Spare Us The Outrage: Dhoni As Vishnu Does Not Hurt Hindu Sentiment
Why the non-bailable warrant against Dhoni is yet another case of hollow and unnecessary outrage
A non-bailable warrant has been issued by an Andhra Pradesh court against Mahendra Singh Dhoni for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments. This is in relation to a business magazine cover which showed him as Vishnu. Dhoni on his part claims that he wasn’t even there for the photoshoot and the magazine only imposed his face on an image of Vishnu.
There are two questions here: one, does the image actually offend Hindus and even if it does, does it merit legal action?
Even if Dhoni was present for the photoshoot and was aware of the cover image, the case and the warrant against him are downright silly and exasperating. While the image may be accused of awful hero-worship of Dhoni, one thing it doesn’t do is hurt sentiments of Hindus. Dhoni is famous for achievements which can be called as ‘positive’. He came from a humble background and rose to captain Team India, he led the country to a World Cup victory, he inspires people from small-town India, etc. So, while the cover image can be faulted for being creatively and aesthetically appalling, the image designers or Dhoni cannot be blamed for hurting Hindu sentiments. More so because, Hinduism is not stubborn and ruthless about the representation of its gods and figureheads.
Here, one may ask the following question. If Dhoni as Vishnu is not hurtful of Hindu sentiments, why was Teesta Setalvad’s tweet, where she imposed the face of a bearded man on Kali, so?
While both—the Dhoni cover and Setalvad’s tweet—were obviously fantastical representations of Hindu deities, the motive behind the former was a positive one, while Setalvad’s tweet betrayed a sinister attitude towards Hindus and their faith. Secondly, while the Dhoni image was focussed on portraying only one person, in this case Dhoni as Vishnu, Setalvad’s tweet was a malevolent allusion to Hinduism and its followers at large.
Does the image merit legal action?
No. Neither of the cases, not even Setalvad’s grotesque tweet, deserves legal rebuke. Such behaviour should be governed by the person’s own judgment and social norms and courtesies, and not by the state or courts. Besides, from at least the side of the state, one should have complete freedom to criticise/discuss all religions and religious figures.
Almost certainly, the case against Dhoni was initiated by someone lusting after his two seconds of fame. One should ask why a court indulged him. Here’s hoping that the case is finally dismissed, the petitioner heavily penalised and Dhoni leads India to victory in the upcoming one-day series in Australia.
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