Online campaign seeks ban on Doniger’s book on Hindu history

via PNS | New Delhi published on March 5, 2010

An online campaign has been launched to demand the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book, ‘Hindus: An Alternative History’ on the grounds that the book was “rife with numerous errors..perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history”.

The petitioners have asked the publishers to apologise for the publication of the “factually incorrect and offensive book”.

They further added, “The Hindus: An Alternative History is rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations. These errors and misrepresentations are bound and perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history.”

The petitioners claimed that Doniger had analysed the “revered Hindu Gods and Goddesses using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations.”

Doniger, according to them, has made various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order to arrive ‘at her particular spin’. In the process, the beliefs, traditions and interpretations of practising Hindus were simply ignored or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the case, they said.

The petitioners have charged that the book was “clumsily written, each chapter is a shocking and appalling series of anecdotes which denigrate, distort and misrepresent Hinduism and the history of India and Hindus. Doniger uses selective quotations from obscure and non-original, peripheral and ignorant references with a bizarre emphasis on sexuality and eroticism.”

They have taken umbrage to a reference where, in their view the author says that in Rigveda 10.62, it is implied that a woman may find her own brother in her bed! “The hymn has no such suggestion. It is offensive to suggest that the sacred text of Hindus has kinky sex in it,” they said.

The petition draws attention to a comparison made in the book, likening the Vedic devotee worshipping different Vedic deities with a lying and a philandering boyfriend cheating on his girlfriend(s). “It ignores the fact that in the Rigveda, the Gods are said to be all united, born of one another, and from the same source,” the petitioners pointed out.

The online petitioners have also strongly objected to the comments supposedly taken from an epic that “Dasharatha’s son is certainly ‘lustful’… Rama knows all too well what people said about Dasharatha; when Lakshmana learns that Rama has been exiled, he says, “The king is perverse, old, and addicted to sex, driven by lust.” While contesting the observation, the petition said, “The highly acclaimed and critical edition of Valmiki’s Ramayana records no such statement attributed to Lakshmana. An imagined phrase, ‘kama-sakta’ is mistranslated as ‘addicted to sex’ by the author whereas it normally means ‘filled with desires’. Valmiki uses a phrase ‘samani-madhah’ (trans. Possessed of passion).

The petitioners have listed out several other instances of ‘facutal errors’ and ‘insulting’ accounts of ancient Hindu history in demanding a withdrawal of the book.

BJD MP demands book withdrawal

The controversy over the contents of author Wendy Doniger’s book, ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ found an echo in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab demanded during Zero Hour the withdrawal of the book by its publishers.

Mahtab said the Government should press upon the publishers, Penguin, to withdraw the book. The contents were in bad taste, he claimed, adding that it showed Hindu Gods in poor light. He urged the Central Government to ban the book from circulating in the country and avoid communal tensions. Mahtab also asked the Government to alert the enforcement agencies for prevention of entry/import of the book from other countries.

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