Imbalance in public discourse – Wendy Doniger Syndrome

Summary of talk by Sandeep Balakrishna

By Aradhana

Sandeep-Balakrishna

There are three groups that exert influence on the way public think- Media, Academia, Intellectuals. These sections decide what the public should think.

Wendy Doniger’s book- “The Hindus -An alternative history” was first published in 2009 by “Penguin” publishers. Sri Dinanath Batra filed a case against the publisher. As a part of the settlement, “Penguin” withdrew the book voluntarily.

On the withdrawal of the book, Wendy says that it was violation of her freedom of expression. Some intellectuals from west and unsurprisingly from India too support her. Below are few points that are noteworthy.

1. The book was not banned but the publisher Penguin withdrew the book

2.The issue is not at all about freedom of speech but it is about distortion of Hindu scriptures

3.The outrage of the intellectuals is not a real outrage but a manufactured one.

4.It was debated on TV shows that banning/ withdrawing from publishing is not the right way of expressing the disagreement but writing a critic about the book would have been . Nevertheless, eminent authors and scholars such as Swami Tyagananda, Rajiv Malhotra, Madan Lal Goel have written a detailed critique on the book but unfortunately the same have been buried by a biased media.

5. She frequently mistranslated certain words. For example, the ‘Kamasaktha’ word is used for Dasharatha. ‘Kama’ according to her is just sexual desire whereas ‘Kama’ does not necessarily mean sexual desire in our scriptures. ‘Kama’ is passion or desire.

6. She refers to Kamasutra for understanding arts, science and architecture of India.

7. She refuses to have discussion about the book with other scholars labeling them as Hindutva forces.

Why is Wendy Doniger powerful?

Wendy Doniger is a professor at University of Chicago and heads American Academy of Religion, AAR . The Indian students studying in USA and doing research cannot go against her.

How is Hindutva targeted?

1. Christianity is taught by a Christian, Islam by a Muslim but Hinduism in Universities is not taught by Hindus.

2.We Hindus are being told by outsiders, ‘who we are’ for almost 200 yrs.

3.Scholars and intellectuals from other countries come to India, learn Sanskrit and translate our books in their own way. These intellectuals call their gurus who taught them Sanskrit as “Native informers”

Some questions to Media

1.The media or intellectuals did not talk when other books were banned

2.Many books that were written against Nehru dynasty were banned. A book by Salman Rushdie (The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995)) was banned just because he named a dog in his book as “Jawaharlal”

3.”The Red Saree” book is banned in India and the media did not raise its voice against the ban.

4.Media did not support Tasleema Nasreen when her book was banned and on the contrary she was attacked.

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