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Christ in the Indian Paintings, Movies and Literature Introduction:- Jesus claimed to be the Saviour of all humankind.

All men and women would see him as the fulfillment of their innermost and noblest desires. Christianity is always believed to have come to India with St. Thomas, one of the disciples whom Christ has chosen. Small Christian communities flourished in India for nearly two thousand years, but the Christian religion did not spread, it does not seem to have had much of an impact on the people around. The fact that the Christian religion has not yet become at home in Asia is generally acknowledged. Inculturation is seen as a foremost need. Interpreting Christ through Indian art is a pioneering work. Even in the field of fine arts it is restricted to painting. It is remarkable-and painful at the same time-to noticeable that when reading the many books on Indian Art one never comes across a single illustration or mentioning of a Christian monument. This essay will therefore deal with focusing Christ in Indian paintings, movies and literature with its reflection towards Indian Christian theology. Christ in the Indian Paintings:Richard W. Taylor has attempted to interpret the Indian understanding of Jesus in his work 'Jesus in Indian paintings'. In the preface of the book, M. M. Thomas says that this work deals sincerely highlighting Taylor's basic concerns, one, for an essentially Indian understanding of Jesus and two, for an art as an important expression of understanding. Dr Taylor has tracked down certain Christian Paintings produced in the courts of the Mogul kings during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. He refers to a Christian painting owned by the Vijayanagar king Venkata II at the beginning of the seventeenth century and hung in a prominent part of his palace at Vellore. It is noteworthy to know that for several decades ending sometime in the 1960's almost every Indian painter of note painted pictures of Jesus. During the 1950's outstanding artists like K.C.S. Paniker former student of Madras Christian College who is quite familiar with the Bible have produced many paintings of Jesus. When he wanted to depict suffering and pain he chose to paint Jesus. Paniker used to paint figures with disproportionately large heads. Mogul paintings of Jesus:- The Mogul paintings of Jesus were mostly found in four formats. 1) Wall paintings, 2) Illustrations for books, 3) Picture albums, and 4) Independent easel paintings with frames.1 Ex. a) Madonnas:- A substantial majority of the miniatures of Christ show him as a baby with His mother-or sometimes with family. Sometimes the virgin Mary appear alone without her Son. b) Life of Christ:- Several contemporary Indian Christian painters have painted Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Christ crowned with thorns, the last supper are the other Indian paintings from the Moguls. In Goa the churches were full of paintings copied by the local painters most of whom eventually became Christians. By the 18th century some of the Goan paintings had become slightly Indian in a kind of Mogulish style through the introduction of some Indian settings like scenery, birds and dress to a very slight extent. Some of the Indian painters who has painted Christ Nandalal Bose, Bengali artists Jamini Roy and Nikhil Biswas, famous South Indian painter K. C. S. Panicker, who took his artistic cue from Jamini Roy which may well be the one reason for his interest in painting Christ in the 1950's. Some other Indian painters who had pictured Christ were Arup Das, M. Reddeppa Naidu, Shiavax D. Chavda, Ravi Varma etc.
1 Richard W. Taylor, Jesus In Indian Paintings, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1975), 37.

Nandalal Bose, painted Jesus as the good shepherd carry a lamb and like wise Buddha as a good shepherd. In 1945 he painted at least two versions of 'Christ carrying the Cross. The first paint was done on handmade paper done entirely in Indian Red and black in a semirealistic manner though in the touch method was given to Miss. Jaya Appaswamy before her departure from Shantiniketan, and the other version appears similar although there is no black in the reproduction, was reproduced on the cover and also as a frontispiece of a volume of some of Rabindarnath Tagore's Bengali writings about Jesus. 2 In both the paintings Jesus has a halo and a crown of thorns, is on one knee holding the cross with his left hand and trying hard to get up while a woman stand behind him helping. He is bare to the waist and has cloth wrapped around himself exactly as an Indian peasant would have. Nandalal was a 'staunch supporter to Mahatma Gandhi, and both versions of Christ Carrying the Cross, seems to have been painted during the period of 1945 when Gandhi, during his stay at Shantiniketan had long discussions with with Nandalal. M. Reddeppu Naidu, young painter from Madras have had his paintings exhibited internationally and among the public collections in India. His paintings for him means to self-realization. His paintings that captured more attention was one which shows a footwashing by Christ before the last supper. Second Christ with sinners which was very composite picture with one large Christ surrounded by different presentations of the downtrodden and needy who need His help-a very Indian composition. Christ Interpreted in the Indian Paintings:- The painting of Jesus by Indian Christian artists began around 1930. Artist Angelo Da Fonseca's family theology for justifying painting Jesus in Indian dress and setting as an Indian, is pretty simple. His 'Christ on the Cross', 'the Bread of Life' and 'Crucifixion' all are in Beuronese in style with a few slightly Indian garments added. Angelo Da Fonseca also painted the holy family in various Indian settings wearing various Indian styles of clothes. Afred D Thomas who painted Christ's life and ministry fairly intensively portrayed Christ as a young sadhu. He is seen usually in saffron and sometimes in white and bare from the waist up. Similar to say it is like the ideal male body of classical Indian sculpture. It seems that what Thomas has tried to do in his paintings was exposition of Jesus to take traditional representable characteristics from Indian tradition and combine and reinterpret them to understand Christ in a truly Indian way. In other words According to Taylor it means that Thomas was trying to do in painting almost exactly what most Indian Christian theologians were attempting to do theologically by using Indian classical philosophical religious terms, concepts that often recombined and interpreted, to understand and describe Christ in the Indian way.3 Interpretations based on the paintings:Dominant religious motifs of modern Indian painters has changed radically through out the years. Many painters took up Christ-theme in an effort to communicate something about the nature and predicament of man in society. More recently painters have taken up more esoteric and mystical, and perhaps more generalized, themes often using Tantric symbolism. Some are presently using religious textual matters in their titles (Reddeppa), or even within their paintings (Panicker). When the painted most of them painted Christ's suffering. They
2 Ibid., 58. 3 Ibid., 118.

