Hindu Jesus June 25, 2008

Hindu Jesus

A painting by artist Krista O’Connell:


Before you read her description, what was the first thing that came to your mind?

Love it? Hate it?

Is it offensive to one group or the other?

Here is Krista’s own description of the work:

This is a Hindu reinterpretation of Jesus and His resurrection! He has five arms to represent openness and equality towards each of the four castes of India and the untouchables, as Christianity does not promote a dharmaic hierarchy. There are three circles represent unity, eternity, and the trinity.

(via Glocal Christianity)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kage no Kami

    I like it. I have trouble seeing the Jesus aspect though, other than some “semetic” looking garb. Might be offensive to Christians, though I dont see any Hindus other than some Hindutva wackos getting their panties in a twist about it.

  • cipher

    I’m only concerned because he has an odd number of arms…

  • If I ever had kids, I would name them Mohammed & Lakshmi, just because I think Mohammed Cohen would be such a cool name.

  • Err…that the body proportions are off and the coloring looks rushed and unfinished? Doesn’t really look like Jesus either…just a floating Hindu guy.

    …Err, sorry, I’m an artist myself, going into critique mode there.

  • I’m an atheist but I love religious art because it’s often very beautiful and fantasy-like and I really do like this. I’d hang it up (in the proper frame of course).

  • My first thought is that the skin color is probably more accurate than usual. Also, it’s a very nice piece of art.

  • Yes! Christians love to picture Jesus as pasty white for some reason. I think if anybody got angry over this it would be Christians, not Hindus since Hindus tend to see Jesus as an avatar of Vishnu.

  • My first thought was along the lines “He needs to practice more”. Actually, that was my only thought about it, being an atheist make me mostly immune to religious symbolism.

  • TheHallowPrince said,
    Yes! Christians love to picture Jesus as pasty white for some reason.

    But wasn’t Jesus a long-haired Italian like depicted in all the paintings?

  • Pseudonym

    This is one of the things I love about Hinduism: It’s so damned ecumenical.

  • First thing that came to mind was… pie. :/

  • Darryl

    It’s poor art.

  • Gosh, what would that crucifix look like?

  • Milena

    I like it. It seems very innocent and clean, somehow, which goes well with the message.

  • Jen

    I just don’t see Jesus here. Nor do I see anything particularly exciting as art.

  • Actually if you’re fascinated by this sort of thing I have a much more extensive collection here.

    As for the artist’s religious affiliation, I have no idea whether she is Hindu, Christian or just one of the spiritual but not religious, but I do note she has another image inspired by the Book of Revelation over here

  • Finn

    I like it. I’m surprised by the harshness of some comments above, actually; jeez, guys, he wants your opinion on the idea, not your criticism of the art. I think the bold, warm colours are particularly lovely.

    The idea makes me smile, especially having read the artist’s description. Really, though I’m not a fan of religion in general, if we must have it I vastly prefer the sort of “world religion” that steals a little bit of good from everyone and ignores the nasty bits. My mom is Christian, but she’s convinced everyone who’s a decent person will wind up in the same heaven regardless of their beliefs (presumably the Christian heaven, but).

    That said, I’m sure some religious folks are bound to get offended; I actually know people who get riled up if you suggest that Jesus wasn’t white, or that his name actually wasn’t “Jesus” (why would he have a Latin name..?), etc.

  • I don’t think it’s necessarily offensive, but it does give the semblance of being Christianity trying to one-up Hinduism – especially with the subtitle that explains the reasoning for the five arms, and then goes on to specifically make note of the fact that Christianity doesn’t have a caste system.

    That, by the way, is the reason there are so many Muslims and Christians in India; when these foreign religions came in, they gave a way out for the lower castes.

  • Christophe Thill

    Apart from “It’s rather nice, although a bit childlike”, I don’t think much of it.

    Anyway, Jesus didn’t look at all like that. He was short, fat and bald, always telling jokes. But the guys who followed him and noted his words down had absolutely zero sense of humour. They never understood the jokes and lost all the punchlines.

    (Try to disprove this, now…)

  • Alycia

    So Don Rickles is Jesus?

