Tag Archives: The Hindus

CHS, JNU Statement on the Wendy Doniger Issue

The following is the text of a statement issued by the Faculty of the CENTRE FOR HISTORICAL STUDIES, Jawaharlal Nehru University, protesting against the recent decision by Penguin India to withdraw and pulp all remaining copies of Wendy Doniger’s Hinduism. An Alternative History

We are outraged by the news that Penguin India has agreed to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s much acclaimed book The Hindus: An Alternative History and pulp all existing copies of the book in stock. Professor Doniger is one of the most respected Indologists in the world. She has spent a lifetime exploring the richness of India’s religious pasts, showcasing the creative interplay between multiple traditions — the Puranic and the Vedantic, the folkloric and the Brahmanic. Innovatively drawing on many disciplines, she has investigated the variegated world of Hindu mythology and theology, to explore what they say about order and chaos, morality and ethics, the good and the evil, the erotic and the non-erotic. Her reading of Hinduism has inevitably disturbed those who wish to sanitize and straitjacket Hinduism, and repress the multiplicity of traditions that constitute it. While welcoming all critical engagements with the book, the faculty of the CHS condemns any attempt to curtail the circulation of this book in any form.

The decision of Penguin India to sign an out-of-court settlement to withdraw Professor Doniger’s book is therefore an act of abandoning the basic ethics of publishing. What is most disturbing is the fact that Penguin Books — which had in the past a sturdy reputation of defending freedom of expression — has agreed to a settlement even without the Indian state or the Indian judiciary taking a position against the book. This decision will affirm the power of the forces of religious intolerance, encourage further attacks on authors who question the fundamentalist interpretation of the past, and subvert the right to freedom of expression. It will undermine further the rapidly eroding public space wherein critical debates and discussions can take place. This is a space that all who believe in democratic values — publishers included — need to preserve and defend.

Please note that individual names are not being listed in this statement as this is emanating from the entire faculty.

Thank you,

Professor Rajat Datta

Pulping Doniger Can Put Penguin in Peril

It was with great anger and sadness that many readers in India heard yesterday of Penguin Books India’s decision to enter into an out-of-court settlement with a group of busy-bodies led by one Dina Nath Batra of the so called ‘Shiksha Bachao Andolan’ (Save Education Movement) – one of the many poisonous heads of the RSS hydra – to recall and pulp all extant copies of Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” (Penguin India, 2009).

Dina Nath Batra (infamous for leading the campaign that led to the withdrawal of A.K. Ramanujan’s essay on the Ramayana from the Delhi University syllabus) and others, through their advocate, one Monika Arora, had filed a suit in a Saket, New Delhi against Wendy Doniger (whom they address, as ‘You, Noticee’) and Penguin Books on the grounds that Doniger’s book offends their religious sentiments. Continue reading Pulping Doniger Can Put Penguin in Peril