July 14, 2015 (Adhika Ashadha Krushna paksha Trayodashi, Kaliyug Varsh 5117)
We at Forum for Hindu Awakening (FHA) have received several complaints from devout Hindus regarding selling of various clothing products having printed Hindu Deities images on shopping portal http://yungshiva.bigcartel.com/.
Upon reviewing the complaints, FHA team immediately wrote an appeal letter addressed to Big Cartel’s management requesting them to discontinue selling of various clothing products having printed Hindu Deities images. The letter explained how denigration occurs through the sale of T-shirts/Jerseys/Sweatshirts/Hoodies/Bags having the images of Hindu Deities. In addition to this, the letter also pointed out, that once the clothes having images of revered Deities are worn-out, they will be thrown into the trash resulting in denigration of Hindu Deities. Thus, the sanctity of these Deities images will not be maintained.
Please see below the images of revered Deities (Lord Shiva and Shri Ganesh) used on T-shirts.
The Forum for Hindu Awakening (FHA) team has received a very casual response from Big Cartel management stating that “Yung Shiva’s clothes fall under freedom of speech protection and Big Cartel is quite liberal in policies to allow for full artful expression”. It further mentioned that “art is incredibly subjective, and what is offensive to one is not necessarily offensive to others. In our review of this store though, we don’t see that these products clearly cross any of those lines.”
After careful consideration, FHA team immediately replied stating that “It is natural that a denigration of Hindu Deities would be certainly offensive for a true follower of Hinduism; but not to non-Hindu (e.g. A Christian, or a Muslim). To allow offensive treatment to Hindus and their seat of religious faith and not stopping it under the ‘freedom of speech protection’ is a feeble argument. “
Meanwhile, Forum for Hindu Awakening (FHA) team has not received any response from Big Cartel management. Consequently, FHA now requests all readers to appeal against this denigration of revered Hindu Deities peacefully and lawfully by writing an email requesting them to stop selling such clothing.
Please see below the appeal letter and communications between Big Cartel and FHA team:
|| Shree ||
We really appreciate your quick response!
- In your reply you have stated that Yung Shiva’s clothes fall under freedom of speech protection and Big Cartel is quite liberal in policies to allow for full artful expression.
Just to give you an analogy, people have freedom of choosing what to wear; however, it is still bound by social aspects. People just don’t wear shorts or bikini at majority of professional workplaces or wear formal suits and go for swimming.
There is freedom to kiss at public places in many countries; but none of the countries allow having sex in the public due to freedom! Similarly, there is freedom to eat, drink, drive, etc. but all of these are bound by some limits. All these limits give due consideration to social, cultural and religious aspects.
Cigarette smoking is prohibited in public places and food outlets; because it is harmful for everyone’s physical health. In the same way, if artists have freedom to express religious aspects which are denigrating; then it is hurtful to the followers of that religion.
We are not against freedom of speech; but it should be used for the right purpose.
Let us say if someone says abusive words to your loved ones (parents, children, etc.) would you still say ‘everyone has freedom of speech!’ Or would you take steps to stops the abusers and ensure it doesn’t happen again?
- Also in your response, Ms. Anna, you stated ‘art is incredibly subjective, and what is offensive to one is not necessarily offensive to others.’ ‘In our review of this store though, we don’t see that these products clearly cross any of those lines.’
A thief doesn’t feel bad in stealing something from a store; but the owner of the store would definitely feel bad and he would lodge complaint to the police who would apprehend the thief; because it is wrong to steal. Some people find speeding a thrill; while others follow the speed limits for their own as well as safety of others. It is not important that some people do not feel offensive; but what should be done to make sure that the right things happen. It is natural that a denigration of Hindu Deities would be certainly offensive for a true follower of Hinduism; but not to non-Hindu (e.g. A Christian, or a Muslim). To allow offensive treatment to (2 billion) Hindus and their seat of religious faith and not stopping it under the ‘freedom of speech protection’ is a feeble argument.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich spiritual and philosophical thought. Though it is an ancient tradition, Hinduism has richly contributed to the modern world and we strive that our future generation be able to recognize and adopt Hindu culture and traditions without them being distorted. By promoting products that denigrate Hindu Deities and practices your store is insulting the religious sentiments of the billion Hindus and supporters of Hindu Dharma. It is our humble request to your organization to prevent any denigration and insult by removing these products from your store.
Finally, we will also be writing to Yung Shiva store, and put forward our concerns regarding denigration that is taking place, however we expect that Big Cartel as conscientious partner can also carry out due diligence and take proactive steps towards ensuring that Hindu Deities and Hinduism does not get disrespected by removing the denigrating listings from your website and also stop selling spiritually incorrect images of Hindu Deities in future as mentioned above.
Forum for Hindu Awakening
Response from Big Cartel –
On Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 4:43 PM, email@example.com wrote:
# PLEASE REPLY ABOVE THIS LINE ##
JUN 23, 2015 | 02:43PM MDT
First, I want to thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful email. Your position and reasons for personal offense are clear and we are glad that you shared with us.
