The big plot to denigrate India
By R. Balashankar
Can perversity get lower than this? In the name of religious studies, a syndicate of scholars in America is spewing muck on Hinduism.
Religions In South Asia (RISA), a department under the American Academy of Religion (AAR), has been sponsoring studies for years now to deride Hinduism.
Our gods and goddesses like Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Laxmi and Kali, our rituals like Upanayana our saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and scriptures, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Gita all have come under such distasteful sexual connotation and nauseating voyeurism that one begins to wonder if it can at all be called academics.
And for the first time ever, the Hindus are replying them in an organised, cohesive manner. A recently published book Invading the SACRED : An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America has documented the Hindu response to this academic distortion. ( http://worldmonitor.wordpress.com/2007/08/13/invading-the-sacred/ )
Edited by Dr. Krishnan Ramaswamy, a scientist, Dr. Antonio T. de Nicolas, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook and Aditi Banerjee, a practicing attorney in New York, the book opens our eyes to the way the western mind perceives us.
The book exposes how and why the image of India as a culture of series of abuses like sati, dowry, caste conflicts and worship of grotesque deities has persisted. This is not the result of mere personal prejudices but is the result of a sustained, well-entrenched institutional mechanism. “Starting in well-respected, ostensibly ‘research based’ but culturally parochial halls of American and western academe, these images filter down into mainstream western culture where they acquire an incredible force in shaping how India is seen.” (p 2, Why this book is important).
While the American business schools view India as a nation throbbing with creativity, the academia views it as chaotic, backward looking and negative.
Organiser cannot and will not repeat what the American scholars on Hinduism have said for which they received Ph.Ds and awards because they are lewd, below the dignity of any self-respecting Hindu to read.
In this scheme of the westerners, the Indian scholars are carefully recruited into, in the lure of foreign scholarships, degrees and placements. The Indians into the club are chosen carefully. They are the traditional looking ones—women in saree and big bindi and men in the traditional dhoti and kurta.
Says Rajiv Malhotra, one of the early persons to respond to this academic fraud, that “while Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean, Arabs and even the various European cultures such as Irish, Italian and French have actively funded and managed American academic representation of their cultural identities, Indian-Americans have been largely content with building temples, while their cultural portrayal in the education system and in the media has been abandoned to the tender mercies of the dominant western traditions.’
The book extensively quotes from Malhotra’s RISA Lila-1, Wendy’s Child Syndrome an essay that exposed the games that the Religions In South Asia played under the leadership of Wendy Doniger, a past president of the AAR.
She is the leader of the syndicate working on the anti-Hinduism campaign and is now the director of a centre in the University of Chicago and is part of the decision making in several academic bodies.
She is influential and an “acknowledged” Sanskrit translator. Her translations are relied upon as the main source by many students of religious studies throughout America.
The studies sponsored by and under her have this to say. Ganesha and Shiva were in a war because of jealousy over Parvati. That Ganesha’s tusk represents a limp penis. That ‘tantra’ is a sexual exercise and Devi is a female with male genital, representing extreme sexuality, that Ramakrishna Paramahansa was a pedophile. We now know where M.F. Hussain got his inspiration from.
An allegedly ‘well-researched’ book on Paramahansa, written by Jeffrey Kripal, who stayed at the Ramakrishna Mutt in Calcutta to research for the book, shook the disciples of the mutt so much that they were stunned to silence initially. A student of Doniger, Kripal won an award for his book from the AAR and the Encyclopaedia Britannica listed it as the best reference on Ramakrishna.
Swami Tyagananda of the Mutt then wrote a rebuttal to this book and asked Kripal to annex it in his book, for the sake of academic ethics, but he refused. The normal course in which this material should be available—journals, university press, appointment committees, curricula development and conference—are controlled by the Wendy syndicate so that Swami Tyagananda’s rebuttal is not available for either purchase in bookstores or in universities and libraries for reference. (p. 111)
Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopaedia, one of the most widely referred sites by children, had a section on Hinduism, contributed by Doniger.
Sankrant Sahu, an independent scholar and a manager in Microsoft pointed out the biases it contained. Finally, Microsoft withdrew the entry and replaced it with a version authored by Arvind Sharma, from McGill University, Montreal.
Stanley Kurtz, an anthropologist in Indian studies, says in his book Vishnu on Freud’s Desk, co-edited incidentally by the infamous Kirpal that the mothers in India do not have “a western-style loving, emotional partnership with their babies.” (p 60)
Islam, however, does not receive this treatment from the western scholars.
