Thursday, November 20, 2014

Inside Rampal's ashram: Faith is the base, money brings glitter

Navneet Sharma, Sat Singh and Rajesh Ahuja , Hindustan Times  Barwala (Hisar), November 21, 2014
First Published: 00:30 IST(21/11/2014) | Last Updated: 02:26 IST(21/11/2014)
It’s 12 acres of luxury — the best money and blind faith can buy.
The Satlok Ashram of controversial sect leader Rampal Dass, arrested in a late-night swoop Wednesday and ordered in judicial custody till November 28 the next day by the Punjab and Haryana high court, is built like a fortress, surrounded by high walls with watchtowers.
Policemen evacuate supporters of Rampal at Satlok Ashram in Barwala, Hisar, on Thursday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT photo)
“The ashram is built like a fort meant to ward off an invasion. It reminded me of the Agra fort,” said a senior police officer who was part of the Operation Samvedi (sensitive) conducted over three days to nab the “mouse”— codename for the 63-year-old engineer-turned-preacher.
The “fortress” saw bloody clashes Tuesday as the police tried to storm the ashram to arrest Rampal for contempt of court after he repeatedly failed to appear in the HC in a 2006 murder case.
On Thursday, the court cancelled Rampal’s bail in the case even as two more murder cases were slapped against him after six people died in the stand-off.
Cops examine the chair from the area from which Rampal delivered his sermons. (Gurpreet Singh/HT photo)
When HT team visited the complex, which came up in four years, at around 1.40pm, thousands of Rampal’s followers were still inside, most of them in the prayer (satsang) hall — the centre piece of the sprawling complex.
By evening, the police, who searched the ashram, had managed to move out 4,000 people.
The hall that can seat 50,000 has a special enclosure from where Rampal, who claims to be a devotee of mystic poet Kabir, delivered sermons from a hydraulic chair as his private militia stood guard. Separate sitting areas are marked for men and women. Dozens of air-conditioners and hundreds of fans can be seen. A local police officer gave the break-up: 10,000 ceiling and 1,000 exhaust fans under one roof.
A view of the swimming pool at Rampal's ashram. (Gurpreet Singh/ HT photo)

On the extreme left corner of the complex is a four-storey mansion Rampal lived in. A private swimming pool, state-of-the art elevators, 24 AC rooms with attached bathrooms fitted with top-of-the line fixtures, Rampal, whose followers largely come from low-income strata, lived big. One of the rooms had a massage bed, another treadmills as Rampal stared down from huge wall posters. When reports last came in, the police were trying to break open lockers that were there in most of the rooms.
The ashram is one of several Rampal has. Though there is no property Rampal’s name, his Kabir Parmeshwar Bhakti Trust owns large chunks of land in Haryana and is building another ashram in MP. “The ashram owns dozens of buses and vehicles. So far, about 100 vehicles have been impounded,” Hisar deputy commissioner ML Kaushik said.
Sources said there were indications that around 24 firearms were found in the ashram but the police were not ready to confirm it.
A dog walks outside the main entrance of the ashram which saw violent clashes between Rampal's supporters and police Tuesday.  (AFP photo)

The Triumph of the Hindu Right

Freedom of Speech and Religious Repression in Modi's India

Modi waves to a crowd in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, September 30, 2014.
Modi waves to a crowd in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, September 30, 2014. (Jonathan Ernst / Courtesy Reuters)
On Hinduism. By WENDY DONIGER. Oxford University Press, 2014, 680 pp. $39.95.
The Hindus: An Alternative History. By WENDY DONIGER. Penguin Press, 2009, 800 pp. $25.00.
In February, Penguin Books India pledged to cease publishing The Hindus: An Alternative History, 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. 
The SBAS alleged that Doniger’s work was riddled with factual inaccuracies and deliberate misrepresentations of Hindu deities and Scriptures that amounted to “heresies.” The group’s most vehement objections concerned Doniger’s interpretations of sex and sexuality in Hindu traditions. In her five decades of scholarship, Doniger has sought to highlight and reclaim the earthy and even erotic elements of Hinduism that were suppressed during the colonial era by British authorities and missionaries -- and by some Indians who sought to “modernize” their country’s religious practices. 

