Newsweek Depiction of Obama as Lord Shiva Upsets Some Indian-Americans

FoxNews, November 21, 2010

Newsweek’s depiction of President Obama on its latest cover has irked some Indian Americans who, fresh off Obama’s visit to the world’s largest democracy, are not happy with the image of the U.S. president as the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva.

The Newsweek cover shows Obama with several arms carrying policy issues while balancing on one leg. The headline reads: “God of All Things” with a subtitle, “Why the Modern Presidency May be too Much for One Person to Handle.”

Shiva, who is one of three pre-eminent gods in the Hindu religion along with Brahma and Vishnu, is considered the destroyer of the world, which must end, metaphorically speaking, in order to be reborn as a more universalistic place. However, the god’s purpose is not to foretell an apocalyptic ending.

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“Hinduism’s sacred images are too often appropriated in popular culture without understanding their spiritual relevance to Hindus,” she [Suhag Shukla, managing director and legal counsel of the Washington-based Hindu-American Foundation] said. “For Hindus, the iconography gives insight into the divine realm, and each aspect of representation is replete with profound symbolism that is lost and even debased by such attempts at humor.”

Shukla, who noted that Hindu images are frequently used in media as caricatures because of a fundamental lack of understanding about the very complex religion, said it’s impossible to retract the image since the magazine reached mailboxes on Friday. {snip}

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