They in fact struggle to reinterpret Islam and give it an emphasis of higher learning despite resistance from within Islam. “The western academic repacking and facelift of Islam is certainly a good project … Unfortunately, a different standard is being applied in Hinduism, despite the fact that its history and liberty of texts cry out loudly and clearly in favour of multiple layers of meanings and interpretations.” Probably, terror works on academics and Hindus might learn an underlying meaning in this.
In all the distorted writings on Hinduism, the Hindu scholars see the hidden hand and thread of Christianity running.
Dr. Balagangadhara, Director of the Research Centre of Comparative Science of Cultures in Ghent University, Belgium, says, “Christianity spreads in two ways: through conversion and through secularization.”
While we in India are directly familiar with the first way, we are also familiar but probably not aware of the latter way.
What secularization means he says, “is to de-de-Christianize Christianity… Christian doctrines spread wide and deep (beyond the confines of Christian believers) in the society dressed up in ‘secular’ (that is, not in recognizably ‘Christian’) clothes.” (p 129). That is the reason how we have a whole population of “secular” Hindus.
Any attempt to counter this academic cartel is branded vociferously as ‘Hindutva’, ‘saffron’ and ‘fundamentalism.’
Commenting on the kind of introductory lessons prescribed in courses, the book asks if the reverse is applied to Christianity, for example if we have an introductory lesson on that religion which states that “Catholic churches are notorious for all kinds of extreme practices from rape of children to official protection for the rapists over the decades.” Would a lesson like this ever be allowed in India, though all these can be proved by supporting data? (p 57)
For someone who has made a living out of Hinduism, Wendy Doniger accused the Hindu right in India of “shoving Sanskrit down the throat” of Indians. T. Desai, a student of University of Chicago, relates an anecdote on Wendy. While attending a lecture by her on Mahabharata, he was amazed “how she lectured on Indian politics. I wonder if they also discuss Bush’s funding of faith based organizations in Latin classes … She even described the meeting between Arjuna and Indra, (son and father) when Indra places him in his lap and caresses his arm, as ‘homoerotic.” (p 465)
Martha Nussbaum, one of the so-called scholars of the Wendy team, said this about India in the presence of Amartya Sen, at a conference in Chicago recently, “Thinking about India is instructive to Americans, who in an age of terrorism can easily over-simplify pictures of the forces that threaten democracy…In India, the threat to democratic ideas comes not from a Muslim threat, but from Hindu groups.” (p 3). Could anything be more bizarre than this?
Sen is not known to have countered this either at that forum or later.
The book also has a section devoted to how the American media, both the mainstream and the regional, have treated the Hindu stories. How the Indian and Hindu scholars have been left aghast by the twists given in the article, for which quotes were taken from them.
Invading the SACRED gives voice to millions of Hindus world over who have been hearing and suffering the abuse of our religion.
The issue is now joined and joined well.
(Invading the Sacred, An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America; Publisher: Rupa & Co. 7/16, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002; pp 545; price: Rs. 595) http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=195&page=2
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‘Dalit’ twist to textbook row
- Sandhya Jain
|India’s internal affairs are increasingly witnessing an interventionist American nexus. Even as the Supreme Court asks the Union Government to justify giving so-called ‘Dalit Christians’ a share in the quota for Scheduled Castes, it may be instructive to see how US policy has inveigled itself into our domestic discourse, while maintaining severe pressure upon its own Hindu citizens of Indian origin.|
|The manner in which these issues play out is enlightening. Harvard professor Michael Witzel’s supporters in the California textbook battle include two evangelical bodies: Dalit Freedom Network and Dalit Solidarity Forum in the USA. DFN president Joseph D’Souza also heads the All-India Christian Council; he appealed to a US Congressional Committee to get ‘Scheduled Caste’ status for India’s ‘Dalit’ Christians.|
|This utilisation of converts by overseas co-religionists for covert agendas fuels Hindu anger against conversions. The DFN’s mission is to partner Dalits in their “quest for religious freedom” (obviously these are non-Hindu Dalits), and includes upholding the “legacy of Mother Teresa who showed god’s love in word and deed… and to follow the command of Jesus Christ who called us to be ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world’.” Its board of directors includes only two Indians, both Christians: Mr Joseph D’Souza and Mr Kumar Swamy. The rest are white Americans, namely, Ms Melody Divine, a former adviser to anti-Hindu Arizona Congressman Trent Franks; Mr Peter Dance; Mr Bob Beltz, Ms Nanci Ricks, Mr Richard Sweeney, Mr Cliff Young, Mr Ken Heulitt and Mr Gene Kissinger (chairman).|
