Bijay J Anand | February 11, 2015
There was this one painting by Souza that I owned, which had a beautiful woman facing the viewer with a deadpan expression and her abnormally large breasts fully exposed.
Though I sold this painting around two years ago, what haunts me even today was the attitude of the art-buying community, and, indeed,many of the visitors to my home, including friends and family.
Picture this: my best friend walks in to my house for the first time with his wife and his son who is all of 17 years old. He excitedly takes a tour of the apartment, gushing over the décor as well as the art. He rapidly moves from the living room and takes a right turn into my bedroom, coming face-to-face with the Souza nude.In a split second he makes a U-turn, and, on seeing his son gaping at the painting, covers his son’s eyes with his hands and leads him out of the bedroom.
What perplexed me is that when we finally settled down to have our tea and snacks, they told us about a movie that they had been to the night before. Now this movie was an outright violent movie, with at least a hundred people shown as having being killed, long and prolonged scenes of fights and violence as well as a ghastly and brutal rape.
The next time I met my friend and we were alone, I asked him this, “How and why is it ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ for your 17-year-old son to see blood, gore, rape and violence, and ‘unacceptable’ for him to see a nude painting?”
And this is the problem that I have with India as a country. What happened in the above-mentioned story is the norm and not the exception. The same parents, the same society that accepts scenes, art and movies depicting violence and gore, is alarmingly quick to condemn, deplore and censor scenes of kissing and making love, labeling such expressions as vulgar, immoral and an inducement to acts of abuse against women.
We even have a ‘moral police’ that routinely rounds up, harasses or even arrests couples cuddling, kissing and sometimes just holding hands! I now hear that a political outfit is set out to ‘punish’ couples seen together celebrating Valentines day by forcibly marrying them off!!
Why should a child be allowed to see ‘Game of Thrones’ and be banned from seeing ‘The Blue Lagoon’? What is it that is more natural – violence or love?
In my Kundalini Yoga classes, I sometimes ask all of my students to stand up, walk to each other, bow down with respect and gratitude, look into each other’s eyes and just hug. This is an exercise to open up your heart chakra and to allow your soul to see that eventually, we are all one.
In most of these hugging sessions I see my Indian students so very, very deeply awkward and uncomfortable athaving to touch or be touched by someone, sometimes even refusing to partake in the exercise.
And how do we blame them? How is it their fault that they are deprived of love, sad and lonely?
The truth is that it is not their fault at all.
I am 44 years old, and my parents never hugged me. Neither did either of my sisters.
It was ‘normal’ for us, as children, to fight with each other, and yes, we were sometimes chided and reprimanded for that. But we were never exposed to the meaning of a hug, a caress or a loving, tender kiss on the forehead.
When did we die to the love inside of us, and why? What made us impervious to violence and death, and, at the same time obliterated all our natural feelings of love and compassion?
And then we have the temerity to complain. Complain about rising crime. Crime against women. Rapes. Molestations.
In the land of the Kamasutra and Khajuraho, we are so deeply embarrassed by expressions of love that most, if not all, prefer to make love in the dark.
Can all of this be reversed? Can the mindset of an average Indian be changed?
Of course it can.
Just by acknowledging that our attitudes towards sex, love and nudity could be wrong, misplaced and self-destructive, we can take the first step towards liberalising our narrow and shallow mindsets.
To see this world rid of violence, terror, genocide and crimes against women, we need to open up our hearts to love. To loving. To giving. To kindness. To compassion.
Because we were born not to hate but to love.
Because, “YOU ARE NOTHING IF NOT LOVE”