Genesis of Hinduphobia By Dhiru Shah
Distortion & Denigration of Hinduism & Indian History by British Colonialists & Missionaries
George Orwell has rightly said: “The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” The British colonialists mastered that practice after the conquest of India so as to govern their crown jewel with minimum challenge! They funded the departments of Indology and Sanskrit to rewrite the Indian historical narrative primarily from a victor’s perspective by erasing the rich heritage, traditions, culture, and history of India and Hinduism. The East India Company went to the extent of hiring the German missionary, Max Muller, with rudimentary knowledge of Sanskrit, to translate Hindu scriptures in a manner that would uproot Hinduism from India and spread Christianity in its place. It is no secret that the missionary work to convert Hindus to Christianity by the Evangelists and Churches continues unabated in India by fraudulent methods used earlier by Francis Xavier (16th century), Robert Nobili (17th), William Carey, the Baptist, and Max Muller even now over 75 years after the departure of the British colonialists.
The British employed native Indian “sepoys” in the British army to rule and carry out Her Majesty’s nefarious and most barbaric policies in India. These sepoys fought on the side of the British colonial rulers to subjugate their own fellow people for pittance rewards from their masters.
Nexus of Western Academia & Missionaries Promoting Neo-colonialism in India
Western academia has stepped in from where the British rulers left India and has continued in modern times to follow the tested old modus operandi under the new garb of academic freedom and failed theories of Psychoanalysis. The Western “experts on Hinduism” seem to be in a league with the Christian evangelists to subvert and demonize Hinduism, as well as its traditions and culture, thereby, destroying the only surviving ancient civilization in the world. Some American and Western businesses have also ventured out in using symbols and pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses in clothing, such as bikinis, shoes, and sandals.
It almost appears as if the American academia in the field of religious studies is a very close-knit ideologically driven cartel, which emphasizes only distortion, denigration, and belittling of Hinduism and forbids any dissent against their one-track scandalous motives. The adversarial scholars in this case are extremely powerful, entrenched groups which occupy tenured positions in academia, the American Academy of Religion, and its journals. Some examples of such misdirected but calculated endeavors are Paul Courtright’s (Emory University) book: Ganesa-Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings (Oxford University Press), Jeffery Kripal -Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (Chicago 1995), and Wendy Doniger’s 750-page book, The Hindu: An Alternative History.
Prof. Paul Courtright’s book: Ganesa: Lord of Obstacles
In 2004, a group of Hindu American scholars and community leaders in Atlanta challenged the distortions in the book by Emory University Professor Paul Courtright whose book Ganesa: Lord of Obstacles went overboard with offensive interpretations of the physique of the most revered deity of Hindus, Lord Ganesha. Some examples of pornography being pedaled in Courtright’s book:
– “Although there seems to be no myths or folktales in which Ganesa performs oral sex; his insatiable appetite for sweets may be interpreted as an effort to satisfy a hunger that seems inappropriate in an otherwise ascetic disposition, a hunger having clear erotic overtones” (Page 111).
– “Ganesa’s broken tusk, his guardian’s staff and displaced head can be interpreted as symbols of castration” (page 111).
– “He (Ganesa) remains celibate so as not to compete erotically with his father, a notorious womanizer, either incestuously for his mother or for any other woman for that matter” (Page 110).
– “That a baby elephant’s trunk is a metaphor for a limp phallus, that sweets are metaphors for oral sex, that a mango is a metaphor for asking children to have sexual intercourse with their (Hindu) mothers.”
It is universally known that Wendy Doniger is a long-time mentor and a guide for Courtright, and in fact, she provided the foreword/introduction of his ill-conceived book.
The Atlanta based Concerned Community challenged the shoddy scholarship of Courtright’s book and asked the Dean of Emory College to investigate what they were teaching in their Hinduism courses. Initially, our endeavor was met with unbelievable arrogance bordering on racist bigotry. After the online petition and comments in the leading Indian American newspapers, Emory agreed to meet the committee members at the university hall. However, Courtright, who was supposed to defend his book, cleverly absented himself from that meeting with the Emory administration. By the time the meeting had finished, one could see the embarrassment that Courtright had landed Emory University into, the insult as peddled by Courtright’s book to the practicing Hindus. As for the self-proclaimed Indology/Hinduism scholars, they got a taste of what they deserved. The book was sidelined in the USA, pulled off the markets in India, and Courtright was switched to teaching Islam at Emory until the passions subsided.
Wendy Doniger’s Erotic 750-page book, The Hindu: An Alternative History, Published by Viking Penguin in 2009
The book was written with a biased and agenda-driven scholarship. By sexualizing and eroticizing every aspect of Hinduism, the book reads like a semi-pornographic novel rather than a scholarly history of Hindus — pretty much on the expected lines and as she has trained her graduate students researching under her guidance and assistantship.
