Exile & Painting

When everyone is talking about the Indianness of the internationally acclaimed artist, M. F. Hussain, let us go a little deeper. He was born in the hinterland of Maharashtra on the banks of river Krishna alias Chandrabhaga, Pandharpur where Maharashtra state’s official God’s abode is.

Born about a century ago to a mother who wore nine yard saree confirms he was rooted in Marathi culture; that he never denied nor tried to hide. In this land of Shivaji till half a century before, hardly a few knew the difference between the religions exactly.

But in case of the artists when they are gifted with fame, their fate is sealed with retribution of about same proportion, one and all around the world. They have to face tragedy with ironies abound.

Yuge aththavis vitevari ubha (He is standing on a brick for 28 yugas) is said about the God Vithoba, Maharashtra’s most revered deity. His disciple ordered the God to stand on the piece of a brick thrown at the threshold while he was serving his parents. The God stood for 28 yugas (epochs: each epoch being equivalent to 4.3 million years).

Now, the artist who comes from the same soil of the so deep rooted God has to seek exile while painting the Hindu mythological history is the ultimate tragedy of the artist as individual and irony in general. And the anarchists, who did this, tag themselves as the protectionists of Hinduism. What a muddle?

The man painted flying white horse that became synonymous with him at the end was sheltered by the region of the best horse producing land, Qatar, to paint the horses from the Indian mythology. Irony magnifies. M. F. Hussain didn’t seek the asylum. The citizenship was conferred to him. Any country could have excepting this vast land boasting of diversified culture.

What kind of empty headed, sham and fake culture keepers are filled in this land one can easily understand? There were more than 900 suits filed against him at different places all over India just to harass him in an orchestrated manner and to put him in jeopardy. What planning to destroy a hand, holding brush! Thousand swords unsheathed. They talk about the cost of his paintings. He had to pay more by the way of mental harassment deliberately thumped upon him.

Pundlik, son of Janudev and Satyavti, was devoted to his parents, turns prodigal after marriage. The elderly couple tired of his ill-treatment decides to go to Kashi to spend the last years as the Indian tradition was and still is. But their agony was not to end as Pundlik and his wife join them riding on the horseback and making the parents trod through the jungle of Dandirvan.

In a hermitage, on the way not being able to sleep, Pundlik sees three beautiful women washing and cleaning the hermitage floor and the sage’s clothes spotlessly clean. Next day, when he asks them about their identity, they reveal that they are the pious rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. They vanish saying the devotees visit the place to wash their sins and the dirty water has to be cleaned. The duty was performed by them reminding him that he too ill-treated his parents.

This transforms him back into duty bound son to the extent of being known to blessing-eager Lord Vishnu who decides to visit Pundlik’s house. Engrossed in serving his parents and knowing the knocks on the door by visiting God, Pundlik throws a brick to make him stand for a while till he is finished with the first duty. The God concedes and stands as Vithoba for 28 yugas to bless the devotees as requested by Pundlik.

This is the mythological story of the God and the place worshipped.

And look what they have done to the gifted artist of the same pious soil just because his religion was different but whose soul was immersed in the Hindu mythology till the last day of his life. In this century, the unparalleled artist born in the land of transfixed God has to declare himself as an ‘international gypsy’ is sad and not to be proud of, as it should have been.

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