Wendy Doniger (was Re: [Advaita-l] bhAgavata purANa)

Abhishek RK rkabhi at gmail.com
Tue Aug 22 01:37:38 CDT 2006


On 8/22/06, S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

>  the fault with the (mis)understanding of Hinduism by Westerners lies at
> least partially
> with Hindus themselves -- for not encouraging their children to
> embrace academic positions on Hinduism in American Universities.

Yes, the last Hindu academic of prominence that I have heard of is Ananda
Kumaraswamy (or Coomaraswamy), a Sri Lankan Tamil Brahmana.

> If
> only practising Hindus took up Hinduism-based lectureship positions
> in US academia, such Hindu-scripture-bashing can quite easily be
> averted.

Yes this trend has to grow and hopefully be repeated in India too.

> She errs unknowingly, because she classifies Hindu
> scriptures on par with "dead" religions such as the ancient Greek,
> Roman or Egyptian religions, and thinks it is all right to freely
> interpret the religion's texts in anyway she likes.

I've experienced this even on the internet: Westerners treating Hinduism as
a dead religion. As a Hindu author puts it, if Hindus tried to put forward
their interpretation of Hinduism to them, such people would be as shocked if
Egyptian mummies came to life.

> It doesn't strike
> her that it is a living tradition practised by hundreds of millions
> of people all over the world. She is ignorant of Hindu symbolism and
> sees sexuality where the real meaning rests elsewhere (e.g. one
> doesn't pray to the Shiva linga with sexual thoughts in one's mind,
> even though an outsider may conclude otherwise). One could argue that
> ignorance is no excuse for a professor, but the fact is that most
> Americans don't have first-hand experience of non-Judeo-Christian
> religions, and arrive at all sorts of wrong conclusions on the
> subject of Hinduism.

An unfortunate characterstic among Indian academics too who for most of the
time try to deny that Hinduism exists!

satyena dhAryate pR^ithvi satyena tapate raviH|
satyena vAti vAyushca sarvaM satye pratishThitam||

calA lakShmIshcalAH prANAshcalaM jIvita yauvanaM|
calAcale ca saMsAre dharma eko hi nishcalaH||

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