.... Fw: [IndianCivilization] Dr. Ravi Kapur on the life of sadhus in Bharat [Loganathan]
Murti-s [images] of Shivalinga and Ganesha [Kalyanaraman]
Re: Murti-s of Shivalinga and Ganesha [Ram Varmha]
Re: Murti-s of Shivalinga and Ganesha [Kalyanaraman]
Musha, Mushika [Ram Varmha]
Re: Musha, Mushika [Kalyanaraman]
Washington Post: Courtright [Mary Hicks]
My rejoinder: WASHINGTON POST AND HINDUPHOBIA [Rajiv Malhotra]
Rajiv Malhotra’s rejoinder: Washington Post and Hinduphobia [Sunthar Visuvalingam]
From: Susantha Goonatilake
I broadly agree with what Rajiv is saying. The
study fields that he mentions started about 25 years ago as a response to
western hegemonic thought. But they were picked up as mechanical tools by others
to do its opposite on
What you are saying about Indic Hindu studies is worse in Buddhist studies. Buddhist studies in the 19th & 20th C were an attempt to grasp what Buddhism was. It was a goof effort. During the last 25 years there has been an anthropological turn in Buddhist studies and instead of careful scholarship one has gross inventions and partial truths that do not meet basic criteria of scholarship or test.
Nobody messes up like this with
Susantha Goonatilake PhD
[response to Rajiv’s original post of
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Thu Nov 27, 2003; [Abhinava msg #1367]
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962 Western ‘black-and-white’ classic starring John Wayne).
"Coming Intellectual Shifts to Asia: The Indic Possibilities," Susantha Goonatilake (Indic Colloquium, July 2002)
(John) "Ford’s Last Big one," Comment by Robert J.
I agree with you that the controversy over GaNeza is just an episode, despite its significant reverberations and repercussions, in a looming ‘confrontation of civilizations’ that has been very long in the making, dating back perhaps to even before the modern colonial period. As far as ‘knowledge production’ in the West is concerned, it is pertinent to note the manner in which (not just institutionalized) ‘Orientalism’ has co-opted each new revolution, originally subversive of its own civilizational matrix, so as to unleash its disaggregating effects onto its Other:
· Freud developed his psychoanalytic theory gradually from insights derived from his firsthand attempts to help his patients drawn mainly from the Viennese bourgeoisie; his non-licensed fan-club makes a living by transforming other cultures into ‘patients’ in need of Western ‘medicine’.
· Foucault’s entire ‘nihilist’ critique was directed at the power-knowledge nexus underlying modern ‘scientific’ discourse (to the point of initially embracing the Khomeini revolution as a potential liberation...); his imitators rehearse the same motions but to undermine traditional civilizations.
· Nietzsche sought to destroy the philosophical legacy of the Enlightenment and thus pave the way for a return to the esoteric inspiration behind (pre-Socratic) Greek thought; the neo-conservative ‘Straussians’ find therein the license to destroy all other socio-religious orders.
· Edward Saļd attempted a ‘humanized’ deconstruction of Orientalist praxis; while he is labeled an intellectual ‘terrorist’ by ‘Western’ apologists, the privileged ‘subalternist radicals’ who swear by him would write off (not just) Eastern self-identities themselves as colonial constructions.
This is an ‘East-West debate’ that cannot be won by mere argument however logical, well-researched and cogently presented: those who ‘call the shots’ won’t even condescend to grant your case a proper hearing...until it becomes obvious that it is in their own vital interests to do so!
that, like myself, Osama ben Laden has been watching too many John Wayne
movies—maybe we should urge Congress to pass a bill banning the
continuing export of such ‘sensitive’ Hollywood Westerns to impressionable
I really enjoyed listening (and talking) to you at Menla!
P.S. You can hear the ‘title song’ (didn’t feature in the movie...) in MP3 format (on RealPlayer) here (under heading Making of Gene Pitney).
[Sunthar’s attempt to mediate opposing positions of Kalyan and Loga on applicability of psychoanalysis to Ganesha]
From: S. Kalyanaraman
Sent: Sunday, December 07, 2003 10:00 AM [Abhinava msg #1389 – thread presented in reverse order]
I think psychoanalysis is a fraudulent pseudo-science. The likes of Cartwrights [Courtright - SV], Wendy Donigers, Kirpal Singhs [he’s a gypsy not a Sikh! - SV], Ravi Kapurs are not adding to the corpus of vidyā or knowledge. Many of these pundits are hoaxes trying to steal some headlines from the pseudo-secular press and taking a dig at Hindu Dharma by devious means and out to malign the sacredness with which a Hindu looks upon a Sadhu. Just knock off, Kapurs, don’t step on our toes.
NISTADS is headed by a pseudo-secular.
Dr. Ravi Kapur on the Life of Sadhus in India [emphases below added by Sunthar]
the National Institute of Advanced Studies,
Deputy Director of the same institute and before that the Professor and
Head, Department of Psychiatry at the prestigious National Institute of
Mental Health & Neurosciences. He is Fellow of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists, the Indian National Academy of Sciences and the
lecture entitled- “The making of a Sadhu: An enquiry into higher states of
mental health,” jointly organized by National Institute of Science,
Technology and Development Studies and India International Centre under the
series-DIMENSIONS of SCIENCE, on the evening of December 1, 2003.
The conference hall was packed with intellectuals, researchers,
psychologists, psychiatrists, media persons, former bureaucrats and diplomats,
[complete article at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/akandabaratam/message/8675]
Said Dr. Kapur, “Many of the sadhus I met survived on a meagre diet of
cereals and fruits. They were mostly not bothered as to wherefrom their next
meal is going to come. When I asked this question to one of them, he told
me- ‘I challenge God not to give me food.’ “
According to Dr. Kapur total availability to the needy and sick,
cheerful temperament and high level of energy were some of the
qualities which were common to most of the sadhus he had met. They pursued
their goal—moksha with boundless energy.
Dr. Kapur said that in India the young people are told since
childhood that they should not waste their semen or tejas which is very
precious. “When I asked the sadhus, how they fulfill their desire for sex,
most of them told me that when they are immersed in meditation and bhakti,
the joy and ecstasy they experience gives them much more satisfaction than
they would get from any sexual indulgence. In fact sex was nothing
as compared to the ecstasy they experienced when they were in
communion with the God. To describe this feeling of ecstasy, they said
that they felt a flow of energy rushing from the back of their spine to the
top of their head.”
