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Hillary Clinton as Hindu God Lord Vishnu

An article written by Gillian Reagan in the The New York Observer titled ‘Superstar Avatars’ has a picture of Hillary Clinton as Lord Vishnu. The article talks about the importance of profile photo in various social networks like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. It goes on to say how the politicians change their profile photos to adapt to the current political climate. The article then details about the ‘avatar’ chosen by popular personalities and the psychology behind it.

Avatar or Avatara is popularly translated as an incarnation and is popularly associated with the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Today, profile photo in various online social networks and Second Life is referred as an Avatar. The online 3-D persona which users create is also known as an avatar.

So the photo of Hillary Clinton as Lord Vishnu is an attempt to convey the gist of the article – Superstar Avatars. (Please note Hillary is totally innocent here.)

We Hindus are used to politicians adorning the roles of Hindu gods – the most popular being former prime minister of Indira Gandhi being compared to Goddess Durga (1970s). Recently, several politicians have also received flak for trying to be Hindu Gods.

So this whole concept of Politician Avatars is nothing new to Hindus.

But when using images worshipped in a religion, the sentiments of the people worshipping the image have to be respected. In this case, the image carries the popular Vaishnava symbols of Shakra and Shankh. These are symbols of Lord Vishnu as Venkateswara.

It must be also noted here that the abode of Lord Vishnu in Tirupati where he is popularly known as Venkateswara or Tirupati Balaji is the most visited place of worship in the world – the average number of visitors in a year to Tirupati Balaji Temple is nearly 20 million. On a normal day, Tirupati Balaji Temple receives 30,000 to 70,000 visitors and during weekends and public holidays it is more than 100,000.

Do some homework before using images of gods of any religion.

Majority of the Hindus will ignore this image and it should be rightly ignored. But it sends a wrong message and idea to non-Hindus and this is dangerous. Responsible editors and writers in media should make sure that the religious sentiments of people are not hurt.


Indian Politicians as Hindu Gods