Her book is also full of factual inaccuracies, innuendoes, distortions, and selective use of primary texts of Hinduism. Her racial profiling of Hindus and denigration of Hindu gods and goddesses transgress all the universal codes of ethics and morality. Had Mahatma Gandhi been alive in present times, he would not have hesitated to also label it as a “drain inspector report” as he did then to Katherine Mayo’s book Mother India.
Here are just a few of the many of pornographic & erotic gems (smut) from her book:
– Depiction of Krishna on the cover jacket of the book as riding a horse made of bodies of naked women is the epitome of vulgarity and misuse of the holy symbol with ulterior motives to denigrate Hindu faith.
– Doniger denies that the images in the Indus-Saraswati Civilization were sacred or “the source of Hindu images.” Mother goddesses are just big-breasted women — “Big breasts are as useful to courtesans as to goddesses.” — once again with the malicious intent of sexualizing our goddesses!
– “But Kunti already had one son secretly out of wedlock. When she was still a young girl, she had decided to try out her mantra, just fooling around. The sun god, Surya, took her seriously; despite her vigorous protests and entreaties, he raped her and afterward restored her virginity” (1.104; 3.290-94; 5.144.1-9) (p.295).
– Another example of the perversion and sexual mindset of the author: “Dasharatha’s son is certainly lustful” is a key phrase. Rama knows all too well what people said about Dasharatha; when Lakshmana learns that Rama has been exiled, he says, “The king is perverse, old, and addicted to sex, driven by lust (2.18.3)”. (P.225).
She says that “Ramayana teaches incest.”
It is surprising that the fevered mind of Wendy Doniger sees incest in a sacred scripture, which has defined Hinduism for generations. Ramayana has been the guiding light for almost every Hindu. Even in the Islamic countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, Ramayana is adored and respected. It is a sacred text. Even the state is expected to follow the path of Rama by establishing Ramarajya, a state of justice and social and moral responsibility bound by dharma, the inexorable ethic.
Withdrawal of Book & Anti-Hindu Propaganda
Several Hindu academics and scholars suggested a dialogue with Penguin and Doniger (through direct letters to Doniger and the President of University of Chicago) to apologize and to rectify the factual errors and remove the unwarranted sexuality and distortions from the book. Even an online petition was submitted to Penguin and another one to AAR (American Academy of Religion). Letters were also written to the White House interfaith section headed by Rev. Dubois. Doniger was also invited to a round table panel to discuss her book during the annual conference of Association of Asian Studies (AAS) from March 31 – April 2, 2012, held in Hawaii, but she declined it and made comments to one Hindu academic that “I have moved beyond the Hindus.” Neither fatwas nor any crusades were undertaken as characteristics of disagreements by other faiths. A scholarly letter campaign by Hindu intellectuals bore fruit when the NBCC refrained from giving her the NBCC award for her book. Earlier, the now defunct Microsoft Encarta, pulled her article on Hinduism after investigating complaints that the article had a racist tone.
Having exhausted all conciliatory efforts to persuade Penguin and Doniger, Hindu scholars/leaders were left with no other alternative but to take recourse to the Indian law. The right of academic freedom also demands acceptance of academic responsibility of not misusing that freedom, just as the journalists (and other professionals) are encouraged to refrain from yellow and sensational journalism. Academic “freedom” exercised without responsibility or accountability is tyranny and should have no place in a civilized society.
After deliberation for nearly four years, Penguin India compromised on February 4, 2014, in an out-of-court settlement to withdraw and pulp within the next six months the remaining copies of US Chicago professor, Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. Failure to settle with the litigants Dinanath Batra of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, India (supported by Atlanta based Hindu leaders) could have led to the arrest of the Western author, Wendy Doniger, of the Chief Executive of Penguin India, the publisher, and/or a ban from entering India per Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Notwithstanding the moral and legal defeat, the powerful propaganda machine of Doniger and Penguin had unleashed one of the most vicious, abusive, and negative campaigns against India’s Dinanath Batra, Indian Penal Code, and Hindu scholars/academics (challengers) of India and overseas. Though the book is not banned in India, ever-obliging anti-Hindu media in the Western world and India has been ranting a doomsday scenario of India becoming a fascist state without the right of freedom of speech. Surprisingly, the same Indian Penal Code was acceptable to the Western academics when the British were ruling in India, but now these votaries of freedom of speech are damaging it.
Doniger and her clan would not dare to denigrate and sexualize the scriptures and prophets of Islam and Judaism, because they are fully aware of the brutal consequences thereof. However, Western academics know that Hindus are a soft target and easy game, because most Hindus are tolerant and peaceful and try to keep away from controversies.
