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Now Hindu gods get dragged into debate about ‘whiteness’ – Times of India

LONDON: Indian economist and author Rupa Subramanya kicked up a storm on Twitter after wading into a debate raging in Britain on whether statues of Jesus should be white by bringing Hindu gods into the melee.
Commenting on the row, she tweeted: “We must also ask why Hindu deities are so light skinned. Very few Indians in real life are actually that fair…”
Her tweet was sparked after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced he would review statues of Jesus in Britain in response to US-based Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King telling his 1.2 million Twitter followers that all murals and stained glass windows of a white Jesus should “come down”.
Welby told BBC Radio 4 that the way the Western church portrays Jesus “of course” needs to be thought about again. “That sense that God is white is something that, well, if you go into churches overseas you see a black Jesus or Chinese Jesus or Middle Eastern Jesus,” he said.
A larger number of Indians criticised Subramanya’s intervention, pointing out that Hindu gods are black, blue, yellow, red, white, and pink.
“Goddess Kali, Krishna, Shiva, Ram and so many other gods are never light skinned! In fact in southern India so many goddesses like Mariyamma, Chamundeshwari etc. are never light-skinned” one Twitter user, @ODonSecularism, wrote.
Another, @deldiablo6, wrote: “Shiva-ji is dark, Krishna is black, Ram is blue, Vishnu is grey. Murugan is white, Ma Saraswati wears white.”
@ChakraNews wrote: “Most idols in most temples globally are in the colour of the material they are created from. Marble is seen as an auspicious form to create idols in, hence white.”
@larama02 tweeted: “Hinduism gives very little importance to the form and is all about the soul. It leaves it to the devotees to choose the form.”
Tax lawyer Amrita Bhinder responded with a picture of Kali, who is black.
Subramanya, who lives between Canada and Mumbai, told TOI by phone from Canada: “Portrayals of Hindu deities are often portrayed as light-skinned when most Indians don’t look that way and that was my basic point. If people ask questions about how Jesus was portrayed, Indians should also ask questions about how Hindu deities are portrayed. I am not an expert on Hindu iconography. I was talking about popular portrayal like Hindu art calendars by well-known artists like Raja Ravi Varma where they are often really light-skinned, or in popular TV shows like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. Even deities people may have at home, like a poster of a deity like Lakshmi or Saraswati that people frame and worship, those are often super-light-skinned,” she said.
Anil Bhanot, director of the Hindu Council UK, said Rupa’s tweet demonstrated how “easy and fashionable it is to keep on denigrating Hindus and their dharma”.
“This is overblowing everything. This BLM movement has gone too far now,” he said. “The colour doesn’t matter. It is all about what is acceptable to whom. Faith is a personal thing and it is all about what appeals to you. Jesus or any God is beyond colours. We use colours and forms according to our taste. The statues are there to help you connect higher to your transcendental spirit. These are people looking after their own egos, it is not really about their ultimate faith in God. Krishna has a dark complexion and Hanuman is red or orange. Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu so that is why he is sometimes depicted as blue.”
But Preeti Sharma Menon, national executive member of the AAP, tweeted that “while Krishna is the dark skinned one”, people at Iskcon “depict him as white”.
A Krishna devotee from Iskcon Bhaktivedanta Manor in Watford told TOI: “According to time, place and circumstances Krishna takes on many different forms. He is sometimes fair and sometimes dark. He is not always white,” he said, citing Iskcon Vrindavan and Sri Sri Radha Madhav as examples where he is blackish in complexion. “He is beyond material complexion,” the devotee said. “He has no religion, caste or colour. He can be whatever he likes. The statues of Jesus should not be changed either because they are about spirituality, not colour.”

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