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Publisher mum on threat to another Doniger book

Anita Joshua
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Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger

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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