Invading the Sacred

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Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America
Author Krishnan Ramaswamy
Antonio de Nicolas
Aditi Banerjee
Country India
Language English
Publisher Rupa & Co.
Publication date
Pages 545
ISBN 978-81-291-1182-1
OCLC 162522146

Invading The Sacred: An Analysis Of Hinduism Studies In America is a critical work published in 2007 by Rupa & Co. which discusses perceived factual inaccuracies in Hindu studies.[1][2][3] The editors of the book are Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas, and Aditi Banerjee.[4] The book has contributions from Arvind Sharma of McGill University, S. N. Balagangadhara of Ghent University, psychoanalyst Alan Roland, Yvette Rosser, Ramesh N. Rao, Pandita Indrani Rampersad, Yuvraj Krishnan, and others. Rajiv Malhotra has played a lead role in drafting most of the book's content. He has publicly stated in various forums [5][6] that through this book he intends to bring focus on and provide a counter voice to the prevalent Freudian psychoanalytical critiques of Hinduism in the American Academy of Religion's RISA group. After the controversy surrounding Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History erupted in India, the authors of this book decided to make it freely available online[7] as it critiques a major part of her work.

Documenting protests and disputed studies[edit]

The book documents essays, critiques and surveys of western scholarship on religions and traditions in India.[8] The book also contains critiques of European ideas as applied to Indian culture. The last sections chronicles how key academic establishments in United States have responded.[9] The book documents protests that are not only of cognitive or factual basis but also often about interpretations. Critics of academics claim bias or gross errors in some aspects.[10] The book also disputes the studies by Wendy Doniger, Jeffery Kripal and Paul Courtright. It also critiques the efficacy of the excessive use of Freudian psychoanalysis in hermeneutics which some of these studies rely on.[1]


Section I [Chapters 1-10][edit]

Chapter 1 elaborates on why the authors of this book think it is important. This chapter starts a debate that 'challenges Western portrayals of India, her religions and problems'. The authors express their concern that 'distorted information on Hinduism by the scholars of Religions in South Asia (RISA) would have an adverse impact on the understanding of Indians, particularly Hindus'. According to them the percolation of negative perception of Hinduism would impact the social behaviour of Westerners towards Hindus, consequently affecting an individual Hindu's growth negatively. They conclude that, 'since the image of a country's culture plays a vital role in international engagements, such perceptions are also detrimental to the economic growth of India'.

In Chapter 2, Indrani Rampersad says that some American authors associated with RISA, a research wing of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) present a distorted, mistranslated and misinterpreted discourse on Hinduism and its affiliated practitioners. According to her AAR is seen to have exerted greater influence than any other organization on the generation of information on Hinduism and the subsequent dissemination of that information. On the other hand, Hinduism practitioners and other supporting academic scholars,[11] Rampersad thinks, are not given an equal say in the interpretation of their culture and religious practices but are labelled as fundamentalists and attackers on intellectual institutions. She mentions that 'many inauthentic translations and interpretations by pre-eminent Western Indologists have been popularized into standard meanings today'. She further states that such scholars 'dismiss the translations and interpretations of contemporary Tantric practitioners as inauthentic and are contemptuous of practising Hindus participating in the discourse about their own traditions'. She also highlights that 'in fact practising Hindus are excluded from the discourse about their traditions'. She also expresses her disapproval of the methodology of RISA scholars and says - 'The validity of applying Freudian Psychoanalysis[12] and "other fashionable Eurocentric theories" to Non-Western religions is questionable'. This is elaborated by her in Chapters 3-5 in which she presents her views on how Freudian psychoanalysis is used for distorted presentation of three specific Hindu personalities. Rampersad writes in Chapter 3 on Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's Child. Her position is that Kripal mistranslated Bengali texts on Shri Ramakrishna to suit his thesis that portrays his subject of study as homosexual. She writes that besides being ignorant of Bengali language, Kripal presents a distorted portrayal of Bengali culture, for example, by grossly misinterpreting the affection of elders towards children. She also questions his qualification in applying Freudian psychoanalysis. She has objections with Kripal psychoanalyzing a dead subject through native informants in spite of being untrained in Freudian psychoanalysis. Rampersad uses a similar line of argument in the book to criticize Sarah Caldwell in Chapter 4. According to her Caldwell[13] wrongly paints Hindu Goddesses with her own imagination as blood-thirsty, violent and sexual transgressors as also noted by Swami Achuthananda[14] and others . In chapter 5 Rampersad writes about Paul Courtright stating that in his book,[15] he wrongly portrays Ganesha through a combination of distortions and misinterpretations again inappropriately using Freudian psychoanalysis.

