Subject: Re: Your proposed award to Wendy Doniger's Book
To: "James Marcus" of NBCC
Date: Friday, January 29, 2010, 10:42 PM
Dear Mr. Marcus:
The attached is a final edited version of the letter I sent to you as an e-mail. The attached letter along with the other two attachments may be easier for you to forward to your colleagues if you wish to do so. I will separately publish my letter to you on my blog-spot for other Indian American Citizens to read and comment upon. I believe there is something amiss, if after receiving negative feedback about Wendy Doniger from so many Indian Americans, NBCC continues to consider her as a potential awardee. We know that it will usually be presented as a "book burners' feedback" from fanatics who do not have respect for academic freedom nor understand freedom of speech in a free democratic society. Such vindicating misleading argument sounds very much American and seems to protect the rights of the defaming writer. Be it as it may, it is one thing to have the freedom to write and publish defaming literature and it is entirely another thing to endorse it as an example of literary excellence worthy of prestigious award by New York Times, which is a National Institution in the U.S., when Wendy Doniger is lacking in academic integrity and true scholarship. It is a micro-aggression against a passive, peace loving, minority community by the majority. I hope NBCC does not participate in such micro-aggression and further victimize a community that has been victimized for nearly 1400 years now. For Wendy to say that such victimization has never occurred is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. I sincerely hope NBCC understands the seriousness of this issue for the Indian American community in the U.S. and the 800 million Hindus in India. This is coming up when there is increasing friendship and cooperation between India and U.S., the two largest democracies of the world. I urge you to consider our view points sincerely and give us a convincing reasoning, if NBCC decides to ignore our requests for any reason besides an arrogant self-righteousness. Thanks for reading.
LETTER TO MR. JAMES MARCUS OF NBCC
January 28th 2010
Dear Mr. Marcus:
I am a professor of psychiatry at a reputable College of Medicine in the US but I am not writing this note to you in that capacity, though I am constrained to reveal to you my background so you might take me seriously. It is not my intent to self-aggrandize and impress you with my background but only to humbly submit to you that I have been close to many reputable psychoanalysts during my career and have some of them as my good friends, besides having received some training in psychoanalysis myself. I do know the real from the fake. At least that much I have learned in my 40 years of exposure to American Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis.
Long before I heard about the proposal by New York Times to give an award to Wendy Doniger, I published a list of Nobel Laureates at the University of Chicago among whom there is at least one distinguished Hindu Nobel Laureate (1983). (See attached). I draw your attention to the Nobel Laureates in Literature and also the only Nobel Laureate for Peace (shown in red ink) to show the contrast in the caliber of Wendy and those others listed at the University of Chicago. Giving an award to Wendy Doniger will be an antithesis to the Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to President Obama. It will only instigate a conflict of cultures or another clash of civilizations. Please consider this angle seriously before you and your colleagues move forward with this award. It will not be a friendly gesture towards the 800 million or more Hindus who are the majority of Indians and are indeed "the Indians" in their own right.
Also, without getting lost in the trees, you may want to have a perspective of the forest. The modern, so called, Western Indologists are viewed by the informed Indians as nothing but playing the second graders’ tease game under the name of scholarship and academic freedom. Their scholarship is neither authentic nor deep enough for even an average erudite Hindu who is versatile in Sanskrit language and understands its nuances much better than these Western scholars with their Ph.D. which they flaunt. I am attaching herewith a rather outspoken reaction to Wendy's and other Western Indologists' writings. The language used is strong and perhaps foul because the Western scholars themselves have used foul and crass language. A loving relationship with a deity, for example, with its divine contribution in forming the character of the conceived child, a highly poetic concept of the Aadikavi Valmiki and Mahakavi Vyasa (Great Poets who wrote the epics of Ramayana known as Aadi Kavya, and Mahabharata, the second epic of India, which is known as Mahakavya) has been bastardized by Wendy by calling it a "Rape" which is never in the last 5000 years the understanding of the billions of Hindus who have read these epics for several millennia. Such base blatant aspersions on the sacred and divine by Wendy Doniger are not examples of astute psychoanalytic interpretations, and are not to be rewarded. In our opinion there is no literary value to such crass interpretations by Wendy Doniger. So please see the article attached (second attachment) from this view point and understand that it calls spade a spade though superficially you may view it as using a foul language which is not any worse than the foul language used by Wendy and her other admirers. This is not a matter of limiting academic freedom but insisting on academic integrity and authentic scholarship devoid of mischief. You as well as others including those who are the editors of New York Times know it very well what such mischief is and how it leads to the outrage in the victimized and disparaged community, besides unnecessarily subjecting children from such victimized community to prejudice and abuse in institutions of learning from elementary schools to institutes of higher education.
I hope this convinces you to reconsider your decision and not to give undeserved honor to Wendy Doniger and her book. In her introduction to the book on "Ganesha" by Paul Courtright she boldly says that Mahabharata was dictated to Vyasa by Ganesha, a gross error any Hindu recognizes. Her Ph.D. in Sanskrit does not make her an authority on these epics. It is widely known that the Mahabharata was dictated to Ganesha by Vyasa. This is one example to you to show that "the King (Queen) is really not wearing the robe." This is an obvious fact to the educated Hindus but it eludes the less informed Western scholars and reviewers who do not have the ability to critically evaluate Western Indologists', like Wendy Doniger's, work.
So, please note that we educated Hindus have to take great exception to Wendy's scholarship as well as her hostile vindictive agenda and a spirit of vengeance with which she has written the book you propose to New York Times for a literary award.
I will look forward to your studied response to this e-mail, if your time permits it. If not, please have one of your fair minded, non-defensive, objective colleagues, who are truly culturally proficient in Indian and Hindu cultural studies, give me his/her response on behalf of NBCC.
Thanks for reading.
Attachments: 1) List of Nobel Laureates at the University of Chicago
2) An article on “Wendy Doniger’s Unconscious Exhibitionism”
Both 1 and 2 are available on www.sookta-sumana.blogspot.com