Book Signals New Hindu Self-Identity

via Press Release published on December 20, 2008

The Samprajña Institute has just published a review of the book Invading the Sacred, which documents a decade-long controversy surrounding the misrepresentation of Hinduism by scholars connected with the American Academy of Religions (AAR) and its branch known as Religions in South Asia (RISA). The Samprajña Institute review, titled “Understanding and Misunderstanding Hindu Tradition,” explains why this book signals a new intellectual movement within Hinduism and some of the challenges this new movement will likely face.

  • Invading the Sacred is important because it signals a new intellectual movement that is effectively creating a new Hindu self-identity. “Expatriate Hindus are a minority in their host countries,” says Samprajña Institute President, Krishna Kirti Das, “so they cannot afford to ignore the negative things said about them in the halls of higher education. Furthermore, because they are trying to preserve their identities as Hindus outside of India, doing so necessarily implies understanding what it means to be ‘Hindu’ separate from Indian nationalism and politics. Our review explores the implications of this new search for self-identity. If this new intellectual movement carries over to India, it could eventually change Indian politics and culture in significant ways.”
  • The book, Invading the Sacred (editors: Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas, and Aditi Banerjee; published by Rupa & Co, India; 545 pages), describes how a number of American scholars have portrayed Hinduism in a plainly derogatory way, a way that few practicing Hindus could ever have imagined possible. Examples as found in the book describe how American scholars have
    • Called the Bhagavad Gita “a dishonest book,”
    • Declared Ganesa’s trunk as a “limp phallus,”
    • Described Devi as the “mother with a penis,”
    • Portrayed Shiva as “a notorious womanizer” who incites violence in India.
  • The book further documents how the Hindu community in America responded to these negative characterizations as well as how American academics and the media reacted to the American Hindu community’s dissent.

The Samprajña Institute’s “A Review of Invading the Sacred: Understanding and Misunderstanding Hindu Tradition” is available free of charge to the public in both English and Hindi at

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