In Chapter 6 Rampersad analyzes Stanley Kurtz's proposition[16] of demeaning Indian motherhood using psychoanalysis. In Chapter 7, giving numerous examples Rampersad attempts to establish that Wendy Doniger's Sanskrit translations in her works are incorrect and her interpretations are also flawed. Michael Witzel's writing on Doniger has been extensively quoted in which he appears to challenge Doniger for her 'shoddy scholarship and lack of knowledge of Sanskrit'. In Chapter 8 Rampersad writes about finding 'intentional biases' of David Gordon White in his book[17] and mentions that he uses 'solely Eurocentric Freudian lens' to study Tantra. In the later part of this section (chapter 9) Rampersad describes a model that uses the Chakra System as a theoretical framework using which she deconstructs the psychological orientations of scholars of Hindu traditions in an attempt to explain their contemporary 'scholarly' descriptions of Hinduism. Chapter 10 elaborates on the views held by Rajiv Malhotra and Rampersad on 'hegemonic control that the RISA scholars have over the discourse on Hindu traditions due to power asymmetry leading to their dismissal of Hindus' own views as inauthentic'.

Section II [Chapters 11-17][edit]

Chapter 11 contains an introduction to sections II and III. Chapter 12 is the excerpted presentation of extensive comments made by Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara of the University of Ghent, Belgium on the Sulekha website in response to Risa Lila-1.[18] He argues "Christianity spread in two ways: through conversion and through secularization". Further, he points out the biblical underpinnings in modern social sciences and secular ethics, leading to conclusion that when Wendy Doniger and her associates "draw upon the resources of existing social sciences, they are basically drawing upon Christian theology". And in turn, Christian theology treats others as "worshippers of the Devil", and their Gods "perverts: sexually, morally and intellectually".

In Chapter 13, titled, 'The Children of Colonial Psychoanalysis', Yvette Rosser throws a light how Freudian theory, designed for psychiatric disorders, had been applied by western scholars to analyze Hindu culture since the colonial era starting from the works of Owen Berkely-Hill and C.D Daly.[19] She argues that a similar approach continues to this day in the works of Caldwell,[20] Doniger,[21] Courtright,[15] Kripal[22] etc. Chapter 14 is a response by Y. Krishnan to the application of Freudian theory by Paul Courtright which depicts "Fight between Shiva and Ganesha" as Oedipus and castration complex. Y. Krishnan proclaims, by referring the original Hindu scriptural sources (various Puranas), that "core Freudian assumptions simply do not apply to Ganesha and Shiva and also Western scholars have stretched the facts to fit their thesis".Yvette Rosser analyzes Somnath Bhattacharya's essay titled "Kali's Child : Psychological and Hermeneutical Problems";[23] which scrutinizes Kripal's work. Rosser writes that Bhattacharya, being a professional psychotherapist, fluent in Bengali, practitioner of Indian religion and philosophy, and familiar with the primary texts quoted in the Kripal's work, is 'uniquely qualified to assess Kripal's work'. She further says that during his analysis, Prof. Bhattacharya was 'struck by countless mistranslations, factual errors and denigrating attitude towards the subject'. in the essay, Bhattacharya cites several examples which he thinks are de-contextualization of Ramakrishna's life events to prove his imagined homosexuality. He further argues that some of the events described by Kripal in his book[22] to prove homosexual inclination of Ramakrishna are 'so naive that even an ordinary Indian can infer that they are not even remotely connected to sexual orientation in Indian context'. He then concludes that Kripal shows an evident cultural bias in his work and the problems therein can be resolved by honest self-analysis and objective study of all personality-aspects of Sri Ramakrishna.

