Right through the eras of Plato, Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, Michelangelo, Voltaire, D.H Lawrence, Kafka, Karl Marx to the present modern day, books, art, music have been banned by those in power. Thus proving the very existence of immense power of knowledge, art and the influence they can have on society.  A new thought, expression and knowledge can herald in unimaginable paradigm shift and societal change. Hence all the desperate attempt to muffle and gag creative expressions.

The progress of mankind itself proves that censorship has proved futile. Galileo’s knowledge did sneak out of the confines of the Church. Voltaire’s books were banned then but it couldn’t stop growth of reasoning and rational thought. Karl Marx did lay strong foundation of Socialism and Marxism. Literary books such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover or the recent Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses or innumerable other books have become popular and most sought after just because they were banned!

Many creative works were burnt during holocaust. Even today China, Burma and other dictatorial regimes exercise extreme control on information and knowledge flow. China has recently cancelled a concert by Oasis. It has cancelled art exhibitions and even banned You Tube. Even best of democracies exercise censorship subtly. Religious hawks often force artists to withdraw their bold anti-religious work in many countries. Films are often censored for controversial and revealing content. This reveals true human urge to control thoughts of the masses and manipulate them for their own greed.

Be it Science or art – they will forever persist in giving an insight about God, religion, love, lust, life, Nature, Universe, existence, utility and futility of it all. Censorship can only defer arrival of new insight or truth but yet it cannot rein in and imprison human intellect and imagination in the confines of ignorance. Good creative works and insights get buried only to be resurrected much later.

What is shocking and worrying is that human intellect, reasoning and thinking itself gets eroded when it feeds only on the mental diet sanctioned by those in power. Ignorance thus becomes bliss. Art and Science become commerce and technology. In the garb of materialism censorship has a new lethal form. But parallel Universe does exist in the form of alternative art, film, music and literature movements which insist on screaming the truth in spite of the gags. They keep the truth and hope alive.


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  • apu

    the tradition of censorship is very old . here also an example from the brhadaranyaka upanishad: once gargi ,the daughter of vacaknu interrogates yajnavalka on the prime cause of all being . yajnavalka replied “don’t ask too much, gargi! so that your head may not burst .”
    joyce’s ulysses ,a remarkable work had also been banned.
    o god! forgive them for their ignorance,for their power-hungriness.