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Shiva Gets Stuffed

February 5, 2010

The store window of Reminesce brought this little blue guy to my attention: a stuffed toy Shiva, made by the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. This doll is part of a series called Little Thinkers, which are “not stuffy intellectuals, but stuffed intellectuals”, and includes Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and the Dalai Lama. I don’t know if I’d call Shiva a thinker, though he might have divinely inspired other Indian Philosophers.

It seems like illustrators and designers everywhere are finding new ways of playing with Hindu Gods. This might be akin to playing with fire: Hindu fundamentalists have blackballed many others who have tried to use images of Hindu deities. There was tremendous opposition, for example, to US postage stamps with Hindu Gods on them. “Wow! now they can lick our deities!” one irate commenter exclaims.

Shiva by Mira Malhotra; The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel from Pixar

Creating cartoony characters out of them seems even more incongruous, especially when those who do so forget that Shiva is actually a God of Death and Destruction who dances in burial grounds and drinks blood out of human skulls. It is rather funny how everyone is bent upon making him safe for consumption.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2010 10:31 pm

    I have the Shiva by Mira Malhotra hanging in my room with the fairy lights. I liked it and made it for myself from the file she had put up on the net. I agree that Shiva is a god of destruction and dances in cremation grounds but if Indians themselves can make a hindi movie on Yamraj( you remember taqdeer wala?) why blame others!

    All those forms and images of deities in our mind were a human creation at some point of time.. the credit can be given to calendar art and ACK but what before them.. how did people worship the gods when they were not given a beautiful and colourful arms laden avatar with 6 8 or 10 heads.
    How was shiva worshipped ….as a lingam which is a rock mostly.

    If artists then had the freedom to express themselves in terms of their imagination which got lodged in the minds of the masses as THE image of the deities, doesn’t mean people today can’t think and visualize their gods in other forms.
    To use it for commercial purposes is an altogether different issue altogether.But ultimately calendar art and Amar Chitra Katha were also commercial at some point. They had to sell their comics. Humans make their own Gods the way they want. whether Western superhero looking Indian Gods in the new age comics or cartoony stuffed toys for kids.. whatever gets them closer to the GOD.. or so shall we say…

  2. February 22, 2010 8:58 am

    You found Ghee Happy! 🙂

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