In chapter 16, Sankrant Sanu presents a comparative analysis of the depiction of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity in Encarta in 2002. Sanu gives a number of instances in the then Encarta article to support his viewpoint that the while articles on Islam and Christianity seemed to have a balanced view, the articles on Hinduism had numerous biases. He goes on to say that the articles on Islam[24] and Christianity[25][26][27] were written by those who are 'emic' to those respective faiths whereas articles on Hinduism was written by authors[28][29][30] who are 'etic' to Hinduism. It is claimed that as a result of this academic analysis, Microsoft Corporation decided to change its Encarta article on Hinduism. Chapter 17 consists of a rebuttal to Courtright's writing on Ganesha by Vishal Agrawal and Kalavai Venkat.

Section III [Chapters 18-24][edit]

This section is written by Aditi Banerjee based on her discussion with Rajiv Malhotra. Aditi mentions that while previous sections (I and II) highlighted certain 'serious and troubling issues regarding American scholarship on Hinduism', the remaining two sections (III and IV) highlight how 'RISA establishment and the mainstream media' tried to portray this challenge on American scholarship as "an 'attack' on scholars and 'threat' to academic freedom". The section mentions that the role of RISA scholars and American media in this matter in this regard has 'its deep roots in American mythology and History'. Their behaviour is concluded to be inspired by the 'Frontier Myth', an 'internalized mythology'. As per this myth, the conflict between native Americans and colonizers was portrayed as 'savages vs civilized' and it was the 'responsibility' of civilized whites to 'civilize' the natives. The section further cites sources to mention that this myth generated varying degree of 'otherness'[31] towards 'Native Americans (and later the Blacks and Mexicans)' and that 'Whites had the right to reshape this wilderness as they saw fit'. Aditi then says that a similar approach was used in academic studies of Hinduism – American scholars 'recasting the Hindu religious thought as they see fit'.

The section then enumerates instances of protests by Indian diaspora and academicians and how this response prompted American scholars to say that that academic studies of Hinduism were being 'hijacked from the outside'.[32]

The section continues that later, prominently due to the RISA-Lila articles[33][34] by Rajiv Malhotra, the American Hindu community started taking note of this situation and started registering its protest. These articles 'transformed the Hindu Perception of the Western academic community from one of adulation' to 'one of suspicion, even hostility'. The sections mentions that following these articles, several student groups, community organizations and Hindu diaspora community members filed online petitions, sent letters to editors and reached out to universities. Till then, the American Hindu community had not put organized intellectual and public pressure against misrepresentation of Hinduism in American academic circles. It is also stated that this approach was in stark contrast to the response registered by Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Islamic communities living in America. The section considers it an important observation that 'this portrayal of Indians in Humanities and Social Sciences is diametrically opposite to that in business schools where Indians and Indian business models are appreciated and respected'. The section mentions that this dichotomy in American education system looks bewildering and needs attention.

The section then indicates that (on the issue of misrepresentation of Hinduism) several peaceful petitions followed, amongst which one is worth mentioning.[35] The petition by Hindu Students Council (HSC) in October 2003 addressed to President Wagner of Emory university, cited 'hate-crimes' against the innocent Hindu minority in America and solicited an apology from one of the authors, Paul Courtright who is a Professor in the Department of Religion at the Emory university. However the petition was somewhat poorly enacted and around 20 or so signatories out of the 7000 had put threatening comments against Courtright, and on account of these comments, whole petition was derailed. Although this petition was not successful, it 'jump-started many (Hindu) diaspora efforts to further pursue the issue with the academic community'.[36]

Sometime later, independent of HSC, a petition was filed by the President of Vedic Center in Greenville South Carolina to the President of Emory University, expressing concern over 'deeply prevailing Hinduphobia in academia'. The response from Emory University was 'defensive' and the community further followed up on this issue. Finally 'upon request from the community' the meeting with Emory's Dean took place after 'almost six months' of the dialogue request made by Hindu community.[37] In this meeting Emory representatives were given a 'briefing book', that cited 'numerous comments from senior academic scholars questioning Courtright's approach to his work on Ganesha'. In the same meeting a presentation was given by community representatives, that 'included positions of competent academicians on the problem of using psychoanalysis to dissect Hindu Traditions'. However, Emory's response was 'dismissive' and one showing disinterest.

