Penguin Books India has reportedly agreed to withdraw all copies of Wendy Doniger’s controversial book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’. Penguin has said that it “shall not publish or distribute the book” with immediate effect.
Penguin India has agreed to the demands by Shiksha Bachao Andolan which had lodged a civil suit against Penguin over the ‘The Hindus’ in the 2011. Wendy Doniger’s book has been a subject to controversy since its release in 2009. The book has also drawn two criminal complaints in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
A petition led by Sarasvati Research Trust was filed with Penguin in 2010 demanding immediate withdrawal of the book for hurting religious sentiment.
“Doniger analyses revered Hindu Gods and Goddess using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations. Doniger makes various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order to arrive at her particular spin. In the process, the beliefs, traditions and interpretations of practicing Hindus are simply ignored or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the case. This kind of Western scholarship has been criticized as Orientalism and Eurocentrism. The non Judeo-Christian faith gets used to dish out voyeurism and the tradition gets eroticized,” the petition read.
Author Wendy Doniger has come out in defending the publisher as well as she blamed the Indian legal system for the decision of withdrawing her book ‘The Hindus’.
“Penguin, India, took this book on knowing that it would stir anger in the Hindutva ranks, and they defended it in the courts for four years, both as a civil and as a criminal suit. They were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece-the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book,” she said.
Senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta reacted strongly over Pengun India’s decision.
“Very uneasy about Penguin decision on Wendy Doniger book. Ideas & academic studies, however contentious, cannot be handled by censorship,” Swapan Dasgupta wrote.
“This is deeply disappointing. Penguin should have appealed in a higher court,” India’s eminent historian Ramachandra Guha wrote on tweeter.Penguin Penguin Books India Penguin India The Hindus The Hindus: An Alternative History Wendy Doniger