For instance, Doniger argues that the lingam, 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, Doniger notes that the Mahabharata, 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. In the great circle dance in the moonlight . . . he doubles himself again and again so that each Gopi thinks that Krishna is with her. 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 The Hindus. 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. Soon after, the SBAS threatened legal action against Aleph, the Indian publisher of Doniger’s most recent book, a collection of essays titled On Hinduism, alleging that it, too, was injurious to Hindus. Aleph temporarily withdrew the collection and announced that four independent experts would review its content; three months later, the book reappeared in bookstores, apparently unchanged.
Indian democracy has long been limited by colonial-era laws that restrict speech in the name of protecting religion. Religious groups routinely exploit such statutes to limit the freedom of expression that generally characterizes public life in the world’s largest democracy. 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 The Satanic Verses was banned in India, and the New York Times editor Joseph Lelyveld, whose biography of Mahatma Gandhi was banned in the Indian state of Gujarat. For decades, the fight over freedom of expression has divided Indian intellectual opinion, with little middle ground between the two most vocal camps: secular liberals on one end of the spectrum and religious conservatives on the other. 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. But what most worried them was the way in which the Doniger affair seemed to fit into a broader trend of right-wing ascendance in Indian politics and society. After an intense campaign, national elections took place over five weeks in April and May. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a clear majority, and Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, became India’s new prime minister. Modi now heads the most right-wing government ever to lead India. He started his political career as a young cadre in the hard-line RSS and eventually rose to the top echelons of its leadership. His victory represents the culmination of decades of Hindu nationalist ideological development and political activism -- and is a direct threat to Indian liberalism. 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 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 The Hindus and On Hinduism. But those looking for a similarly substantial take on Hinduism’s rise in modern Indian politics should look elsewhere. Put another way: Modi might have learned a few useful things about the country he now leads from observing the mixture of religion and politics that produced the Doniger controversy, but Doniger’s readers won’t learn much from her books about the mixture of religion and politics that produced Modi.
On Hinduism is a collection culled from 140 essays Doniger wrote between 1968 and 2012, some of which have been revised, condensed, and updated. The book might bewilder non-Hindu Western readers, partly because Doniger seems to assume (or hope) that her audience will consist of many Indians and Hindus who won’t need too much simplification or reduction. In fairness, of course, Hinduism is a vast, complex topic, more difficult to pin down, in many respects, than the Abrahamic faiths. In fact, the term “Hinduism” is of relatively recent coinage; only since modern times has that single word been used to refer to what is in reality a huge variety of faiths, sects, and cults. 
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. Very crudely put, adherents of Hinduism for the most part believe in rebirth and the transmigration of the soul; in gods and goddesses who occupy a divine world that is distinct from the human world; in the centrality of karma, deeds that drive the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; in the possibility of moksha, a final release from karma and its entailments, when the individual soul merges with the cosmic soul; in the validity of the caste system as a form of social organization; and in the interrelationship between human life and the world of nature. 
But this hardly captures the extreme variety within the practice of the faith. Doniger addresses this definitional problem in the opening essay of On Hinduism: "What we need instead of a definite list of shared factors, therefore, is something rather more like a Venn diagram, a set of intersecting circles of concepts and beliefs and practices. . . . But since there is no single central quality that all Hindus must have, the emptiness in the center suggests that the figure might better be named a Zen diagram, a Venn diagram that has no central ring."
Doniger, faced with the challenge posed by this amorphous topic, has produced a work of admirable breadth. Some of the most interesting essays in On Hinduism examine yoga and ayurveda, two systems that combine mental concentration, physical exercise, breathing, diet, medicine, and healing, and that originated in ancient India but have gone on to lead complex afterlives elsewhere, especially in the United States. Through yoga and ayurveda, Hindu and Buddhist theories of consciousness, thought and action, life and death, sickness and health have become detached from esoteric texts and have emerged as globalized secular disciplines available to people of all cultures and religions. Doniger reveals how contemporary, westernized, and physically oriented aspects of yoga now define the practice just as much as Indian philosophical approaches that are concerned primarily with the mind (or with consciousness) and only later with the body.
Yet Doniger does not do quite enough to straighten out the tangled relationship within Hinduism between ancient and modern, Eastern and Western. Admittedly, it’s a tall order to offer a comprehensive, exhaustive portrait of Hinduism in all its forms. But conspicuously missing from her otherwise wide-ranging book is a clear account of Hinduism’s reinvention over the past 200 years. 
Beginning in the nineteenth century, when India’s encounter with colonialism produced periods of internal reflection, revision, criticism, and revival among Indian intellectuals and religious leaders, new schools and strands of “reform Hinduism” have led to important changes in traditional beliefs and practices. Driving much of this ferment was the aspiration of many Hindu thinkers and leaders to “Semitize” Hinduism and render it similar to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by endowing it with a more clearly identifiable set of canonical texts, doctrines, institutions, and sources of authority. 
