It is always a pleasure and often a sense of having done the right and in no uncertain terms of having asserted your right when you jump a fence that in the first place no one had any business or right to put up.
I today received by courier from AMAZON the Wendy Doniger’s book, “The Hindus an Alternative History”. It cost me Rs 1250 and took two weeks to reach me from its international publisher (not the pliable Penguin India).
This book as many know was found offensive by Dinanath Batra and his group of self-acclaimed Hindus and custodians of Hindu culture ( yes caste, untouchability, dowry, bride burning, marital rape,honour killing , khap panchayats and gang rape of women too are part of the culture they laud about). This group of drumbeaters and bigots filed a civil and criminal suit against the publication and sale of the book in India and simultaneously arm twisted the pliable and pusillanimous Penguin India to withdraw the book and pulp it. Interestingly this very same Dinanath Batra took on the Educational Board and has actively opposed and subsequently stopped the introduction of sex education in Indian schools, saying it was against Hindu culture and religion.
Shobha Narayan writes in her post titled “The real reason Wendy Danger’s book on Hindus was banned in India: It’s not boring enough.” She goes on to say, “Doniger is clever and playful; she shines the light into the dark crevasses of a religion that was formulated at a time when feminism as a concept didn’t exist. Doniger knows her Sanskrit and her Vedas, but she looks Hindu rituals and traditions from the point of view of women and minorities. …… .”
“……..is blasphemy, as far as he is concerned, never mind that Doniger knows her Sanskrit and Upanishads better than he does; never mind that she understands the glories of ancient India in a way that he cannot begin to fathom; never mind that she knows that the Manu Smriti that he often quotes uses animals to define humans.”
Now in these days when I finally begun to read to hearts content, now that I have a few good books that are tempting me on my table in their own forcible way to be read first, I guess Wendy Doniger has come and the rest will have to wait a while until I read through her tome.
The author herself had this to say on the pulping of her book in India. “And I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate,”
As for me it is not the question of free speech or literary freedom. It is not the widely misused word blasphemy or offending sentiments and hurting religious feelings. It is the question of my fundamental right, my birth right to read what I want. The courts in India have ruled before proscribing books but they have not banned reading them. These impostors and custodians of Hindutva or of Semitic religions, faiths, culture race or region cannot and shall not usurp my right to read and accept or reject what I want.
How about you?