WENDY DONIGER'S UNCONSCIOUS "INDECENT" EXPOSURE
The Departments of Religious Studies and many other departments have little to produce of value than vicissitudes of their imagination and their theorizing about the past, as religion itself is losing much of its pride of place in the lives of modern generations. In addition, the Universities, Departments, and Academicians are rated with statistical measures rather than the depth of their scholarship, academic integrity, and the value of their contribution to new knowledge, or even the quality of their work. It is a form of academic prostitution but the bean counters rate them by the number of citations in other academicians' publications and peer reviewed journals and drive their behavior. That has given rise to this unconscious or conscious conspiracy of academic cartels to publish something "controversial" not unlike the "yellow journalism" or sensationalism of the modern day journalists and writers. In this manner they (the academicians) have devised a way to survive in this bean counting world or even to get promoted academically, if they are not full professors, or not tenured ones, etc. That is what I mean by academic prostitution. When the academicians degenerate to that level, the "academic freedom" becomes a great defense to promulgate "crap" like "Paul Courtright, Lane, Kripal, and even Witzel" do. Wendy has not been any different. Writing style and readability makes the works attractive and they cater to their admirers and their "Churchy" or "Eurocentric" pride. The book will sell and there will be many citations securing Wendy's academic standing in her own world. To say the least, Aditi Banerjee's response is scholarly and to the point. However, it is up to us to publicize such responses widely. As a trained Addiction Psychiatrist, and more familiar with Psychoanalytic discipline in treating patients rather than doing wild analysis of myths like these scholars of religion claim to have the freedom and authority to engage in, let me say that "Kama" is not "Sex" and "Aasakti" is not addiction.
The concept of "SEX ADDICTION" is a "BASTARDIZED" CONCEPT emerging in the psychological watered down folklore literature (of the least trained Chemical Dependency counselors who are not psychoanalysts) and it is NOT A PSYCHOANALYTIC CONCEPT. To make it worse, it is not even in the terminology or vocabulary in the traditional English language nor in the traditional Western world view leave alone in the psychoanalytic parlance. It is a concoction of the 1980's when the political power of the alcoholics and drug addicts in the American Mental Health Field became more and more perceptible and their concepts were enlarged to treat the "gambling addiction" and later "sex addiction", expanding the applicability of the twelve step programs and AA, etc. which are both rationalizations for irresponsible pleasure-seeking behaviors so the "sufferers" can take a sick role and claim helplessness. There may or may not be such thing as a gambling addict, and Yudhishthira cannot be judged to be one by using the concept of the twentieth century folklore psychology. Similarly, to say that Lakshmana had knowledge of the word "Sex Addict" to describe his father "Dasharatha" (when the epic Ramayana was composed by the sage Valmiki) as one of the "Sex Addicts of his time" is a wild leap of imagination. There is nothing psychoanalytic about it and one needs to explore the unconscious of the writer and see if she is dealing with sex addict ex-husbands, or friends, and/or has suffered from such ailment some time in her own life, and has not recognized that her imagination is a product of her own cultural upbringing and her own past experiences. Fortunately, psychoanalysis is only a tool for her, and if she wants to use it, she should know that it reveals the deep recesses of her own Unconscious more than the reality outside. That is the wonderful power of Freud's discovery and that the therapist has to be very careful that his/her interpretations of the patient's problems are not his own projections from his own past and are truly objective and applicable to the patient's problems without contamination from his own unconscious.
Wendy is, of course, not trained in these matters, and therefore, cannot even see how far away from reality she is in her own La-la Land when she attributes such meaning to the word "Kamaasakta." Her knowledge of Hinduism with all due respect to her scholarship and her knowledge of psychoanalysis too are at a very elementary level but highly inflated in her own self-estimation and in the estimation of her similarly ignorant colleagues in the field of religious studies who have traditionally dreaded Freud all these years and denigrated his theories because the Western Religions are fully rooted in the concept of sex as "BAD" and the guilt about sex from Adam downwards to the point of their concept of immaculate conception all being indicative of their pathological handling of "sex" as a sin. When they run into "Kama Sutra" they cannot place it in proper perspective nor do they have any healthy perspective for Tantrism (Vama Marga). They do not realize that their value-based explorations in these areas of Hindu thought spring from their voyeuristic drives of their own phallic-oedipal phase and because of their cultural background they lose their ability to be non-judgmental. That also means that unconsciously they are exhibitionists at the core when they make wild interpretations revealing in a strange way their own Unconscious like Paul Courtright did and no one so far has pinned him down or challenged him to see how much "cock sucking" he was exposed to in his own upbringing and in his own culture before he wildly proclaimed irresponsibly, without any authentic references, that ("non-human character like Winnie the Pooh") "Ganesha" was a "homosexual." Publishing readable material about sex and such is a million dollar sport in the American culture (by writing books that are semi-pornographic a la Monica Lewinski). Wendy's unconscious exhibitionism similarly is nothing but a money making sport and to obtain more academic citations and that is what I mean by "academic prostitution." The more one becomes aware of the psychopathology of such people like Wendy, more one would need to keep away from them and leave them alone. These academic prostitutes like Wendy, Paul Courtright, Laine, Kripal and even Witzel need no more respect than what they deserve for what they really are.
These "pissing mares and horses"(other species deliberately ignored)that are pissing on Hinduism are depleted in their estrogens and testosterones in their stage of life and have to resort to what Freud called "upward displacement" to become obsessed with morbid perverted sexuality in their preoccupations to get their base pleasure instincts satisfied. They are not true scholars although they have the credentials in their own disciplines, and even that is doubtful, but not at all in the field of psychoanalysis and even less so in Indology. They cannot hold candle to Sigmund Freud and not even to Joseph Campbell. It is a shame that they are invited by the Indian scholars to have a dialogue with them in respectable Indian Universities.
Wendy is exposing strangely her own encounter with exhibitionism, her own exhibitionistic drives, and exposure to chemical dependency (addictions) and profound guilt over her own sexuality from her own past, and I can bet my booties you will find these all in her background if you analyze her or if she comes out clean with her background. Her fascination for Hindu thought and culture is to be praised only by her Western colleagues but her rendering of these is replete with sadistic pleasure derived by invading the sacred with garbage from her own Unconscious, willingly, knowingly, and deliberately designed to offend those who respect and revere the Hindu thought and culture.