try to speak about His life and teachings leading to His sufferings. A visiting priest said of Panicker's powerful, straining Christ on the Cross as like a criminal. It was true as Jesus was on the Cross as a criminal. Because of their Hindu backgrounds the painters have been so perceptive about the angularity of Christ. Some other who painted Christ in Indian style are Angela Trindade, S. S. Bundellu, Frank Wesley, Vinayak S. Masoji, Jyothi Sahi, Sister Genevieve, Sister Claire, Sudhir Bairagi, etc.,
Some of the Indian paintings that has captured attraction globally where Christ is pictured as in Indian background are found in the book by Masao Takenaka.4

Jamini Roy, Nativity, Last supper, Govindan Raman, Batik Madonna. Frank Wesley, Redeem his people. S. S. Bundellu, Ten virgins. Shiavax Chavda, Christ with crown of thorns. K. C. S. Paniker, Sorrow of Christ.

Frank Wesley, Blue Madonna, Mary Magdalene. Lemuel Patole, Lotus Madonna. Angelo Da Fonseca, Last Supper. V. S. Masoji, Christ. S. J. Ravivarma. Christ: The light of the World. K. Krishna Hebbar, Sacrifice.

Interpretations based on the paintings:Dominant religious motifs of modern Indian painters has changed radically through out the years. Many painters took up Christ-theme in an effort to communicate something about the nature and predicament of man in society. More recently painters have taken up more esoteric and mystical, and perhaps more generalized, themes often using Tantric symbolism. Some are presently using religious textual matters in their titles (Reddeppa), or even within their paintings (Panicker). When the painted most of them painted Christ's suffering. They try to speak about His life and teachings leading to His sufferings. A visiting priest said of Panicker's powerful, straining Christ on the Cross as like a criminal. It was true as Jesus was on the Cross as a criminal. Because of their Hindu backgrounds the painters have been so perceptive about the angularity of Christ. Inigenizing Christ and through art communicates a lot in sharing the Gospel. Jesus as the artist Frank Wesley feels is neither Indian, nor Western; rather he is universal. It is essential that modern art shall focus to contribute more in all aspects to present Christ in the best way possible for the love He has shown on the Cross. Christ In Indian Movies:There are various movies which shows the nativity, life, crucifixion of Jesus across the world. But it is sad to say that very few number of movies based on Jesus life and ministry are portrayed by the bollywood industry. Most of times Christianity is portrayed rather than Jesus through Christian families, churches or also in the roles performed by the actors and actresses. The fact is there are similar movies in various regional languages either dubbed or as a remake. In India, at least 82 percent practice Hinduism, an extremely visual religion wrapped around India's roots. With no central founder or creed, Hindus worship 330 million gods through statues and
4 Masao Takenaka, Christian Art in Asia, (Japan: Christian Conference of Asia, 19750, 33f.