Chief among these revisionist figures was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a poet and political activist who pushed for Indian independence from the United Kingdom and who, during the 1920s, developed the concept of Hindutva. In order to possess Hindutva, Savarkar claimed, a person -- a man, really, because Savarkar and his Hindu nationalist acolytes tended to use rigidly patriarchal terms -- must think of India as both his “fatherland” and his “holy land.” He must be attached to India not simply through the fact of his birth there but through a love for “Hindu civilization,” which Savarkar defined as representing “a common history, common heroes, a common literature, common art, a common law and a common jurisprudence, common fairs and festivals, rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments.” Savarkar tried to fill in the empty circle at the center of Doniger’s Venn diagram with definitions and identities drawn from modern nationalism, which had almost nothing to do with the religious lives of millions of Hindus. Hindutva revolves around history, culture, and civilization, rather than belief, worship, and tradition. It is a political credo, not a religious faith. 
Savarkar and his followers lionized Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and sought to adapt elements of fascist politics to India. But the early Hindu nationalists had little success in the face of Gandhi’s enormous popularity and his leadership of an anticolonial movement that eventually brought down the British Raj. Gandhi’s philosophy, with its emphasis on nonviolence and tolerance, stood in stark contrast to the divisive vision of Hindutva leaders, and the two movements were often in conflict. Indeed, Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi in 1948, was a follower of Savarkar. 
In the aftermath of the murder, mobs attacked Sarvarkar’s house in Mumbai. Authorities later arrested and tried him for conspiring in the assassination plot. He was acquitted and released, but he was rearrested soon after for making inflammatory speeches. The authorities set him free only once he agreed to give up his political activities, and he mostly retreated from public view for the remainder of his life (he died in 1966). 
But Savarkar’s dream of a Hindu Rashtra never died. It was kept alive over the decades by groups such as the RSS and, later, by the BJP, which leavened Savarkar’s extreme vision of Hindu supremacy with a more palatable pro-business, technocratic approach to politics, all the while stoking Hindu nationalist sentiment by exploiting tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Modi has perfected this synthesis -- so skillfully, in fact, that even some Indian liberals appear willing to believe that despite his decades of involvement in Hindu nationalist causes, Modi embraced Hindutva mostly as an electoral strategy and the “real” Modi is not a divisive ideologue but a pragmatic, growth-oriented manager.
Doniger has little to say about these aspects of contemporary Hinduism’s story. She has criticized the efforts of groups such as the RSS to “Hinduize” India. She also rejects the essentialist quality of Hindu nationalist thought. After all, she writes, there is no Hindu canon, and “ideas about all the major issues of faith and lifestyle -- vegetarianism, nonviolence, belief in rebirth, even caste -- are subjects of a debate, not a dogma.”
Yet in spite of the breadth of her critical gaze and the accessibility of her prose, Doniger does not venture deeply enough into Hinduism’s complex history and turbulent present. One problem is perhaps insurmountable: her perspective remains that of an outsider -- a knowledgeable, even expert, outsider, but an outsider nevertheless. She seems to feel sympathy for her subject but not empathy. She is curious but not passionate. This makes her books easy to pick up but also easy to put down.
Still, while it’s easy to imagine readers being left cold by Doniger’s views on Hinduism, it’s much harder to understand why anyone would be insulted, offended, or agitated by them. Her critics have accused her of Christian missionary zeal (despite the fact that she’s Jewish) and of practicing a kind of intellectual imperialism. In reality, Doniger, who has taught at the University of Chicago since 1978, is part of a group of scholars who during the past three decades have dismantled the colonial and Orientalist assumptions of Western Indology. 
That fact is lost on many of Doniger’s detractors, not all of whom reside on the Indian subcontinent. Indeed, the most vocal of Doniger’s critics include Indian Americans deeply sensitive to the ways in which their religion, culture, and traditions are represented in the United States. The Hindu American Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group that models itself on Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, has blasted Doniger’s work as “pornographic . . . skewed and super-ficial” and urged academic organizations not to honor Doniger or promote her scholarship.
The controversy over Doniger’s work yielded a brief boost in attention to and sales of her books. And despite Penguin’s decision to withdraw The Hindus, it continues to be available in India, thanks to versions circulating on the Internet, foreign editions that Indians can order from Amazon and other online booksellers, and e-book editions that remain legal to sell and buy. But the existence of well-organized anti-Doniger campaigns on two continents surely limits Doniger’s ability to reach the Hindu audiences that might benefit most from her insights. It hardly helps matters that sexist attitudes -- in the United States as well as in India -- make it harder for female scholars, even very accomplished and established ones such as Doniger, to write freely, provocatively, and creatively about subjects that touch the raw nerves of cultural pride, historical memory, and group identity. Doniger’s work is particularly galling to patriarchal conservatives in India, focusing as it does on feminist undercurrents within Hinduism that undermine the authority of elite, upper-caste, male, and orthodox sections of Hindu society. That’s one reason why, for all its flaws, Doniger’s work is valuable at the moment, as the Modi era begins to cast a shadow over liberal and secular traditions in India. 
Modi’s election was the first occasion since the late 1940s that Hindutva beliefs seem to have appealed to Indians across regional, class, and caste divides. Of course, it isn’t completely clear that Hindu nationalism truly drove the BJP’s electoral victory. Nor is anyone certain of how much influence Hindutva ideology will have on Modi’s government. Modi might sacrifice the support of hard-liners in order to seek a broad consensus on economic policy, foreign policy, or other issues that don’t directly touch the intersection of religion and politics. On the other hand, if his political standing remains strong, he might well jettison the preferences of the vocal but tiny liberal intelligentsia and reveal himself as the champion of Hindutva that he has always been at heart. 
Indian liberals would prefer the first scenario. But they are understandably alarmed that either way, the future of Indian liberalism and secularism now depends so much on the political calculations of a man who has made clear his antipathy toward such values. The fight over Doniger, which both terrified and energized many Indian liberals, might soon seem a mere prelude to a larger, much uglier struggle.

