wendy

Interviewing Wendy Doniger

Interviews, Myth Theory 64 Comments

A part of this was published in Sunday Midday, 25 Oct 2009

Anyone who is serious about studying Hinduism needs to study the works of Wendy Doniger (b.1940), who for over 40 years has been researching, translating, and commenting on Hindu scriptures and stories. Had it not been for her, I would not have had access to so many tales hidden in our scriptures. Her language is direct and simple, shorn of distracting ornamentation. But her interpretations and choice of words (like the insistence in using the word ‘evil’ even though no common Indian language has a synonym for it) though thought-provoking are not always satisfying.

A distinguished professor at the Divinity School, Chicago, with a PhD from Harvard and DPhil from Oxford and with several honorary doctorates to her credit, her first book, published in 1978, was the Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva. This year sees the release of her latest book The Hindus: an Alternative History, which puts together the various influences – beyond the Sanskrit texts – that have shaped Hindu thought over thousands of years. Despite the usual male-bashing and Brahmin-bashing, this is without doubt a monumental work that is awe-inspiring and humbling in its scale.

The Hindu Right has denounced her writings as being lewd and vulgar and disrespectful. An egg was thrown at her during a lecture in London. Mercifully, it missed her, struck the wall behind her, and, thankfully, propelled her name beyond academic circles, enabling more people to read the delightful stories she unearths. That this event which took place in 2003 is recounted again and again every time her name is mentioned makes one wonder if it is being milked for media mileage by various forces for it does give an act of immaturity more significance than it deserves. The Hindu Left, or should we say secular Left, would disagree vehemently as they bend over backward applauding her objectivity. The truth is, like all things human, somewhere in between the extreme reactions Wendy Doniger evokes. And this, I feel, is evident in her answers given to the questions I emailed her a few days ago.

In one of the questions, I had suggested that she enjoys intellectual heckling. It is an opinion I have held for long. I realise after reading her answer that it could be just a case of different sensibilities. For example, the cover of her book shows (of the countless options Hindu art has to offer) Krishna riding a horse made up of naked women. This is a popular theme in Patta Paintings of Orissa; more often, the women collectively give shape to an elephant or a temple-shaped Kandarpa Ratha, chariot of the love-god. Such images have been around for a long time. The erotic content is often overlooked, or may occasionally evoke mild amusement. As the book discusses women and horses and patriarchy in the Hindu context, the image even seems appropriate. But when a Jewish American scholar puts it on her book about the Hindus, it can – in a time of political opportunism, religious intolerance, and scholastic puritanism – be construed as provocative and insensitive. But then, maybe, this priestess of Saraswati, having read and reread the Vedas and the Brahmanas and the Upanishads and the Shastras for over four decades, has more faith than I do in the maturity and wisdom of humanity.

What made a dancer trained under Martha Graham move into academic research?

There was no real connection, but a conflict: I had to give up dancing to study Sanskrit, and it was a hard choice to make, but I have never regretted it.

What is that first event that drew you towards Hindu scriptures?

I suppose it was the first time I saw my mother’s rubbings from Ankor Wat, that were on the walls of our house, and I asked her about them; or the time she gave me a copy of E M Forster’s A Passage to India; or when I read the Juan Mascaro translation of the Upanishads. I don’t know which one of these events came first, but they came together to ignite my interest in Hinduism.

Which of the many Hindu scriptures that you have translated over the years filled you awe, and which one filled you with disgust? Why?

I suppose the Rig Veda struck me with the most awe, such a beautiful, profound text and so old, but the one that fascinated me most was the Yoga-Vasishtha, with its brilliant stories. No Hindu texts have ever disgusted me; I got quite angry at Manu from time to time while I was translating him, especially when he was particularly racist or sexist, but I never lost my respect for his enormous intelligence and his ability to put together into an integrated whole so many different aspects of dharma.

Your writings seem very left brained. Is that you, or simply the demands of academia?

I would say that I am more of a right-brain type, more intuitive; people sometimes complain, especially editors of early drafts of my books, that I make instinctive connections and fail to spell out, for the reader, the logical processes that led me from one point to another. I have to work hard at the left-brain, analytical processes.

