Hindus are upset over the cover of January one international edition of American business magazine Fortune which juxtaposes image of Amazon.com President Jeffrey P. Bezos as the likeness of Lord Vishnu, saying that it trivializes their venerated deity.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Vishnu was a highly revered major deity in Hinduism meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used indecorously or thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects.
How a mortal could be depicted as Lord Vishnu, who is the director of our destinies, Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, asked and added that inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts and symbols for pushing selfish agenda or mercantile greed was not okay.
Rajan Zed, calling it an unnecessary dragging of a Hindu deity to prove their point of view, urged Fortune to publish a disclaimer about this on its website and the next issue with proper explanation of Lord Vishnu and Hinduism; in addition to a formal signed apology by Time Inc. Chairman Joseph A. Ripp; Fortune Publisher Eric Danetz, Editor Alan Murray, Creative Director Michael Lawton and Art Director Michael Solita.
Zed stressed that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed at.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Hindus understood that the purpose of Fortune in this case apparently was not to denigrate Hinduism, but casual flirting like this sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols and hurting the devotees. Humor was a part and parcel of Hindu society, but there were certain convictions in every tradition, which were venerable and not meant to be taken lightly.
Zed further said that Hindus welcomed media to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not just for improper showing of Hindu symbols and concepts to advance their commercial or other agenda. Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at misusing it hurt the devotees. Media should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects and sacred symbols.
This Fortune cover page is headlined as “Amazon INVADES INDIA” (How JEFF BEZOS is conquering the next ‘trillion-dollar market’) and created by Sydney (Australia) based illustrator Nigel Buchanan; whose clients include The Wall Street Journal, MTV, The New York Times, etc.
Interestingly, a Fortune article was headlined “Sacrilege”, when The Economist ran a cover in 2010 with an image of Steve Jobs with a halo.
Lord Vishnu is “preserver” in the Hindu triad with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva as the aspect of the Supreme. He has ten incarnations to establish dharma (divine law). Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Fortune Magazine, launched in 1930 and published from New York by Time Inc., claims to be “a global leader in business journalism with a worldwide circulation of more than 1 million and a readership of nearly 5 million” and having “the highest concentration of affluent and influential business decision-makers vs. the competition”. It comes out 18 times a year. Time Inc. claims to be “one of the largest branded media companies in the world reaching more than 120 million people each month across multiple platforms”.