Talking about a sadhu who lived at a height of 15,000 feet without wearing
much clothes, Dr. Kapur said – “When I asked him how he coped with the
loneliness at such a height, his answer was, “I have ladoos [sweets] in both
my hands. When someone comes here, I feed him and feel absolutely blissful.
And when there is nobody here for six months, I am in total communion with
God and am again completely blissful. So both my hands are full of ladoos.”
“Almost all the sadhus I met, I asked if they possessed any special
powers. One of the sadhus to who I addressed this question responded by
saying- ‘Yes I have special powers. I can make very good rasam (a spicy
soup),’ “said Dr. Kapur.
During this two hour meeting, people listened to Dr. Kapur’s
lecture with rapt attention. An interesting question answer session also
followed after the lecture was delivered.
From: Dr. K. Loganathan
Dear Dr. Kalyan
You are totally mistaken about the relevance of Psychoanalysis for understanding Hinduism especially the Tantric developments. While Western psychoanalysis may be inadequate (certainly not fraudulent), it does not mean Psychoanalysis as a whole is irrelevant. What it means is that we need a new psychology such as Agamic Psychology I have developed and which is an improvement on Freud and Jung.
What we have to do is to bring out the psychoanalysis in the Indic traditions instead of shutting off every psychoanalytic way of studying the Indian traditions.
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Sat Dec 6, 2003; [Abhinava msg #1389]
Why is GaNeza, the ‘Lord of Obstacles’, also called (often in the same breath as Vighna-) ‘Vināyaka’? Of course, as lord (pati) of (Rudra-Ziva’s) (grotesque) hosts (gaNa), GaNapati may be said to be a ‘leader’ (nāyaka) of sorts. Perhaps, he also ‘leads’ (nayati from the root *nī-) his devotees along the right path (and not just to success) in all their undertakings. But why (the prefix) Vi-nāyaka? Simply, because he leads obstacles ‘away’ (vi- in the sense of separation) from us? In Sanskrit, vi- often has an intensive sense, thus vi-jaya (one of the 10 secret names of Arjuna...) would be a superlative ‘victory’ (jaya). This might be associated with the notion of variety (vividha), hence vi-marza (the key term in Abhinava’s theory of knowledge) might be understood as being focusedly (self-) aware and from all possible angles. However, vi- also has the wholly contrary sense of privation (viNā): thus, to be vyanga (vi + anga = ‘limb’) is to be disfigured (vi-kRta, like the de-formed vi-dūSaka). The VidūSaka himself seems to be the ‘abuser’ or ‘reviler’ (*dūS-) par excellence (= vi-), now with negative connotation. That this coincidence of praise/blame within a ‘polished’ Sanskrit particle reflects a structuring principle animating the religious tradition is recognized in the epithet ‘great’ (mahat) applied to the clown of the theater: the mahā-brāhmaNa is both much more and much less than the brahmin.
Freud’s theorizing on the role of repression (or ‘censorship’) within the individual psyche led him to speculate on the contrary forces that might have been active in the emergence and early development of language(s) as reflecting the ambivalence underlying the diverse orderings of culture. What drew and held his attention was the fundamental ambiguity (vi-!) that would have been preserved in the semantics of ‘primitive’ words and affixes, catering to the same psychic necessity that has subsequently found expression in the intricate mechanisms of ‘wit’ (related to Sanskrit ‘vid’ = to know), whereby the ‘infantile’ unconscious offers a verbal ‘bait’ to our internal (-ized) censor thereby allowing a repressed thought, emotion or tendency not only to express itself with impunity but even win over the vicarious participation of an adult audience. If we now subsume the notion of the ‘unconscious’ within the dimension of an esoteric knowledge that would be grounded in (super-) Consciousness (as represented by the all-consuming appetite of the pot-bellied god), such ‘twisted speech’ becomes the prerogative of the (ladoo-sharing) healer rather than of the patient. Despite its materialist underpinnings and reductive tendency, Freud’s ‘psychopathology of everyday life’ reveals how all of human behavior is as expressive as a forbidden language. Is it so surprising then that Jacques Lacan, the therapeutic buffoon to whom psychoanalysis now owes so much of its prestige among the ‘human’ sciences, had not only studied the linguistic insights of (Ānandavardhana and) Abhinavagupta but also cited the Indian theorists of ‘suggestion’ (dhvani) in support of his own formulation that the ‘unconscious’ is structured like a crooked (snake?) tongue (a dramaturgical text describes the VidūSaka as ‘double-tongued’ dvi-jihva)?
Other Hindu deities—like the Vedic king of the gods, Indra, or the Tamil war-god SubrahamaNya (Skanda)—have greater claims than the pot-bellied elephant-trunked mouse-riding GaNeza to being a heroic ‘leader’ (nāyaka), but have never been honored with such an exclusive title of ‘supreme leader’ (vi-nāyaka). Our one and only Vināyaka may be fully understood, it seems to me, only in juxtaposition and contrast to the protagonist (nāyaka = ‘hero’) of the Sanskrit theater, who is presided over by the royal Indra. The pot-bellied (Mahodara) crooked-stick wielding VidūSaka, who is likewise presided over by the sacred syllable Omkāra, is in fact the ‘anti-hero’ (German: Gegen-spieler) of the play. This (dramatic transposition of the) vi-nāyaka ‘unwittingly’ creates obstacles in the path of the nāyaka but thereby contributes willy-nilly to the eventual fulfillment of the latter’s desire (typically his union with the heroine, nāyikā, who represents the whole kingdom). Nārada, the trickster-sage, plays a similar role in Hindu mythology by provoking discord among even the gods and goddesses (one text describes the VidūSaka as a ‘quarrel-monger’ kalaha-priya) but, again, all’s well that ends well. In a profound sense, then, the ‘Lord of Obstacles’ would not just manifest the ‘crooked will’ of the ‘enemy within’ who keeps thwarting the best-laid plans, but also embodies the ‘willingness’ of his sacrificing worshippers (of us, nāyakas and nāyikās!) to encompass and turn to advantage this indefatigable ‘contrariness’ so as to achieve our larger purpose.
What other contemporary science is there that would help us fathom, and in his own crooked way, this supreme embodiment of Hindu wisdom?
P.S. I’m consolidating a listing of all the recent posts around the GaNeza controversy at the Abhinava Forum-Index (see keywords below).
P.P.S. How come the ‘ascetics’ [above] seem to draw all their metaphors from food? ...just like the impoverished imagination of the VidūSaka!
