Let’s not put up with extremism, says Vikram Seth

February 15, 2014 02:54 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:26 pm IST - PATNA:

After a controversy broke out over the withdrawal of American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History , novelist Vikram Seth has backed her “scholarly” work and cautioned against yielding to extremism of any kind.

“The idiotic group, by the name of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, is saying this is only one battle. It wants to win a war. We must not put up with extremism of any kind. We are one country, and we must not allow that to happen. We are free-minded. We must not allow ourselves to be crushed,” Mr. Seth said at a session of the Patna Literature Festival, which opened on Friday.

“Obscurantist groups” were harming “the basic scientific temper India was so proud of, the mathematical and natural sciences.”

“It is an analytical book by one of the great scholars of Hinduism.” The opposition to the book “because of the fact that she is a foreigner is ridiculous.” “Translations of the Ashoka Pillars were not done by us. We should take knowledge from wherever it comes. We have no right to consider ourselves superior by virtue of where we are born,” Mr. Seth said.

“Wendy is a great Sanskrit scholar. She wrote a very well-researched book. And one of the aspects of the book was that in old Hindu culture, men and women enjoyed sex and sexuality. She has proved it through [research]. And what do Mr. Batra [Dinanth Batra, one of the petitioners in the case] and others say? That this is against the idea of ‘Bhartiya nari’ [Indian woman] and our culture. What nonsense! Not only this book, but any other book, that talks about our religion, culture and country in a scholarly manner [should be welcomed]. Indian culture is not about superiority and inferiority,” he said.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.