Audrey Truschke, Associate Professor of South Asian Studies at Rutgers University, New Jersey
Audrey Truschke has followed the path of Prof. Paul Courtright and Wendy Doniger in spewing venom against Hindus and Hinduism. She refuses to accept the evidence and writings of Islamic historians and chroniclers about cruelty, torture, slavery, destruction of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples, and the biggest genocide of Hindus by the Islamic invaders and rulers from 8th to 17th century.
Truschke has been making several unsubstantiated and false statements against Hindus and Hinduism. She claims that the Bhagavad Gita promotes murder, and Hindus were associated with the Nazis because they used the swastika (symbol used by Jains, Buddhists, and indigenous American tribes without distinguishing between the Nazi Hakenkreuz and the swastika). She claims that Hindus want to commit genocide against Muslims in India even though Muslims in India have more rights than Hindus. One of her favorite topics is the Hindu caste system which was imposed by the British to divide Hindus and Muslims for ruling India.
Hinduphobic Truschke is employed by Rutgers University despite officials knowing fully well that not only is she a racist with a Christian superiority complex, but also devoid of any historical knowledge of India and Hinduism. Any historian of repute could debate with her and prove that she has no credentials to be a professor teaching Hinduism. She is fully aware of her complete ignorance of Indian history, and hence, she will never agree to debate openly with any historian. Rutgers University’s own July 2022 report finds that there has been a sharp increase in Hinduphobic messages in social media which could lead to violence against Hindus.
Devastating Impact on Hindu Students, Future Generations & Hindu Civilization
Negative portrayal and stereotypes about Hinduism and India originating from the anti-Hindu perverted Western academics such as Doniger, Courtright, and Truschke in the Indian and American classrooms have already wreaked havoc on Hindu students by lowering their self-esteem and pride in their own faith, traditions, and culture. Young Hindu children/teenagers are tormented every day because of the negative and distorted picture of Hinduism and India as presented by their teachers in classrooms. How will a young Hindu child feel when the teacher quotes from the textbook: “The monkey king Hanuman loved Rama so much that it is said that he is present every time the Ramayana is told. So look around- see any monkeys?” or “However, Hinduism also taught that women are inferior to men. As a result, Hindu women were not allowed to read Vedas or other sacred texts.” (Fact: there were more than 20 sage women).
As the amount of denigration, distortion, and negative portrayal of Hinduism by the western academia started rising alarmingly, the Hindu academics and scholars (in India and elsewhere, especially USA) have been raising objections to the unfair and callous treatment of the faith of over a billion Hindus. The majority of these Western scholars of Indology are generally non-practitioners of Hinduism with limited knowledge of Sanskrit, the language of Hindu scriptures, but they still claim themselves to be experts on Hinduism — a religion/faith flourishing over centuries even before the birth of the Abrahamic religions and Indology.
With the rising tide of Hinduphobia, Hindus across America are becoming awakened and trying to put up a common front against several anti-Hinduism entities which include American academia, Indian and American Marxist/leftists writers/academics, Christian and Islamic organizations, media, and several politicians. Amongst the most vocal and prominent fighters against Hinduphobia is Rajeev Malhotra, a great intellectual and scholar who, for many years, has single-handedly been taking on some of the most powerful anti-Hinduism academics from Harvard, Chicago, Berkeley, etc. without fear. He has written several books and articles on Hinduism, Indian history, and Hinduphobic topics and has been training young Hindu students and activists using his Infinity Foundation on how to defend Hindu Dharma against these racist Hinduism hater academics.
Hindu leaders and activists throughout America are also setting up Hindu organizations, political pacts to make the politicians aware of what Hinduism is and the contributions that Hindu Americans are making to the American society in every field of human endeavors, and online educational classes for young Hindu students to create awareness about what Hinduism is and how to fight Hinduphobia. Seeing the tremendous negative psychological impact on their children, CAPEEM (California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials) and HAF (Hindu American Foundation) had filed two separate lawsuits against the California State Board of Education to amend and rectify the middle-class textbooks by providing equal opportunities and representation to every religion and culture. The court ruled in favor of both litigants and asked the Board to strictly follow the guidelines of the California Education Act.
Recently, CoHNA (Coalition of Hindus of North America) has been very active in fighting Hinduphobia at various levels. It has been organizing briefing meetings at Capitol Hill with US Congress and senate representatives to make them aware of the rising tide of Hinduphobia and resulting violence against Hindus in the country. It is also conducting Hinduism awareness classes for school-going Hindu students.
Such distorted and negative portrayals of Hindus and Hinduism from the Western academics also influences the US foreign policy decision makers who can use this material to interfere in the internal affairs of India under the pretext of violation of human rights by the Indian government.
What can save Hinduism and India from these neo-colonialists is to defend with all vigor and hold fast our age-old culture, values, and traditions without any element of fancy and distortion.