[Rest of this thread at
Obnoxious anti-Hindu comments in
From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Sat Jan 3, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1491]
Open Letter to Trustees of the Walters Art gallery,
I request devotees of Ganes’a worldwide, to contact and/or write to the Trustees of Water Art Galley museum authorities to withdraw their book about Asian Art and/or expunge the derogatory remarks made in the book which hurt the sentiments of Hindu worldwide:
“Asian Art in The Walters Art Gallery: A Selection,” by Hiram W. Woodward, Jr. Publisher: The Trustees of The Walters Art Gallery, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201; Excerpts from Page 20:”Ganesa, is a son of the great god Siva, and many of his abilities are comic or absurd extensions of the lofty dichotomies of his father...Ganesa’s potbelly and his childlike love for sweets mock Siva’s practice of austerities, and his limp trunk will forever be a poor match for Siva’s erect phallus.”
It appears that, Hiram W. Woodword, the author and The Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, who are the publishers, are basing these obnoxious anti-Hindu comments on the ‘academic’ work of Prof.Courtright (Emory University) recently withdrawn from circulation by Motilal Banarsidass.
The Art Gallery trustees should be aware that Ganes’a is venerated not only in India but also in many other parts of the world. Ganes’a is a cultural icon, for example in Indonesia where Ganes’a adorns the 20000 rupiah currency note (the obverse of the note shows a classroom with children) and Ganes’a icon adorns the entrance of Bangkok Institute of Technology as a divinity of education, and in Thailand, Ganes’a is venerated in Buddha Dhamma.
Such derogatory comments about divinities, GaNeza
and Ziva, in a public museum hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindu worldwide
and damages the image of the
The Art Gallery should not only offer a public apology to all Hindu and all world citizens who venerate Ganes’a and S’iva, but also compensate for the damage caused by donating to the promotion of Hindu dharma.
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman firstname.lastname@example.org Sarasvati Research Centre, Chennai, India 600015
4 January 2004
Walter Art Gallery 600 North Charles Street Baltimore, MD Phone: 410-547-9000. Gary Vikan is Museum Director.
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Sun Jan 4, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1494]
Vishal Agrawal and Kalai Venkat, “3.4 Ganesha as eunuch,” When The Cigar Becomes A Phallus-Part 2, Sulekha
Sunthar and Elizabeth, A paradigm of Hindu-Buddhist Relations: Pachali Bhairab of Kathmandu (1991)
How come the Newar Ganesha not only accepts meat offerings but is also incarnated by a butcher entrusted with the task of killing and decapitating the sacrificial animal? After all, the ‘orthodox’ Hindu understanding of Ganesha derives him from the Vedic Brhaspati, who supervised over the brahmanical sacrifice, the classical form of which admitted of no such blood-letting (the zāmitr merely ‘pacified’ the beast through suffocation). In fact, among the gods officiating at the divine sacrifice, Brhaspati was the only one who could consume the ‘injured’ portion sacred to Rudra.
So have these wily ‘North Indian’ brahmin mafia taken (not just the Newars but also) our learned Dr. Loganathan ‘for a (hermeneutic?) ride’ (as we say here in Al Capone’s city:-)?...only this time on Ganesha’s (Dravidian?) mouse!
If you want to ‘psychoanalyze’ Ganesha, try taking on first not just shamanic possession (āveza) but also the mechanism of the Vedic sacrifice...
P.S. I’ve updated the online preview version of our paper to include three new photos (printed book will have only black-and-white illustrations): close-up of Pachali Bhairab jar, Bhairab standing on Bhūteshwara stone, and Bhadrakālī exchanging swords with king Birendra Bikram Shah. Though the PDF file is huge (1.5MB), it has been optimized for the Web such that pages are streamed down on demand and in the background.
[rest of this thread at
Obnoxious anti-Hindu comments in Walters Art Gallery booklet about Ganesha
Subject: Re: Is Ganesha a eunuch as opposed to the virile Bhairava? Like the Vedic Agni, this ‘great brahmin’ (butcher!) seems capable of giving birth to his parents!
From: Stuart Sovatsky
Date: Thu Jan 8, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1517 – response to Sunthar’s post above]
Swami Kripalvanad of Gujurat reports spontaneously severing the frenulum (tissue attaching the underside of the tongue to the mouth) with his LEFT THUMBNAIL as a manifestation of pranotthāna (“uplifted prana” as occurs during teenaged genital puberty and seen as the “glow of youth” and as the “glow of saints/yogis” who, in my terms, are manifesting a postgenital puberty of the spine—kundalini and pineal—the secretion of soma or hyper-melatonin, in modern terms) to facilitate khecari mudra (puberty of tongue-pineal.) He claimed spontaneously compelled severing of the frenulum with the left thumbnail is not uncommon in the advanced phase of kundalini yoga.
I have wondered if severing the frenulum might be related to severing the fifth head of Brahman. In any case, psychoanalysts would best be advised that Indic scriptures (tantric and otherwise) often point to developmental potentials of the body-mind that cannot be reduced to genital sexuality without severe distortion. Such “postgenital” maturational phenomena are seen in charismatic/Pentecostal/gospel/hesychastic/holy-roller Christian quivering, Quaker/Shaker quaking/shaking, uju kaya tumescent spine of Raja Yoga and Buddhist meditation, in Kaligari thxiasi num, Tibetan tumo, spontaneously arising tai chi, spinal throbbing Judaic davvening, in spinal undulating African, South American and Native American trance-dance, and in other bodily “manifestations of the spirit” worldwide.
The innocent, playful, clever Ganesa, with his ambiguously curling trunk and broken curved tusk seems an amalgam of all sorts of postgenital tumescences. As the son of Shiva, we should expect no less. And it is perhaps the innocence of it all that is most vulnerable to the psychoanalytic presumptiveness.
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Thu Jan 8, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1514]
Vishal Agrawal and Kalai Venkat, “3.1 Opening Remarks,” When The Cigar Becomes A Phallus-Part 2, Sulekha
Vishal Agrawal and Kalai Venkat, “3.2 Paul Courtright Invents a ‘Limp Phallus,” When The Cigar Becomes A Phallus-Part 2, Sulekha
Celibacies, sexualities, Yogic eros (
Mihira2000 (impersonating Michael Witzel),
Re: [RISA-L] The scholar’s accountability (
How can beheading in the Indian context be reduced to an ‘Oedipal castration’ when the decapitated ‘victim’ can be not only the son (GaNeza), but also the father (Brahmā by his son Bhairava), the mother (ReNukā by her son Parazurāma) and even the decapitator herself (Cinna-mastā)? Even if Courtright’s interpretation of GaNeza’s elephant-head were correct, what justification (other than a, by now characteristic, scholarly myopia that is rooted in a self-serving intellectual laziness...) is there for extending this ‘psychoanalytic’ insight (?) to the psycho-sexual dynamics of the Hindu father-son relations without first accounting for all these other figures of beheading within the tradition?
