Swami Vivekanand told the Christians in America, “If all India stands up, and takes all the mud that is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and throws it up against the Western countries, it will not be doing an infinitesimal part of that which you are doing to us.” More than a century has passed since then but the situation remains unchanged even today.
Nina Paley, an American cartoonist, in her animated film Sita Sings the Blues has left no stone unturned to denigrate the most revered icons of Hinduism, Ram and Sita, and the holy epic Ramayana. The film has turned the Ramayana into a laughing stock, is outrightly blasphemous and cannot be expected to be tolerated by even the most tolerant people.
In the film the commentators say that the Ramayana is not as true a story as the Bible. Sri Ram is depicted kicking Sita into the fire at the time of her agnipariksha and at the time of banishing her from the kingdom, even walking over her pregnant stomach. Sri Ram is shown as sweating and then fainting in fear on hearing from Hanuman what he saw in Lanka.
In the Ramayana, Ravan’s devotion to Shiva is described as such that the 72 thousand nadis or energy channels in his body created a sound (anahat nada). This has been interpreted in the film as “Ravan played the veena for Shiva with his intestines”. Ravan’s intestines are shown tumbling out of his body and playing veena.
The holy Ramayana has been transformed into a pervert cheap lowly jester. Sita speaks in an uncouth manner telling Ravan, “Your ass is grass once Lord Ram comes here.” Ravan’s sister describes Sita’s beauty saying that her breasts are like big round juicy lotuses. Sita is shown wearing a cholie that reveals her breasts in one outfit from above, and in another outfit from below the blouse.
One commentator viciously says that one needs to ‘give her one little tight thing’ for not returning with Hanuman when he came to rescue her. Another says that Sita stayed back as she wanted Sri Ram to rescue her and defeat Ravan due to the ego of wanting ‘her husband’ to be her rescuer and so she is called a ‘bloodthirsty’ woman and is depicted with blood coming out of her mouth and blood on her hands.
As expected Nina Paley’s response to protests from some Hindu groups was: “Art and artists are major targets of some right-wing nationalist groups in India.” We would love to see the reactions of India’s secular left-wing if Paley similarly ridicules Islam or Christianity.
The film is available for free viewing on the internet and the most surprising fact is that it has received many international awards. It has been recommended to children on many parenting sites. There clearly seems to be an international strategy to defame Hinduism and the Hindus.
Another major attempt at denigrating Hinduism has been made by Wendy Doniger in her book The Hindus – An Alternative History. The book is not only ill-researched, full of factual errors but full of derogatory, defamatory and offensive statements.
There are statements like, “If the motto of Watergate was ‘Follow the money’, the motto of the history of Hinduism could well be ‘Follow the monkey’ or, more often ‘Follow the horse’.” The author with all her incorrect interpretations alleges that in Rigveda 10.62, it is implied that a woman may find her own brother in her bed! The book likens the Vedic devotee worshipping different Vedic deities to a lying and a philandering boyfriend cheating on his girlfriend(s).
The author’s contempt of the Hindu people is evident in sentences like “…The mosque, whose serene calligraphic and geometric contrasts with the perpetual motion of the figures depicted on the temple, makes a stand against the chaos of India, creating enforced vacuums that India cannot rush into with all its monkeys and people and colors and the smells of the bazaar…”
About the Ramayan there are references like “Dasharatha’s son is certainly ‘lustful’. When Lakshmana learns that Sri Ram has been exiled, he says, “The king is perverse, old, and addicted to sex, driven by lust.”
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 anacolutha’.In the words of the BBC, “Doniger is known for being rude, crude and very lewd in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit Academics.”
Even the literary skills of Doniger were questioned by many readers who felt that every chapter seemed to have been written by a different person, suggesting that the book is a collection of writings of Doniger’s students. In spite of all its faults and deliberate mockery of Hinduism the book got nominated for the National Book Critics Circle.
Doniger has faced the wrath of the right-thinking Hindus. A critic had once thrown an egg at her at a conference in London in 2003. In her defence Doniger claims that she has been targeted because her “disadvantage lies in being female, non-Brahmin and more importantly, non-Hindu”. Before claiming victimhood on silly grounds, Doniger should take care to take a closer look at Hindu history where eminent personalities like Annie Besant and Sister Nivedita still command respect even though they were females, non-Brahmin and non-Hindu.
When books like Doniger’s and films like Paley’s are considered for awards, serious questions arise about the authenticity, motives and merit of the critics and awards themselves. There is definitely a large section in the Western world which has a well-designed anti-Hindu agenda.
It would be interesting to see the international response if Christianity or Islam become the subject of such derogatory portrayal. Positively, the very first protests would come from our own secular Indian government itself and then the media and the activists. The Prime Minister will lose sleep worrying about the hurt sentiments of the minorities. But they will defend these offending anti-Hindu works with their usual rhetoric of “freedom of expression”; the sentiments of the religious majority, of course, can go to the dogs.
The said film and the book should be instantly withdrawn from circulation and apology rendered by the publishers, writers and creators to the millions of Hindus all over the world. There are online petitions to protest against these anti-Hindu works. Please log on to the following links and sign the petitions to join the protest.
Protest against Nina Paley’s outright denigration of The Ramayan: http://www.hindujagruti.org
Demand for withdrawal of a flawed book on Hindu history published by Penguin: http://www.petitiononline.com
Once when Swami Vivekanand was travelling on a ship, there were some Christian missionaries who abused the Hindus and their religion. The Swami walked over to one of the speakers, seized him by the collar and said firmly, “If you abuse my religion again, I’ll throw you overboard.” That’s the message that we have to send out to the world.