Updated: March 4, 2014 02:46 IST

Publisher mum on threat to another Doniger book

Anita Joshua
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Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger

Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti has given an ultimatum to Aleph Book Company

Three days after the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (SBAS) gave an ultimatum to Aleph Book Company demanding withdrawal of American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s book On Hinduism by the coming weekend, there was no word from the publisher on how it would deal with the situation.

SBAS spokesman Rajeev Gupta told The Hindu that a legal notice would be served on the publisher if it did not give in writing, as Penguin India did, that it would withdraw the book from the Indian market and pulp all copies by March 8.

On Saturday, the SBAS announced that it would now go after On Hinduism published in 2013.

The publisher’s website describes the book as a “magisterial volume,” while the author has billed it as the “book of my books.” Further, the publisher says, On Hinduism is a “scholarship of the highest order, and a compelling analysis of one of the world’s great faiths.”

The SBAS, on its part, claims the book is full of “distortions of history.” The list includes “Vivekananda set himself firmly against all forms of caste distinction and advised people to eat beef,” “infidels, Dalits and women, were forbidden to learn Sanskrit ... because they might defile or injure the magic power of the words,” and “the accurate historical account would illustrate the Sangh’s complacency with British rule in the years leading up to Partition.”

Over a fortnight ago, Penguin India agreed to withdraw and pulp all copies of Ms. Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History from the Indian market in an out-of-court settlement with the SBAS, which had moved the court against the book on the grounds of “distortion” aimed at “denigrating Hindu traditions.”

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It is nothing new and it has been said that the West cannot meet the East. I have read 'The City Of Joy' only recently and despite its greatness, it provides many incorrect information. Its greatness not undermined, it reflects on poor research or Dominique Lapierre has been mislead by certain people in India and he, in his eagerness to publish did not cross verify all information. An example is that Hanuman took a part of Himalayas to Lanka to smell a flower for a captive Sita! Innuendo against Ramakrishna Mission is another. The worry is when 100 million read a book and collects silly impressions about India and its culture, the authors themselves are to be blamed, no one else. Of course India is of lesser and poor people, but authors certainly have to cross inspect or at least correct/apologise in later editions. We on our part are also have lesser confidence. For example, when people refer to Mahabharatha as a poor copy of Greek Legends! Why not we argue it is the otherway round?

from:  Anil P
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 16:12 IST

Now i have to buy this book to figure out what this fuss is about now. Is this just
another SBAS template for removing another book written by a white woman who's
researched and documented the Indian texts.

In the meantime wish i could whip out judgments by reading excerpts without
knowing where the smoke is coming from?

The SBAS action has definitely spawned thousands of pages of internet publicity for a
book that isn't as fiery or scandalous as these Hinduism Bachaoing fighters claim to
be. Morever its an opinion of one writer, how does it change or influence anything in
a believer of Sri rama, or shiva beats me.

Wonder if this is a beautiful designed ploy to sell more copies of a big fat book. :)

from:  Pradeesh
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 13:58 IST

It appears to be a good sales proposition to generate a controversy in
respect of a publication. The media as well as those who find the
publication objectionable should ignore such controversies.

from:  S Subramanian
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 13:32 IST

Is Doniger against Hinduism (by her WAY of understanding) or against Sangh parivar?
I read the excerpts from her book Álternate Hinduism', in that she has poured scorn on Sangh and also misinterpreted Hindu texts of her own understanding.
My advise would be - if you are against Sangh, write a separate book on that, so that people can respond to you point by point...DO NOT MIX your political leanings with religion and try to denigrate both.

from:  SURESH
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 11:27 IST

The author in her prefaces accepts that facts could be wrong. No point
reading further wasted my Rs369

from:  Sukant
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 10:32 IST

I still do not understand why as Indians we are still fascinated by the interpretation of a foreigner on the Indian History or ethos. For example a whole lifetime is not enough, to understand in full, what is written in Bhagavad Gita. These authors are not super humans to understand the depth of the symbols or the bhashyams (interpretations) given by the great Gurus and tend to 'bend it like Beckham" for commercial reasons. Another example off late is the book on Mata Amrithanandamayi. This book has been written by an erstwhile devotee of the western world and now we Indians tend it follow it up as if it is the Encyclopedia on the activities of the Math and take it all the way to Supreme Court. I feel we Indians are still crazy for the white skinned or else why such conviction for these authors.

from:  Ganesh Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 10:28 IST

"infidels, Dalits and women, were forbidden to learn Sanskrit"
“the accurate historical account would illustrate the Sangh’s
complacency with British rule in the years leading up to Partition.”

These two satments are true. I dont know when history changed!!

from:  syed
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 09:40 IST

Why is this woman so fond of denigrating Hindu religion?

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 09:16 IST

It is regrettable to mention that for chief publicity the author wendy doneiger who belong to christanity has no authority to pen degrading oldest Hinduism whose faiths and facts are put on jeopardy affecting billions of hindus.Does she dare to write about the fictions superstitions in her own as well as other religions including jews and zorastrianism. The right is not might to project ill thoughts of her views pondering wealth chiefly to the missioneris who have already doing conversion in the asia and Africa.First of all she should learn respecting other religion believers feeling try to cultivate etiquacy in writing to please some diocess of her religion.This is highly inexcusable condemnable.Is it the way to spread religion of tolerance to be intolerance.If it were to be the book on religion prevalent in soudi Arabia, malasia,singapore, parts of Africa, the impact would be unimaginable.Let she withdraw all the copies sold whatever may be prices

from:  mrsumabalu
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 06:15 IST

The newspaper must write opinions from other side too. Please interview Mr. Rajiv Malhotra so that your reader's get the other side of the story too. Let your reader's judge why there is opposition to authors like Wendy Doninger. The point is not to ban the book but to expose the nefarious ideas of these writers who denigrate Dharma.

from:  girish
Posted on: Mar 4, 2014 at 02:43 IST
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