Chapter 20 of this section highlights opinion of several scholars that broadly agreed with the points related to the Hindu academic studies. Several scholars, including Stuart Sovatsky, Antonio de Nicolas, etc., supported the Hindu position. Father Francis Clooney, a Jesuit Priest, who is on the faculty of Harvard Divinity School, writes that among western academicians, 'careful examination of each other's claim was not taking place sufficiently'. Dr. Susantha Goonatilake, a noted Sri Lankan Buddhist Scholar mentions that even in Buddhist studies, 'instead of careful scholarship one has gross inventions and partial truths that do not meet basic criteria of scholarship or test'. David Freedholm, 'who teaches comparative religion and philosophy in a prestigious American school system', asked RISA scholars to 'introspect about what they were doing to help reduce prejudices against Hinduism.' Finally, Aditi Banerjee expresses her views as an Indian-American that she had been "disappointed in and frustrated by the quality of teaching' pertaining to South Asia. She mentions that she could relate to the argument made in Risa Lila-2[34] 'for the need of Indian/Hindu scholarship that remains authentic to the traditions of the people while retaining the rigor and objectivity required of academic work.' Aditi also mentions that many Indian-Americans were 'relieved' that 'spotlight' was finally shining upon long ignored issues.'

Chapter 21 highlights that 'RISA[38] did not get fully involved until one of their own (Prof. Antonio de Nicolas) posted a stinging critique of Courtright's book'. De Nicolas said that the American academia need to be reminded of their obligation to conduct rigorous peer-review of all such works and to take corrective action whenever questionable work slips through the cracks. In a post[39] on the RISA-list Prof Nicolas says: "Would Dr. Courtright like to open a door to the enemies, or outsiders, of Christianity to do the same with the Bible, for example? Would he or others find it offensive if a Hindu scholar with full credentials and knowledge described the Creation myth of the Bible as an absurd and gross sexual representation?" Prof. Antonio de Nicolas' initiative brought into forefront a clear divide in RISA. On one side 'were a few scholars concerned about the hegemonic nature of their colleagues' and on the other side were 'establishment voices that wanted to preserve status quo by quashing dissent.' The section further states that responses to De Nicolas' observations were 'knee-jerk and defensive' and few scholars began an 'ad hominem' attack on De Nicolas and Indian scholars in general. One of the Professors. Prof. John Oliver Perry, made a 'blatantly racist statement that scholars from India are too dim to understand advanced and sophisticated western techniques.' The author Aditi Banerjee then observes that in 'America's pluralistic and multicultural environment, when Indian scholars were belittled on an forum that specializes in the study of Indian culture, their academic peers remained silent.' Aditi further opines that a "steady diet of Eurocentric scholarship, appears to have convinced RISA's predominantly Western membership that Indian scholarship is inferior.' The section cites a Western scholar, Joanna Kirkpatrick, who said that 'de Nicolas's complaint was trumped by the fact that Carstairs's famous work[40] on Rajputs and Doniger's work in general was based on Freudianizing'. The section mentions that 'This is Eurocentric circular reasoning, because it assumes that mere adoption of a theory by Western scholars proves its legitimacy'.

Chapter 21 of this section then cites an important development. While these disputes were occupying considerable Internet bandwidth in the U.S., Courtright's publisher in India, Motilal Banarsidass, announced in large newspaper advertisements across India that it was withdrawing Courtright's controversial book. The issue received 'broad, but rather shallow, coverage in the press. The press reports did not refer to the scholarly issues with the book, but singled out the 'offending picture' of Ganesha on the book cover as the sole cause for the apology'. The section then details the response to this withdrawal by Motilal Banarsidass. On the RISA online forums, there were voices to boycott Motilal Banarsidass. An open letter was written by a well-placed and senior Sanskrit scholar in America, Prof. Patrick Olivelle. Prof. Olivelle mentioned that - 'I will find it difficult to recommend you to my colleagues as a venue where they may publish their works'. The section also cites another scholar Kathleen Erndl who gave her ''boycotting colleagues an encouraging 'shabash'[41] She further mentioned that 'I am happy to see RISA members rallying to support our colleague, whether we agree with every word or not.'[42] Comment of another author Cynthia Humes have also been cites - "I suggest that scholars should either lobby Motilal Banarsidass to reverse this decision (to withdraw the book) or to begin boycotting Motilal Banarsidass or both". Another scholar John Stratton Hawley, Professor of Hinduism at Columbia University, mentioned in a letter to Motilal Banarsidas that ' I would like to withdraw (my) books from your care, if possible'.