What the origin-myth of Bhairava clearly reveals is that the fundamental meaning of decapitation is transgression. This is why the decapitated brahmin head of ReNukā is replaced in many variants by that of an untouchable woman, and all this in a context of worship where she has been raised to the pedestal of the Goddess. That such sacrificial beheading is valorized in itself quite independently of any notion of punishment, revenge, or interpersonal aggressivity, should be evident from the example of Cinnamastā, who holds her self-decapitated head. The victim of the sacrifice is ultimately a substitute for, and hence symbolically identical with, the sacrificer. Already in Vedic mythology, the sage Dadhyańc is able to reveal the secret of the Soma to Indra only through a horse’s head after he has been decapitated by the latter. The motif of the severed head is central to the Vedic ideology, and the tricky part is considered to be its restoration so as to make the sacrifice whole again.
Castration in many ancient spiritual currents (such as the cult of Attis) was often self-imposed (even by the priests) in order to curb the sexual impulse and redirect its energies to the head. It’s thus perfectly logical for castration here (the chopped off tusk leaving behind the ‘limp’ trunk) to symbolize a mode of chastity. However, it is incredible that a disciple of Wendy (doesn’t she re-read her own books before writing such glowing prefaces for her intellectual offspring...?) could start on the premise of an opposition between the ‘celibate’ (son) Ganesha and the ‘virile’ (father) Shiva, when her own magnum opus is entitled “asceticism and eroticism in the mythology of Shiva”! The Pāzupata ascetic who studiously avoided women is nevertheless typically depicted in a perpetual ithyphallic state because of the obligatory lewdness (zRNgāraNa) he was obliged to exhibit (from a safe distance, of course!) in their presence. It is this ‘horniness’ of the ‘eunuch’ GaNeza that is emphasized through his remaining ‘single-tusk’ (eka-danta), a feature important enough to be consecrated as one of his many names (or, like his illogical Hindu creators, was Shiva too dumb not to have ‘castrated’ both his son’s phalluses?), itself inherited from the (Indus?) ‘Unicorn’ (eka-zRnga).
GaNeza’s elephant-head is a sophisticated exegesis of the sexual dimension of the transgressive dīkSā (i.e., symbolic decapitation). The sexual energy that normally resides in the instinctual center at the base of the spine (mūlādhāra) has been transmuted into the cerebral matter as represented by the phallic trunk limply suspended between the large ears. This is implicit even in the horse’s head (check out, for example, the exegesis of the ‘equine fire’ in the Uttanka episode of the Mahābhārata...). Biardeau (who has no love lost for psychoanalysis...) in her entry on Ganesha for a French encyclopedia points to sculpted representations where the tip of his trunk is resting on the vagina of a goddess seated on his left thigh—what better evidence do we need of the sexual connotations of his ‘sweetmeat’ (modaka)? Indeed, it is the virile (but ascetic) husband Shiva who enters the womb-chamber of his ‘wife’ to be reborn as the ‘brahminized’ son Ganesha—the classic sacrificial scenario. From an internalized ‘tantric’ perspective, the adept does indeed have a ‘sexualized’ perception of the world enjoyed as a modaka (ask Abhinava!).
The distinctive feature of the Hindu GaNeza is that he embodies in himself both the brahmanical and the tantric poles that we have seen so diametrically opposed in Bhairava’s decapitation of his father Brahmā. The Kāpālika ate all his food from the decapitated skull (-bowl), which amounts to saying that that the sustenance that really kept him alive was the Soma being generated in his own ‘brahmin’ head (David Lorenzen himself provides epigraphic evidence of the affiliation of these Soma-Siddhāntins to Vedic schools and as having received the dīkSā but seems quite incapable of drawing the logical conclusions...even after they have been pointed out to him). What GaNeza teaches us—whether Anglo-brahmin, Dalit, Newar, Dravidian, or just plain ‘Hindu’—is that his modakas are readily available to one and all (not just to Vaidikas and Kāpālikas).
Thanks, as always, for your insightful input,
[rest of this thread at Ganesha a eunuch opposed to virile Bhairava? ‘great brahmin’ (butcher!) gives birth to his parents! (Jan 4, 2003)
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Sat Jan 10, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1522]
Vishal Agrawal and Kalai Venkat, When The Cigar Becomes A Phallus-Part 2, Sulekha
Courtright Twist And Academic Freedom, Sulekha (
How could the most learned and highly refined Sanskrit playwrights have elevated this ‘transvestite’ brahmin, hopelessly stuck at the ‘pre-genital’ stage of ‘oral sex’, to the enviable position of the king’s counselor in all matters pertaining to love (kāma-tantra-saciva)? In fact, a careful reading of the plays shows that this bungling Fool, despite all his protestations to the contrary, is a constant obstacle to the consummation of the amorous liaison between his inseparable friend, the hero, and the object of his overpowering desire. (And just how many of our wide-eyed Anglo-brahmin worshippers of the ‘Indian Shakespeare’ and ‘deconstructive’ Indological squinters have really done such a close reading of the actual ‘text’...?) After all, if we American ‘hard-core’ democrats were to take the unsquinting President Bill Clinton at his solemn televised word, Monica Lewinsky’s lollipops, however delectable, do not even make the grade to adult behavior: “I did not have sex with that girl” (period)!
The first thing to note above is that GaNeza’s insatiable appetite for modakas is not an ‘oral substitute’ for ‘real’ (genital) sex (whose inexhaustible mysteries are familiar only to ‘all-American’ Indologists who apparently write their learned treatises during the commercial breaks in the Howard Stern show) but simply the semiotic equivalent of sexual appetite in itself (regardless of its external mode of expression). So much so that the all-consuming hunger (gastric fire = libidinal energy) of the ‘great brahmin’ amounts to a burning desire that knows no (societal or moral) bounds. If we accept that it is the consecrated sacrificer, the ‘ascetic’ Shiva himself, who is (re-) born as the ‘son’ GaNeza in the process of uniting with his wife, their union must amount in a profound sense to ‘incest’ even when it is actually a most decent case of matrimonial wedlock. This is revealed in the underlying ritual framework of the Sanskrit drama: the VidūSaka, who shares a single (symbolic) body with the (royal) hero, (is presided over by Omkāra and) wields the present of Brahmā (what else? GaNeza’s ‘limp’ trunk disguised as a crooked stick!), whereas the heroine (nāyikā) is presided over by Sarasvatī, whose incestuous relationship is a—if not the—central mystery of the BrāhmaNa mythology. This ‘polymorphous clown’ represents not only the ‘great’ (mahā-) brįhman from which the sacrificer-hero is (re-) born, he also embodies the latter as the dīkSita who has regressed into an embryonic condition. Indeed, the entire entourage of the Indian court, even the lowliest maids (including all the interns:-), has always known the VidūSaka for what he really is: a ‘perverse kid’ (duSTa-baTuka).
