Penguin Accused of ‘Surrender’ over Book Which Angered Hindu Fundamentalists

Dean Nelson, Telegraph (London), February 11, 2014

The publisher Penguin has been accused of cowardice after it agreed to withdraw and pulp all remaining copies of a widely-acclaimed book on Hinduism to settle a civil claim from a Hindu fundamentalist group.

The book, The Hindus, An Alternative History, by respected American academic Wendy Doniger, was published in 2009 to correct misunderstanding of the religion as prescriptive and shame-based and to reveal its compassionate and tolerant roots.

But it provoked an angry response from Hindu fundamentalist groups who said it took a “Christian missionary” approach to denigrate the faith, was littered with factual errors and defamed revered Gods.

Soon after its publication, a civil case was launched by six complainants led by Dina Nath Batra a text book adviser during the last Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government who rejected a number of history books be believed had wounded Hindu “sentiments” and pride. Ms Doniger’s book had intended to show the Hindu religion “in a poor light” and had been disrespectful of its Gods and Goddesses, he argued.

His group’s claim cited the book’s cover jacket which shows Lord Krishna “sitting on the buttocks of a naked woman, surrounded by naked women.” The picture had attempted to “ridicule, humiliate and defame the Hindus and denigrate the Hindu traditions,” it added.

Penguin was on Tuesday accused of “surrender” and “cowardice” by commentators and freedom of expression campaigners after copies of the settlement were released by Mr Batra’s office. Under the terms of the deal, which was reached in a Delhi court on Monday, Penguin agreed to stop the distribution and sale of the book in India and destroy all remaining copies of the book. In exchange, Mr Batra and his fellow litigants agreed to drop all civil and criminal cases against the publisher.

Ms Doniger told friends in India she was angry about the settlement and indicated she had not been consulted about it in advance. She said “For all the people who have expressed outrage over this, I am deeply grateful,” she told friends by email. She said she did not believe it would be possible to stop people buying the book online, although it did not appear possible today to purchase the book on Amazon from India or via local rivals.

Indian literary and cultural commentator Salil Tripathi criticised Penguin for its “surrender” without a fight.

“This is not a ban; it is surrender. There is no nicer way to put it.

“Rather than fight the case in higher courts, instead of making the case of freedom of expression and academic freedom, and avoiding the option of standing by a renowned author, Penguin has decided to throw in the towel,” he said in an article for the Indian financial paper Mint.

Leading novelist and freedom of expression campaigner Nilanjana Roy said she could not understand why the publisher had not made a stand for its other authors and readers who had bought the book. “If they had fought and lost I would have understood it. They have not given any explanation on why they were forced to settle and I’m puzzled that they would not say anything,” she said.

The settlement was welcomed by Bharatiya Janata Party figures, including Subramanian Swamy, a leading lawyer. “Wendy Doniger buckles before the coming Saffron wave,” he said in a reference to the expected victory of his Hindu nationalist party in this April’s general election.

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  • Spartacus

    Shame on them for insulting their six and a half million gods…

    • Katherine McChesney

      Several years ago I met a Hindu who prayed to a ‘god’ statue on a postcard. She actually introduced me to ‘him’ as if ‘he’ were human.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        I meet fervent, fundamentalist Christians who manifest the same unreal relationship with their idea of a directive, flesh and blood Jesus present in their lives.
        Suspension of disbelief, faith based spiritual paths hold this element in common. It is just a matter of the one chosen as the “correct” religion.

        • Katherine McChesney

          Jesus is NOT present in flesh and blood. Your comment has been skewed to make Christians look ridiculous. But, if your discussing Catholic “Christians’ they engage in cannibalism by claiming that the eucharist and wine are the actual flesh and blood of Jesus.

      • CaptainCroMag

        When I was a teenager, I worked for an Indian family and in the back of their store they had a statue of Ganesh, the elephant god. What I found most strange was that they placed bowls of fruit at the base of the statue as an offering. Did they think that the statue came to life at night and ate the fruit?

        • Carney3

          Again, surely not. Surely they simply thought of the statue as a representation of or conduit to the supernatural entity, like Catholics do with statues of the saints or the like.

        • Katherine McChesney

          I ate at a Thai restaurant last summer. They also have a statue of Ganesh near their front door and at it’s base sat a bowl of rice and meat. I guess they thought that Ganesh would enjoy a little snack.

          I didn’t know that rice and fruit were elephant food.

          • captainc

            it is all supposed to ransom for God, just like Jesus flesh and blood.

        • saxonsun

          You see he same thing in Indian restaurants–it’s to invoke a blessing for prosperity. And although quite stupid, Christians do these things too.

      • Carney3

        Surely he thought the image was a conduit to the actual supernatural entity.

  • David Ashton

    Views of white racial nationalists on the Hindutva movement would be interesting.

    • Zimriel

      They’re free to write whatever antiwhite (or antisemitic) stuff they like for all I care, and I’ll remain free to mock them for it. I won’t recommend their publishers pulp it.

      Admittedly I also happen to believe that publishers don’t matter much these days.

