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Little Dancing Girl ( Art under fire)

The arrest of the art student of Baroda School of arts for having violated the sensibilities of religious fundamentalists seems to have shaken people. But I had seen the beginning of this attitude ages ago. To be more precise, the day the little dancing girl vanished from our history books.
She is the finest example of Mohenjodaro and Harappa sculpture. But today, the educational websites run by the government, while raving about this fine piece, do not display her photos. You can check out this Vigyan Prasarak website as a proof of our academic hypocrisy.

This sculpture from an ancient civilization says a lot about the technology of our ancestors. The dancer's jaunty little body standing in supreme confidence, the skill with which the sculptor has caught her grace and attitude are irrelevant to the learned people who plan our textbooks. Her nudity has made her unsuitable for our eyes. And this from a land where we worship the union of Linga and Yoni as Shiv Lingam..

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Is she really so unacceptable? Can anyone monitor what images the children are viewing on the net? On that background does the nudity of the little Dancing girl seems so terrible that she is banished from our texts and websites?

A terrible rot has set in our thinking. In past few decades this has started happening more and more frequently. When one group protests about something, the other groups, not to be outdone, come up some weirder protests. Then we have public protests over the kiss between Shetty and Gere, protests over the shooting of Deepa Mehta's 'Water', some minor protests over Sania Mirza's short skirts, to name just a few. And along with this religious intolerance is the upsurge of pseudo religiosity which is more like cultural regression.

I had seen it coming the day the little Dancing Girl was removed from the history books, and I can predict where it is going too. Maybe now the artists will be commissioned to paint clothes on the nude sculpture on the walls of Khajuraho temples......
There is enough religious art in India to keep a whole generation of artists in business.


Crossposted on the Blog- Writers Against Terrorism.


Batul said…
Suniti, I happened to be in Baroda one of the days of the protest, and the violence of the morality check groups was frightening. There is no rationality operating here, so there can be no conversation, it seems. Only force.

Just one error though in your post, 'Water' is by Deepa Mehta, not Mira Nair.

suniti said…
Thanks Batul. Making the corrections now :)
Praba Mahajan said…
This should come in as a real surprise to you....
Fairly good "reproductions" of the little dancing girl were given as Awards at the National Film Awards, till the early 1970s....

K K Mahajan, cinematographer (1944-2007) who got his 4 national awards very early in his career, (1969, 1970, 1972, 1974)received three of these figures as mementos.
By 1974, the cover-up had started. K K's 4th and last National Award for Best Cinematography ( in a career spanning over 40 years )was a tame Silver medallion.

I still have the exquisite little dancing girls.
I am Praba, K K's wife.
Came upon your blog, a little late...through Space Bar, but thought I'd write in,all the same......
Praba Mahajan

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