I started reading The Hindus during the recent controversy when Penguin India decided to withdraw all the copies of the book and pulp them. People criticized the book and it was being suggested, rightly, that before you criticize a book, the least you can do is, read it first.
My Kindle reader says that I have read 15% of the book and I think this much reading is enough to let me decide whether I want to go on reading it or put a stop. Due to time constraints reading a book is a very special time for me and I don’t like wasting this time, and this is exactly what I seem to be doing while reading this book. As the title suggests, the book is about Hinduism, but if I want to read something on Hinduism, if I really want to learn something, why would I read something tongue in cheek, off the mark (the writer herself says that) and primarily meant to be read by people who look at Hinduism as outsiders – as if you are observing the behaviour of slightly amusing people you are not emotionally connected to.
Is this book objective? No way. What puts you off is that it is totally biased against Brahmins, Sanskrit texts and the Vedas. As a critical appraisal, there is nothing wrong in that. Every major religion in this world has had its fair share of screwed up peoples, traditions, practices and whatnot. Every major religion in this world has treated its women like shit during one age or another. In order to understand history, culture and social dynamics, one must learn all these things, but not from a person whose sole purpose is to just deride a complete religion and undermine its existence. I fully understand that there must be something wrong with the basic philosophy of the hodgepodge of religions of the continent and that’s why this continent, along with Africa, has so far been in such a dire state, but it doesn’t mean that everything was cheap, plebeian and fully lacking foresight and vision. In India we have had great philosophers, thinkers, human rights crusaders, literateurs, scientists, politicians and artists. I’m neither a historian nor a very well read person, but I know enough history to be able to differentiate between an out and out derision and an objective description of the events of the past.
If you go by what she has written
- Every ritual can be attributed to a sexual connotation
- Every single Sanskrit word can be interpreted at your whim, so if you want to give a sexual connotation to a particular Shloka, you can have a free hand at it
- Almost every respectable thing in Hinduism comes from other regions and religions – nothing purely comes from Hinduism
- Hinduism is basically a pagan religion replete with instances of sexual gratification with animals, extreme form of suppression of women and the so-called lower class people, various patterns of barbarities like human and animal sacrifice, and impalement and amputation
- Most of the godly features can be traced back to sexual organs – even Ganesha’s trunk can be equated with a misplaced phallus
- Freudian indications of all-pervasive erotic manifestations are practically everywhere in Hindu texts and images
- Islam and Christianity are extremely peaceful and cultured compared to Hinduism
- Basically, Hinduism is nothing but a Caligula-type extremely twisted sexual orgy.
Of course there are many factual errors in the book that you can easily detect if you make subconscious effort.
I’m not saying that this book should not be read or it should be censored or its writer should be attacked. None of that. As an outsider if you want to look at a religion from a morally higher ground, then sure, do read