Join the discussion…
The writer Ananya Vajpeyi is one of those leftist/communist/Jehadi-sympathizing writers who believe that everything about Indian civilization is bad and shameful..she has repeatedly written articles about how 'heavens will fall' if Modi comes to power..she just cannot digest that a democratic India did not elect a leftist /communist minded Govt! Not only that, she reportedly has sympathy towards Maoists, a group of radical communist thugs who have murdered thousands of innocent villagers and policemen and women in India...such bigoted person like Ananya has no right to comment on Hinduism.

I was very surprised to read this such an old formal abuse as listening an old fashioned song to look down on rest of the world, Asia, with a disgusting the principle of Europe and America supremacy.
The writer of this article writes as if seemed to become honorary white.
And more over, any way, I was surprised to realize again the editorial policy of "Foreign Affairs". This is just an American!!??
Don't forget the historical relation between India and Japan,especially P.M.Modi's case, special relation with P.M. Abe、when they have to consider about India.
Japan fought with India with hand against White Imperialism more 70 years ago.

She is another brownie getting paid off by white liberal Christians to denigrate Indians and Hinduism. As for Doniger being Plenty of nonwhite and/or non-Christians work for the white liberal institutions and as long as they agree to project the same Indophobic, Hinduphobic viewpoint...they are accepted. There are plenty of Indian Hindus (at least in name) who serve as proxies and are also willing to attack Indians and Hinduism. Also, laws are laws. Wendy Doniger is subject to the laws of India with respect to any business she wishes to conduct there and it matters none whether people like the laws or not. The law in question was enacted by the British at the request of Muslim leaders. If Doniger did not like her publisher's decision to settle the case, she was more than welcome to print the book herself and attempt to sell it and of course deal with the same likely lawsuit. Americans are not exempt from Indian laws with respect to business they wish to conduct in India. The writer of the article is pretty dumb.
Wendy Doniger's out dated Freudianism renders her books absurd. Indians have 'overlapping consensus' that venerable figures or belief systems not be depicted as Bacchanalian because this poses a hazard to young people of all communities. This is because kids might see sex & drugs as a short cut to greatness, if not within their own community then in that of a rival. Of course, back when Doniger started her career, Sex & Drugs looked like a good thing. Doniger isn't saying 'boo to Hindus' , she's saying 'Hindus are cool- they have lots of sex and drugs.'- unfortunately, this simply isn't true now nor has it ever been true. India is a deeply boring place.
Ananya Vaypeyi is a high caste Hindu, married to a Muslim separatist (nothing wrong with that) who has been trying to carve out a niche for herself as a scholar of the low caste genius Dr. Ambedkar. Hilariously, she has been caught trying to get Arundhati Roy's book on Ambedkar banned on the grounds of some totally spurious breach of copyright.
Turning to the meat of this article, Vajpayei says Modi's Govt is the most right wing ever. This isn't true. It was the first Govt. in Independent India which ruthlessly suppressed the Muslim rezakars in Hyderabad and imprisoned the Communists. That was the most right wing Govt India ever had. The RSS/Hindu Mahasabha was completely eclipsed because the Congress Party was far more hawkish than it was itself. Furthermore, since the Right had supported Churchill against Hitler, while the Congress had gone the other way (Subhas Bose who actually went to Germany and then joined forces with Japan was not Right Wing, he was Left Wing) it was no wonder that the Right was out in the cold.
Vajpayei's husband, who is from Kashmir, will know that whereas (the Hindu Right Wing) Shyamprasad Mukherjee protested special status for the Valley, he failed whereas Nehru's close friend the leftist Rafi Ahmed Kidwai (a Muslim) was the one who plunged the knife into Sheikh Abdullah.
The last BJP Govt was more Right Wing and 'Hindutva' than this one. That's not why they lost last time. Modi knows that the only thing that can get him re-elected is Governance. In his Republic day speech, he shocked the old loony toons Hindutva nutjobs by speaking not of the imaginary glories of Ind's golden age, but the lack of toilets.
Vajpayei is a careerist whose writing is not even partisan, it's just irrelevant. She won't succeed in cornering the market in Ambedkar because she is high caste. Waxing indignant re. the suffering of Muslims won't buy her credibility either because it is not apparent that she has actually converted to that Religion- in which case her husband is guilty of a crime according to traditional Imams- i.e. she is illegally raping a Muslim boy. Of course, if she is a Christian or a Jew, that is okay. However, even then, best practice- e.g. Jemima Khan- is to convert.
It is typical of the High Caste Hindus that they rape Muslim boys and try to monopolize Ambedkar. His second wife, it will be remembered was a Brahmin. She, quite rightly, was ostracized and accused of poisoning the great man by his son.

    • brilliant rebuttal.

      I'm not following your argument. What do the Jews have to do with a leftwing wackjob who married a Muslim?

      • Muslim men are allowed to marry Jews and Christians (though best practice is for the wife to convert). They aren't allowed to marry Hindus or Zoroastrians. If Ananya has converted to Islam, and taken a Muslim name, she ceases to be an authority on Hinduism because her scholarship isn't up to snuff- in other words, she doesn't deserve to be published in these august pages. (I should explain, 'Ananya Vajpeya' is a name like 'Shulamith Kohain'- it creates the impression that the owner of the name knows something about Hinduism in the former case and Judaism in the latter. By contrast the name 'Betty Bin Laden' or 'Eva Braun' suggests no similar emic knowledge of Hinduism or Judaism respectively)
        If Ananya hasn't converted to Islam, then in the eyes of the devout, she is guilty of seducing her husband away from the path of orthodoxy and could get fatwa'd. Indeed, since she has deprived a nice Muslim girl of a highly eligible husband- her actions look like Hindutva Imperialism. Similarly, her attempt to stop other writers, like Arundhati Roy, writing about Ambedkar (the leader of the 'Untouchables') looks like a High Caste attempt to appropriate and monopolize a resource belonging to the Lowest Caste.
        The comic aspect of Ananya's ire against Penguin for pulping Doniger's book is that she herself was trying to find a way to get Arundhati Roy's book on Ambedkar (Ananya is writing one herself) banned for breach of copyright. In other words, she is a self serving careerist- and a deeply ignorant and stupid one at that.

