The Abused Goddesses Campaign: Problematic or Not?



Recently there has been a pictorial campaign launched in India depicting various Hindu goddesses as victims of abuse- it presents a jarring contrast between the serene, traditional poses and depictions of powerful goddess by showing them with bruised faces, as seen in the image above. This is intended to play on the shock value of the idea of these powerful, benevolent figures being so disrespected, in order to shed light on the awful issue of domestic violence and violence against women in India. However, this blogger argues that it is emblematic of a problematic change in representations of Hinduism.  According to Vamsee Juluri, a professor at USF, Hindu deities are increasingly being presented in ways that do not highlight their virtues of compassion, kindness, and so on. Instead, modern Hindu representations reflect only the violent, action driven motifs present in their mythos, and Juluri believes this campaign to be similarly problematic. The underlying problem, he says, is that children being raised by Hindu parents today see more compassion and kindness from the Wiggles and Cailou than they do from representations of Hindu deities, and as such are missing out on the messages of compassion in favor of an increasingly violent idea of Hindu deities and as such extending into Hinduism itself. Given the discussed propensity for Americans to assume that Hinduism and Buddhism are purveyors of some ancient and mystical, peaceful vision of wisdom, I found his concerns to be quite fascinating, and something I would not previously have ever considered, and I wonder how American converts to Hinduism would address his worries. 


About mghartley

An anthropologist of religion (in the making) with a focused interest in East Asia (specifically the mudang of Korea) and an abiding love for folklore and mythology. Student of Korean (and sometimes French and Japanese) with an interest in linguistics and culture.

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