A consortium of Hindu organisations, temples and concerned individuals in New York and New Jersey area organised a protest demonstration at New School University Building in New York City on March 10. The demonstration was against the decision of National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) to consider honouring Dr Wendy Doniger for her book Hindus: An Alternative History.
The protesters argued that Wendy Doniger’s book contains numerous factual errors, mischaracterisations, and shows an undercurrent of deep contempt for Hindus. For decades Dr Doniger has been masquerading as a scholar on Hinduism and in the Sanskrit language. However Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard Michael Witzel has described Wendy’s translations of Rig Veda, Jaiminiya Brahmana and Manusmriti in these stark terms—‘lacking common sense’, ‘unreliable’, ‘idiosyncratic’, and ‘a stream of unconnected George-Bush-like anacoluths’.
In the words of the BBC, “Doniger is known for being rude, crude and very lewd in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit Academics”. She called the Bhagavad Gita (one of the most sacred Hindu scriptures and a classic of world religious literature) a “dishonest book” that “justifies war.”
The demonstrators condemned the book for its gross factual errors and gratuitously hurtful and contemptuous depictions e.g. comparing revered Hindu goddesses to Playboy models, mocking Hindus as unfaithful “serial monogamists”. This book caricatures Hinduism in a grossly offensive and degrading manner.
Doniger wants this book to be used as a “basic textbook” on Hinduism and India. Not only will this book subject students to a warped, false and bigoted version of Hinduism, it will also expose Indian-American youth to ridicule and bigotry.
Shri Narain Kataria, president of the Indian American Intellectuals Forum (IAIF), one of the organisers of the protest said that most learned scholars of Hinduism and Sanskrit do not think highly of Doniger. They have totally rejected Doniger’s deceptive claims of being a Sanskrit scholar and they have also stated that her understanding of Hinduism is very superficial and often dead wrong. To repeat, the book by Dr Doniger is a work that promotes bigotry, racism and intolerance, Shri Kataria said. According to one Hindu Sanskrit scholar, “Her Rig Veda illustrates her poor knowledge of Sanskrit and her translation is just literal, if at all. She does not have the depth of knowledge to delve deep into Hindu texts and unravel their real meaning”.
The protesters held the demonstration to expose her bogus scholarship about Hinduism and discredit her in the eyes of academia using objective and factual criteria. “Our purpose was to caution NBCC to think twice before considering Doniger for any honour, said Shri Kataria.”
By giving a pornographic twist to Hindu objects of veneration and worship, Doniger is trying to create the illusion that Hinduism is nothing but a crude immoral religion. This has the potential to create disaffection, disillusionment and depression in the minds of Hindu children about Hinduism.
“We organised the demonstration to protest those who willingly and deliberately support Dr Wendy Deniger’s anti-Hindu agenda,” he said.
The Hindu organisations or leaders from New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, who participated in the protest included Shri Raju Nanoo, chairman of Trustee Board, Kerala Hindus of North America, Dr Vasudeva C Murthy, president of Kannada Koota, Srinivas Shakelly from Forum for Hindu Awakening, Shri Bidyut Sarkar from International Federation of Bangladeshi Hindus and Friends, Shri Sher Bahadur Singh, member, Board of Directors, International Hindi Samiti, Smt Sunanda Thali from Hindu Human Rights Watch, Shri Ramen Nandi from Bharat Seva Sangh, Shri Nagendra Rao, president of Sanatana Dharma Pratishsthapana Foundation, Dr Sudhakar Reddy, Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party, Shri Kamal Pandey of Foundation of Nepalese in America, Shri Arish Sahani and Shri Nand Ramsinghani of Indian American Intellectuals Forum and Smt Usha.