  • Ananya Vajpeyi is just another stooge of Wendy & Co. It's pathetic to see her rubbing her nose in the ground by publishing rubbish against Hindus & Modi per se, to please her Colonial Masters in the West & her ISI handlers. No wonder her anti-Hindu and pro-Pak stances have landed her and likes of her under the scanner of Indian Intelligence Bureau. There are many journos like her in the Indian media world and liberatti. Bunch of pseudo-secular sellouts with a clear agenda of propagating distorted narratives. The fact that foreign affairs gave her a space in their magazine is pathetic.

    They give these people the space as proxies to project their own racist and religious bigoted views on Indians and Hinduism. And, the brownies crave the attention of their former white colonial masters and will say and do anything in exchange for that platform. But, they must toe the company line if they wish to stay. This also helps the white liberal Christian dominated media and academic institutions to avoid charges of racism and religious bigotry because they will claim that look it is one of your own spewing the hate. Well, I can find plenty of white Christian Americans to bash America for alleged wrongs but that does not necessarily represent the views of the majority,...

  • Ananya dear, why not try to live in a Communist paradise like N Korea or an Islamic heaven like Saudi Arabia where freedom of speech is guaranteed.

  • Seriously so I can write a book saying christ didnt exist??? and that islam was actually a political weapon used to colonise other countries. Oh wait no!!!! even da vinci code and wait.. harry potter was denounced by the church ???? I read the book by wendy... I have no words for her..If hindus assert their heritage we are communal? Christian values and way of life is exerted in every aspect of life in the USA and UK. I dont even live in India and am losing my patience with all this hypocrisy. Live and let live.I would like wendy to go find something else to be a expert on. Please !! and also tell me if US has ever had a minority president. Obama is the first african american and you havent even had an woman president.... maybe wendy needs to look at minority interests in the USA?...who made her a prominent scholar??? and who are you ananya?? I'm lost.....

    Absolute white Christian hypocrisy. Here in the United States, anti-Christian books are routinely banned and many never even see the light of day because of threats of violence by right wing Christian fanatics..the same ones who have killed doctors for performing pregnancy terminations. The US does not allow Hindus to be too open about their religion. Hindus are often targeted in public schools by the Christian majority and that includes being bullied and harassed for having different religious beliefs. The white Christian dominated media is always attacking India and its Hindu majority. And you can forget a religious minority ever being must be Christian to be President of the United States because the right wing Christian fanatics will not tolerate a non-Christian President. So much for being a secular country...not!

    What are you talking about? Since when have antichristian books been banned in the United States? The political and social elite are just as rabidly antireligious as their Western European counterpart. If anything, they do their best to prevent the discussion of religion or moral values in the public arena. Have you been to a so called " institution of higher learning " in the U S. In the past thirty years. The rank and file that teach at these institutions can hardly be described as " right wing Christians ". I think your letting your anti white bias get the better of you.

        • 1. At various points in US history, local school boards and state education boards/textbook committees, etc..all state education agents basically...have banned books on the basis of being anti-Christian or anti-American. Sometimes bans do get challenged and overturned. The point though is bans have taken place so the idiotic writer of the article above does not even understand that freedom of speech is not absolute anywhere whether it be in India or the United States. Here is an example:

          2. Another point..since America is dominated by Christians, Well, do you really think local school boards whose members are overwhelmingly Christian will even approve textbooks that are perceived to be anti-Christian? It is not a ban to not approve something..but has the same practical effect.
          3. When vocal Christian extremist get involved in the selection of school textbooks, their bias tends to be to ensure that books that portray Christianity positively are approved while on the other hand ensuring minority religions including Islam and Hinduism are portrayed negatively. Books that do not support their viewpoint never make it. Now, given the general Christian majority composition of the community at large and the school boards themselves, it is not difficult to achieve this objective.
          4. Finally, you missed some of the hyperbole. It is easy to attack the majority in any country...not just India...and portray them as somehow a threat to the minority..I simply stated a very plausible experience for the Hindu minority in America..and how easy it is to label people with terms such as right wing, talk about how the majority seems to be well the majority in everything..that should be logical given demographics...hence the likelihood that every American President is a Christian..what a shocker...most Indian politicians are Hindus..what a shocker...
          5. .also...India like the United States has laws..and if people don't like those laws, don't live there or conduct business there..the idiotic writer who wrote this article does not understand law clearly...
          6. As for American universities, you are right...they are bastions of white liberalism...but who says liberals cannot be both racist and religiously bigoted...white Christian conservatives get unfairly labeled as racists and bigots yet I find white liberals to be a bigger problem because they are the ones who dominate the intelligentsia (media and academia).
          see more
    What idiocy ... why to point out Hindu Right only?? The Satanic Verses was also banned; you should just learn the simple fact that Indians are very intolerant when it comes to religion.

    • Her book was not banned but withdrawn for corrections ! All done legally without any threats or pressures.

      • Exactly...the writer is a complete fool...she does not even understand basic legal principles or the basic concept that laws are laws. If you want to live in India or conduct business in India (such as selling a book) then you must comply with the laws and yes even have to deal with lawsuits. Wendy Doniger is a Jewish fundamentalist who hates Indians and Hinduism and neither she nor her publisher even had the guts to go to trial. As you said, there was not ban. The publisher was accused of violating a law and was served a legal summons..the publisher chose to settle the case and nobody stopped the anti-Hindu extremist Wendy Doniger from trying to print and publish the book herself and defend the lawsuit herself..nobody forced her to go to a publisher. A typical America..she thought she was exempt from Indian law. She blames the law..not her own stupidity....

