Saturday, July 31, 2004

The representation of Hinduism in US academia

This has been a major point of contention among Hindus for a while now. To put it succinctly, it appears as though US scholars treat Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism with respect.

But they treat Hinduism as though it were a) a dead religion, not a living faith, b) as something they can 'mine' for their thesis, c) as one whose practitioners are anthropological specimens (shades of Margaret Meade) whom they can hoodwink. And they feel they have the right to trash Hinduism left, right and center.

It is as though we live in colonial times, and the prejudices of Semitic types about a religious way that is the opposite of their bigoted exclusivism are to be taken as, as it were, the gospel truth. Of course, a lot of stealth-Marxist-with-Hindu-name 'sepoys' both in the US and India are happy to help them in this endeavor.

Now Hindus are standing up and objecting to this ill-treatment. I wrote about this a while ago, too:

Here is an article by Dr. Anand Sharma that lays out some of the background. This is a little dated, as it was circulated on the Net a few months ago, but still useful.

Rajiv Malhotra's seminal article on Sulekha can be found with a google search. So can Sankrant Sanu's critique of Microsoft Encarta, which led to Encarta dropping Wendy Doniger's oversexed and titillating depiction of Hinduism with Arvind Sharma's more respectful version.

The Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public LifeTrinity College, Hartford CT

Spring 2004 Vol. 7, No. 1
Hindus and Scholars
by Arvind Sharma (McGill University, Montreal)

On January 5, 150 Hindu nationalists armed with bats and chains vandalized the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India, to protest a scholarly monograph on a 17th-century Hindu ruler named Shivaji by James W. Laine, a religious studies professor at Macalaster College in Minnesota.

According to the Global News Wire January 7, the nationalists, calling themselves (after Shivaji's son) the Sambhaji brigade, attacked BORI "because one of the scholars cited by Laine happens to be a member of the Institute's managing committee." Two weeks earlier, members of the nationalist party Shiva Sena had tarred the face of another Indian scholar because Laine had mentioned him in the preface of his book.


1 comment:

Amit Chopra said...

If this is Rajeev from SUN India that worked with can you pls reply back with your email to me achopra AT

Thanks !