|The DSF-USA is run by the Rector of St Alban’s Church, Oakland, New Jersey. It works closely with Christian Aid, which sent a fax to the California State Board of Education (SBE) from the Church premises, but tries to conceal the fact that it is a proselytising group. Mr Lars Martin Fosse, a signatory of Prof Witzel’s letter to the SBE, appealed to Mr John Dayal of the All-India Christian Council for assistance in their fight with the Hindu community that is demanding proper representation of its faith in American textbooks. Sure enough, DFN and DSF-USA jumped into the fray.|
|California Parents for the Equalisation of Educational Materials (CAPEEM), which is challenging Prof Witzel’s role as content-review expert in the history-social science textbook review and adoption process, has discovered his deep involvement with evangelical groups like DFN, which can be proven through a trail of e-mails. Prof Witzel was active in erasing information about DFN’s missionary nature on the free Internet encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. DFN director Nanci Ricks said she did not want the agency to be known as a ‘missions’ organisation.|
|CAPEEM learnt Prof Witzel advised DFN how to intervene in the public hearing on the textbook adoption process in California. Here DFN directors misrepresented themselves as a group of Dalits by suppressing their Christian identity. Prof Shiva G Bajpai, the independent expert engaged by the California SBE to debate every Hindu edit/correction with Prof Witzel in a private meeting on January 6, 2006, found that Prof Witzel and his cohorts in the US and India did not want to rectify the depiction of India and Hindu dharma in textbooks.|
|As Witzel and his friends are firmly entrenched in American academia, few established scholars dared challenge their version of Indian history and culture. Prof Bajpai could wrestle more than 75 per cent of the desired changes solely on the basis of his professional acumen and status as the only historian of ancient India in California.
Prof Bajpai now believes that winning the war against the demeaning portrayal of India and Hindu dharma necessitates the rise of a new class of academics sensitive to the mission of reclaiming agency over Hindu studies and early Indian history and culture.
This also involves cracking the formidable nexus between the establishment academics and publishing industry and media, which has hitherto been virtually immune to criticism and reform.
|America’s Hindu community has been dissatisfied with the final changes approved in 2006 as these have failed to rectify material errors about Hindu religion, culture and history. After inputs from myriad sources about Prof Witzel’s biases, CAPEEM approached the courts to subpoena him to place on record his letters/e-mail exchanges with textbook publishers about the (textbook revision) Adoption Process; with the California Board; with Stanley Wolpert, James Heitzman, Shiva Bajpai, or Steve Farmer about the adoption process; postings to the Indo-Eurasian Research List; exchanges with third parties (like DFN) about the adoption process; exchanges with racial purist Roger Pearson or anyone associated with the Journal of Indo-European Studies; exchanges with Arun Vajpayee (the mysterious ‘student’ who asked Prof Witzel to stop the acceptance of changes in the textbooks); communications passing on edits/revisions of Hindu groups; transmitting textbooks (or portions) revised as part of the adoption process; exchanges with Harvard University regarding the adoption process; communications about the purpose of the Indo-Eurasian Research List; and so on.|
|CAPEEM believes Prof Witzel’s conduct during the adoption process is central to its case as he (and others) were ‘hostile’ academic advisers and engaged in secret manoeuvres. A full disclosure of the records sought could reveal procedural improprieties by them. While the California Department of Education (CDE) barred Prof Bajpai from any contact with publishers, Prof Witzel enjoyed this freedom.|
|His exchanges with DFN are relevant to show anti-Hindu bias as many of its key figures are unabashedly antagonistic towards Hindu dharma. Prof Kancha Ilaiah, who signed a DFN letter to the CDE, claims he “hate(s) Hinduism” and calls it “a cult of worshipping certain violent figures… Hinduism is basically a spiritual fascist cult”. Prof Witzel’s exchanges with Roger Pearson, in whose journal his article was published, and certain Internet postings also establish deep prejudice.|
|The flip side of the California debate is a misconceived effort to associate American perceptions of India with the fabulous wealth of the Indian-American community, which is “buying protection” in its adopted land through bankrolling candidates for congressional and presidential elections; and the desire of corporate America to invest in India’s blooming economy. This could be the thin edge of the wedge. Any attempt to accord primacy to secular education and employment (Mammon) is counter to the Hindu ethos wherein the hierarchy of values (varnas) ranks mercantile and wealth-generating groups (Vaishya varna) as third, well after spiritual preceptors (Brahmin) and those who uphold the power of the state (Kshatriya). Source below :|
Motivated Indologists @ http://indiaview.wordpress.com/2007/12/26/communal-clash-13-arrested/
Merit vs. Quota @ http://ia.rediff.com/money/2006/apr/12ram.htm