Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Our metrosexual pantheon

Ages ago, my friend Vijayanand asked me something for which I still don't have an answer:
Why do our gods look so feminine?







Is it Ravi Varma's legacy?

16 comments :

Manjunatha said...

Is it Ravi Varma's legacy?

At least moustache-less look can't be attributed Ravi Varma :-)(Malayalee and no moustache...impossible!). It must be the handiwork of some North Indian. Ravi Varma might have just followed the example of North Indian paintings.

I wonder if you were aware of clean-shaven North Indian and moustache-growing South Indian stereotypes. Well, I had the first hand experience of this during my engineering days, when one of my friends' reproached me for shaving off my moustache like 'those northies'.

Srikanth said...

I wonder if you were aware of clean-shaven North Indian and moustache-growing South Indian stereotypes.

Oh, I didn't know this stereotype exists in Karnataka too! In Tamilnadu, if someone is clean-shaven, he is mockingly labeled "Bhagavathar" (based on the view that only Brahmins are clean-shaven). :-)

In one Tamil movie, Sivaji Ganesan is taunted by his village-belle heroine to wear a sari, as he had shaved off his moustache!

Malayalee and no moustache...impossible!
There's something in what you say!

Vijayanand said...

In wikipedia there is a line about ravi varma:
"He often modeled Hindu Goddesses on South Indian women, whom he considered beautiful."

So you are probably right about it being ravi varma's legacy.

Captain Haddock said...

One possible reason can be the fact that dark skin, moustache, and muscular build are attributed to asuras.

Srikanth said...

* Vijayanand: Your quote - "He often modeled Hindu Goddesses on South Indian women, whom he considered beautiful."

That still does not explain Hindu gods. :-)

* Captain Haddock: One possible reason can be the fact that dark skin, moustache, and muscular build are attributed to asuras.

Uh-oh, Cap'n, what makes you think so? Picture Krishna - is dark and has a moustache (atleast at wartime - do visit the Triplicane Parthasarathy temple for proof.) :-)

Sunil said...

in fact......the word "Krishna" means the dark one....:-))

And of course....it's part of innacurate myth that south indians are all dark.

And older north indian tradition also gave a lot of importance to the "mooch"! No self-respecting lord would be seen without his mooch (still true in rural rajasthan, MP, HP, Uttaranchal and even UP).

But i haven't a clue why the gods are rather feminine looking. Most western depictions of gods (even greek gods etc) are rather macho...

Srikanth said...

Hi Sunil,
And older north indian tradition also gave a lot of importance to the "mooch"!
Of course, no self-respecting Rajput would like to be seen without a well-grown murukku-meesai. :-) I think the south Indian stereotype of the northern moustache-less look comes from the Hindi movies.

And of course....it's part of innacurate myth that south indians are all dark.
Actually, it was the asuras (not south Indians) that Captain Haddock felt were considered dark-skinned.

i haven't a clue why the gods are rather feminine looking.
Same here! But I feel the early artists would have followed the precedence of traditional iconography. In the south, if you notice Nataraja as depicted in the idols or sculptures is far from a Greek god. At the same time, he is not shown to be as feminine as the gods in the pictures above.

I think Manjunatha might be right when he suggested a north Indian influence, rather than Ravi Varma's.

Arya said...

Modern picture may seem feminine, but the much older pictures and sculptures are on the contrary. Also the scriptures talk of facial hair. Its only the modern stuff that make such pictures.

Anuradha said...

Indian Gods are androgynist, they represent the unity between male and female thus they look kind of feminine.

Anonymous said...

"i haven't a clue why the gods are rather feminine looking".
We are talking about imagery created few centuries back. Perception of masculine and feminine would have been different. For example, just try to evaluate your own grand parents or fore fathers' looks, you may find them, too a little feminine. I think the right word is "beautiful", and in most slokas and description of gods, they were called beautiful; Only now do we find them feminine (masculine originates from muscles and people of that time werent crazy as us about muscles).
There is another logic to it. A person looks or beocmes muscular when there is a lot of physical activity, and I havent read any books or stories that talk about physical activity of Gods. They were mostly involved in pursuiance of art, their duties etc., which didnt involve rigorous physical activity.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi,

i have always been confused about the disparity in the looks and what i have read of the hindu gods, specially Shiva and Krishna.

I would imagine Shiva to be..definitely not effeminate...yet every picture i have seen of him makes him look pretty. Same thing goes for Krishna. The charioter of Arjuna one would not expect to be a smiling pretty face.

I can never relate what i have read to the images i have seen.

To be honest though what i read and have read i do not read in a religious context but more in a historical one, being a muslim.

ader45 said...

what the differences between hindu and buddha?? i'm confused...



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ader45 said...

what the differences between hindu and buddha?? i'm confused...



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