Is the ‘displacement’ of sexual activity to the mouth (and belly) no more than an infantile regression to a pre-genital stage of the adult libido? From the perspective of transgressive sacrality, such culturally-sanctioned ‘regression’ is not only the precondition for a ‘normal’ and healthy ‘adult’ sexuality, it is also the means to transcend human finitude by using the unleashed ‘libido’ as the vehicle for ‘universalizing’ one’s consciousness. The ‘metaphor’ of eating facilitates this merging of sexual ‘consumption’ and esoteric techniques within a supreme mode of enjoyment that is the prerogative of the unconditioned Consciousness. The brahmanical strategy consisted not just in checking the political self-aggrandizement of the king (-usurper) by making him subservient to a pre-established sacrificial schema, but in taming and harnessing his very sexuality—rendering it both chaste and transgressive—to transform his ego. What the VidūSaka did for the king, GaNeza still does for us all!
Perhaps if Clinton, who unfortunately never enjoyed the good fortune of having a ‘great brahmin’ as his intimate presidential counselor :-(as opposed to just plain old Hillary...), continues his humble penitence (prāyazcitta) through regular offerings of modakas to Lord GaNeza (with some encouragement from Chelsey?), he might before long be able to proclaim himself—swearing in all good conscience on his twisted trunk (= the vidūSaka’s kuTilaka)—a ‘perpetual celibate’ (i.e., a nitya-brahma-cārin, just like our incorrigible Lord Krishna...;-)!
[rest of this thread at Sunthar V. (
[Kalyan’s response to comment on his petition to Walter’s Gallery provided occasion to scrutinize Ganesha’s mouse]
From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Fri Jan 9, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1542 – thread order has been reversed below]
I got a personal mail with the
following comments and questions. I
have also appended the response I sent.
[quote] I am a proud Hindu, and I would not trade places with anyone.
Many stories in our history are debatable in today’s world because
of lack of the knowledge that was commonplace in ancient India but
has long been forgotten. Even if our history is discarded as mere
mythology by the western scholars, I assure everybody that we have
the Best ever ‘mythology’! I applaud your sensitive initiative
against insensitive comments by some misguided and
motivated ‘scholars’ of the Walter’s Art Gallery about the Lord
Ganesha and Lord God Shiva. But, please pardon my ignorance, is it
not true that Lord God Shiva has an erect phallus called Shiva
Lingam and his son Lord Ganesha has a potbelly satiated by his
penchant for ‘Laddus’ as well as a curious and limp looking
transplanted elephant trunk? When the Lord is not ashamed or
embarrassed about it, why should I? As long as we Hindus do not know
the real, implied, spiritual, symbolic, mystic, literary as well as
historic meanings of these things, we will continue to be utterly
short-changed, hopelessly under-armed, and absolutely weak and
incapable of countering these anti-Hindu attacks. Please enlighten
us. I am waiting! Nay, the majority of Hindus are waiting for an
explanation... I know because I have not gotten an answer yet even
after asking from many knowledgeable Hindus. Please help. [unquote]
Every trunk of every elephant is limp, that is the way trunks are
made. To read Freudian interpretations into this body part is a
fraud. It is insulting to make fun of anyone’s name or personality.
It is not cultured behavior.
Now, about the lingam. I request you read the encyclopedic set of 7
books on Sarasvatī just released and available through amazon.com
An image exactly like Ganeza is also found in Sarasvati
civilization. The face and trunk of an elephant is ligatured with
the face of a tiger with a mane. I have provided proofs to explain
these as hieroglyphs in the context of metallurgical techniques of
the artisan guilds, vizvakarma of the civilization. Elephant is
ibha; trunk is s’un.d.a; tiger’s mane is cūl.a. All these words
have homonyms: ib ‘iron’; zuNDa ‘furnace’; cūl.a ‘furnace’. So
the code of Sarasvati hieroglyphs has been summarily cracked for
over 4000 epigraphs with 400 signs and 100 pictographs.
PS: More on the broken tusk and mūSika vāhana as hieroglyphs later.
From: Ram Varmha
Date: Sat Jan 10, 2004 4:24 am
I fully agree with you on this. I too read Courtright’s Ganesa.
Unfortunately, the damage has been done by him and others like him and
now Ganesa has become the laughing stock in the Western world. That is a shame.
I find that in the West, a certain anti-Eastern feeling, not tied in
with the Ganesa remarks, are slowly taking root. Number of temples are
being vandalized in the
than Senator Hillary Clinton about Mahathma Gandhi filling gas at the St
Louise gas station, though a stupid and meaningless slip-up, shows that
there is now an undercurrent tendency to berate and insult Eastern cultures.
Unfortunately, some of it is due to Indians as well. The statues of
Ganesa, Nataraja, Krishna and others have become conversation pieces in
many homes in India. I remember, when we were young, our family never
displayed the images of Hindu gods in living rooms or as mantle pieces.
Now, in every Indian’s home you will find all these statues kept as art
work. This is also showing disrespect to the religion at large.
Furthermore, temple idols are stolen and sold on the black market to
underground buyers, at enormous profits. Temple jewellery are
periodically stolen and replaced with glass and base metal imitations.
Not having read your book, it is
difficult to fully understand what you
are stating here. Is the image just that of an elephant with the face of
a tiger with a mane, signifying some metallurgical terms and techniques,
or is this some how connected with the worship of Ganesa in the ISV?
From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Sat Jan 10, 2004;
Not connected with the worship of
GaNeza in the civilization; there
ain’t no evidence for such worship.
The ligatured sculpture just signifies metallurgical terms and technique.
MūSa, mūSika is the vāhana of Ganeza; mūSa means a
goldsmith’s ‘crucible’. The modaka-s held in his hand are the metal ingots.
From: Dr. K. Loganathan
Date: Sat Jan 10, 2004;
Dear Dr. Kalyan
I am not sure whether you are right in this etymological derivation. There
is a word in Su. ‘mus’ and ‘musen’ which is applied as a noun to snake,
birds and so forth and as a verb to depart, move ahead and so forth. The
root meaning appears to be creatures with protruding faces and which shows
it is the archaic form Ta. musal, muyal (rabbit) and muujci, mukam ( face)
and muukku : nose. This must be an ancient Tamil word for we find similar
words in Malay e.g. musang, a kind of small dear.