The section then cites Rajiv Malhotra's analysis of this issue. Rajiv says that 'The academic scholars know the strategic implications of keeping Motilal Banarsidass on a leash controlled by Western interests. Motilal Banarsidass is the only major Indology publisher with global reach and reputation that is controlled by Indians.'

The chapter then highlights that subsequent to this development 'RISA scholars publicly engaged in a series of witch hunts' and how 'attempts were made to muzzle' views of Prof. De Nicolas, Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara and Prof. Jacob De Roover. Chapter 21 concludes on the note that 'the Courtright controversy highlights the unwillingness on the part of the most prominent academic scholars to investigate cases of apparent scholarly malfeasance, with honesty.' The chapter includes analysis of Madhu Kishwar that says ' This (conflict) is generated not out of ignorance' but because of an approach of 'Western academia which assumes that their tools of analysis and value systems enable them to understand and pass judgements on the experiences and heritage of all human beings including those who operate with very different world views.'

Section IV [Chapters 25-29][edit]

The chapters in this section titled 'Media Images' give an account of the interaction between RISA scholars and Hindu diaspora. The book states that RISA scholars' first response to their critiques from the Hindu American diaspora was not scholarly rebuttals but mainly ad hominem attacks branding them as 'militant right wing Hindus'. Krishnan Ramaswamy states that in this response, issues of shoddy scholarship and bias of the RISA scholars raised by the diaspora were not addressed. To support this claim he has given excerpts of emails to diaspora and articles written by RISA scholars. One such example is the writing of Lucinda Hopkins, a RISA member in which she claims to analyse of Doniger's shortcomings:

"... To be blessed with understanding a tradition one must have the patience and humility to learn the tradition from those who know it. This is Doniger's greatest mistake. It is why she makes such an appalling statement as holding Malhotra indirectly responsible for stirring up passionate emotions. She is 'stirring up emotions' by not learning, not understanding. Rather than listening to the disturbed outcries she has unleashed, she retreats to the cover of claiming that she is being discriminated against because she is not from India. But the discrimination is her fault: both for portraying the criticism against her as nationalistic and for lacking true discrimination to take what is being said and gain from it."

Ramaswamy further goes on to say that RISA scholars' second response to the claims of the diaspora was through the mass media. According to him, although it was projected that the media houses portraying this issue are objective and neutral, they were actually deployed by RISA scholars to suppress the opposing voices. Three examples with analysis have been given in this concluding section to support this stand. First example is the article written by Shankar Vendantam in Washington Post in April 2004 titled 'Wrath over a Hindu God: U.S. Scholars' Writings Draw Threats From Faithful'.[43] Ramaswamy narrates:

"Prior to its publication, Shankar Vedantam, a staff journalist at the Post, had contacted certain diaspora intellectuals about the controversy. Rajiv Malhotra had written to Shankar, explaining his position on de-monopolizing religious studies by adding practitioner-scholars. However, the Post completely evaded the range of issues explained to Vedantam and instead, framed the story in the mythic trope of the 'savage' Hindus victimizing the civilized White 'scholars'. In fact, Vedantam reduced the response from Atlanta Concerned Community to Paul Courtright's writings to 'a swift and angry response from thousands of Hindus'."

Ramaswamy's contention is that Vedantam, being an alumnus of University of Chicago, where Wendy Doniger is a fairly influential faculty, owes his allegiance to her ideological position. The second example given by Ramaswamy is that of an article in New York times[44] which, he says, again focuses on claiming false victimhood for the RISA scholars and painting the Hindus as right wing savages giving their academic and social concerns a dark political colour.

