Hindus in New York denounce Doniger’s book ” Hindus: An Alternative History”
Narain Kataria in New York
A consortium of Hindu organizations, temples and concerned individuals in New York and New Jersey area organized a protest demonstration at New School University Building in New York City on March 10th. The demonstration was against the decision of National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) to consider honoring Dr. Wendy Doniger for her book “Hindus: An Alternative History”.
[Please note that Prof. Wendy Doniger was not selected by NBCC for the honor. However, because of the very contentious nature of the Doniger award and its ramifications you are requested not to write or call NBCC in any way – positive or negative.]
The protesters argued that Wendy Doniger’s book contains numerous factual errors, mischaracterizations, and shows an undercurrent of deep contempt for Hindus. For decades Dr. Doniger has been masquerading as a scholar on Hinduism and in the Sanskrit language. However Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard Michael Witzel has described Wendy’s translations of rig veda, jaiminiya brahmana and manusmriti in these stark terms – ‘lacking common sense’, ‘unreliable’, ‘idiosyncratic’ ,and “a stream of unconnected George-Bush-like anacoluths “.
In the words of the BBC, “Doniger is known for being rude, crude and very lewd in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit Academics”.
She called the Bhagavad Gita (one of the most sacred Hindu scripture and a classic of world religious literature) a “dishonest book” that “justifies war.”
We condemn this book for its gross factual errors and gratuitously hurtful and contemptuous depictions e.g. comparing revered Hindu goddesses to Playboy models, mocking Hindus as unfaithful “serial monogamists”. This book caricatures Hinduism in a grossly offensive and degrading manner.
Doniger wants this book to be used as a “basic textbook” on Hinduism and India. Not only will this book subject students to a warped, false and bigoted version of Hinduism, it will also expose Indian-American youth to ridicule and bigotry.
Narain Kataria, President of the Indian American Intellectuals Forum (IAIF), one of the organizers of the protest said that most learned scholars of Hinduism and Sanskrit do not think highly of Doniger. They have totally rejected Doniger’s deceptive claims of being a Sanskrit scholar and they have also stated that her understanding of Hinduism is very superficial and often dead wrong. To repeat, the above book by Dr. Doniger is a work that promotes bigotry, racism and intolerance. According to one Hindu Sanskrit scholar “Her Rg Veda – I own a copy – illustrates her poor knowledge of Sanskrit and her translation is just literal, if at all. She does not have the depth of knowledge to delve deep into Hindu texts and unravel their real meaning”.
We held the demonstration to expose her bogus scholarship about Hinduism and discredit her in the eyes of academia using objective and factual criteria. Our purpose was to caution NBCC to think twice before considering Doniger for any honor.
By giving a pornographic twist to Hindu objects of veneration and worship, Doniger is trying to create the illusion that Hinduism is nothing but a crude immoral religion. This has the potential to create disaffection, disillusionment and depression in the minds of Hindu children about Hindu Dharma.
We organized the demonstration to protest those who willingly and deliberately support Dr. Wendy Deniger’s anti-Hindu agenda.
In no particular order, the following Hindu organizations/leaders from the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area participated in this protest:
Raju Nanoo, Chairman, Trustee Board, Kerala Hindus of North America;
Dr. Vasudeva C. Murthy, President, Kannada Koota;
Srinivas Shakelly, Forum for Hindu Awakening;
Bidyut Sarkar, International Federation of Bangladeshi Hindus and Friends;
Sher Bahadur Singh, Member, Board of Directors, International Hindi Samiti;
Sunanda Thali, Hindu Human Rights Watch;
Ramen Nandi, Bharat Sevashram Sangh;
Nagendra Rao, President, Sanatana Dharma Pratishsthapana Foundation;
Dr. Sudhakar Reddy, Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP);
Kamal Pandey of Foundation of Nepalese in America;
Sher Bahadur Singh of Rashtravadi Gorkha Seva Dal;
Arish Sahani and Nand Ramsinghani of Indian American Intellectuals Forum; and USHA.
Upananda Brahmachari of Hindu Existence expressed his pleasure about the success of the above protest and requested the organizer to move further in vehement protests, agitations, demonstrations, signature campaigns against Dr. Wendy Doniger and her book “Hindus: An Alternative History” ,whatever and whenever it is possible.
The Critical analysis of Upananda Brahmachari upon Doniger ‘s book will be published here soon. Keep watching.
Important Web Links Critiquing Prof. Wendy Doniger:
1. Whose history is it anyway? by By Prof. Aseem Shukla | March 17, 2010; 8:17 PM ET in The Washington Post.
1 a. http://indianrealist.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/scholarly-critique-of-donigers-scholarship/