    • I guess because she is a typical type of very old fashioned American liberal and left wing, may be.
      Or it indicates the limit of understanding level by white American editorial sense for Asian world.

      White liberals are actually more racist and religiously bigoted than the white conservative Christians they attack. It is the white liberals who dominate the media and academia.

        • Yes,indeed,they are nothing more than racist.
          We can realize the huge problem that white "liberal fascism" or white left-wing has hegemony on media, academia, internet as you pointed out.
          But I would like to say Japan has been holding her own liberalism for long time,1000 years which is quite different concept from western world's own. And of course India has own from ancient age.

    • So are Americans..try writing a book that bashes Christianity and then see if a publisher in the US will be interested..they won't dare...because they know they will face the wrath of the Christian right.,,

  • All hindu traditions accept the authority of Vedas. Where does this lie come that you cannot find any central authority in Hinduism.

  • By marrying a Kashmiri Muslim, Ananya has renounced her Hindu religion What business has she now to criticize this religion. A Muslim's views about Hinduism are well known. He or She considers us as kafirs.

  • I have said this before and say it again: it is high time Foreign Affairs checked the merits of the authors it commissions to write on India. Ananya Vajpeyi is just one of those spurious commentators on India who have got the benefit of good education denied to most Indians she writes about but who have hardly used that education to take a kinder look at her own people. Add to this patronizing tone the careless edge of Left-wing liberalism which in effect means support everything critical of Hinduism and curb anything even mildly critical of Christianity and Islam. The potion is deadly but hardly true. What Foreign Affairs editors need to understand that such kind of thuggish commentary on Indian affairs misleads FA readers in other parts of the world not only about India but one of the world's most ancient and greatest civilizations. This hardly harms Hinduism but it does a monumental harm to Foreign Affairs' credibility. There are mistakes, prejudices, slanderous comments, and absolutely unsubstantiated claims that prove the author is not just an intellectual delinquent but also someone unarguably ineligible to write on anything Indian. This moron claims Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was a revisionist figure. If the author knew one good scholar in India or the Indian state of Maharashtra Savarkar belonged to and if she had taken the trouble to talk to this scholar she would have discovered to her great service that Savarkar was one of the brightest, most scientific, and rationalist minds India has ever seen. Then the author calls Mahatma Gandhi the most popular leader during India's freedom movement which is undisputed but the model of social reforms Mahatma Gandhi employed itself patronized the Hindu caste hierarchy. Dr B R Ambedkar, a far greater mind than Gandhi, objected to this, and wanted Gandhi to be more radical in fighting caste prejudices. Gandhi not only ignored this but virtually blackmailed Dr Ambedkar into accepting what is known as the Poona Pact in India. In doing all this Gandhi chose to take a very benign, forgiving, and ultimately disastrous view of the Indian society's visceral caste politics. Savarkar and Ambedkar opposed Gandhi on this. Again, who linked Indian Muslims to their global counterparts for an obscurantist agenda? Mahatma Gandhi. India is still paying for this great blunder but fake liberals like Vajpeyi would never blame Gandhi for this. Every rational mind including Mohammed Ali Jinnah in those days opposed Gandhi but the great dictator prevailed. This was India's most illiberal, dictatorial, and disastrous extreme Right Wing government--Mahatma Gandhi. Again, if the author really wanted to celebrate India's inevitable and remarkable social progress on the basis of the great Constitution that Dr Ambedkar drafted, she would have at least acknowledged that the RSS, which she calls revisionist, has made a lower caste India's prime minister. Did Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress not have this chance? Why did they not make a Jinnah or an Ambedkar the first prime minister of the Independent India? The Congress ruled India for 60 years since independence, the long period that the author wants the world to believe that was the great age of liberalism and secularism in India which has now suddenly ended with the advent of Modi and the BJP. No books were banned in this liberal India or so the author believes. Dissent was happily tolerated or so the author believes. All castes progressed or so the author believes. And above all the Muslims in India progressed as much as the Hindus and Christians and the Buddhists and the Sikhs did. Or so the author believes.
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      I beg to disagree when you write:
      “it is high time Foreign Affairs checked the merits of the authors it commissions to write on India.”
      The reason is very simple: FA doesn’t have the expertise to sort out the authors on India and basically on anything else. They have to rely on credentials acquired in our educational system, and I don’t see a better alternative.
      However, the moment they opened the “Comments” to any article, we entered an era where readers correct immediately people with pompous credentials, self-appointed experts in everything, who also built over time a web of cross references of dubious quality. Without your post I would be forced to believe whatever local "scholars" write.
      I was sure before that Wendy Doniger can’t be a scholar in a culture as old as human civilization; she is for sure trying to learn, but as the many posts of people part of that culture, she failed.
      I have learned a lot from your post and many more, and I have reached the conclusion, which I shared in many of my posts, that India could become one of the super hyper powers of the future. India should build this future following her own path, carved by her people, not by people from remote shores.

      You make good points but media outlets like Foreign Affairs curiously hire the same writers with the same general viewpoints..they are checking their credentials..that is where I disagree...and they only want writers who will say what the company wants as the general viewpoint...and the writers are all too happy because they get famous for being on a well known platform..and they might even get paid...and the general viewpoint is one that is grounded in hatred for India and Hindus...

