India's leading artist will return to New Delhi in the new year to fight a series of obscenity cases filed against him by Hindu extremist groups who say his works depicting gods in the nude are offensive to their religion.
Maqbool Fida Husain's supporters claim that he has been forced to stay out of the country for most of this year to avoid getting tangled up in protracted legal battles.
In May an extremist Hindu placed a bounty on Husain's head, and a leader of India's Hindu Shiv Sena movement offered to give half a million rupees (US$11,200) to anyone who cut off one of his arms.
Campaigners for Husain, 57, who is a Muslim, have appealed to the Indian President Abdul Kalam to support the painter, who had been "hounded out of the country."
The furor has caused unease in liberal India, where many people are concerned at this assault on the nation's commitment to secular values and the attempt to rein in freedom of expression.
"There are some people who don't understand what modern art is," Husain said in an interview from Dubai last week.
"India is a democratic country and people are free to make comments on my work. Anyone can file a legal case against me," he added.
Husain, who began work painting movie posters, has recently seen his large oil canvases sell for as much as US$2 million.
He faces five separate cases, due to be heard in the Supreme Court, with charges ranging from offending Hindu sensibilities, insulting gods and goddesses and creating "enmity between religious groups."
The cases relate both to paintings he did 40 years ago, showing naked images of Hindu gods, and to a more recent canvas, Mother India, which portrays a nude woman in the shape of a map of the country.
He offered a formal apology via the court for any unintended hurt caused by Mother India, adding that the choice of title for the work had not been his own.
But this has failed to make any impact.
Instead, the controversy has followed him around the world.
An exhibition of his work at Asia House in London had to be closed a few days after its opening in May, when three men defaced works by spraying black paint on two canvases.
Husain has been fighting controversy surrounding his work for much of his career.
A decade ago, when he faced an earlier case, the newspaper columnist Vir Sanghvi argued that his predicament had echoes of Salman Rushdie's treatment in the wake of The Satanic Verses.
The scale of the attacks against him has escalated.
He recently said that the legal process had forced him to become an "international Gypsy" and told the Hindustan Times: "Matters are so legally complicated that I have been advised not to return home. I am wandering around the world with only my art for company."
Last week, however, he stressed that he was not in exile but was just trying to finish a large number of paintings which had been commissioned in Dubai.
"I am not trying to avoid the courts, I am just trying to get on with my work," he said.
He expressed frustration at how his works had been deliberately misunderstood.
"Nudity is a metaphor in the Indian religion, it means purity. It's just a stylized image," he said.
He added that these were the same images that could be seen in the Hindu temples of Khajarahao, famous for their nude sculptures.