My mother and aunts wonder why academicians refer to Shiva-linga as Shiva’s phallus. They feel it is not so. Whose truth is the truth – that of the believers or that of the research scholar?

There is no one correct truth here. Historically, the Shiva-linga was indeed understood as a representation of the phallus of Shiva; you can see this from visual representations like the Gudimallam linga and from stories in the Puranas about the origin of the linga from the body of Shiva. But since the 19th century reforms of Hinduism, many Hindus have entirely lost these historical associations and see the Shiva-linga as a purely abstract symbol. So your mother and aunts are right, but the scholars of the history of Hinduism are also right.

I feel Hindu scriptures use a lot of symbolic language so one is never sure what is ‘real’ and what is ‘representation’. Is the Ram of the Ramayana, a man, a god, a principle of metaphysics? What do you think?

The beauty of symbolic language is that a powerful symbol can be many things at once, and certainly the Ram of the Valmiki Ramayana is a man, a god, and a principle of metaphysics. At any moment, or in the mind of any particular reader or devotee, he may be more one than another, but all of the possibilities are always there. It is simultaneously “real” and “representation.”

Brahmin-bashing is a favorite pastime of the intellectual. Is there nothing redeeming about Brahmanism?

In my book, The Hindus, I demonstrated at length the great positive contribution that the Brahmins have made to Indian civilization and therefore to the civilization of the world. And there are many kinds of Brahmins; some are powerful and narrow-minded, and they have done a great deal of harm to people of other castes; but many are entirely open-minded, and they have opened the way for women and people of lower castes to contribute to traditional Hinduism. Brahmins are primarily responsible for Sanskrit literature, which is a glorious thing. But I also want to point out how much the other castes have also contributed to Sanskrit literature in ways that have been overlooked.

Is Hinduism all about patriarchy and caste?

Certainly not. The basic structures are patriarchal and caste-oriented, but Hindu men and women from all castes have always transcended the boundaries of the basic structures and much of Hinduism has nothing at all to do with either patriarchy or caste.

What is the one consistent theme you find across the history of Hinduism?

I suppose there is no single theme; I’ve argued for clusters of basic themes rather than a single one. But the cluster would include karma, dharma, narratives, puja of one sort or another, and attention to the infinite diversity of possibilities for a human life.

How would you define dharma?

Again it includes so many things — justice, truth, law, religion — but I suppose I would define it as the way that one should live in harmony with other people and with nature.

When I read your books, I feel you enjoy heckling people. Your choice of words can be rather stark. I can almost feel you chuckle at the orthodox getting their knickers in a twist. Am I imagining this?

Yes, I think you are indeed imagining this, but apparently you are not the only one. Perhaps if you gave me an example of something that you regard as heckling or stark I could see where the misinterpretation has come in. My sense of humor, which is a New York Jewish sense of humor, sometimes is mistaken for flippancy. But I never ever write with the intention of making anyone angry. The only people I poke fun at in The Hindus are the scholars who generated such outlandish ideas about the Indus Valley on the basis of absolutely no evidence. I never ever poke fun at any Hindus. I sometimes see Hindu texts as themselves as funny, or as poking fun at other people, and I enjoy those texts and cite them. I certainly do not always agree with what the texts say. But I do not heckle them.

Unlike a guru-shishya tradition where information flow was customized to the student’s intellectual and emotional grasp, books are highly democratic. Uninitiated and uninformed readers can be in for a shock when they read some of the things you recount in your writings. Is that why there is outrage at some of your work by a section of Hindus?

This is a good point. It is indeed a shock to encounter information about your own tradition that you never heard when you were growing up. But this is an argument for making such information available earlier, not for avoiding it in order to avoid the shock. Uninformed readers need to become informed readers, and my hope is that once the initial shock wears off, they will come to appreciate their own tradition even more than they did when they thought it was narrower than it actually is.

Many people are uncomfortable with the secular left, and with the religious right. But they don’t have much of a voice. What do you have to say to them?