      • Dear
        Thanks for reading and reacting. I am really sorry for responding late. Yes I take your point that Foreign Affairs may not be able to check the credentials of people who write for it. My reaction was more out of personal angst. I quite agree when you say that people not living in India or not very familiar with Indian history and contemporary politics would take whatever credible publications like Foreign Affairs write. That's what creates confusion and contradictions.
      How do you know Foreign Affairs didn't check? Did it occur to you that Foreign Affairs has its own white liberal Christian viewpoint of the world and that includes its company viewpoint on India and its Hindu majority. They only want writers including brownies who are willing to toe the company line. Then, when they get accused of racism and religious bigotry, they can say look it was one of your own who said those nasty things. And, brownies like Ms. Vajpeyi with Indian Hindu sounding names are sought after for that reason. And her incentive is simple...there are enough brownies who are willing to sell out their own people in exchange for being accepted into the white world and it is even better if it comes with a paycheck...
    she is related to kavita 'i am so marxist' krishnan These girls really make me vomit..they need some BF

    Indeed another Indian coconut writing what the white Christian dominated world wants her to write and yes that is exactly what the right wing Jewish professor Wendy Doniger was doing as well. You see in America regardless of what your identity is, you must cave into the ideas and thoughts of white Christians and their prejudices against India and its Hindu majority because that is the only way that you will be given a platform in the media and in academia. So, just because Wendy Doniger is Jewish and Ananya Vajpeyi is Hindu does not mean that they cannot be projecting the white, Christian fanatical view of India and its Hindus.
    Free speech is not absolute in India nor is it in the United States for all these idiot writers who keep making comparisons to the United States. Plenty of anti-Christian books have been banned when right wing Christian groups have protested in America. And speaking of free speech, try saying anything remotely that goes against American interests and you will find yourself detained without due process and locked up somewhere indefinitely.
    Of course, the book in question here was not banned. It was withdrawn as part of a settlement in which the publisher decided not to defend the case at trial. Mr. Batra alleged a wrong her a specific statute and that was his right as an Indian citizen. These so called open minded scholars are mad that an Indian man exercised his legal right to file a grievance? If anybody is against freedom it is these morons.
    That was their choice. Wendy Doniger as an American citizen is subject to Indian law as it relates to her book. If she does not like Indian law and does not want to comply, simple solution...don't try and publish a book in India. Also, she was free to print and publish the book on her own without Penguin and if necessary defend herself against the lawsuit..she chose not to do that as well. Again, her problem if she was not willing to deal with Indian law. It was not her right to have a book published in India and at the same time be exempt from Indian law. India is a sovereign nation with an independent judiciary and it does not need to have the same exact laws and interpret similar laws the same way as they are in Christian dominated America.
    How many times does this moronic writer keep mentioning the Hindu right? The Congress party has been in charge of India for most of the time since independence and that includes the time that Satanic Verses was banned. She is worried about Modi and secularism? Plenty of communal violence took place under the Congress Party and who was in charge of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots other than Congress' goons?

    Necessary disclosure - I have not read the book nor I am planning to do read these' we want to say something that we dont know yet' books ,but as Hindu and Bramhin by caste , I dont think we suppress the criticism ,however irrational and absurd that might be ,the problem with these western pundits and their left lackeys is that they are not able to comprehend the nature of Hinduism -it is much less a religion and more a philosophy ,you can not compare Hinduism with the Semitic religions in the sense that the objectives and approaches are quite different and in all respects for example there is no GANG-BANG like day called judgement day ,it is individual soul that will be called for account itself and the doctrines are more rational than revelations given to chosen one ,failure to understand this and effort to tarnish this is the hallmark of western scholars,being said that ,we Hindus need to take these criticisms with a pinch of what ever near to hand and sit back and ponder over

  • The comments here are a tight slap for both the author and the publisher of this wretched article, written by a committed anti-Indian. Ananya, Angana, et al are at this venomous game and hope to spread the poison of their minds among saner elements. However, they will bite the dust surely as their patrons too will.
    Does the writer understand the concept of democracy? The majority rules. The will of the majority prevails. Hindus have seen through the dirty games of the Congress. If the writer has any issues with this, let her try her luck in the paradise next door. What does the writer feel about the genocide of Hindus in Kashmir? What does the writer feel about the status of minorities in the neighbouring paradise and Bangladesh? What does the writer feel about minorities being given haj subsidies in a 'secular' country? If this is secularism to hell with it. it s time to fix things before we all become halal. Hindus cannot be treated as stray dgos any longer.
    Seriously asking - are these articles paid for? Even a 8 year Hindu kid will know Hinduism more than Wendy & Ananya. Why should they expect any readership? We know controversy sells, but the world has moved ahead. People have multiple sources to check the source of controversy. Stop this please.

  • An expert on Hinduism is one who has 'realized' the ultimate and attained 'Moksha' or salvation. we call them the saints, not like Abrahamic religions, in dharmic, they are not 'awarded' sainthood. They attain Moksha. Now, tell me how Doniger is an expert on Hinduism and also quote the verses from Vedas, which back-up her imagination. Most often, the Śastras can only be understood by qualified, like a layman can't read medicine literature. To be qualified, you need a Guru, under whose guidance you understand Shastras. Self-study will only be self-serving, will not give Moksha.
    By the way, do not drag Modi into this, her book was banned even before he became PṂ. He's is on his mission to fulfill his election promises and let him do that.