The words muucikam, muunjcuuRu (mouse) is obviously related to this. This
muucikam as the vaakana of GaNesha may be an adaptation of the very ancient snake.
There is a phrase in CaGkam Tamil: Mooci Kiiran and here I suspect the
meaning of Mooci to be a wanderer, the ascetic who wanders around having
relinquished domestic life, the tuRavi.
From: Ram Varmha
Date: Sun Jan 11, 2004;
Interesting. I know, Musha means a crucible.
I remember that the name MUSHIKA, rat, also relates to the name of a country established by Parashurama after his victory over Karthavirya Arjuna. Also, I had read that MUSHIKA, was a mysteriously missing city of Achaemenid India with its legendary riches, and identified with MOHENJO-DARO, of the Indus-Valley. Perhaps the city Mushika, meant the City of Crucibles!
From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Mon Jan 12, 2004;
Even the trunk, s’un.d.a
can be related to an ivory-worker, turner:
cundaka_ra turner (Pali); cuna_ro maker of wooden vessels (Ku.);
cuna_ro, cana_ro, cu~da_ro id. (N.)(CDIAL 4862). cunda wood or ivory
work (Skt.); ivory worker (Pali); cundiba_ to do woodwork (Or.)
sun.d.u to evaporate; sun.d.isu to make evaporate, reduce in boiling
(Ka.); cun.d.u to be evaporated or dried up (Te.); s’un.t.h- to
become dry (Skt.)(DEDR 2662).
sun.d.a musk-rat (Ka.)(DEDR 2661)]. s’un.d.i-mu_s.ika_, s’un.d.a-
mu_s.ika_ musk-rat (Skt.)
sun.d.alu, sun.d.il, sun.d.ila, son.d.alu, son.d.ilu, son.d.lu id.
(Ka.); dun.d.u face of a cow, beak (Ka.Coorg); dun.d.i snout, face
(insulting)(Kod..); sun.d.ilu, son.d.ilu elephant’s proboscis (Tu.);
ton.d.amu id. (Te.); son.d.am elephant’s trunk (Nk.); ond.i_ id.
(Go.) sun.d.a elephant’s trunk (Or); su~_r. (Bi.Mth.H.); su~r.h
(Bhoj.); su_r.h (Mth.); su~_r.i id. (Aw.); su~_d. (H.); sun.d. (H.);
su~d.i (G.); son.d.a_, son.d.a (Pali); som.d.a_ (Pkt.); su~_d.i id.
(S.); so~d. (M.); sond.aya, hond.aya (Si.)(CDIAL 12516).
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Wed Jan 14, 2004;
Muttuswamy Dikshitar, popular invocatory composition (for Carnatic music concerts) set in the rāga NāTam
Elizabeth Visuvalingam, “The King and the Gardener: Pachali Bhairab of Kathmandu” (1989-2004)
“The Perverse Humor of the Infantile Vidūshaka” (Act III of the “Little Clay Cart” MRcchakaTikā)
Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon, search on ‘crucible’ and on ‘muSka’
If the myths insist that GaNeza was born of his mother Pārvatī’s impurity, where is it to be found in his iconography....other than as deposited in the scavenging rat? But why not then a black dog, Bhairava’s preferred (eco-friendly) vehicle (well-known as an adept in recycling its own waste...)? The untouchable dog would have been too obvious a symbol of transgression, and certainly not amusing especially to (perpetual) kids (like myself). Moreover, the thieving rat, like the (twice-born) snake (that rejuvenates itself by sloughing off its own dead skin), has the ingrained habit of scurrying away with a stuffed mouth into its hole (bila - check out what happened to the stolen ear-rings in, once again, the Uttanka episode in the Mahābhārata). This is what so well qualifies the mouse to represent the otherwise pure ‘brahmanical’ Lord of Wisdom in his hidden dimension as the impure dīkSita returning to the maternal womb. The ambivalence of the vehicle consists in its being simultaneously that which is subdued (like the pāpa-puruSa upon whom Lord Ziva mercilessly treads as he dances...) and the theriomorphic incarnation of the deity himself. Once while savoring my regular samosas on the main street leading into the Benares Hindu University, I was aghast to see a mouse nibbling directly off the large tray on which they were displayed—when I protested, the boy-seller was amazed that anyone could make such a fuss over a personal visitation from the ever-hungry Ganesha! The Hindu bestiary, like that of the Amerindians so painstakingly deciphered by Lévi-Strauss, is based on centuries of careful observation of the appearance and behavior of these fascinating (both wild and domestic) animals.
Often flaunted as the most ‘secular’ (prakaraNa) of Sanskrit plays, the “Little Clay Cart” is entirely modeled on the Vedic sacrifice for which it could well serve as a literary key. Though the role of the sacrificer here is assumed primarily by the brahmin Cārudatta, various aspects of his dīkSā are encoded into other characters in the play (such as the king Āryaka) with whom he is symbolically identified. It is in the brahmin thief Zarvilaka, particularly his burglary into Cārudatta’s home where the ‘sleep-walking’ clown insists that he take Vasantasenā’s vouchsafed gold (recall the VidūSaka’s comparison of himself elsewhere with a sex-starved harlot?), that the embryonic dimension is especially elaborated. Under the protection of the ‘Patron Saint of Thieves’ (Kārttikeya!), he makes a breach shaped like a pūrNa-kumbha (GaNeza’s belly or the Pachali Bhairab jar?) at a spot already corroded by daily morning ‘ablutions’ and marked by the ‘dirt-heap’ of a rat, before he is able to access the ‘gold’ in the custody of the great brahmin. Recall that the Soma (and Agni) in the Rig-Veda always had to be ‘stolen’ even by the king of the gods, Indra, just as the latter is still pilloried like a thief every year in the Katmandu valley for trying to ‘steal’ the pārijāta flowers for the worship of his mother. There is always something ‘illegitimate’ about the ‘elixir of life’ for it can be accessed only through a mode of transgression. Such is always the case in Amerindian mythology where the (secret of) Fire and (the equivalent) Honey (or Maple Syrup) is also typically stolen.
