Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America

Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America

by Krishnan Ramaswamy

For instance, scholars of this counterforce have disparaged the Bhagavad Gita as a dishonest book; declared Ganeshas trunk a limp phallus; classified Devi as the mother with a penis and Shiva as a notorious womanizer who incites violence in India; pronounced Sri Ramakrishna a pedophile who sexually molested the young Swami Vivekananda; condemned Indian mothers as being loving of their children than white women; and interpreted the bindi as a drop of menstrual fluid and the ha in sacred mantras as a womans sound during orgasm.Are these isolated instances of ignorance or links in an institutionalized pattern of bias driven by certain civilizational worldviews?Are these academic pronouncements based on evidence, and how carefully is this evidence cross-examined?

How do these images of India and Indians created in the American Academy influence public perceptions through the media, the education system, policymakers and popular culture?Adopting a politically impartial stance, this book, the product of an intensive multi-year research project, uncovers the invisible networks behind this Hinduphobia, narrates the Indian Diasporas challenges to such scholarship, and documents how those who dared to speak up have been branded as dangerous.

For example:How do Hinduphobic works resemble earlier American literature depicting non-whites as dangerous savages needing to be civilized by the West?Are Indias internal social problems going to be managed by foreign interventions in the name of human rights?How do power imbalances and systemic biases affect the objectivity and quality of scholarship?What are the rights of practitioner-experts in talking back to academicians?What is the role of Indias intellectuals, policymakers and universities in fashioning an authentic and enduring response?

  • Language: English
  • Category: Cultural
  • Rating: 4.65
  • Pages: 545
  • Publish Date: July 1st 2007 by Rupa & Co
  • Isbn10: 8129111829
  • Isbn13: 9788129111821

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More importantly, what does it say about your work that you have to resort to free speech and not intellectual merits to defend it from criticism ? In any other subject, if you tried the free-speech to defend an academic work, you would be called a crackpot. But apparently, studying Indian history, particularly Hinduism is subject to different academic standards in the western universities. Apparently she is at the head of a whole bunch of crackpot academics who buy credibility by their connections and ability to influence the debate rather than merit. It is the different standards applied to the two sides of the debate, the hypocrisy, the duplicity and even the bigotry with which some of these *scholars* get away with and how universities like Chicago and Emory are complicit in the whole charade. Anyone who is interested in India, Hindusim and the Hinduphobia that characterizes the western academic studies of these subjects in the last 50 years would benefit from reading this book.

This is the critique of a highly skeptical student of the Hindu philosophical tradition, not the kneejerk response of a blindly reverent follower. More damningly, either in order to substantiate their perspective, or out of casual sloppiness, Fruedian scholars have committed an array of factual inaccuracies and translation errors throughout their work. These portrayals which are of a decidedly outsiders perspective form the basis of Hinduism as portrayed in encyclopedias, textbooks, and museums. However, the response of Doniger and her Freudian colleagues to their critics is what truly raises the moralistic ire of the Hindu community. The Long Version: Here are some passages from Paul Courtwrights book, Ganea: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings: But, from a psychoanalytical perspective, there is meaning in the selection of an elephant head. Gaanath Obeyesekere interprets Ganesas celibacy, like his broken tusk, as the punishment he receives for incestuous fixation on his mother.4 Courtwright goes on to claim that Ganesha represents: a primal Indian male longing: to remain close to the mother and to do so in a way what will protect her and yet remain acceptable to the father. This means that the son must retain access to mother but not attempt to possess her sexually.5 Here are some more passages, this time from Sarah Caldwells research paper The Bloodthirsty Tongue and the Self-Feeing Breast: Homosexual Fellatio Fantasy in a South Indian Ritual Tradition: This essay demonstrates that in Kerala, symbolism of the fierce goddess Kali does not represent abreactions of the primal scene fantasies of a Kleinian phallic mother or the introjection of the fathers penis; rather, we will show that themes of eroticism and aggression in the mythology are male transsexual fantasies reflecting intense preoedipal fixation on the mothers body and expressing conflicts over primary feminine identity.