Or more dangerously on Hinduism!
I hesitate to write on Hinduism!
Hindutva is one reason!
Foreign writers, foreign journalists another hindrance!

VS Naipaul

VS Naipaul

There was this news item in the newspapers recently. A new book has been published in New Delhi and that has this shocking title: Hindutva, Sex and Adventure.

Why such a title? The author is a foreign name, though the name is given as a nom de plume, a euphemism for playing some trick on the Indian readers.

The book is supposed to have created a buzz in the New Delhi literary circles and also among the foreign correspondents community in the capital.

The character of the novel is supposed to have been the New Delhi based old timer, Mark Tully who was the BBC correspondent in Delhi for years and who now lives there, as he has a long attachment to India, having been born in India, in Kolkata.

Mr.Tully is an honored resident, a Sir and much decorated and he is a sought after commentator on Indian affairs, as he had covered the vast country on many crucial occasions and also written at some length on Rajiv Gandhi years etc.

Indian themes
He is also a written on Indian themes, more on the Hinduism, Hindu religion and its practices.
I had read him, one or two books. One on Rajiv Gandhi and the other on Hinduism, as he seemed to have understood and appreciated through the mouths of the various sanyasis who live in the ashrams in Himalayas and elsewhere.

Now, the theme of the current book of controversy is, as reported in the newspaper, about a character based on the like of Tully, who it looks is intended to be alleged ,one who is a supporter of Sangh Parivar’s brand of Hindutva, a womanizer and a critic of Congress President Sonia Gandhi!

This seemed to be a mischievous construction. I don’t know whether Mr.Tully fits the descriptions in the book for I haven’t read the book nor I know Mr.Tully at all.

But from the way the character is  built on the three themes, it looks this is meant to create some controversy, may be for selling the book or perhaps some ulterior motive to malign the genuine Hinduism or even meant to malign  the Congress President or for some other purpose.

Here I like to make my observations on these themes. The foreign writers, that is those who come from the UK and USA, as one lady writer on Hinduims has just now released a book on Hinduism and that also created criticism for its flippant comments. There are others.
The one foreign correspondent that is now based or living in India is William Dalrymyle. His latest book too I glanced through and I was left unimpressed.

For he too seemed to have mastered the game of showing India in a funny way and so too Tully when seeks wisdom from the wandering sadhus with scanty education and otherwise indulging in the usual pranks and practices of a questionable kind.

Now, Hinduism is a vast subject and every Indian, every Hindu has his or her own views and beliefs. Hinduism is not just about formal religion or religious practices, text or rituals, though all might go under the category of Hinduism.

The myths and folklore apart, Hinduism is also about its formal philosophy, the vedas, the Upanishads and the six systems of philosophy.

Now whenever a foreigner or an outsider writes about Hinduism, we look for the author’s credentials. There were great many great names, very serious scholars like Max Mueller and others. The list is rather long.

We have our own scholars like Dr.S.Radhakirshnan and Prof. Mohanty and others.
But for the foreigners, specially these days, the writers cum journalists it is all sensation and selling points that matter.

V.S. Naipaul
In this rank also joins our own V.S.Naipaul. I met him once and I had the instinctive feeling that here was the man who stays in five star hotels and travels in comfort and he has to produce a sufficiently a big book that can cover his costs and earn him a sufficient amount of royalty.

He also knows well that his readers in the West, more so in the UK would only like to read and to be told all that was wrong with the India and the Indians whom the British have to leave one day and give them the freedoms they were fighting for!
So you see all the dirt and dust in Naipaul’s books

William Dalrymple
Now for the resident foreign correspondents, again, their knowledge of India is jaundiced and prejudiced and they write on exotic things, like some Hindu rituals, there is a long chapter in Dalrymple’s latest book on a Kerala dancer who performs a ritual dance with all his colours and feathers and makeup and the descriptions make for some enjoyable reading forwarders bored in the UK environment.

This is pure, unadulterated entertainment. Not any wisdom or anything that makes for serious reading. Yes, if there is a market for these sorts of books please go ahead and write it and get dammned. That is all we can say. Then, why persist with your own mischief? Why bring in the damned Hindutva again and again.

There is some underlying sense of inadequacy with these visiting jouranlists. They have to write and they can’t but do so with the intent of creating some controversy or other.
So, they take up the Hindutva cause.

Sonia Gandhi, what relevance?
So too they come to the subject of the dominant party, the Congress which wrested freedom from the British and so too Sonia Gandhi comes in as a fit case for a controversy.
Why then pick up Sonia Gandhi? It makes for good reading in the West.

May be there is the assumption that somehow Indians haven’t taken to Sonia Gandhi’s India leadership kindly.

Anyway, one has to be aware that Hinduism is not all these. It is much more. It is much deeper. It is what Anandakumaraswamy and others have taken up. Hindu iconography too has some greater themes, the cosmic dance of Shiva, the Nataraja and the various sculptural greats, the various temples and stupas and others have given the Hindu thought and philosophy its perennial fascination.

Great minds of the West, from Aldous Huxley to Romain Rolland to Andre Malraux have taken the Hindu thoughts and interpreted them, far and wide. They won name and fame and an enduring place in the minds of many.

Please don’t be misled by these English men, these journalists, English journal
Mark Tullyists, the French journalists and our own V.S.Naipaul!

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