Mirabai by Tim HolmesMirabai is a 15th century Indian Bhakti mystic and poet.
paintings, one of which has been up on this website for years,
instigated a rather interesting dialog beginning on Easter day,
2012, with a Hindu who was upset by my depicting the nudity of a Hindu
saint. Since then there has been an ongoing campaign to have these images
removed from the internet, including an online petition to this effect, which, interestingly,
reproduces unedited Mirabai Writes a Tale in its entirety! (Did I mention that they are supposed to ask permission of
the artist to reporduce an artwork?)
They find the images "lustful', which
is nowhere near my intent. I have been responding to every single
person who comments or signs the petition in an attempt to engage in
some real dialog about what I feel are very important issues of freedom
of expression and religious tolerance. But few of them ever writie back
and none for more than two exchanges.
Another unbelievable thing is that
my deep respect for the Hindu tradition stems in part from the fact
that among all the major religions it is the one that has a rich
religious tradition of an appreciation for erotic imagery that
transcends shallow titillation so common in western culture.
Ironically, this is what so impresses me about Mirabai and her Bhakti
cohorts, who are able to speak of their devotion to their god Shiva
with such thunderingly powerful erotic poetry.
"O my beloved, be content in this
and allow me to embrace you.
question: perhaps my Hindu friends can clear up some confusion
surrounding their complaints about my painting of Mirabai in the nude,
which they find lustful. Here is a photo of the Hindu Naga Sadhus, who
obviously parade naked in public. This way of life also includes
women, called sādhvī. So is this ritual a sex orgy masquarading as
devotional or is the objection to female nakedness simply naked sexism? Curious!
The exchange of letters can be followed here