While it is quite possible that Soma in the Rig-Veda also represents electrum, it would be more true to say that both the soma-plant and the metal gold represent the internal ‘elixir of life’ (amRta), which is why the symbolism has remained alive long after the loss of this northern plant and the carting away abroad of treasures in the post-Hindu period of Indian history. This also explains why the ‘crucible’ could also be the scrotum/testicle, for the ‘base’ metal that is being transmuted into (what you claim are) ‘gold ingots’ (modaka) are actually our ‘stem-cells’ being extracted of their life-giving essence. How else do you explain the iconographic fact that GaNeza’s ‘abstinent’ mouse, unlike the ‘Hindu’ one that was scrounging on my samosas, is typically depicted looking up expectantly at his master’s savory mouth? For Abhinavagupta, the overflowing of aesthetic sensibility within the heart of the connoisseur (sahRdaya) is rooted in the transmutation (as opposed to the mere repression or even ‘sublimation’) of sexual energy, which is why Lord GaNeza is not just so fond of food but ever hankering after the sublime pleasures of art. Not only were our ancestors keen observers of animal behavior, they also knew how to introduce ‘lawful irregularities’ into their iconographic depiction so that even illiterate village-folk (from all that I see on these lists, I can’t vouch for the erudite scientists and literati...) could understand.
You might recall that I immediately greeted your equation—long ago on the Indic Traditions list—of the womb (kuThi) with the furnace (and childbirth with the extraction of metal) in the Indus ‘hieroglyphs’, very positively by pointing out the Amerindian parallels. It would probably be closer to the truth to say that these (no doubt precocious) metallurgists of Indus-Sarasvatī civilization were, first and foremost, alchemists!
With best wishes for the sale of your magnum opus,
P.S. Why would any self-respecting Hindu worship a metallurgist before every undertaking not just with sweets but also jackfruits, bananas and what-not...or have we been the victims of a colossal 5000 year-old hoax perpetrated by the ‘Vedic’ (?) sages of the ‘Sarasvatī’ civilization?
[rest of this thread at Sunthar V.,
[Kevin McDonald’s review of Frederick Crew’s critique of psychoanalysis in the New York Review of Books]
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Tue Mar 30, 2004; [Abhinava msg #1737]
Spare the rod and spoil the child...
Spare the Fraud and save the child?
[See the Psychoanalysis thread for follow-up messages on this post]
From: Mary Hicks
Please note the author blames Rajiv Malhotra for the entire ruckus. The article is riddled with errors - eg., Laine is being castigated "because Shivaji’s parents were estranged" - NOT! - Laine infers that Shivaji was illegitimate. The article is replete with desultory quotes from Wendy Doniger.
Wrath Over a Hindu God -
By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, April 10, 2004; Page A01
Folklore has it that elephants never forget, and Paul Courtright has reason to believe it. A professor of religion at Emory University, he immersed himself in the story of Ganesha, the beloved Hindu god with the head of an elephant. Detecting provocative Oedipal overtones in Ganesha’s story -- and phallic symbolism in his trunk -- he wrote a book setting out his theories in 1985.
Nineteen years later, thanks to an Internet campaign, the world has rediscovered Courtright’s book. After a scathing posting on a popular Indian Web site, he has received threats from Hindu militants who want him dead.
Other academics writing about Hinduism have encountered similar hostility, from tossed eggs to assaults to threats of extradition and prosecution in India.
The attacks against American scholars come as a powerful movement called Hindutva has gained political power in India, where most of the world’s 828 million Hindus live. Its proponents assert that Hindus have long been denigrated and that Western authors are imposing a Eurocentric world view on a culture they do not understand.
That argument resonates among many of the roughly 1.4 million Hindus in North America as well.
In November, Wendy Doniger, a University of Chicago professor of the history of religion who has written 20 books about India and Hinduism, had an egg flung at her by an angry Hindu when she was lecturing in London. It missed.
In January, a book about the Hindu king Shivaji by Macalester College religious studies professor James W. Laine provoked violent outbursts: One of Laine’s collaborators in India was assaulted, and a mob destroyed rare manuscripts at an institute in India where Laine had done research. The Indian edition was recalled, and India’s prime minister warned Laine not to "play with our national pride." Officials said they want to extradite the Minnesota author to stand trial for defamation, and the controversy has become a campaign issue in upcoming parliamentary elections.
Doniger, a 63-year-old scholar at the center of many controversies, is distressed to see her field come under the sway of what she regards as zealots.
"The argument," she said, "is being fueled by a fanatical nationalism and Hindutva, which says no one has the right to make a mistake, and no one who is not a Hindu has the right to speak about Hinduism at all." U.S. Cradle of Backlash
The recent controversy began not in New Delhi but in New Jersey.
In an essay posted on a Web site called Sulekha.com, New Jersey entrepreneur Rajiv Malhotra argued that Doniger and her students had eroticized and denigrated Hinduism, which was part of the reason "the American mainstream misunderstands India so pathologically."
Malhotra criticized in particular a book for which Doniger had written the foreword -- Courtright’s "Ganesa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings." The book drew psychoanalytic inferences about Ganesha, also known as Ganesa or Ganpathi, the son of the Hindu god Shiva and his wife, Parvati.
According to Hindu scriptures, Parvati asked Ganesha to guard her privacy while she was bathing. Shiva, who had been absent, returned to find the boy blocking his way. A fight ensued, and Shiva beheaded Ganesha. When Parvati protested, Shiva repaired his hasty action by resuscitating the child and replacing the missing head with that of an elephant.
Courtright, drawing on the story of a conflict between a woman’s husband and son, suggested that Shiva had chosen an elephant’s head because the trunk represented a limp phallus. By contrast, he said, Shiva’s power is represented in idols by a linga, or an erect phallus.
In his posting, Malhotra quoted passages from Courtright’s book that offended him: "Although there seem to be no myths or folktales in which Ganesha explicitly performs oral sex, his insatiable appetite for sweets may be interpreted as an effort to satisfy a hunger that seems inappropriate in an otherwise ascetic disposition, a hunger having clear erotic overtones."
Malhotra’s critique produced a swift and angry response from thousands of Hindus. An Atlanta group wrote to the president of Emory University asking that Courtright be fired.
"The implication," said Courtright "was this was a filthy book and I had no business teaching anything." He said the quotes had been taken out of context and ignored the uplifting lessons he had drawn from Ganesha’s story.
Salman Akhtar, an Indian American psychoanalyst, said the disagreement sprang from different worldviews. "Are religious stories facts or myths?" he asked. "Facts cannot be interpreted. Stories can be interpreted."
The book was withdrawn in India, where the local edition’s book jacket, which Courtright had neither seen nor approved, depicted Ganesha as a child -- in the nude.
