By Akanksha Sharma
Rajeev Malhotra’s upcoming book ‘Academic Hinduphobia’ will be available in July, 2016. It is available for pre-order at his official website.
Rajiv Malhotra, an Indian-American writer, well known for his books like ‘Breaking India’ has shared the cover of his forthcoming book ‘Academic Hinduphobic’ and ‘foreword’ on social media. The book is a critique of book ‘Erotic school of ideology’ authored by Wendy Doniger.
In the ‘Foreward ’, he wrote: “In the late 1990s, a major controversy broke when I started to critique Wendy Donigerís depictions of Hinduism which most Hindus found vulgar and outright insulting. Some were too embarrassed to face them while many others found it too controversial to go public with their feelings. What started out as my debate with her students quickly turned into public outrage. There were numerous demands for better representation by practicing Hindus in the scholarship about their tradition. Soon after my initial articles, Wendy Donigerís who owned the University of Chicago® Magazine interviewed me and did a large and balanced coverage. It was their leading story. Things flared up between the Indian diaspora and the American academy for several years, with numerous mobilizations and accusations from both sides. The academic study of Hinduism has not been the same since.
He further revealed that “Martha Nussbaum, the prominent feminist, and University of Chicago colleague of Doniger, wrote a scathing book against Hindus and Hinduism with a whole chapter dedicated to me without bothering to interview me even though that was suggested to her. She and Doniger have consistently ignored my requests for a live debate in public.The theater widened across the academic and literary circles of Europe, North America, and India as more players joined in on both sides. In response to what I felt was a one-sided portrayal of the events, three supporters compiled a new book, titled, Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America, and it was published in 2007. The fallout of all this was very significant:Wendy Doniger lost her clout in the American academy and found herself on the defensive. She lost most of the students who earlier thronged at her doorstep for PhDs in Hinduism.”
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Wendy Doniger who made plagiarism charges against Rajiv Malhotra in July 2015 was criticized as he wrote “Some years back, Doniger struck a new alliance to help her make a dramatic comeback: She positioned herself with the Indian Left as their “expert on criticizing Hinduism”. Since Indian secularists are uneducated in Sanskrit and are only superficially informed about religious studies, Doniger was a useful ally to supply them “masala” which they could use in their simplistic works.In turn, the well-connected Indian secularist/leftist media and writers helped to reposition Doniger within India as a great authority on Hinduism. Soon she was winning awards in India, even though back home in the U.S. her own academic colleagues had distanced themselves because she was seen as a tainted scholar with a bad reputation.”
On the changed perspective of Americans towards Hinduism, Rajiv Malhotra wrote: “The most significant change was that there emerged a new appreciation among Hindus and a new mobilization of their leaders. It became widely accepted that it was a bad idea to outsource the study of our tradition to scholars whose lenses were programmed with Judeo-Christian and/or Marxist doctrines. In fact, no other major world faith is studied by outsiders with the same authority, power and negative perspective as Hinduism is.”
Akanksha is a student of journalism in New Delhi, currently interning with NewsGram. Twitter: @Akanksha4117