared again and again that if I say Aryas, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair, nor skull; I mean simply those who speak an Aryan language… to me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.” (1888)

    I don’t fall on either extreme on this discussion (the ones who believe in the Out of India theory and the ones who believed a glorious white race arrived on horses and swept up the masses, the typical Stormfront view). I do believe they were migrations in and out of India, that’s common sense. That happened historically in every part of the world.

    I’m currently reading The Real Eve by Dr. Oppenheimer, the geneticist from Oxford, and in it, he specifically writes:

    “South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of M17 and his ancestors; and sure enough we find highest rates and greatest diversity of the M17 line in Pakistan, India, and eastern Iran, and low rates in the Caucasus. M17 is not only more diverse in South Asia than in Central Asia but diversity characterizes its presence in isolated tribal groups in the south, thus undermining any theory of M17 as a marker of a ‘male Aryan Invasion of India.’”

    So, there is a lot to be discussed about this issue. It’s not cut and dry.

  33. fallen_jhumki,

    However, Michael Angelo’s depiction of God resembled a Roman noble and not a Gujju hotelier or a Karnatic project manager. The Hindus have also depicted their gods/goddesses as Roman nobles as well, without hospitality management or project management skills.

    But your other points are well taken. I do agree with you that the Hindu gods have straight (brown) hair and bigger eyes. If the artist can idealize their view of what the god looked like, they should depict them as white people, which they’ve been doing. However, they should also depict them as Africans, East Asians, Indians, etc, as well.

    138 · fallen jhumki said

    135 · palab said
    Murtis are made out of various materials. There’s no ‘Anglo-Saxon’ conspiracy to use marble. You’re just rambling now. The statue of Lord Venkateshwara, the main deity of the Tirupathi temple, arguably the most auspicious of all Hindu temples, is pure black.
    i do not believe the stone statues matter, as they very artistic depictions of the gods and sometimes dont even look like real people. It is the artist’s preference on what stone they like to use and they’re not going to paint the stone black, that is just stupid from an artistic point of view. I am noticing though the trend in the modern god pictures is that the gods have straighter hair and smaller more caucasian eyes, whereas all the scriptures and shlokas describe them with curley locks or even matted dreds (shiva) and with large round eyes. Other than that they look pretty desi to me. They are just fair, but the pictures ALWAYS were, there is nothing wrong in that since a number of desis are [yes, even those of primarily Dravidian decent - (some of my family members)] And Krishna and Rama i understand because they came to Earth and all that AS INDIANs, but our gods are supposed to be CELESTIAL, UNIVERSAL beings, who said they belonged to any particular race? Although i can’t picture any artist depicting them as black (african) it is up to the artist how they envision them. I mean Michael Angelo’s depiction of God looked nothing like Morgan Freeman and honestly i never heard anybody arguing about it. Why are we arguing?
  34. hmm well i agree entirely with bostonmahesh…off late i think these bloddy hindus have developed an inferiority complex abt yellow skin as well…..pour example, the yellow skinned shiva http://www.craftsinindia.com/products/nataraja_statue.html and another entirely seperate inferiority complex abt dark skin….hence this “black colored” shiva- http://www.lotussculpture.com/bronze_sculpture_online_store.htm and off course we hav our inferiority comples abt not havin blue skin-http://www.universaluv.com/universalUV%20website/Painting%20Main%20Page/Shiva.htm and i cud probably find a shiva n every other color u cud think off but seriously i think this is more than enuff

  35. Hello AshwinfromHyderabad,

    I saw your hyperlinks. I have no problem about the yellow-bronze-coloured Shiva. At least he’s jumping on a demon that’s also yellow colour. Usually, it’s a blue-eyed, brown-haired “good guy” killing a dark-skinned, black haired “bad guy.”

    Your second picture depicted a black granite Shiva. Excellent.

    Finally, the third pic showed a blue-skinned Shiva with blue-eyes.

    Oh yeah, Hindu gods are lactose-tolerant, but the vast majority of Indians are lactose-intolerant. Another example of Europeanization of Hindus and “racial superiorization” of whites for Hindus.

    144 · ashwinfromhyderabad said

    hmm well i agree entirely with bostonmahesh…off late i think these bloddy hindus have developed an inferiority complex abt yellow skin as well…..pour example, the yellow skinned shiva http://www.craftsinindia.com/products/nataraja_statue.html and another entirely seperate inferiority complex abt dark skin….hence this “black colored” shiva- http://www.lotussculpture.com/bronze_sculpture_online_store.htm and off course we hav our inferiority comples abt not havin blue skin-http://www.universaluv.com/universalUV%20website/Painting%20Main%20Page/Shiva.htm and i cud probably find a shiva n every other color u cud think off but seriously i think this is more than enuff
  36. Whereupon said the senator from Punjab, “Oh foolish boy, that’s no way to play flute! You must hold it against your lips first, not near your ears! Why waste time with all those teenagers, here let me be your teacher!”

  37. I’m offended by the insinuation that Obama is wooing Clinton.

    He’s just being charming, We all know the Hillary really is an Obama Girl.

  38. It didn’t really evoke any response.

    I think that Indians, specifically Hindus, tend to be more self-deprecating than other cultures and honestly have no qualms about a few jokes here and there. If it was written by a Hindu, there’s all the more reason to let it pass.

    Has anyone ever read “Kumarasambham” by Kalidasa. It sensuously describes the relationship between Shiva and Parvathi without being crude. And this is the Kalidasa we’re talking about. So, people tend to let it go.

    I’ll be honest and say I don’t get the reference, though. What’s the message their trying to get across?

  39. There’s a difference between white and FAIR skin. Some ancient Indians might have preference for FAIR skin, but that in now way means WHITE skin. When you intermix both concepts into one, we have Eurocentric imperialism and Indian inferiority towards white skin. If you dont then you have a different set of beauty where fair and dark have their own sensuous appeal. Indians are often (indirectly)persuaded by the west and foolish Indians in media to pursue the former definition of white ideals of beauty.

  40. its bad photo himmat kaise hui en paglon kuuton ki jo aisa kaam karen. ye kaise taswiren hai pata nahi kaun kutta kamina aisa hai