I believe in democracy, in everyone having a voice. As long as people are allowed to speak and write what they think, and to vote without fear of repercussions, they will have a voice, and they will be free to say what it is about the left or the right that makes them uncomfortable. India is a democracy, and the rights laid out in its Constitution must be preserved and defended. This is never easy to do, in the United States or in India or anywhere else, but it is very important to keep speech free.

There are people who believe that homosexuality is against Hindu culture. Is that scriptural or their imagination? Any references if breathing exercises cure homosexuality?

There is very little information about homosexual behavior in traditional Hindu Sanskrit texts. The dharma-texts briefly list homosexual acts as unnatural, and use a pejorative term (kliba) for people who deviate from a rather narrow definition of normal sexuality, but even those texts punish homosexual acts with very minor fines, in dramatic comparison with much more serious punishments for infringements of heterosexual customs [heavy punishment for rape, for instance]. The Kamasutra, by contrast, is entirely non-judgmental in its description of men who have oral sex with other men. So you could say that some parts of Hindu culture condemned it while other parts did not. I don’t know anything about those breathing exercises.

How certain are you about anything you write? Do you ever doubt your conclusions?

I always doubt my conclusions, and indeed I usually try to avoid making them at all; my editors are always begging me to write them at the end of books, where I really just prefer to tell the stories. I often change my mind after I’ve written something. But I always try to make the best sense of any thing I write about to the best of my knowledge at the time when I’m writing it.

What do you seek in a student?

Intelligence, of course. Enthusiasm. A pleasure in learning languages. A mind that comes up with ideas about the things it encounters, rather than just soaking up information. Humility, the constant realization that you never really know enough about anything to be sure of your conclusions.

No major monotheistic religion depicts God in female form. Why?

Well, there are just a few monotheistic religions, primarily the three Abrahamic religions, and even there the Christians have Mary, who is, for some, the most important figure. I think since men controlled the real world in those religions, they imagined that the ultimate control must be male too.

Do you feel the Hindu way under threat?

No more than any other tradition. Change happens. All religions that cling to old ways of doing things, all orthodoxies, have to struggle to maintain their worlds when all the rest of their culture is changing. Some aspects of Hinduism, such as the caste system, are under pressure to change, and new religious movements siphon off worshippers from more traditional forms of Hinduism. But Hinduism as a whole is certainly not under threat; it is thriving, precisely because it is changing.

Do you believe in rebirth?

Yes, but since very few people, if any, can remember their previous lives, I don’t find the concept of rebirth as nourishing or interesting as it would be if you could remember who you had been. Without that, it’s just an abstract idea, not something you can use in your life. But I think it’s a very good idea, and quite likely true. Everything else is recycled in nature, after all; why not the soul, the spark of life? But consciousness evidently is not recycled, and that’s the problem.

Do you pray? To whom?

Sometimes, but not to anyone in particular.

Who is your favorite god? Why?

Shiva, particularly as he is described in the Puranas. His qualities seem to me to explain the way the world is-—glorious, terrifying, unpredictable, passionate, but he is also brilliant and very much of an intellectual.

Who is your favourite goddess? Why?

Durga, particularly as she is worshipped in Bengal. I love the stories about her courage and beauty, and when I lived in Bengal I loved the rituals of Durga-puja, particularly the final immersion in the river amid all the floating lights.

Do you prefer God with form or without form?

With form, absolutely. I have little capacity for abstract thought; I like stories.

Can the world exist without religion?

Apparently not. It is everywhere, and has always been everywhere. This is not to say that everyone is religious; many people are not. But no culture has survived as a whole without religion.

Have the scriptures that you have read changed you? How?

Certainly reading the Hindu texts over the years has changed my worldview. In particular, the texts that I read when I was writing The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology helped me to come to terms with the death of my father, whom I had loved so much that at first I didn’t think I could go on without him. The Hindu understanding of death was a great comfort to me then, more than any Christian or Jewish texts had ever been.