    Only Sri Shankaracharya's Holy Seat or scholars of Kashi can judge if a person is qualified to write about Hinduism.
    This 'dhongi'er and her offspring are neither qualified nor have authority to lable themselves as scholars on Hinduism. They are just charlatans and no more than street side quacks trying to earn livelihood of selling filthy stuff to filthy people.
    Their views are irrelevant to Hindus.

    this writer has a very poor knowledge of india

    Bendy Porniger is someone who bends Hinduism to write porn, clever trick since it is ancient & vast. When some one comes to her defence, that individual exposes herself.
    Plus this Ananya's agreement with Porniger about Hinduism having no centre is absurd because it is in fact, the opposite, proven over centuries by the co-existence of its multitude of flavours under a common theme, Hinduism. Its literature is considered central to living a high life & an enabler in one's pursuit of the truth.
    Finally, there have been many books banned violently by Muslims in India, which this Ananya conveniently side steps to blame it all on (the extremist) Hindus. So if one set of books can be banned then another set can also be. This right to freedom cannot be applied according to Ananya's _personal_ persuasions.
    Bendy's book was legally challenged for the lies it was trying to spread by someone having knowledge of the subject & Ananya also avoids giving credit to the publisher that withdrew it. Did she ever wonder that the publisher withdrew it because they didn't find the content worth fighting for?

    Lol so funny that all the comments only makes Ananda Vajpeyi's argument all the more potent. Keep trolling guys, it's good for health.

    Way to go ananya... we're with you. seeing the comments, i'm forced to say-the majority is not always right! specially when all of them pretend to be specialists in hinduism. to the haters-guys, please learn to take criticism positively.

    I would humbly disagree with such portrayal of Vajpeyi. Does Ananya remember that RSS happens to be the same organisation that successfully participated in the free-press anti emergency civic movement from 1975-77 when India's Prime Minsiter Indira Gandhi effectively transformed India into a dictatorship? Or does she bother to link its readers to the petition filed by SBAS, so they could see for themselves if there was any academic merit in their petition, and whether the book Ananya refers to was rid with factual errors and didn't merely 'offend' a particular community. This article is yet another patronising piece, where writers assume that an American UChicago professor happens to know Indian traditions better and more rigorously than local organisations like SBAS.
    Doniger did not publish an academic book, but a commercial one, and it is and important facet to consider. Had Doniger's work been a result of a rigorous peer review process that is a norm in other academic disciplines, there would have certainly been some credibility to her work, but her work is a book for mass consumption, and if an organisation points out the gross incorrections in her work what is the hue and cry for? It is important to keep in mind that her book wasn't banned, but simply repealed by the publisher based on the objections. In other disciplines, even factually correct works do not pass the review process because they are not rigorous enough, then why should Doniger's inaccurate work pass through without any scruitny? I am an academic too and I do not get that luxury, and neither should Doniger.
    On a broader level there exists, a lingering colonistion of Indian traditions. Religion is presented to be a universal concept, but it is not applicable to indigenous Indian traditions. The Western construct of religion was applied to indigenous Indian traditions, to horrible consequences and Indian traditions should rather be compared indigenous Japanese traditions like Shinto that escaped a similar colonisation by Western constructs. I have written an article on it, and you are welcome to read and comment.

    Good read. The hindutards trolling here will only make your arguments stronger.

    Good read? Have you 'Liberals' even read anything worthwhile in your life to comment about others?
    As a Hindu, I do not need some sexually frustrated Jewish woman to come and teach me about my religion, Mr. Vajpeyi!
    What do you yourself know about Hinduism, except to defend her warped interpretation of my religion?
    You may need three lifetimes to even try to understand what Hinduism is all about!
    For your information, I am an atheist and still very much a Hindu. Go figure!

    Sorry, looks like Vajpeyi is a woman.

    That's right genius. Blame the Jews.

      • Smarty pants, where do you see me coming blaming Jews in general. Its this fake who is parading herself as an authority on my religion? What does this dumbass know about the Upanishads, the Vedas? Tell her to go fly a kite somewhere. Idiot dabbles a little bit about Hinduism and lo and behold, all of a sudden she starts talking authoritatively.

  • these fake secular liberals must be exposed ...why such a esteemed portal is allowing such a derogatory article against hinduism by jehadi sympathizer ananya vajpeyi

  • As a proud Hindu Indian, I find myself largely in agreement with Ananya, though I have not read the book of Prof Wendy Doniger.
    Some arguments against the book & article are amusing.
    1. If Satanic Verses is banned why not On Hinduism? Does one wrong justify another?
    2. Let her try this in Pakistan. For India, is Pakistan the right example to follow?
    3. This book may encourage Hindu youngsters towards sex & drugs- Teenagers are not likely to read such books. In any case, there is much more on net to guide/ misguide them.
    Hindus must separate core of their religion from mythology (with quite a few erotic stories) which is a partly distorted history & partly fiction. They must use this book to understand & discard the weaknesses of their society (caste system, stress on rituals over Karma/ duty ..) and build on their strengths ( Religious tolerance, Respect for living things & nature, Yoga & Meditation, Art & Culture in religion..)
    In any case, Books like Satanic verses & On Hinduism are available on net, even in India. Ban has only created publicity for these books and hurt India's reputation on Freedom of speech. Not a big achievement Mr Batra.

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