"It was very painful reading," said T.R.N. Rao, a computer science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who advises the university’s branch of the Hindu Student Council, a national group with Hindutva roots. "It makes Ganesha a eunuch . . . It was very vulgar."
Rao and the council started an Internet petition against the book. Seven thousand people signed within a week -- and among their comments were 60 threats of violence.
The petition was swiftly removed. "We condemn any threats to the author and the publisher," said Rao. "We wanted to get the book corrected and replaced. . . . We are not asking for banning the book. I am a professor and I know the value of academic freedom." Insider vs. Outsider
Courtright was not the first to find Oedipal overtones in the Ganesha story. But his book became a rallying point for devout Hindus in the United States who say the academic study of their religion is completely at odds with the way they experience their faith.
"For the past five years, our field has been in turmoil," said Arvind Sharma, a professor of comparative religion at McGill University in Montreal, who sides with the critics even as he disavows the violence. "There may be a Hindutva connection in what happened in India and the death threats and the person who threw the egg, but there also is a Hindu response."
Sharma was asked to write an essay on Hinduism for Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia to replace a previous essay written by Doniger. The switch came after a Hindu activist, a former Microsoft engineer named Sankrant Sanu, charged that Doniger’s article perpetuated misleading stereotypes and asked for a rewrite by an "insider."
"For pretty much all the religious traditions in America, most of the people studying it are insiders," said Sanu. "They are people who are believers. This is true for Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism. This is not true for Hinduism."
In January, fresh controversy along the same lines erupted over a book by Macalester College’s Laine, "Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India," which explored the life of a 17th-century icon of the Hindutva movement.
After Laine suggested in his book that Shivaji’s parents may have been estranged -- an assertion that upset Hindus who see them as nearly divine -- a history scholar in India who had collaborated with Laine was roughed up and smeared with tar by members of Shiv Sena, a Hindutva group. Another nationalist group called the Sambhaji Brigade stormed the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in the city of Pune, and destroyed priceless manuscripts. The reason? Laine had done research there .
"No one in Pune today will defend my book, not my friends, not my colleagues, because they are fearful," Laine said. "Oxford University Press pulled the book because they are fearful of physical violence. There will be a chilling effect on what topics you choose to do."
Many Indian scholars have rushed to the defense of the American authors. They say the controversy over the books is part of a larger pattern of political violence against scholars in India.
Doniger blames the Internet campaigns. "Malhotra’s ignorant writings have stirred up more passionate emotions in Internet subscribers who know even less than Malhotra does, who do not read books at all," Doniger wrote in an e-mail. "And these people have reacted with violence. I therefore hold him indirectly responsible."
Dwarakanath Rao (no relation to T.R.N. Rao), a Hindu psychoanalyst in Ann Arbor, Mich., said Doniger had written moving interpretations of Hindu texts that made them accessible for the first time in North America.
"I just do not hear disrespect," he said. "I hear a woman who, frankly, is in love with India." India Inc.
Malhotra said he began his campaign after visiting African American scholars at Princeton University, who told him that it had taken the civil rights movement before black scholars were allowed into schools to tell their own history.
Hindus were only following in the footsteps of blacks, Jews and the Irish, he said, likening his campaign to a consumer struggle: "It’s no different than Ralph Nader saying we need a consumer voice against General Motors."
Malhotra disavowed the violence -- he called the attackers "hooligans." He said he has campaigned against the Hindutva agenda and opposed the Internet petition against Courtright. "I know I am championed by the Hindu right but there is nothing I can do about that," he said.
Indeed, Malhotra’s critique seems to have less to do with religious nationalism than public relations. Doniger and other academics are "an inbred, incestuous group that control a vertically integrated industry," the former telecom entrepreneur said. Unlike other critics’ objections, Malhotra’s is not that outsiders have written about India -- he has himself encouraged many Americans to study India -- but that the books have harmed the image of what he calls "India Inc."
"In America," he said, "everything is negotiable -- you have to negotiate who you are and how they think of you." Previously, Malhotra waged a campaign against CNN for coverage that he charged was biased toward India’s rival, Pakistan. A foundation he has launched is dedicated to "upgrade the portrayal of India’s civilization in the American education system and media."
This approach does not go down well within the academy. "We are not in the business of marketing a nation state," said Vijay Prashad, an international studies scholar at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in a recent Internet debate with Malhotra. "That is the job of the ambassador of India, not of a scholar."
McGill’s Sharma, a practicing Hindu, countered that the academy had never been neutral, objective ground. Trends in academia have always been governed by shifts in public opinion: "The recalibration of a power equation is an untidy process."
But if the controversies are only about influence, Doniger said, there was little use in discussing the merits of the various books, or her Encarta essay on Hinduism. "It does not matter whether the article published under my name was right or wrong," she said in an e-mail. "The only important thing about it was that I wrote it and someone named Sharma did not."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
From: Rajiv Malhotra
Many of you know of the Ganesha denigration and general Hinduphobia by certain powerful scholars. Recently, Washington Post did a front-page major story on this matter (quoting me heavily), but in a very biased way that caters to the public relations machinery of the academic establishment. My rejoinder that appeared today on Sulekha.com points out many journalistic biases, the broader underlying forces that cause Hinduphobia, and especially the nasty role being played by certain Indian writers who dish out what the system rewards them to produce. Since it is a long article, it is best to get a printer-friendly hard copy.
WASHINGTON POST AND HINDUPHOBIA:
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Tue Apr 20, 2004;
A streamlined edited version of the Ganesha controversy, as compiled from the various posts since June 2003 to the Abhinava forum, will soon be available on the svAbhinava site...
[This post served to present my Introduction (above) to this entire thread]
Subject: Psychoanalysis, Hindu Wisdom and Transgressive
From: Sunthar Visuvalingam
Date: Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:55 am [Abhinava msg #1815]
The Westernized side of my Background (Sulekha, Posted on
The most informed, sustained and cogent critique of the
'Western' pūrva-pakSa from an Indian perspective
that I have studied to date is Provincializing Europe by Dipesh
Chakrabarty, here at the
As for the edited thread on the Ganesha controversy from the Abhinavagupta forum archive, it has been compiled and is ready for posting. Unfortunately, I have been unable to log in to the svAbhinava FTP site. Until I'm able to get around this, I've forwarded (below) the draft of my Introduction to this free-wheeling discussion of the "Hermeneutics of Ganesha: Psychoanalysis, Hindu Wisdom and Transgressive Sacrality."
[rest of this thread at Religious traditions, globalization and the Internet: problems in cross-cultural communication]
[My Introduction “The Hermeneutics of Ganesha” is now at the beginning of this thread]