Finally an article in the university of Chicago magazine based on an interview given by Wendy Doniger is cited as the third example[45] and in this particular chapter, Yvette Rosser opines that the article is biased as it obscures the real issues regarding dubious scholarship of RISA scholars and applies double standards in analysing the two opposing positions. It only focuses on the sensational rather than the scholarly aspects of the issue, she claims. Krishnan Ramaswamy's analysis regarding the whole issue of 'Media Images' is:

"All these three articles have a common thread running through them with the following characteristics:

  1. Characterizing Doniger and her students as 'victims of threats and attacks'.
  2. Stereotyping her opponents as 'irrational fundamentalists and Hindu puritans'.
  3. Slanderously conflating the critics' work with unrelated political violence in India and protests in the UK.
  4. Obscuring the serious and substantive issues that have been raised about the quality of academic work."

In the concluding chapter Ramaswamy expresses his opinion on the differences in the ways in which mainstream American press portrays the RISA scholars - diaspora debate as compared to the diaspora press. Example is given of the article[46] written in the Indian-American newspaper India Abroad in which Prof. Ramesh Rao published a detailed interview of Paul Courtright, a RISA scholar, along with his own view thus, according to Ramaswamy, giving adequate space to both the points of view. On the other hand, states Ramaswamy, American mainstream press is biased and the balance of power is highly skewed towards the RISA scholars.

In the end, the book concludes the opinion of the Hindu diaspora that:

"Although the debate regarding correctly portraying Hinduism in the West has started and gained some momentum there is a strong resistance from scholars to honestly examine Eurocentrism and Hinduphobia. This has been a great tragedy in the path of creating space for greater diversity of voices and for questioning entrenched paradigms and power relations."

Reception and reviews[edit]

Invading the Sacred was positively received by Daily News and Analysis,[47] as well as the Hindustan Times.[48] According to Balakrishna, writing for India, the book "is perhaps one of the most definitive works that aid our understanding of the exact state of affairs in Indology in the US academia in general and the scholarship of the likes of Wendy Doniger in particular," in addition to Rajiv Malhotra's pioneering criticisms.[49]

Anantanand Rambachan - International Journal of Hindu Studies[edit]

Anantanand Rambachan reviewed the book for the International Journal of Hindu Studies.[50] Rambachan notes the concerns of American Hindus with perceived negative portrayals of Hinduism and the consequent fear of disregard for Hindu practitioners. A major concern is the Freudianization of the parlance of Indology. Rambachan acknowledges the need to take care of these concerns, but also notes that Hinduism should not be overly idealized:

The voices and faces of the oppressed and marginalized must not be silenced or banished in the interest of presenting an acceptable tradition consistent with the aspirations and self-image of the Hindu community in the United States.[50]

Rambachan also notes that most scholars are deeply committed to an honest study of Hinduism, and that their work "sustains an interest in the academic study of Hinduism that is unmatched elsewhere in the world." According to Rambachan, there is a tension "between those who study religion in this way and the needs of [the] faithful," but the task of the academia is not "the formation and nurturing of the Hindu faith in a new generation of Hindus." According to Rambachan, "Hindus in the United States must work vigorously to build institutions and offer opportunities to young Hindus where Hindu identity is meaningfully cultivated and encouraged."

Rahul Peter Das - Orientalistische Literaturzeitung[edit]

Rahul Peter Das wrote an extensive review in the Orientalistische Literaturzeitung.[51] Das also notes that the main concern is with "Freudian, often vividly sexual, interpretations."[52] According to Das, "particular attention is paid to Doniger's sexualisation of mythology, Kripal's portrayal of Ramakrishna (Rām'kṛṣṇa) as homoerotic, and Courtright's sexual interpretation of Gaṇeśa."[52] According to Das, criticism of "Freudian psychoanalysis as a surrogate religion" are as old as psycho-analusis itself, and the criticism of Invading the Sacred is therefor not surprising.[53] In critique of the book, Das notes a "failure to distinguish properly between academia and public life outside this."[53] Das further notes that

... there are clearly many Hindus, in the USA or South Asia, who do not condemn the methods and findings of those criticised in this book, which means that either the claim of Invading the Sacred to be speaking for Hindus as such has to be retracted, or else such Hindus have to be denied their authenticity, maybe even their Hinduness.[54]

