M S University incident: Hindu Dharma or Religious Fanaticism?

May 15, 2007 at 6:19 am | Posted in Religion | 3 Comments

The recent turn of events at M S University in Vadodara is alarming to say the least. Chandra Mohan, a post-graduate student of Fine Arts at M S University in Vadodara and winner of last year’s Lalit Kala Academy award, was arrested from the university premises for displaying his works at the institution on Thursday night.

He has been charged under Section 153 of the IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence language etc.) and Section 114 (abettor present when offence is committed).

This incident took place as result of a complaint that the General Secretary of the city unit of BJP, Niraj Jain, had registered against Mohan with Sayajiganj police. Latter the Dean of the college who had expressed support for Chandra Mohan was suspended by the university authorities.

Now what is alarming is this, whether Chandra Mohan’s work of art is acceptable or not is another question. His art’s theme may have been wrong, at least that is what the BJP, VHP and some Christian organizations felt. But what right do they have to break into the college premises and damage the paintings and beat him up? Who gave them the right to indulge in such moral policing? What action have the police taken on those BJP and VHP activists who were involved in this carnage in the University premises?

Of course, it has been denied that Chandra Mohan had been manhandled. Rediff quotes PC Thakur, Commissioner of Police of Baroda as saying:

“They have not pressed for any charges against Niraj Jain. Nobody was manhandled. Mohan’s works were extremely graphic and vulgar. In fact the Dean and other authorities were present when we did the panchnama,

He also added, “police have been very cordial with Mohan and he has not been manhandled or badly treated in any manner.”

But he contradicts himself, when asked about why the police entered the campus without the permission of the authorities. This is what he has to say:

“In certain special situations we need not wait for the college authorities’ permission. We had received information that the situation could spiral out of control and turn violent on campus.”

But didn’t he say that the college authorities where present during the panchnama [A first listing of the evidence and findings that a police officer makes at the scene of a crime]?

He says Chandra Mohan wasn’t treated badly, yet the situation was so tense that it could have spiraled out of control and turned violent, and needed immediate attention without even having the permission of authorities to enter the campus?

So why was the situation so bad without anyone creating a problem? If some one did create a problem? who are they? Why hasn’t anything being done about it? This certainly needs some explaining.

In fact, rediff.com states that “However some eyewitnesses disagreed and informed rediff.com that Mohan was visibly shaken up and seemed to have been manhandled when they saw him at Sayajigunj police station.”

Apparently, M S university students have sent a petition to the commissioner of police, asking him to lodge a counter FIR against Niraj Jain for disrupting university examination procedure, trespassing MSU premises, public nuisance, physically manhandling Chandra Mohan, provoking the mob and attempting to destroy university property. So much for the claim made by COP that the students have not pressed for any charges against Niraj Jain.

The police have registered a case against Chandra Mohan under the Section 153 (A) of IPC for promoting religious enmity and hurting religious sentiments with nefarious intentions like creating riots. But how could that be when what was happening was supposedly an internal examination? He didn’t present his work for all to see or evaluate, it was matter within his examiner and himself. None of them seems to have had a problem.

Again, Niraj Jain, has stated that this was not an internal examination but a exhibition. This has been denied by the college authorities, certainly this needs some clarifications. Either way it doesn’t give the BJP and VJP activists any right to perform acts of moral policing.

A Hindu website, www.hindujagruti.org, has its editor commenting on the news of Chandra Mohan’s arrest:

Congratulations to Niraj Jain, who registered a complaint against Chandra mohan. If every Hindu shows such alertness towards Dharma, it will not take long to revive Hindu Dharma! – Editor [source]

Some people are so enraged about what seems to be an artist’s freedom of expression, that they think that he must be punished. But can we apply the same principles on these Hindu Fundamentalists?

Erotic art has been a part of Indian art for centuries, let me show some samples. The following is an image of Coitus with a pig, sculpture from the village of Ballegavi.

[Coitus with a pig, sculpture from the village of Ballegavi, Kamat’s Potpourri]

Again this is an image from a temple panel, Village of Ballegavi, should I explain about what it is?