  • Akshay

    Great interview. I’m reading The Hindus: An alternative history and it is a brilliant scholarly work. Her writing style is engaging and I for one see no obsession with sexuality though there are references to it at appropriate places. And why not, it is as much a part of the texts and traditions as anything else! You can argue against her conclusions but blandly condemning without reading is ignorant behaviour. The Hindu Right’s vision is promoting an intolerant, ‘pure’ version of Hinduism which is not what is.

    • Preeti

      Fully agree!

    • Indie Boy

      All one can say is that real history by true indians like Aurabindo, Gandhi etc. is to be read first. Then alternate one. Then conclude. You seem to be modern educated with no real study of actual texts. It is upto you. With just that background, it is not appropriate to come to the conclusions you have come. Also there is a context to everything. You can see common thread of hating Hinduism in all her work. Those who are against it, see things from that context. But yes- labelling them under right wing is the easy way to avoid this real study.

      • Vijayalakshmi Menon

        There are so many Hindu spiritual leaders in our own country,Bharat (India),who have thorough understanding of our Scriptures and are well-versed in Sanskrit. It is from them that we should learn/understand our religion, not from any perverted ‘indologist’ with half-baked knowledge,irreverence and bias, who only make a mockery of our sublime religion.

  • ab

    Dear Dinakarji,

    You may not have grasped something obvious. I have a degree from Yale that includes Indo-European lnguistics under Stanley Insler, Indic Studies under Norvin Hein and Chinese, Japanese and Theravada Buddhism under Stanley Weinstein. Kindly make sure that YOU are familiar with their individual contributions to Indology & Eastern religions.

    Additionally, the most revered Geshe Lobsang Donyo, Abbot of Sera Je, and H.E.the Khamtrul Rinpoche of the Nyingma School, both have granted their grace and teachings over many years to this person, as have other notable monks of the Vajrayana tradition.

    In my personal life, the parampara of Sri Anirvan, the great savant of Bengal, and Sri Satya Dev Brahmachari, have been my pillars, along with the traditional kulachara, and vaidika studies under my beloved acaryadeva, now deceased.

    You can imagine that one has been rigorously trained in both Eastern & Western traditions and modes of interpretation to a degree possibly not available to a casual student such as yourself. This charcha & svadhyaya form the entirety of my daily routine. You may not have been exposed to the powerful tools of Indian svadhyaya, which process is not a game.

    Like you, I preserve the right to assign to my religious tradition my own priorities. To this day, the intrusion into the Vedic dharma by the anadhikari & malicious are deemed to be a casus belli by many.

    Devdutt & Wendy should read Sri Anirvan [the untranslated works in Bangala] and THEN TALK RUBBISH. BUT DO READ HIM.

    At the very least, read the explanatory notes to Aurobindo’s Hymns to the Sacred Fire. [And NO, I am not an admirer of Aurobindo’s and it kills me to say the guy is on the right track here.]

    Symbolism in the Mantrabhaga of the Vedas is extremely dense. It requires more depth than someone chasing after worldly fame & gain to penetrate to the heart of the matter.

    If Ranajit Pal {who at present is suffering from self-inflicted defeat in the battle against nescience, avidya, could bring himself to enter the Bangala texts mentioned [ Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Kolkata]} his eyes might open wide. We Indians, Dinakar included, are drunk on self-loathing; so, that unless an outsider shows us the “correct” way to think, we are ever doubtful of our own selves. No wonder we function best as slaves, and no wonder that those who profess admiration for Wendy and seek enlightenment from her, are ASURAS, seeking their own SHUKRACHARYA.

    These are low life forms that need to vibrate to the lowest, most heinous mode of interpretation. And such people automatically sort themselves out into the lowest class of human beings, no matter what their birth.