Das also notes a lack of academic qualifications, and a lack of scholarly rigor, by the authors of Invading the Sacred. He raises concerns with the author's inability to use primary materials:

we find recourse not to the evaluation of the original primary reference material, but only to translations, and even these sparingly. The main discussion takes place on a secondary or even tertiary plane and even that on the basis of a rather limited referential basis.[55]

Das further notes that "[n]ot only sound analysis of primary sources, but adequate consideration of secondary sources too is essential. Here too the publication has serious deficiencies."[56] Das also notes that "no real epistemological and categorical discussion takes place at all," and that there is a " lack of categorical rigour."[57] And he notes that the authors seem to be unknown with the broader field of Indological studies:

... the very academics in North America who would a priori be expected to be regarded as the principal authorities on textbased studies on Hinduism ... and their works are passed over in silence, which is truly amazing considering the wealth of philological South Asia related competence in North American universities. This shows a serious lack of knowledge and comprehension about academic text based studies related to Hinduism in this region of the world, and is a major flaw in this book. To me, it demonstrates a lack of serious study of the academic structures being criticised, invalidating many of the pronouncements on Hinduism Studies in America as such.[58]

A further critique is the homogenisation of "Hinduism", which "some see as typical for diasporic communities."[59]

Das concludes with the notion that "this publication ushers in a new era, that the forces it unleashes will remain active and gain strength ... it will probably lead to a longterm process impacting the study of Hinduism in the USA," and notes that the real debate should not be a political debate, but a debate on the one-sidedness of text-based Indological studies.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Banerjee, Aditi (June 29, 2007). "Invading The Sacred". Outlook. M/s Outlook Publishing (India) Private Limited. Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  2. ^ Ramaswamy, Krishnan (August 17, 2007). "Invading the Sacred". Little India. Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  3. ^ Singleton, Mark; Byrne, Jean (2008). Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives. Routledge Hindu Studies Series. Routledge. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-415-45258-8. 
  4. ^ Clooney, Francis X. (2010). Comparative Theology: Deep Learning Across Religious Borders. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-4051-7973-7. 
  5. ^ Malhotra, Rajiv. "Invading the sacred". Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Invading the sacred: Book launch event". 
  7. ^ "Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America" (PDF). 
  8. ^ Arnal, William; McCutcheon, Russell T. (2012). The Sacred Is the Profane: The Political Nature of Religion. Oxford University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-19-975711-4. 
  9. ^ Balagangadhara, S. N. (2007). "Foreword". Invading The Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America. Rupa & Co. ISBN 978-81-291-1182-1. 
  10. ^ Sharma, Arvind (2007). "Preface". Invading The Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America. Rupa & Co. ISBN 978-81-291-1182-1. 
  11. ^ Often published in online Indian web-zines, such as:
  12. ^ Kakar, Sudhir (September 1982). "Reflections on psychoanalysis, Indian culture and mysticism". Journal of Indian Philosophy Volume 10, Issue 3 , pp 289–297. 
  13. ^ Caldwell, Sarah (1999). "The Bloodthirsty Tongue and the Self-Feeding Breast: Homosexual Fellatio Fantasy in a South Indian Ritual Tradition". Vishnu on Freud's desk: a reader in psychoanalysis and Hinduism. New York; Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 339–366. ISBN 0-19-564571-5. 
  14. ^ Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism: Turning believers into non-believers and believers into non believers. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2 July 2013. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-4818-2552-8. Retrieved 26 August 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  15. ^ a b Courtwright, Paul (1985). Ganesha: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings. New York: Oxford UP. ISBN 978-0-19-505742-3. 
  16. ^ Kurtz, Stanley N. (July 15, 1992). All the Mothers Are One. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-07869-6. 
  17. ^ Gordon White, David (2003). Kiss of the Yogini: Tantric Sex in its South Asian Context. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-89484-3. 
