Hindus urge Rubin Museum to withdraw Hindu gods’ toys from sale, apologize

New Delhi, October 19, 2022: Hindus are urging Rubin Museum of Art in New York City to immediately withdraw from its shop the plush toys featuring Hindu deities KrishnaGanesh-Saraswati, calling it highly inappropriate.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesh and goddess Saraswati were greatly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely on the floor, bathrooms, cars, etc.; or “attach it to your diaper bag”; or “press its belly” to make it sing for you; or hit by feet; or squeezed; or used as a pillow or play ball; etc. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for mercantile or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged Rubin Museum Executive Director Jorrit Britschgi, Trustees Chair Shelley Rubin and President Noah P. Dorsky; to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing Krishna-Ganesh-Saraswati plush toys from Museum Shop and website.

Rubin Museum; which defines itself as “Arts and cultural hub in NYC” and claims to advance “cultural understanding”; should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege and belittling sacred Hindu deities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deities to be treated like this; Rajan Zed indicated.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; Zed noted.

Moreover, it was saddening for the devotees to see Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesh and goddess Saraswati reduced as a toy under the mercy and control of the owner, while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities; Rajan Zed pointed out.

Zed further said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism, ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth, and Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it was painful for the followers, Zed added.

Rajan Zed was of the view that insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. Lord Krishna is the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu and subject of major Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) and Bhagavad-Purana. Saraswati is revered as goddess of knowledge/learning, music, art, language/speech, and poetry.

Krishna-Ganesh-Saraswati plush toys were priced between $18 to $50 at Rubin Museum Shop, which claims “finest artisanal goods from the Himalayas and across Asia—many unavailable elsewhere in the United States”.

The Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea, New York City, which opened in 2004, and spread over five floors; claims to have a “globally renowned” permanent collection of nearly 4,000 objects spanning more than 1,500 years, and receive approximately 180,000 annual visitors. “Largely inspired by the philosophical traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism”, it also claims to open “windows to inner worlds so visitors can better navigate outer ones”.