idols like Ganesha, the elephant god, believed to be the lord of success and destroyer of obstacles. Fashioned from brass, the image stares with cold, black eyes, has a curved trunk of an elephant and the jutting potbelly of a human. Hindu images like this are not just in temples -- they're on jewelry, in household shrines and even on the dashboards of rickshaw taxis. It is in the midst of this Jesus was being tried to be pictured in a way that is possible. Jesus film:- The Passion: Films, Faith & Fury that is covered in one Jesus film is Dayasagar, also known as Daya Sagar, Oceans of Mercy, Karunamoorthy, Karunamayudu and no doubt a number of other titles was made in 1978/1985 using Hindi actors and crew. The film "JESUS" is now in more than 100 Indian dialects and is a key tool to reaching people in both urban and rural settings.5 85 percent of the people can understand the film. Seeing Jesus on the big screen was a revelation for Muniappa Nagappa, 55, a local farmer. "I thought God was unreachable," he says. But his perspective changed after seeing the film. Christ in Indian Literature:Brahmabandhav Upadhay is the first Indian Christian theologian to enter into a positive dialogue with the indigenous theological and philosophical tradition of Hinduism. 6 Indeed, he is the first Indian theologian to understand the vital role of building Christianity on an indigenous philosophical base. He believed that the Vedas and Sankara should be used as starting points for articulating Christian theology in India. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was one of the earliest Indians to attempt this synthesis of the Hindu past with modern thought. In his book The Percepts of Jesus' the Asiatic Christ whom Roy spoke of was not the second in the trinity, but a teacher of morality and one who knew the true unity of God's nature.7 Mahatma Gandhi approached the question of the person of Christ from a different perspective, namely that of the ethnic of love, which he interpreted in terms of ahimsa, or non-violence.8 He gained India's independence through satyagraha, through non-violent assertion of his right. He pointed to Jesus, nailed to the cross, as the 'Prince of all Stayagrhis'.9 It is true, in a way, that India carried on its struggle for independence under the banner of Jesus Christ. A. J. Appasamy been greatly influenced by his father, who was a convert became a bishop of the Church of South India and was much involved in the promotion of revivalism and evangelical piety in his diocese. Like Brahmabandhav, he also believed that Christian faith can be interpreted in India using the categories of the Indian religious and philosophical tradition.10 On the contrary he rejects whatever is contrary to the Lordship of Christ, such as caste, transmigration, fatalistic interpretation of karma, idolatry, and the like. The main point of his approach is Jesus can be reformulated in India in the framework of India's religious heritage and that the gospel can help to reinterpret and renew India's heritage. P. Chechiah most creative and stimulating member of the 'Rethinking Group' had two major concerns in the understanding and reinterpretation of the Christian faith in India. 11 It is the loyalty of Christ does not involve the surrender of a reverential attitude towards the
5 http://fundraise.jesusfilm.org/content/projects, Last accessed on 29th Nov' 2012. 6 Timothy C. Tennent, Building Christianity on Indian Foundations: The Legacy of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay, (Delhi: ISPCK, 2000), 7. 7 Ibid., 65. 8 R. S. Sugirtharajah, and Cecil Hargreaves ed., Reading in Indian Christian Theology, Vol I,(Delhi: ISPCK, 1993), 7. 9 Hans Staffner, The Significance of Jesus Christ in Asia, (Gujarat: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash Anand, 1985), xiii 10 Op cit., R. S. Sugirtharajah, 10. 11 Ibid., 10-11.

Hindu heritage. Second concern was about giving real evidence for the uniqueness of the Christian faith. Like Brahmabandhav, Chechiah also stressed the importance of restating the Christian faith in Indian categories, liberating Christian doctrines from Greek philosophy and the categories of Western thought and culture. Raymond Panikkar a Roman Catholic theologian, born to a Hindu father and a Spanish Roman Catholic mother was brought up in a close acquaintance with both Hinduism and Christianity. In a spirit of genuine dialogue he seeks to understand Hinduism from within and comes to the conclusion that Christ is already present in Hinduism, though he is not known as Christ. Dr. Vedavyas, a research scholar with a doctorate in Sanskrit, discusses some important prophecies from the Bhavishya Purana, which he says dates back to 3000 B.C. He states that one prophecy describes the future appearance of Isha putra, the son (putra) of God (Isha)(Jesus Christ), born of an unmarried woman named Kumari (Mary) Garbha Sambhava. He would visit India at the age of thirteen and go to the Himalayan Mountains and do tapas or penance to acquire spiritual maturity under the guidance of rishis and siddha-yogis before going back to Palestine to preach to his people. So, if Jesus was trained by the sages of India, this would explain why he was able to perform various miracles (siddhas). It also explains why there are so many philosophical similarities between early Christianity and Hinduism. Conclusion:This study helps us to realize and understand that there is no single pattern or model for the development of Indian Christian theology and the way Christ is being understood in the context of India. But the main key to Indian theology is the discernment of the reality of Christ and his mission on frontiers of the church with other faiths and as well with the struggle of justice. In all Indian paintings, movies and Literature where Christ is tried to be portrayed, we can see the attempt is made so that one can personalize and internalize Christ in a deeper sense. Among all this what is noteworthy is that these portrayals of Jesus, the and colors used, are the signs and symbols that communicate Christ in Indian Art. Lots of further study is certainly necessary to study on Iconography and also to explore the critiques and the threats that Indian Art has faced when Christ was being pictured in paintings, movies and literature. It is also necessary that there should be more creative works that should develop utilizing the skills and technology in presenting Christ everyday in the modern world. Bibliography:Takenaka, Masao. Christian Art in Asia, Japan: Christian Conference of Asia, 1975. Taylor, Richard W. Jesus In Indian Paintings, Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1975. Tennent, Timothy C. Building Christianity on Indian Foundations: The Legacy of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay, Delhi: ISPCK, 2000. Staffner,Hans. The Significance of Jesus Christ in Asia, Gujarat: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash Anand, 1985. Sugirtharajah, R. S. and Hargreaves, Cecil. ed., Reading in Indian Christian Theology, Vol I, Delhi: ISPCK, 1993. Website:http://fundraise.jesusfilm.org/content/projects, Last accessed on 29th Nov' 2012.