Distortion of India and Hinduism
in Western Media and Academia
In K-12 School Textbooks:
Attached is an essay from a 14 year old Indian girl
describing her painful experience during middle school in Texas.
Her social studies teachers and text books misrepresented India
and Hinduism, demeaning her culture and faith, and
blatantly insulting her and other Indian (desi) students in the class.
Watch this Video to understand how inaccurate textbooks are.
At College & University Level
The Battle for Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred, Oppressive or Liberating, Dead or Alive? Author: Rajiv Malhotra Reviewed by a legendary Professor V.V. Raman, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities, Rochester Institute of Technology, and author of more than a dozen books. "...Simply put, the book explores those aspects of the academic field of Indology that irritate a growing number of Hindus who are beginning to regard Indology, not as a scholarly pursuit (which it is meant to be), but as a hyper-critical, vicious, and sometimes sinister enterprise directed at their traditions, worldviews, and religion. In this mode, argues the author, Indology does not shed light on Indic culture and Sanskrit studies, but does much harm to it. ... Its central refrain is that Indology, especially of the past few decades at the hands of some reputed professors in American Academia has snatched away from practicing Hindus a discipline that properly belongs to Hindus; and that American Indology has subjected sacred Sanskrit writings to profane vivisections, diluting and distorting their contents. More seriously, it has injected its cold and unfeeling approach in the minds of countless unwitting Hindus. Not content with their disturbing commentaries from a distance, some American Indologists have also been meddling in the cultural and political affairs of the Hindu world within India (such as the Barbri-masjid issue and Dalit unrest), advising and instigating Hindus on such matters. The book eloquently responds to some of the critiques of Indic culture from the pen of American Indologists. The book learnedly and meticulously illustrates its contentions from the writings of some well-known American Indologists, in particular Professor Sheldon Pollack of Columbia University, NY. Click here to read the full review
Hinduism and Academics: An Analysis
Vamsee Juluri, Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco
Hinduism in the Western Academy
Hinduism had very bad press in the West in the past, notwithstanding the occasional recognition of Gandhi and others, and it is these terrible misrepresentations that are still the bedrock of Western perception not only of Hindus but also of India. Gory violence, bizarre rituals, inhuman oppression, lack of hygiene, lack of free will, wily priests, decadent kings, passive natives, and of course, noble European masters, are what have tainted the Western imagination. My students, for example, often start their classes with me with their only knowledge of India and Hinduism being these assumptions, but they are smart and know that many of these myths are untrue and racist, and expect a better picture from me than what they suspect is a lousy media stereotype any way. Given such a situation, I see it fit to first balance out the misinformation about Hinduism in the popular Western imagination, and then to address the critical concerns about Indian society. Click here to read the full article
Anantanand Rambachan - Professor of Religion, Philosophy and Asian Studies at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota, USA
The decision by Penguin (India) to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s controversial book, The Hindus: An Alternative History,
has, not unsurprisingly, elicited a huge volume and range of responses. On one side are those who see the issue solely
as one of freedom of expression and worry that Penguin’s capitulation undermines free speech. On the other side are supporters of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, the group that filed the lawsuit against Doniger’s book. They welcome
Penguin’s decision on the grounds that her writing offends and hurts Hindu religious feelings.
They question Doniger’s reading of Hindu texts and narratives and the assumptions of her methodology.
In the middle are many, scholars and lay-persons, who are not in favor of book-banning and pulping,
but who raise legitimate issues for discussion that include power inequality, the history and
nature of scholarship on Hinduism and the relationship between scholar and religious community.
Ten Misconceptions About India and Indic Traditions - by Prof. Arvind Sharma,
Birks Professor of Comparative Religion in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He has published extensively in the fields of Hindu Studies and Religious Studies.
Different disciplines or fields of study outgrow their earlier conclusions or assumptions as new evidence accumulates, or at least they should. But any academic field of study also tends to exhibit a certain measure of inertia in abandoning earlier formulations which have been rendered questionable or obsolete with the accumulation of new data, and the application of new methods to the available data in the field. Abandoning or modifying old positions for new entails discomfort. Moreover, once a position has become widely accepted, it takes time to alter it and the attempt requires effort.
The fields of Indian Studies and the Study of Indic Religions now constitute a two-hundred-year-old tradition. They also continue to entertain certain misconceptions, which no longer bear scrutiny. Ten such misconceptions, which still prevail in these fields despite evidence to the contrary, are identified here.
Dr. Vamsee Juluri, Professor of Media Studies, University of San Francisco.
"We will examine this (western) worldview closely in the first part of this book. As a professor of media studies, that is what I teach and write about, how the worldviews, assumptions, commonsense ideas about our selves and the world, might actually be distortions, myths, and outright lies. My field has challenged many such assunptions in recent years,
particularly about gender, race, caste and class. It has however, drawn a complete blank when it comes to Hindus, Hinduism and India. With this book, I try to make amends,and to provide the intellectual groundwork for media students, academics, and just intelligent human beings who care about the world and its lives, to expand their horizons and imagination. My aim is not to praise one group of people and condemn another. It is only to show how recognizing Hinduism's vitality is going to require a much more radical dismantling of today's commonsense worldview than we have imagined so far...
a world in which nature is demeaned and destroyed cannot understand Hinduism accurately either,
and resorts to low and mean tactics against it. Order and read the e-book here
Dr Deepak Sarma is professor of religious studies, Case Western Reserve University,
and curatorial consultant, Department of Asian Art, Cleveland Museum of Art.
In the recent spate of articles and responses to the controversy over Wendy Doniger’s book "Hindus - An Alternative History" reveals that primarily desi community and political leaders were the ones interviewed or writing articles. It is rather telling that one important, perhaps crucial, set of voices, which has not been included, is the voice of credentialed — PhD holding — desi scholars of Hinduism in the United States and across the globe.
Why have these voices been ignored? Why have no desi Hindu professors of Hinduism been approached? Why has the media spoken about an academic issue with community and political leaders instead of academics who may address the issue better, having studied it for decades? ...
Hindu studies will not change unless or until there are more credentialed post-colonial Indian, and desi Hindu voices in the conversation. So, when desi Hindus in America and Hindus in India complain about Hindu scholarship and scholars in academe, they are to blame for not encouraging their children to pursue higher education in Hindu studies. From this perspective, their self-righteous indignation seems rather hypocritical.
I am not suggesting that post-colonial desis, and Hindus in the academic world ought to be given a louder — or the only — voice. Rather that the academic study of Hinduism would be significantly different if there were more voices, both from within and from outside.
The academic study of Hinduism would be very different indeed if it received support from the global Hindu community, as for example, the academic study of Judaism has received from the Jewish community, and Catholic studies from the Catholic community.
I wonder what sorts of topics would become central to Hindu studies if there were a greater diversity of voices. How would the categories used to study Hinduism change? What sorts of expertise would be encouraged, fostered, and what sorts of dissertations
and research would eventually be published? And, how would Doniger’s book fare when it is merely one among many?
My guess is that no one would care about her scholarship anymore, other than a few brown-nosed sycophants.
To read the full article, click here