Krishna is said to have played Raas and danced with the Gopis – or cow-herd girls – in Vrindavan. Radha was also amongst them. His magic is said to have been such that even older women couldn’t resist his attraction. This story and ethos has proliferated a lot of poems, writings and paintings… even dances and sequences in the movies.
These depictions were left to the mindset of the artists. Given how Hinduism is in terms of free interpretation, if one approached Krishna or any other being with devotion, his/her artist expression was always celebrated. This has meant very wide latitude to the artists. When a true artist expresses, s/he doesn’t use logic.. just uninhibited open expression.
But, when today’s artists, the logical activists that they are, start interpreting work of other bygone artists – who used extremely wide latitude – in all sorts of “Politically correct” ways in contemporary context, we have an irony on our hands. The very societal trait – Openness – which celebrates art and expression, becomes its bane thanks to an artist hell bent on activism as opposed to experiencing the subliminal nuances of the art he sees.
The truth about Krishna, however, is that he left Vrindavan – where he had played with the Gopis and Radha; played his flute and “flirted or romanced” the women; when he was less than 11 years old. (check here and here from Shrimad Bhagvatam)
Imagine a 10 year old kid playing mischief with the women around him in a village. For a devotee it took many forms and many expressions. And, in true artistic spirit, it was rejoiced EVEN THOUGH it was factually absurd! What could really a 10 year old’s mischief be classified as? To view a 10 year old’s pranks as eve teasing or sexual exploitation is to expose your own perversion as opposed to it being a comment on him!
Now, Prasoon Joshi comes up at the Jaipur Literary Fest and says this:
Prasoon Joshi who came out a flaming feminist in the session, called Lord Krishna the “biggest eveteaser” of the gopis, dismissing a rejoinder from Sanjoy Roy who said “they look like they’re enjoying it in the paintings”.
“You are also victim of it. That’s why we’re infected by this mindset.”
“Are the gopis enjoying or suffering? Who decides. The person who painted it and in a male-dominated society”, Prasoon said, half-seriously. He made the statement in the context of the typical Hindi movie theme where the hero harasses the heroine who then falls into his arms. (link)
Really??!! 10 year old kid an eve teaser??
The very freedom of artistic expression that created the myth of Krishna and his romance – despite the fact that he was merely 10 and half when he left the place – is now being abused by Prasoon Joshi to attack not the artists who twisted the real tale as per their artistic preference, but to attack Krishna himself!
Maybe Prasoons should NOT be given such latitude. Maybe artists SHOULD be restricted. Because Prasoons make a society that provides free expression a curse. For, imagine such latitude with Jesus in red-neck areas of US or Mohammad in Saudi Arabia? That is why there is no art worth any name there.
For art to thrive in any society, wide artistic license is a must. But if artists abuse their freedom to start making comments which make fun of devotion itself, which for the one expressing and experiencing, is a beautiful thing; then what should an open society do?