Newsweek's depiction of President Obama on its latest cover has irked some Indian Americans who, fresh off Obama's visit to the world's largest democracy, are not happy with the image of the U.S. president as the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva.
The Newsweek cover shows Obama with several arms carrying policy issues while balancing on one leg. The headline reads: "God of All Things" with a subtitle, "Why the Modern Presidency May be too Much for One Person to Handle."
Shiva, who is one of three pre-eminent gods in the Hindu religion along with Brahma and Vishnu, is considered the destroyer of the world, which must end, metaphorically speaking, in order to be reborn as a more universalistic place. However, the god's purpose is not to foretell an apocalyptic ending.
Shiva is often manifested as Lord Nataraja, who has multiple arms and balances on one leg, and is viewed as dancing in a representation of the rhythm and harmony of life.
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism in Nevada, told the English-language Sify News in India that Nataraja is highly revered and meant to be worshipped, not indecorously thrown around. Zed, who is known for his work on interfaith dialogue, said it is not OK to use Hindu concepts and symbols for profit or self-serving purposes.