      • David Ashton

        I believe in free speech all round.
        I thought HIndutva was an Indian equivalent of racial nationalism, but I live to learn.

        • Zimriel

          I’ve looked around at the Hindu(tva) reaction to Doniger’s book. My first impression is that Hindutva is indeed the Indian equivalent of white racial nationalism – but whinier.

          They say that we whites (and Jews, since Doniger is one) are “privileged” and that if we look objectively at Hindu silliness we’re “Orientalists”. Hindutva deserves much worse than what Doniger has thrown at them, and I don’t want their barbarous followers anywhere near me.

        • Aditya Vivek Barot

          Hindutva is a knock-off version of Mussolini’s fascism combined with a bit of Socialist egalitarianism.

          Its intellectual roots go no further. Like everything that country has produced in the last five hundred odd years, utterly superficial.

          Indians are so sensitive about their beastly and stupid religion(s) that the British criminalized all free discussion of religion at the risk of precipitating riots. All Christian missionary activity was curbed because peace was more valuable than harvesting the Indian soul. Even the RCs abandoned serious attempts are conversion when confronted by Indian stupidity, fanaticism, and think-skin.

          F**k ’em. F**k ’em all. F**k ’em in the ear.

    • Andy

      Hindutva claims that the Indo-Europeans originated in India, which they clearly did not, in order to promote solidarity between the Indian ethnic groups against evil white colonists.

      • David Ashton

        I had not realized how fully they were committed to the fashionable Out-of-India theories, but see their main target as “Muslims” not pale-skinned “Aryans”. Of course, they have a problem with caste and jat, as well as Tamil fantasies.

        • Martel

          The Hindutva have no issue cooperating with European whites in the long run, besides extremist factions within the Hindutva movement whites are generally considered trustworthy.Since the situation in India is very similar to Europe, where the mainstream media and the intellectual establishment continually deceive the public about the nature of Islam, it would be a complete failure if we are unable to extend our hands.

          The problem is that Europeans are currently incapable and unwilling to offer a sustainable alliance to the Hindutva movement. Its a shame many white nationalists are isolationists, its not a sustainable concept.

    • Guest

      I actively support the Hindutva movement.

  • Pro_Whitey

    Gee, they got a better deal than the muslims did with The Satanic Verses.

    • a multiracial individual

      It is amazing how upset people (liberals) get when you point out an obvious truth like, the fact that it is more dangerous to criticize some religions than others.

      Notice that Matt Stone and Trey Parker do not have to worry very much about Mormon assassins coming to kill them for their disrespectful play. Imagine if they wanted to have a similar play for Islam? Such a project would not even be possible because of the security concerns it would raise.

      • Zimriel

        Stone and Parker DID do a similar work for Islam – in the South Park show. Comedy Central butchered it and refuse to allow it to be screened in its proper form. I don’t really think Stone and Parker care about the threats they get; it’s the Comedy Central suits who were frightened.

        • They were pretty down on $cientology as well.

          • Lagerstrom

            They also stuck it to the NAMBLA, the North American Marlon Brando Lookalike Association.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    Anger Hindus? Stop publishing the book they’re protesting.

    Anger Muslims? Pull the video they’re protesting from YouTube.

    Anger Christians? Double down by making “Piss Christ” a featured work of modern art.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      You nailed it on this one. It’s shameful that we buckle under the slightest hint of unhappiness on the part of Hindus, Muslims, etc.

    • Carney3

      On the third point, also forcing Christians to pay for it via their tax dollars and treating them like tasteless boors when they object.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Hinduism is an enormous mass of barbaric, primitive superstitions of Dravidian Australoid origin, concealing a small Aryan esoteric and ritualized core. The original Hinduism, the pure Aryan core, is found in the Rig Veda, which is culturally, spiritually and linguistically related to that other great work of indigenous Indo-European spirituality, the Zend-Avesta. The worship of the fire god Agni, the hymns to the thunder god Indra, the sacred drink of soma, horse-drawn chariots, the struggle of the fair-complexioned Aryan against the dark-skinned aborigines, and the founding of the caste system are all part of the historical record of the Indo-European race during its infancy, at the very beginning of its Volkerwanderung across Europe, the Middle East and central Asia.

    • Bossman

      All superstitions are the same. Aryan superstition is no different from Dravidian superstition.

      • Einsatzgrenadier

        Not all religious beliefs are mere “superstition”. Some belief-systems, such as the one formulated by the original torchbearers of Rig Vedic ritual, incorporate substantial philosophical reflection about the nature of the universe and are therefore more evolved than others, such as the tribal superstitions of the Dravidians.

        • saxonsun

          True–what about yoga? It helps everyone. That’s the best thing they’ve come up with.

      • Tom_in_Miami

        They are certainly treated differently.

    • Aditya Vivek Barot

      The Rigveda is old, and antiquity deserves our respect.

      But only so much: Zorastrianism is a purer expression of that which you seek. The Indian form, even in Vedic times, was debased. The story of Vedic Civilization is a constant struggle against this very decay which has, by now, consumed this Civilization in its entirety.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    The publisher Penguin has been accused of cowardice after it agreed to withdraw and pulp all remaining copies of a widely-acclaimed book on Hinduism to settle a civil claim from a Hindu fundamentalist group.