  18. ^ Rao, B. "India and her traditions: a reply to Jeffrey Kripal, 2002". Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  19. ^ Parsons, William B (2013). The Enigma of the Oceanic Feeling. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-511508-6. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  20. ^ Caldwell, Sarah (1999). Oh Terrifying Mother: Sexuality, Violence, and Worship of the Goddess Kāli. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-564462-3. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2009). The Hindus: an alternative history. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-311669-1. 
  22. ^ a b Kripal, Jeffrey J. (1998). Kali's child: The mystical and the erotic in the life and teachings of Ramakrishna. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-45377-4. 
  23. ^ Bhattacharyya, Somnath. "Kali's Child: Psychological And Hermeneutical Problems.". Infinity Foundation. Infinity Foundation. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  24. ^ Dallal, Ahmad S. (1995). An Islamic Response to Greek Astronomy: "Kitab Ta'dil Hay'at al-Aflak" of Sadr al-Shari'a. With Commentary (Islamic Philosophy, Theology & ... Al-Aflak" of Sadr Al-Shari'a. With Commentary. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-09968-5. 
  25. ^ Pelikan, Jaroslav (1975). The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-65371-6. 
  26. ^ Pelikan, Jaroslav (1977). The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700) (Volume 2). University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-65373-0. 
  27. ^ Pelikan, Jaroslav (1980). The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-65371-6. 
  28. ^ Doniger, Wendy (1980). The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology (Hermeneutics: Studies in the History of Religions). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-04098-4. 
  29. ^ Doniger, Wendy (1981). Siva: The Erotic Ascetic. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-520250-2. 
  30. ^ Doniger, Wendy (1986). Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities. University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-61855-5. 
  31. ^ The Section III para mentions 'Otherness' as - ranging from exoticization to suspicion, tension and outright hostility.
  32. ^ The section mentions the word outsider within quotes, indicating disagreement of this book's authors with this term.
  33. ^ "RISA Lila - 1: Wendy's Child Syndrome | Sulekha Creative". Retrieved 2015-08-05. 
  34. ^ a b "RISA Lila - 2 - Limp Scholarship and Demonology | Sulekha Creative". Retrieved 2015-08-05. 
  35. ^ "Review of Ganesa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings". Retrieved 2015-08-05. 
  36. ^ At this point the section makes a specific note that academics and Emory University in particular did not take any initiative on this issue.
  37. ^ Meeting took place on Feb. 18 2004. Issue was first raised by community with Emory University in Sept, 2003.
  38. ^ "RISA-L Info Page". Retrieved 2015-08-05. 
  39. ^ Complete text of the email sent by Prof. Antonio de Nicolás on 1st Nov. 2003, may be seen at this link "Hermeneutics of Ganesha: Psychoanalysis, Hindu Wisdom and Transgressive Sacrality". Retrieved 2015-08-05.   ;
  40. ^ Carstairs, G. Morris (1957-01-01). The Twice-Born. Midland Books. ISBN 978-0-253-20108-9. 
  41. ^ Shabash is Hindi for Bravo
  42. ^ Emphasis added in the section of the book.
  43. ^ Vedantam, Shankar. "Wrath over a Hindu God: U.S. Scholars' Writings Draw Threats From Faithful". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  44. ^ Rothstein, Edward. "The Scholar Who Irked the Hindu Puritans". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  45. ^ Braverman, Amy. "The interpretation of Gods". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  46. ^ Rao, Ramesh. "A Hindu God must indeed be Heathen". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  47. ^ Deshmukh, Smita (30 June 2007). "East fights back 'sacrilege' by West". Daily News and Analysis. 
  48. ^ "Book review: Hinduism pundits or Hindu baiters?". Hindustan Times. 7 July 2014. 
  49. ^ Balakrishna, Sandeep (February 13, 2014). "Why the Wendy Doniger episode is not a free speech issue". Firstpost. Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  50. ^ a b Rambachan, Anantanand (2008), "Review. Reviewed Work: Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America by Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas, Aditi Banerjee", International Journal of Hindu Studies. Vol. 12, No. 1 (Apr., 2008), pp. 96–98 
  51. ^ Das, Rahul Peter (2011). On the Study of Hinduism in the USA, and the Issue of adhikāra (Orientalistische Literaturzeitung) 106.3. pp. 151–168. 
  52. ^ a b Das 2011, p.152
  53. ^ a b Das 2011, p.153
  54. ^ Das 2011, p.155
  55. ^ Das 2011, p.160
  56. ^ Das 2011, p.162
  57. ^ Das 2011, p.164
  58. ^ Das 2011, p.165
  59. ^ Das 2011, p.166
  60. ^ Das 2011, p.168

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External links[edit]