This is an open objection to those, who send (obnoxious) sign-up letters written in the false comfort of thinking that the recipients think in the same straight line as them because of shared ethnicity. Having fallen off the curve a long time ago, as an outlier I never found the linearity back.
I have this irritating email sitting in my Yahoo account which was sent out by the secretary to all members of the local “Hindu Cultural Society” (HCS) yesterday. Asking members to sign up and express false chagrin at a book discussing Hindus. I have an initial objection here: "No emails which require me to put my stamp of approval on your personal beliefs". My email address was given to you only if I was ever needed to come rescue you in a hostage situation when someone sang yet another long and tuneless “bhajan” (devotional song)!
But seriously dear Secretary Sahib! You expect me to take umbrage over a book written by a Professor of Divinity from the University of Chicago, who has made a life-long study of the Indus civilization, Hinduism and mythology? Even if I was to convince myself after all those wars I had at home (when I was only 21), about not sitting down at the weekly “puja" (worship ceremony), that since I was born of a Hindu, I am a Hindu, I should now, at my mid- age, be rushing around muzzling other people up, expressing idignation at ideas and interpretations of religious texts that are neither mine or anyone’s to possess?
I have to be honest here… I have not read “The Hindus-An Alternative History” nor do I see the need to. I am sure Wendy has her own theory backed by some line of evidence that supports her point of view, while she traces the evolution of Hinduism from the time of the Indus Valley Civilization quite few thousand years back to the present. But you sir, have done the job for me and taken the trouble to go through every page and line painstakingly pointing out several factual errors with quite a relish I see. Then you picked out whole passages which you found “derogatory, defamatory and offensive”. It was just too long winded for me to read. You called the cover jacket scandalous (http://www.scribd.com/doc/26565460/Scan-0002 ) and the devil in me had to peek! I saw the blue male riding a horse (why does Krishna have to be shown blue… was it just because he was dark and everyone was just too scared to show his true colors or because they wanted to interpret the blue-ness of his blood…? The story given about Vishnu, the sea and ocean and sky just seems too trite) with loads of naked women with buxom breasts. The context is surely sexual. What makes me curious is what caught YOUR eye and made you prickle up that way?
Do you remember the 1970s, when television first started in India dear man? At the time there was a brouhaha about some lady news anchor (should it be anchoress??) who wore a sleeveless blouse for her sari. Ministers were censoring the lady and were shocked and what not! Like they really had never seen a woman’s upper arm before! In my youthful vigor I thought the ministers needed a hiding. I cannot tell what made me think of that here…but methinks your imagination needs some cleaning up and a hiding too sir!! Don’t let it run wild around imagery where you may get lost! Everyone lives in their time and sensibilities and since society is not static, I say…move on and look beyond! We do have a huge population back home to prove that we are a sexually healthy lot, procreating along with the bacteria and insects in our famously enabling tropical climate. (Though I must admit each year I see lesser birds and that worries me much!) Have you visited Khajuraho recently by the way?
I might have never heard of Wendy Doniger until you pointed her out. I, who have lived the better part of my life in India, and don’t necessarily have the urgent need to prove anything to anyone, skip the Western scholars of Hinduism and Indus valley. Not because of anything else other than there is so much to learn and so little time! But since you took the trouble to point her out to me, I have been reading some of her convocation speeches and her writings and whether I agree with her or not (I refuse to discuss that with you dear man!) I find her writing lucid and interesting which I cannot honestly say about your email. Instead of trying to rope us all into this wild and distasteful scheme of yours (of signing this fake-umbrage letter) and get us all tied up in religious knots, I suggest you spend some time and write a counter thesis to her theories. Instead of wasting your so-called talents on Penguin Group, USA and Penguin Books, India to withdraw the book and apologize for Doniger, sharpen your pencil, write your counter point and get them to publish you!
No Sir, you hardly know me. Even in this town of a single temple, I shy away from even Goddess Durga …the most significant socio-cultural event in my ethnic society. I confess I used to go only for the “khichdi”, “labra “as the food and sweets and the odd Ray or Bengali movies they screened. There was a time long long ago when I would pay my dues, cook the food, put up shows, teach the children Bengali and actually support “Prativa” with yearly advertisements. But then they got wind of me. One day the editor changed the wordings on MY ad and cut me out of it. Not a kind thing to do to an aspiring writer, Secretary Sahib and I was told that my money would be gladly refunded. Ever since then we have not bothered to offer. Surely you do not blame me for that?
To tell you the truth, I would really prefer the usual innocuous announcements of cultural nature which covers the mission statement of HCS. Leave the personal nonsense out. You do not know me and you do not miss much, that much I do assure you. The year shall pass and I shall try my hardest not to pay my dues for another membership. I discovered much to my sorrow, and near empty pockets that my city is not big enough for disagreeing scientists to live and let live. I wonder if this world can allow dissatisfactions to simmer but not boil over , false chagrin uncommunicated, prudery to perhaps exist never leading to censure, religiosity (if it must) to be realized yet not evangelized , “mokshas” to be attained and not offered, spirituality be touched not sold, freedom of speech to be a right not a wrong.