    • m s dinakar

      “Through the passage of centuries, in the works of Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Arabs, this love and respect for the truth is mentioned endless times as perhaps the remarkable trait of all Iranians.”
      – Stanley Insler –
      Professor Stanley Insler was writing in the context of the “veneration of the truth among the ancient Iranians.” I reckon the same could be said of a number of foreign scholars who had/have come to India for Indic research studies. More remarkably I ought to mention that the Gathic scholar Stanley Insler – who has a strong Veda and Indo-Iranian orientation – is noted for his cosmopolitan, open-minded and friendly interaction if one goes by the recollections of his students and co-professionals. So was/is Norvin J.Hein who handled Indian and Comparative Religion till retirement in 1985. Finally, I can easily imagine how cosmopolitan is professor Stanley Weinstein given his teaching stint at Komazawa University in Tokyo and at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London before he joined Yale where too he has had a distinguished academic career. None of the academics you have mentioned is myopic or bigoted. Though you can consider yourself lucky to have listened to the lectures of these academics but they do not seem to have had any ‘universalist’ influence on your outlook. You got to understand that “name-dropping” is the easiest thing to do in this world but it certainly serves no one’s purpose! When I read your agitated prose, I was reminded of the Zen tale of ‘the Cup being already Full to its Brim with pre-suppositive ideas’ and it has to be EMPTIED first for the fresh ideas to enter in. Honestly I do not see any reason for rage in a civilized debate. Moreover, I don’t think it is fair to prolong ” unhealthily noisy” exchanges in another person’s blog. Thank you for your long reply though I did not find anything of substance. I shall not be indulging in another around of exchange on this topic anymore. In all fairness, I should appreciate Devdutt Pattanaik for his open-minded allowance which gives room for healthy debates on his blogospheric space and I wish it is used with sensitivity by everyone of us ! :-)

  • ab

    Devdutt,

    Here is my Challenge to you.

    Why do you not arrange to get Sri Anirvan’s VEDA MIMANSA [3 vol] and GAYATRI MANDAL [5 vol] translated into

    Hindi
    English
    Kannada
    Tamil
    Marathi
    Gujarati
    Oriya
    German
    Chinese
    Arabic
    Spanish
    French

    The Bangala prose is lapidary and very dense. I am happy to help. Translation should be by committee.

    Since you have trashed Indian points of view with such obvious glee, if you have any sense of fairness & honor you will employ whatever influence you enjoy to interest people in this project.

    You have kicked your Mother in the face, that VedaMata who has nurtured you in your identity you have seen fit to strip of HER clothes like a Duryodhana, merely for the pleasure of enhancing your fame in the public sphere.

    The shukari-bishtha of yasha-pratistha you have gleefully smeared on HER face. “After such knowledge, what forgiveness?”

    Will you attempt restitution?

    • Devdutt

      So much rage….not possible if you have really read the Veda and grasped Brahma vidya

      • satya shanbhag

        Keepers of Veda have to get enraged when the tree of life is being demolished both from inside (secular bigots who don’t understand the great Aryavartha culture, like you) and outside (evangelical and secular pimps like Donkeirer). Actually Hindu culture is being destroyed more from inside than outside demonoids. So Aryavartha has to develop strong immunity to fight the internal pathogens (demonoids) and get rid of them. So dear Dutt, it is not an anger from the Vedantis or Rishis..it is a natural reaction at neutralising a malignant demonoid pathogen, completely in tune with natural law.

        • gbhai

          Well said. Brahma vidya-vadins always made ample space for kshatriyas who could be enraged at injustice, wanton destruction and external aggression. Devdutt wants all Hindus to become the Kleebas that Wendy talks about in the interview i.e. in the name of Brahma vidya render brahma vidya defenseless and prone to destruction.

        • Vijayalakshmi Menon

          I fully agree with you. We must resist the wicked elements trying to portray our religion in a bad light. It is good that we pointed out the distortions in Wendy’s book and won the case against her legally. The book should be withdrawn from all over the world.

      • GuruM

        Mr. Devdutt,

        Note : This comment was pending moderation for 5 months due to external links. Removed the links as they can easily be found on google using the context given.

        I don’t want to leave this blog without offering a counter-argument to the ‘benign’ nature of Mz. Wendy ‘projected’ here.

        This blog by Rajiv Malhotra describes the effect of Wendy Donniger’s student Jeff Kripal and his approved writings esp with malice towards Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda :
        Search for RISA LILA Wendy’s Child Syndrome at sulekha dot com website.

        Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda have been maligned by this ‘I-scratch-your-back-You-scratch-mine’ club. Yet Hindus are very forgiving of such ignorance and ‘tamas’.

        So much so that the US branch of Ramkrishna Mission ignored these articles for many years.
        Thinking “It’s some academicians play-acting – ignore them”.
        When these hitherto un-challenged self-proclaimed experts started being introduced into American schools they woke to the danger.

        Were you aware of this? If not take the trouble to read through the article.
        Search for KCR3b pdf on “Rebuttal of Jeff Kripal’s book by Swami Tyagananda” at gemstone-av dot com

        Dhanyavaad,
        GuruM

        Note :
        1) It is __abnormal__ NOT to be angered when provoked. In ‘Freudian analysis’ it’s called ‘repression’.

        2) For Buddha-like people it may be possible to observe without reacting, but not for normal people like ourselves (Wendy too and yourself included as well).

      • JRajBali

        I’m actually really glad I just found your website and this discussion group. I think actually it has made me take different look at your perspective, which is good because I was falling into the old trick of putting you on a pedestal. Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the translations you’ve done especially on the interpretations of calendar art. You’re writings have been integral in helping me create a comprehensive understanding for myself of maya and as such have given me to tools to be able to counsel youth on issues like sex before marriage or marijuana or alcohol and the role they take in our culture and the varying perspectives (western and eastern). All of that being said I believe that a true sanatani examines all the information and creates their own faith. As I’ve been discussing with quite a few perspectives online, I think the crux of the “Wendy” debate is that as a scholar in the academia for 40 years she’s entitled to interpret with her fringe (sic) theories, but when she holds so much sway over American academic portrayals of Hinduism, the potential increases for the fringe to become the accepted and the mainstream to become suppressed (and we can see that happen as well in the opposite direction in India with proposed BJP education reforms, with the vehement right overshadowing the moderate center). To me, having been introduced to the stories through sanitized versions of the Amar Chitra Katha and coming upon the more textually direct interpretations in my early/late teens was a shock and I was reactionary as would be expected. And then by bettering my own proficiency and studying the stories available to me in Awadhi I came to realize the fluidity in the writing that you talk about. Yes something can be very literally translated and interpreted into something sexual as well as going in the opposite direction and being extremely poetic. It really just depends on the person reading it and their own innate biases.

  • ab

    EXACT Synonym for “evil” in Vedic: ANARTHA

    • Devdutt

      No…that means tragedy or disorder…not evil

  • Narasimhan Vamanan

    I don’t remember my past births but rebirth is not an abstract idea in my life. It shadows me more powerfully that any particular memory of a past life. This is because I am a Hindu which Wendy Doniger, despite her interest in a hundred HIndu books is not.

  • GuruM

    Namaskar,

    I’ve commented positively on other articles and these comments have been accepted very fast.

    I’ve submitted a few comments on this article which give an alternate view of the topic.
    At the very least it will give people following the blog something contrasting to read and think about.
    These comments are made after investing much reading, thought and energy.

    Given Devdutt-ji’s busy schedule, I understand that comment moderation may take time.
    But if moderation is used to filter out alternative viewpoints then it’s frankly a waste of effort to write anything other than praise.

    The least that can be done is to reply back privately saying that the comment was rejected with optional info as to why it was rejected.

    Dhanyavaad,
    GuruM.

  • Hindu

    Found nothing intellectual…
    It was more of playing on words and just a indicative interest in hindu scriptures…
    Found her answers very tricky..
    Answer and it’s explanation contradict each other and ultimately gives you an impression of Hinduism, which is her naive and ameteur opinion about hinduism.. which has less link with reality…

    For instance… Her views on caste system in Hindu scriptures..
    Had she been real intellectual, She would have understood the idea behind it.
    One more thing, She is quite defensive in answering.. So as to keep herself on safer side, when questions are raised at her conclusions.