    “Pulp?” So is this the modern-day, politically correct term for a book burning?

    • Martel

      Fire has such negative connotations…

      • Lagerstrom

        “Pulp” sounds kinda environmentally friendly too.

        • Katherine McChesney

          I like pulp in my orange juice.

  • dd121

    If you like your penguin, you can keep your penguin.

  • MBlanc46

    This isn’t just some fringe book. Wendy Doniger is one of the most respected scholars of religion in the country. But she made the mistake of thinking she could just tell the truth as she sees it.

  • MBlanc46

    Yet, American corporations will continue to export jobs that should go to native-born Americans to India. Those are the real traitors.

    • ShermanTMcCoy

      And they keep on importing them via the L1 and H1 Visa programs, who, after they get permanent residency import their aged parents, who then go on SSI. Quite a racket. No wonder America is finished.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        they get permanent residency import their aged parents, who then go on SSI.

        You are so right, that has been going on for a long time, Sherman. Twenty years at least.
        The problem is the usual one. Many of these aged parents, though ill with various chronic, complex diseases, have no knowledge of their medical history, cannot speak English.
        If their children do not accompany them, they expect interpreters, no matter how obscure a dialect.

  • Sick of it

    Maybe they should worship their demons in their own country, not ours.

    • Mason Gull

      Did you read the article? Did you not notice the part where this is happening in India?

      • Sick of it

        Perhaps you’ve missed the millions of East Indians in America?

        • Mason Gull

          They aren’t the ones complaining about the book, though.

  • Someday when I’m really, really bored and don’t have any booze handy, I’ll be sure and worry about what a pack of wife-burning savages who poop in the streets think of my opinions about their “religion”. In the meantime, perhaps they should address more important issues, like ceasing to dump dead bodies into their own drinking water supply.

    • Laura Dilworth

      I think the British banned the widow burning practice in India

      • It’s still going on. About 25,000 women are burned to death by their husbands or husbands’ family in India each year.

        • Einsatzgrenadier

          Human sacrifice is still practiced in dirty, feces-encrusted India.

        • Laura Dilworth

          yep

      • Lagerstrom

        True, but it didn’t stop the widows jumping on the pyres voluntarily.

        • Laura Dilworth

          ha!

  • BillMillerTime

    So the book’s cover jacket shows Lord Krishna
    “sitting on the buttocks of a naked woman, surrounded by naked women.”

    And the problem with this is…? 😀

  • IstvanIN

    Let the Indians ban whatever they want in India, as long as we have freedom of speech and thought we will continue to advance. Societies that forbid freedom of expression and thought stagnate. Who knows, maybe the USSR would not have collapsed had they allowed freedom of expression and thought. Countries that forbid differing views certainly do not move forward.

  • Tom_in_Miami

    “…destroy all remaining copies of the book.”

    It’s beginning to look like Germany in the ’30s.

  • Carney3

    Funny, I clearly remember a time when I felt the exact opposite way, because Islam is monotheistic and sexually conservative, while Hinduism is pagan with grossly carnal temple carvings etc. Thanks to 9/11 I’ve done a 180.

    • captainc

      9/11 was not done by the muslims.

      • Carney3

        Activate the kook trapdoor.

        • captainc

          explain then how the towers collapsed, plane debris in pentagon and the ineptness of the air forces?

          • Let’s see; there was plane debris in the Pentagon because some Arabs crashed an airplane into it. The WTC towers collapsed because a really, really hot JP-8 fire – caused by more Arabs crashing more airplanes – ruined the heat-treat on the surviving structural steel and the weight of the floors above overwhelmed the remaining strength. WTC-7 collapsed because pieces of a burning skyscraper fell on it.

            Some people who ought to know better like to claim that the WTC was demolished with “thermite”. I actually know what thermite is and what it does: it is powdered iron oxide and powdered aluminum, and all it does is burn really, really hot. It does not blow up sideways and sever structural steel the way the Konspiracy Kooks would like everyone to believe. I even made thermite as a college undergrad and messed around with it quite a lot. I melted a hole in a concrete road with it once (I was worried about using it on asphalt lest the petroleum tar in it ignite).

          • captainc

            michael, old building demolition doesn’t use thermite, it uses simply dynamites placed on strategic locations to weaken the building structure, just check the videos in youtube about how the witnesses heard explosions, even in some videos you can see the victims were thrown out of the windows due to explosions.

            and also check the dancing israeli spies on that day, according to eye witnesses, some reporter even conducted an interview with these spies afterwards in Israel. your government gave you as slaughtered ram on the alter of Baal. that’s the truth.

          • Wrong again. No “dynamite” involved.

            The people thrown out were due to the air pressure. Those buildings collapsing worked just like bicycle pumps.

  • Aditya Vivek Barot

    Will someone please help me nuke India? I’m so sick of these wogs.

    • The only folks who want to do that to India are in Pakistan and China. I would never use nukes on anyone except Mexico, and for them I would use nothing else.