The Indian Liberal Attack Against Batra

published on February 14, 2014

Since the news broke about Penguin India withdrawing copies of Wendy Doniger’s book Hinduism (An Alternative View) there has been a flurry of attacks (in heated argument) against Shri Dinanath Batra which were somewhat entertaining. Ms. Doniger, is not an Indian and not Hindu and she writes in the tradition of colonial,Western attacks against Hinduism, seen by the West as the only remaining obstacle to their cultural world domination. The Islamic world, ofcourse, can be tackled with firepower, no problem, but the Hindu case is somewhat different. Despite millenia of invasions and occupations and attempts to convert the local population by fair means or foul the Hindus of India have remained Hindu.

No thanks to the Indian liberal, though. Millions of millions of everyday Hindus worship their gods and goddesses in their own way. It can be said with some degree of certainty that they do not worship them in the way that Wendy Doniger would like them to or the way Indian liberals would like them to. For instance, they worship Lord Krishna as the Sampurna Avatar, who revealed himself to Arjuna in his Universal Form when Arjuna was dejected and despondent before the battle of Kurukshetra.

Millions of everyday Hindus, men, old men, women, old women, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts and so on worship Krishna as the avatar of Vishnu, perfect and beyond human frailties. They do not, one has to repeat this, they do not worship Krishna as someone sitting on the bodies of naked ladies, as the cover picture of Wendy Doniger’s book does.

Now, can one blame Doniger ? Ofcourse not, she has been and will remain an outsider to the Hindu worshipper and will continue to propagate the West’s agenda. It fell on the shoulders of one Hindu to protest loudly and protest he did , at this blatant display of indifference to Hindu sentiment , perhaps even wilful attempt to offend the everyday Hindu. He, Shri Batra took the matter to court and won the legal battle against Penguin India and secured an arrangement to have  the copies of the book withdrawn.

All hell broke loose in liberal India. The present writer has read the book and found it boring. One could even say it is trashy and juvenile, coming from a supposed scholar teaching at the University of Chicago which has produced some eminent Hindu scholars.

The liberal question was : should one have the book withdrawn ? Why not write a counter book ? Indeed why not ? But so also why not have it withdrawn ? Freedom of speech is not an absolute right and in this case Shri Batra was representing the sentiments of millions of everyday Hindus who simply perform their religious rituals, go to temples, offer worship and pray to their deities, gods and goddesses.

It was instructive and even amusing to watch a group of people  on programs on the English channels, NDTV and CNN try to take apart Shri Batra who did the politically incorrect thing to call a spade a spade ! The program, the one in particular on NDTV (nicely and delicately conducted by Nidhi Razdan)reminded the present writer of a similar program where Mani Shankar Iyer, who looked at that time as if he had been brought out of a clothes closet (!) tried to tackle a spokesperson from a Hindu religious group. The latter, resplendent in orange robes and an imposing figure, had no difficulty in trashing Mani, who kept leaning away in some intrepidation. The body language said it all !

In the present instance, Shri Batra sat like a rock. He knew what his position was, unlike his liberal interlocutors who were all over the place and sounded very antagonistic and militant, quite ‘illiberal’ in their argumentation and in their shrill tone of voice.  Mr. Pawan Varma of the JD(U) made the most ridiculous argument of all when he claimed that Lord Krishna being a Purna Avatar (with 16 attributes of divinity which included kama) could do anything he wanted with the ladies ! Ergo, Doniger’s cover page was quite okay, that was his  line of attack against  Shri Batra !

En passant it must be pointed out that Pawan Varma does have a quiet voice and he prefaces his attacks with the statement that he is a Hindu. Shri Batra was not impressed .

Then there was Tavleen Singh, well known journalist who began by saying that she started reading the book and found that it had nothing to do with Hinduism, neverthless having it withdrawn was unacceptable. However, she then went on to say unkind things about Shri Batra and suggested that he should be banned from India and he should convert to one of the fundamentalist religions and so on and so forth! Shri Batra sat unmoving.

As the present writer watched these sensational statements emerging out of so called liberals there was a feeling that they were not going to win, not simply because Penguin India had decided to withdraw the book, but because there were people left in India who would see through the silly games that these liberals were playing. And millions and millions of Hindus, if they heard about their shenanigans, would be feel repelled by their sensationalism.

On the CNN program Face the Nation where the question was raised about whether a book should be banned, there was one Ruchir Joshi (some sort of writer ) who was so enamoured by the book because it gave him a crumb to hold on to, a crumb thrown from the high table of Western approval.  Doniger had pompously said that Valmiki’s Rama was a composite of many things : man, a god, a metaphysical principle etc.

Ruchir Joshi drooled over this statement as if he was hearing about the Valmiki Ramayana for the first time in his life ! Millions of everyday Hindus worship this Rama even though they knew that he was not a Sampurna Avatar. They do not need Doniger’s approval.

Swapan Das Gupta, senior journalist and political commentator extraordinaire, was not happy with the withdrawal of the book by Penguin India. He blamed the publishers. However, he was not able to withstand the assault coming from Ruchir Joshi who told him he could not have it both ways. Withdraw your support of Modi, he challenged Swapan ! It was clear to this viewer at least what Ruchir’s agenda was.  Modi had nothing to do with Penguin or the Doniger book.

Swapan, unlike the other two Hindutvadins mentioned above, was at a loss. Before he could advance any serious case for why he supported Modi the program ended. His voice was drowned out by the anchor pleading that time was up. There was no link between Modi and the Penguin decision and Swapan had walked into a trap.

It would have been better if he had come up with some valid reasons as to why the sentiments of millions of everyday Hindus should not be ridiculed by the book.

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