Penguin India Agrees to Withdraw And Destroy All Copies Of An American Scholar’s Book On Hindus

A right-wing religious group criticized Wendy Doniger’s 2009 book, The Hindus: An Alternative History and its sexualization of Hindu gods and goddesses.

1. Penguin India agreed Tuesday to withdraw all published copies of American academic Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, after a settlement with a right-wing Hindu organization that had petitioned against the 2009 book.

The petition to withdraw the “flawed book on Hindu history,” was filed in 2011 by a group of Hindu academics including the president of a socially conservative group with alleged ties to the RSS — a Hindu nationalist group.

The petitioners asked for Penguin to withdraw all copies of the book and apologize for the “the publication of the factually incorrect and offensive book.”

The petition claimed that Doniger’s book was rife with “numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations” (although Doniger is a Sanskritist).

The petitioners also complained of Doniger’s analysis of Hindu gods and goddesses using her “widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories,” and her “bizarre emphasis on sexuality and eroticism.”

5. In a legal notice sent to Doniger and Penguin, the lead petitioner, Dina Nath Batra, stated that he found the book to be “a shallow, distorted and non-serious presentation of Hinduism, riddled with heresies.”

Batra also felt that book was written with a “Christian Missionary Zeal and hidden agenda to denigrate Hindus and show their religion in poor light.”

6. Wendy Doniger, a widely-respected scholar on Hinduism and a professor at the University of Chicago, has often been perceived as a Hindu-basher by detractors both in India and in the U.S.

7. In a statement, Doniger said that while she did not blame Penguin, she was “deeply troubled” by what the incident “foretells for free speech in India.” She also said it was impossible to “suppress a book” in the age of the Internet.

38. On Feb. 11, the book was at No. 3 in Amazon’s list of Movers & Shakers, featuring the biggest gainers in sales over the past 24 hours.

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