  • Alycia

    jeez, guys, he wants your opinion on the idea, not your criticism of the art.

    When you’re an artist, you automatically critique art. We can’t help it, really.

  • cipher

    That, by the way, is the reason there are so many Muslims and Christians in India; when these foreign religions came in, they gave a way out for the lower castes.

    Buddhism once served that purpose as well, but it died out in India centuries ago.

  • Allytude

    Its an interesting picture.
    I like it- the colors are very nice.
    But I think the Hindu wackos would be up against it too( check out the hindujanjagruti.com website for similar protests)

  • Matt, you find some interesting stuff. I like it. I like all of it, because we get to see things from other perspectives around the world.

    For those of you who don’t see it as worthy art… well, isn’t worthiness in art in the eye of the beholder?

  • I like it. I’ve always enjoyed seeing ways that Jesus and the gospel can be understood outside of the traditional Western iconography and modes of thought that we’re all so used to.

  • I don’t see it as offensive at all.

    It’s just bad art. Looks like something you’d see on the wall of a local coffee shop.

  • Finn

    When you’re an artist, you automatically critique art. We can’t help it, really.

    I haven’t actually seen any “critiques.” Just “it’s poor/bad art.” But then again, I tend to be of the camp that thinks constructive criticism is acceptable and helpful, while purely negative comments – like “this piece sucks” – tend to do more harm than good. Of course, if you have a very strict definition of “art” and want to limit the number of artists in the world, I suppose discouraging those you don’t find up to par is in your best interests.

    Not all artists feel the need to offer unsolicited, unhelpful critiques of others, only the ones who take themselves and their field too seriously. 🙂

    (This isn’t directed entirely at you, as I don’t know what your views are. But I do think the number of negative comments every time a piece of art is shared in a blog is quite startling and rather depressing – especially when the artist herself isn’t sharing it with us, Hemant is sharing the work of someone else, who may or may not have contacted him first and who may or may not even know that he’s sharing her art here.)

  • Thanks Linda, personally this is NOT one of my favourites, there are plenty in the collection I have gathered that I think are a lot better, but I enjoy the colours and find it thought provoking (after all, it has prompted some discussion here). Why I promote this sort of stuff on my blog is that I like to get people thinking beyond the blond haired, blue eyed, red shash wearing Jesi of cheesy children’s books. People in different cultures respond in different ways to Jesus and I would like to broaden the conversation.

  • Jesus has been portrayed with dark skin. That’s offensive.

  • Hi- this is Krista, the creator of this piece. I realize that this piece has gotten some attention on the internet so I’m going to clarify some things here and on deviantART (where I originally posted it- I never imagined people actually looked at that, haha).

    First off, I am currently a high school student. I created this as part of an art class in school. My theme for the year was “reinterpreting religion.” I come from a very traditional Christian family, and Christian themes are very strong in my work. Though I embrace a lot of the values behind Christianity, I would not say that I am a traditional Christian. I have high respect and tolerance for other religions, and I don’t believe that Christianity has a monopoly on truth.

    With that said, this piece is meant to connect aspects of different religions in a “we are all brothers” way. I purposely made Jesus with dark skin (he was Middle Eastern) and even made Him without a face as a reference to Muslim art, where Mohammed’s face is never drawn. I explained the rest in the original description. I’m not trying to say that any religion is better than another, but I obviously have a closer connection to Christianity because that’s where my roots are. I’m still learning and questioning and forming my beliefs, but this is where I stand right now.

    I realize the phrase “dharmaic hierarchy” sounds rather condescending. It is not an insult to the Hindu religion, but rather to class-based discrimination. The situation of Untouchables in India really bothers me.

    Also, in regards to the art: this is not one of my prouder pieces. It was my first time using pastels in years and I admit that the quality of the drawing is terrible. However, this piece was centered on meaning and not artistic quality.

    To the friendly atheist: I kind of like this website. I used to believe that most passionate atheists were bitter and hateful to religious persons (especially Christians). I like the “friendly” idea a lot better. Of course I don’t agree with what you believe, but I’m glad that we can both be tolerant.

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