    In short .. Its sugar coated candies with poison inside it…

  • Amit

    Oye Dhakkan Ab teri dukan band hone wali hai jyada time nahi hai tere pass jitana kamana hai abhi kama le

  • GuruM

    I’m not sure if Mr. Devdutt is aware of Wendy and her clique’s activities and whether he endorses their views. From the few FB posts where he claims that Wendy is his inspiration for getting into ‘mythology’ and ‘symbolism’ of Hinduism, It does appears that he IS aware of and endorses their views.

    Either way that is something which is his personal opinion and should not be thrust down the brains of followers who may not be aware of this side of Mr. Devdutt.

    In the books by “Jeff Kripal” mentored by Wendy Doniger – Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda have been maligned and their reputations tarnished with this ‘anything-is-fair’ attitude.

    ‘Nothing is holy’ and ‘fair-game’ is the view of this clique of so-called self-styled “experts” it seems.
    Usage of fancy “intellectual” terms like post-modern and deconstructionists they think justifies anything.

    People interested may like to go through Rajiv Malhotra’s analysis and demolition of Wendy’s view of the world in his book “Invading the Sacred”

    “Being Different – An Indian Alternative to Western Universalism” is a super book which destroys the British built and US nurtured myths about India. It also asserts that like Chineses/Japanese/Russians we don’t need to copy West in order to be ‘modern’.

    If Devdutt’s offerings are like junk-food – tasty but not good for health.
    Then Rajiv Malhotra’s work is like home-food.

  • GuruM

    writing
    and videos as he mostly his talks were brief and introduced me to
    stories of Bharatiya Sanskriti of which I was sadly unaware…

    Yet
    every article left a lot unsaid. I always felt something was lacking.
    The depth of Bharatiya Thought was somehow not coming through. Other
    sources were much more clear on the Dharmic aspects while Devdutt chose
    to restrict himself to only secular aspects.

    Though
    many ‘subjective’ views were expressed the theory of Karma was never
    properly explained. Explaining one story or incident only lead to 10
    more questions. Since the articles were quite short there was no
    follow-up nor any attempt at later explanation.

    I thought that this was intentionally done to avoid overloading readers with too much info. I said as much in our email threads.

    In Indian thought every thing is connected. I was looking for more articles to fill this gap on his website.

    Also
    read few of Kabir’s dohas even a few stanza’s of which are filled to
    the brim with deep knowledge from the Agamas etc. In fact just trying to
    explain one doha requires one to understand terminology of Yoga itself.
    A
    Guru was required to decode the deep and esoteric meaning of words and
    symbols used. It’s not possible to understand this just by reading the
    original works. The traditional knowledge passed on had to be
    accessible.

    So how come Devdutt was not either tapping into such insight from a Guru? What was his reference material?

    The
    only attribution for his insight into scriptures as per his own
    admission was extreme hard work, professional research, using
    spreadsheets to track every fact etc. No mention of Wendy’s work as
    inspiration… Apart from this small interview piece which I found as I
    browser through his article archives page by page.

    I came to know of Rajiv Malhotras books and articles on Indian Sepoys and their colonial/financial/intellectual masters.

    It
    so happened that around 15-30 days before Wendy’s book controversy I
    happened upon a small article by Devdutt on his admiration and
    inspiration of Wendy and her work. It was his interview from way back in
    2000.

    I’d tried very hard to find out his sources earlier as it might lead me to good books/resources on symbolism in Hinduism. Nothing!!

    Why
    hide this if not to avoid crossing swords with Hindu critics. I posted
    many questions on this aspect on his website. No reply at all. No
    response or allowing of my comments on his article praising wendy.

    Note : This was before the controversy on her book publishing in India.
    Maybe he felt sure of his following on FB.

  • HmmmIzitso

    It is no strange coincidence that Wendy’s father died in 1971 the same year she gave birth to a son. It is said in the literary circles that incest was part of her family and blood history, and her abnormal looks is possibly the result of incestuous copulation of her mother with her maternal grand father. The simple fact that eroticism is all she thinks clearly points to that real possibility. She is a smut filth.

  • Amit Saxena

    “The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think…Throughout the Mahabharata … Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviors such as war…. The Gita is a dishonest book …”

    _
    Wendy Doniger

    Dear Sir, please clarify your stand on this?