However, as I’m sure you know, this store’s products would firmly fall under freedom of speech protection in the U.S. For better or worse, people are allowed to be offensive about religious figures. And as a company founded by and for artists, Big Cartel is quite liberal in our policies to allow for full artful expression. Art is incredibly subjective, and what is offensive to one is not necessarily offensive to others. We do draw a hard line at hate speech, slurs, promotion of hate, or extreme violence. In our review of this store though, we don’t see that these products clearly cross any of those lines.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d highly recommend that you reach out to this store directly with your concerns and try to work with them to understand why their products are hurtful to some people. There is a chance that they are unaware of your position and don’t know they are being hurtful and/or disrespectful or even harmful to the perception of Hindu Deities and Hinduism. You can contact that store here to share your perspective: http://yungshiva.bigcartel.com/contact
We’ll continue to have internal discussions about what is and isn’t acceptable on Big Cartel. While we’ll generally continue to err on the side of artistic freedom of expression, as we have in this instance, your concerns haven’t gone unheard. We really do appreciate you bringing this to our attention so we can continue having these discussions.
Please let me know if I can help with anything else.
|| Shree ||
We at Forum for Hindu Awakening (FHA) have received several complaints from devout Hindus regarding selling of various clothing products having printed Hindu Deities images on your shopping portal http://yungshiva.bigcartel.com/.
Forum for Hindu Awakening (FHA) is a nonprofit organization that strives to awaken society to the unique spiritual science behind Hindu Dharma concepts and practices, to motivate people to live and preserve them, and to facilitate the spiritual progress of humanity. One of the ways we do this is by addressing misrepresentations of Hinduism and campaigning against malpractices done in the name of Hindu Dharma. For further details please refer to our website http://forumforhinduawakening.org/.
We are writing this appeal letter to notify you that the sale of various clothing products such as T-shirts/Jerseys/Sweatshirts/Hoodies/Bags are having printed images of revered Hindu Deities on your website. This was brought to our attention by concerned Hindus. We would like to bring to your immediate attention that these clothing products having images of Hindu Deities up for online sale are not in accordance with the Hindu Shaastra (spiritual science as per the Hindu scriptures). In fact, some of the garments actually denigrate the Hindu Deities including Lord Shiv, Shri Ganesh and Shri Hanuman.
Following are few examples given below:
- In few of the t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, bombers and bag packs print designs listed; Lord Shiva is in eccentric forms which are against the Hindu Shaastra and trivialization of Lord Shiva. Also many of the clothing items imprinted the ‘Natraj’ image which is not according to Shaastra and objectionable. In Hinduism, Lord Shiva has depicted in ‘Nataraj’, the dancing form of Lord Shiva, is a symbolic synthesis of the most important aspects of Hindu Dharma. Lord Shiva is believed to assume two states – the Samadhi (Superconscious) state and the Tandav or Lasya dance state. Nataraj’s dance is considered to represent the five actions of the God, namely Creation, Sustenance, Dissolution, the covering of the Great Illusion and initiation (The God’s grace to get liberated from the Great Illusion). Also, the ‘Mantras’ (hymns) written on ‘Natraj’ t-shirts are not according to Hindu Vedic traditions and actually dishonor and hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.
Links are as follows:
- In few of the clothing products, the Hindu Deities are ridiculed such as Shri Ganesh and Shri Hanuman are shown in disproportionate forms. This is also not in accordance with Hindu Shaastra and is actually a denigration of Shri Ganesh and Shri Hanuman. The sanctity of the Shri Ganesh’s images can be maintained only in the puja room, on an altar or such sattvik (pure) places. Hindus worship Shri Ganesh first before commencing any ritual or an auspicious act. He is called the Vighnaharta, Dukhhaharta (‘Remover of obstacles’, ‘Remover of unhappiness’), etc.
Links are as follows:
Also, God or His forms (Deities) are the highest for Hindus and treat their Deities with utmost respect. Showing them in such a manner trivializes them. In the minds of the buyer, a fictional, trivial image of the Deities will form over a period of time and hence, it will obstruct the development of their faith in the Deities, which is most important in worshipping Deities and experiencing Their divine presence and blessings.
Once the clothes are used, the soiled and worn out clothes will be thrown away into a dustbin and from there will eventually end up in a civic dumping ground, resulting in denigration of Lord Shiv, Shri Ganesh and Shri Hanuman. Thus, the sanctity of imprinted the Deity images will not be maintained and preserved during these practices. Hindus treat their Deities with utmost respect, thus having Their images anywhere else like on clothing products is denigrating Hinduism and hurting feelings of millions of Hindus across the world.
We urge you to consider the above points and remove the various denigrating clothing products listed above which are not in accordance with the Hindu shaastra from your website. We stress that our aim in bringing up these points is to educate and ensure that Hindu Deities and Hinduism gets accurately represented to society. Hinduism has been misrepresented at many levels. Though it is an ancient tradition, Hinduism has a lot to offer the modern world and we want children and adults alike to be able to understand and study it without it being misrepresented. You can take one step towards ensuring that Hindu Deities and Hinduism does not get disrespected by removing the denigrating listings from your website and also stop selling spiritually incorrect images of Hindu Deities as mentioned above.
Awaiting your prompt action and reply.
Forum for Hindu Awakening