[Detail from a temple panel, Village of Ballegavi, Kamat’s Potpourri]

Here are erotic Sculpures on the Chandela Temples:


[Erotic Sculpures on the Chandela Temples, Kamat’s Potpourri]


[Sculpted Chandela Temples depicting Erotica, Kamat’s Potpourri]

Here is a image of “Lajja-gowri” (The Shy Goddess)


[Sculpture of Lajja Gowri, Kamat’s Potpourri]

The site has this to say on the image:

The stone or mud icon of nude female has its feet held back so as the genitalia is prominently exhibited. She also features full grown breasts. The hands are raised and clenched in fists, or holding lotus flowers. The head is represented by large lotus. The body is very richly ornamented. The women having problems with their puberty, menses, conceiving and child-birth take vow to worship Lajja-gowri with all dedication they can command. as part of this ritual they apply butter and kumkum and sometimes lick the yoni of the idol. Another similar type of practice was prevalent at Chandragutti in Karnataka state. Women favored by the Goddess Renuka (see: Given to Goddess) being worshipped in nude (Battale-Seva). Such customs and rituals connected with eroticism are prevalent throughout India in one form or the other. [Female Genitalia Worship, Kamat’s Potpourri]

And here is erect Linga date back to 2000 B.C. and still is worshipped by the devotees.

Phallus as a Symbol of Lord Shiva:


[In the Shiva temple in Kurudumalai (Karnataka) a great variety of “Lingas” could be observed, Kamat’s Potpourri]

These and many more can be seen here.

Now, will the VHP and BJP apply the same principles and demand the destruction of these arts? Doesn’t this hurt their religious feelings? Having such erotic art in their own temples doesn’t seem to hurt these people but someone drawing erotic art in an University in Baroda is something that these people can’t digest! Is this Hindu Dharma or Religious fanaticism?

Further Reading:




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  1. […] Some other links on this subject are given below: Will they blow up Khajuraho? (Indian Express) The colours of Intolerance ( Hindustan Times) The chronology of events is given here A blog devoted to this subject The MS university incident- is it hindu dharma or religious fanaticism? […]

  2. Brilliant, if one extends your logic we can take all the dance sequences, miss india pagents, semi-clad women dancing in rain in films, kissing scences in films, film scences showing intimate sexual relationship etc as part of indian tradition and culture. If so why the left is objecting to beauty contests and
    talks about vulgarity in films. You folks want to use tradition as an excuse
    to defend a third rate work of art. Are you willing to accept Tantra and
    Indian tradition without any criticism of any kind.

  3. Mr. Ravi Srinivas,

    First point out where I justified the art that Chandra Mohan drew?

    You have thrown up a red herring.

    I only said if the VHP and BJP think that this is so Vulgar that its creator must be Jailed and manhandled and the art must be destroyed, they must be consistent and use the same principles and destroy the art in Temples? Why don’t they do so?

    They had initiated a legal action against artist, thats where their job ends. They have no right to take up to moral policing.
    I never claimed I accept Indian tradition, but BJP and VHP do! so how do they justify the action?

    Secondly, it is only because of our prejudices that we see anything NAKED as related to sexual. How can you conclude that the art was THIRD RATE BEFORE KNOWING WHAT IT WAS REPRESENTING?

    Then, I was talking specifically ABOUT ART IN THE CONTEXT OF PAINTING AND SCRIPTURES, I was telling EROTIC ART HAS BEEN A PART OF INDIAN CULTURE FOR LONG. I never said “the dance sequences, miss india pagents, semi-clad women dancing in rain in films, kissing scences in films, film scences showing intimate sexual relationship etc as part of indian tradition and culture.” This is your own concatenation, I can take no claim for it.

    Erotic ART is part of Indian culture. IT IS TRUE, whether you are ready to accept it or not is immaterial. The BJP’s moral policing by manhandling artist was highly uncalled for.

    Then I have no political affiliations, I never claimed to be a supporter of left. So trying to bring them into the frame is out of question.

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