Monday, Jun 05, 2023

Penguin To Withdraw 'The Hindus: An Alternative History'

Penguin To Withdraw 'The Hindus: An Alternative History'

Publishing house Penguin India agrees to withdraw and pulp the book The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger

According to an agreement signed by Penguin India that was leaked on Scribd and news broken on Twitter, Penguin India  has agreed to withdraw all copies of the book The Hindus: An Alternative History' written by Wendy Doniger in response to a case filed by Dina Nath Batra, the convenor of a Hindu group called the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Committee, and five other complainants.

Wendy Doniger is an American Indologist and Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought.

The agreement reads that Penguin shall "with immediate effect recall and withdraw all copies of the book, Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History, from Bharat (Indian territory.)". 

It goes on to note that Penguin will no longer sell, distribute, the book and that all recalled/withdrawn/unsold copies of the book shall be 'pulped' by Penguin at its own cost.

According to the agreement, the book has to be withdrawn from all territories of 'Bharat' starting at the earliest and latest within six months of the agreement being signed. The agreement also states that Penguin 'submits that it respects all religions worldwide'.

Penguin India has refused to comment on the issue, but Wendy Doniger has confirmed in an email that the book is being taken out of publication in India.

The book was published in India in 2009.

In 2010, a petition backed by the Sarasvati Research Trust was signed online and submitted to the Penguin USA demanding that the book be withdrawn on the grounds that it was "rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations."  The petition had argued that "these errors and misrepresentations are bound and perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history."

The legal notice sent by Dina Nath Batra to Wendy Doniger, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd included objections such as the following:

  • That it is a shallow, distorted and non serious presentation of Hinduism. 
  • That it is a haphazard presentation riddled with heresies and factual inaccuracies.
  • That it is written with a Christian Missionary Zeal and hidden agenda to denigrate Hindus and show their religion in poor light.
  • That the entire list of the books authored by Doniger concentrate and focus on the negative aspects and evil practices prevalent in Hinduism. 
  • That the words used by Donige for referring to various Hindu Gods are highly objectionable.
  • That on the book jacket of the book Lord Krishna is shown sitting on buttocks of a naked woman surrounded by other naked women.
  • That Doniger depicted Lord Krishna in such a vulgar, base perverse manner to outrage religious feelings of Hindus. 
  • That Doniger's approach has been jaundiced, and "is that of a woman hungry of sex"

Read from Outlook archives:

Read the full text of the settlement agreement between the petitioners and Penguin: