Hinduism New Essays In The History Of Religions

Hinduism New Essays In The History Of Religions-47
Dozens of Indian scholars, writers, and artists have found their work in the cross hairs of such self-appointed guardians of faith, as have the British Indian writer Salman Rushdie, whose novel editor Joseph Lelyveld, whose biography of Mahatma Gandhi was banned in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Dozens of Indian scholars, writers, and artists have found their work in the cross hairs of such self-appointed guardians of faith, as have the British Indian writer Salman Rushdie, whose novel editor Joseph Lelyveld, whose biography of Mahatma Gandhi was banned in the Indian state of Gujarat.

The convergence was hard to miss: just as the RSS and its allies gained the upper hand in their crusade against Doniger’s supposed heresies, their champion, Modi, was marching toward victory at the ballot box.

But there was also some irony to the way these two stories played out in tandem.

For instance, Doniger argues that the , a symbol of the Hindu deity Shiva that is found in temples, should be understood “unequivocally as an iconic representation of the male sexual organ in erection, in particular as the erect phallus” of Shiva. Similarly the Gopis double themselves, leaving shadow images of themselves in bed with their unsuspecting husbands." The SBAS’ claim to find such ideas offensive might have been easier to take seriously were it not coupled with overt misogyny: Doniger’s approach to her topic, the group’s legal complaint explained, revealed her to be “a woman hungry of sex.” Had the lawsuit against Penguin and Doniger proceeded, it is likely that a higher court would have ultimately upheld their rights to write, publish, and sell .

Similarly, Doniger notes that the , one of the two Sanskrit epics, portrays the deity Krishna as “a prince with many wives, sixteen thousand by some counts,” and points out that other Hindu texts "depict Krishna as a handsome young man who dances with the many Gopis, the wives of the cowherd men. But Penguin decided not to pursue that route and instead capitulated, agreeing to an out-of-court settlement with the SBAS that required Penguin to withdraw the book from the Indian market.

The Hindu religion is a palace with many rooms -- and also some gardens, terraces, outhouses, and a basement.

Unlike other world religions, Hinduism is not built on one God, one book, one prophet, or one holy place.The Doniger affair represented a clear victory for the conservatives, who are riding higher now than at any moment in India’s postindependence history.Indian liberals were dismayed by Penguin’s decision and by the possibility that Aleph might have followed suit. Wiley Online Library requires cookies for authentication and use of other site features; therefore, cookies must be enabled to browse the site.Detailed information on how Wiley uses cookies can be found in our Privacy Policy.For although Doniger’s scholarship is a reliable guide to the traditions and Scriptures of Hinduism and the faith’s relationship to Indian culture and society over two and half millennia, it sheds relatively little light on how Hindu nationalism became a powerful force during the twentieth century.Readers looking for an authoritative account of Hinduism’s place in Indian civilization will find it in ., a 2009 book by Wendy Doniger, a prominent American scholar of India and Hinduism.The publisher also promised to recall and pulp all copies of the book available for sale in India.Penguin’s decision was prompted by a complaint filed by Dina Nath Batra, a retired schoolteacher who heads a right-wing Hindu nationalist group, the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (Campaign Committee to Save Education, or SBAS).The group claimed that Doniger’s work denigrated Hinduism and Hindus and thus violated Indian laws prohibiting “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” Batra’s organization is affiliated with the hard-line Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Patriotic Organization, or RSS), which is driven by an ideology of Hindutva (Hinduness) and envisions India as a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation) -- a state defined by and restricted to Hindus.


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