New Delhi: The creative liberties for the artists in the West are stretched to such an extent that many believe it is borderline offensive to several schools of thoughts – including the religious faiths of several groups. Movies and other literary works from foreign lands are often allowed to pierce through strong religious beliefs. Moreover, their recent artistic works include various places and ethnicity to enhance viewing experience across borders.
This time a storyline from the Marvel comic’s iconic X- Men series has hit the raw nerve of a religious group, Universal Society of Hinduism. The group, which champions the cause of Hindus, has objected to a particular incident in the ‘Uncanny X-Men #5’ – where a character called X-Man believing himself to be a god of sorts takes the advice of long-time X-Men villain Apocalypse who tells him, “You fancy yourself a god of sorts. As do I. Yet you let false prophets lead the masses down the paths of their false idols.” Apocalypse continues, “If you want to save Earth, you must cleanse it of its delusions of holiness.”
Upon hearing this advice, Nate, the X-Man decides to disintegrate major religious sites including St Peter’s Cathedral in Vatican City, the Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and the Padmanabha Swamy Hindu Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, India.
The character after destroying these places of worship, claims that “I have cleansed the world of its fake houses of worship and fake prophets,” which seems to have irked the certain members of various religious groups who are now seeking apology from the comic book giant.
‘Hurtful to the Hindu community’
- In a press release from the Universal Society of Hinduism, President Rajan Zed declared the destruction of the Padmanabha Swarmy Hindu Temple was “very hurtful to the Hindu community when a popular platform like Marvel labelled a sacred and highly revered Hindu temple as a fake house of worship.”
- It further highlighted that Marvel’s inclusion of the destruction of the Padmanabha Swarmy Hindu Temple is “highly inappropriate.” Zed urged Marvel “to immediately issue an official apology for hurting the sentiments of Hindu devotees, and publish it prominently on its website.”
- The representative of the Hindu group also claimed that the depiction of the temple’s destruction “created confusion among non-Hindus about Hinduism. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols.”
- Zed made it a point to clarify that “Hindus [are] for artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivialising, it hurt the followers.”
‘Lasting impact on the unsuspecting minds’
- Zed concluded by calling on not just Marvel Comics, but all comic book publishers to be more “sensitive while handling faith related subjects.” It indicated that comic books can leave a “lasting impact on the unsuspecting minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.”
- His request to other publishers can be seen in line with the widespread exploration of religious perspectives – sometimes critical (mostly by the negative characters), which is also complemented by destruction of religious sites on many instances.
- In DC’s popular comic series ‘Injustice’, the mythological entity Zeus had launched a ‘war on religion’ – where a panel shows a Mosque in Delhi (having an uncanny resemblance to Jama Masjid) being reduced to rubbles.
- Zed had earlier objected to the trailer of the 2016 movie X-men Apocalypse, where the antagonist was heard saying, “I have been called many things over many lifetimes – Ra, Krishna, Yahweh.”
In the comics, the destruction of the temple is the work X-Man, a mentally unstable person, who apparently believes himself to be God, or at least an omnipotent being. The action was a result of advice from longtime villain Apocalypse, who argued that mankind was being led down the wrong path by religious leaders. The act is not portrayed as one readers should empathise with, or approve of, with Kitty Pryde, leader of the X-Men, expressing horror in its wake.