Monday, February 24, 2014


Law for irresponsible behavior

This partly answers Martha Nussbaum's plea for a law for bad behavior.

Martha Nussbaum’s and Wendy Doniger’s passionate love for Hindus and Hinduism is so heart-rending that it makes even a stone-hearted person like me weep, shed copious tears, remembering my pitr-s (ancestors) who have given me my identity.

Do we take Martha's and Wendy's love of Hindus and Hinduism at face value or put them to the test of evidence in law?

I suggest that Hinduism introduced a genre called ‘human responsibility’. Will the enlightened Western liberatti pause and think of this genre under the rubric of dharma? I don’t have to elaborate on the ethic called dharma in human relationships apart from its being a cosmic, consciousness and social ordering principle. If they want, the learned are capable of reading the originals in Sanskrit or many Indian language versions.

Have you heard of a person called Susan B. Anthony who had a role to play in US social history and changed the course of US rule of law? 

Susan was associated with the genre called ‘Civil Rights’ which reverberate even today in US society. 

I do not know the extent to which civil rights as human rights are deliberated in the US or Western Academe of law schools or in court cases.

What Susan created was, in fact, a genre called ‘Civil Responsibility’ which gets enshrined in the US Penal Code Chapter 43 Crime against Public Order and Public Decency. This should be mandatory reading at all levels of schooling and should be re-read by Martha and Wendy, just in case, they have already read the Chapter.

The Chapter 43 of US Penal Code defines ‘harmful material’ for minors. Let me cite the section:

Chapter 43 Crimes against public order and public decency
Sec. 43.24.  SALE, DISTRIBUTION, OR DISPLAY OF HARMFUL MATERIAL TO MINOR.  (a)  For purposes of this section:
(1)  "Minor" means an individual younger than 18 years.
(2)  "Harmful material" means material whose dominant theme taken as a whole:
(A)  appeals to the prurient interest of a minor, in sex, nudity, or excretion;
(B)  is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors;  and
(C)  is utterly without redeeming social value for minors.
(b)  A person commits an offense if, knowing that the material is harmful:
(1)  and knowing the person is a minor, he sells, distributes, exhibits, or possesses for sale, distribution, or exhibition to a minor harmful material;
(2)  he displays harmful material and is reckless about whether a minor is present who will be offended or alarmed by the display;  or
(3)  he hires, employs, or uses a minor to do or accomplish or assist in doing or accomplishing any of the acts prohibited in Subsection (b)(1) or (b)(2).
(c)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that  the sale, distribution, or exhibition was by a person having scientific, educational, governmental, or other similar justification.
(c-1)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor was the spouse of the minor at the time of the offense.
(d)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor unless it is committed under Subsection (b)(3) in which event it is a felony of the third degree.
Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974.  Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.
Amended by:
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 497, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.

Before pontificating with guidance -- sitting on high-horse of US educational institutions -- to Hindu society that withdrawal of the Wendy porno by Penguin was not caused by the laws but “caused by bullying, power politics and cowardice,”  Martha and Wendy will do well to look into the mole in their own eyes, the US Penal Code. Is this law draconian, will this law cause bullying and power politics and is the application of the law cowardice? Well, is cowardice a crime?

Let me cite specific home-truths many of which may fall under the definition of ‘harmful material’ resulting in crime against Public Order and Public Decency. And let not the worthy professors hide under the legal skirt of academic affirmative action.

Shri Ganesa's trunk is a limp phallus.

Shri Parvathy gave a mango to her child as a reward for answering a question with thought and wisdom, that was a metaphor for a Hindu mother asking for sexual intercourse with her minor son.

Shri Ganesa's childlike preference for sweets is a metaphor for oral sex? 
(Courtright, "Ganesa, Lord of Obstacles". Effusive and ignorant foreword/foreplay by Wendy Doniger). 

Middleschool students are advised to ask their classmate to look if she has a tail, like "Hindu Gods"? (California texbooks, using material from Doniger's students/associates)

Hindu women are devoid of morals, thereby encouraging sexual attacks.
Those who protest such abuses are "right-wing extremists".

Why have the voices of Hindus protesting against the obscene, insulting caricatures of our religion been suppressed and excluded all these years?

Where is their respect for democracy? Religion and history departments in many US universities are inbred societies that do not tolerate any free thinking, and in fact deny tenure to faculty who do not agree with them. 

Wendy Doniger’s passionate love for Hinduism and Martha’s endorsement of this passion is evident from this contrived coverpage on Wendy’s porno:

The picture is reproduced here in utter disgust only for ready reference for authorities in USA to appreciate the gravity of the crime agains public order and decency committed by its publication:

The dominant theme taken as a whole is a presentation of provocative poses, dance poses of love by naked ladies so drawn as to constitute a male horse and a blue-bodied person riding on a horse with a pronounced penis indicated by the protruding hand of one of the dancing naked ladies.

The bodies of 8 bare-breasted ladies with prominent books are so contorted as dance poses to constitute the body of the horse on which a rider is seen. The entire scene is presented below the shade of a tree.
The hind-legs of the horse (naked-breasted lady) thrusts her hand through the legs of another lady while holding the left foot of the naked lady on whose buttocks Krishna is seated.

The black flowing hair of this lady constitutes the tail of the horse.

The naked lady who forms Krishna's seat has her left hand on the right boob of the forelegs of the horse (naked-breasted lady); while her right hand is trying to reach out to the boob of the lady on the neck with an uplifted leg.

The mouth and face of the horse has only one leg hanging upwards.  The ears of the horse (with a bare-breasted lady with boobs) having her two hands lifted upwards.

The whole theme is to depict a male horse as made up of a bevy of naked bare-breasted boobs of 8 ladies constituting the horse. The hind-legs of the horse (naked-breasted lady) is thrusting her left hand to denote the penis of the horse.

I am sure art historians will be able to make a more vivid art appreciation of the pornographic piece. The pornography is complete with a blue-bodied Krishna true to the descriptions in sacred texts of the Hindus and there will be no confusion in the viewers' minds as to who is sought to be represented with a blue body: Krishna considered an avatara of paramaatman, Vishnu.

On this porno, Vishnu is riding on the horse, an evocation of riding on the arses of big-busted Hindu ladies enjoying the sexual encounter with the blue-bodied lover -- engaged in ecstatic dance poses called karanas (dance poses) according to Bharata's Natyashastra. The theme appeals to the prurient interest of a minor, in sex, nudity, or excretion (indicated by the erect penis) since a minor will associate the nude ladies with Hindu ladies many of whom adore Krishna as a divinity.

Let us assume that there is an international standard comparable to Indian Penal Code which was cited in the out of court settlement with Penguin for pulping Wendy's book.

Let us also assume that US Penal Code Chapter 43 on Crime against Public Order and Public Decency is close to an 'international standard'.

I submit that the
cover page on Wendy's book is enough to prosecute the author, publisher and employer of the author, Univ. of Chicago under US Penal Code.

Here is an excursus on Indian criminal code compared with US case laws in particular reference to Lady Chatterly's Lover.

The book of Wendy Doniger is more indecent and more devastating to public order since there is a danger that it may arouse prurient interests in minors, particularly Hindu minors in USA. Hence, a complaint is warranted for further action under due process under US Laws.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jacket: The jacket image reproduces a contemporary
mural from Puri, in Orissa, serigraphed on recycled handmade paper, by Santi Arts, India (, who have kindly given us permission to reprint it here. It depicts the god Krishna riding on a horse composed of the cowherd women who love him.

Wendy has paid Katherine Ulrich for getting the image for the cover of the book:


Richard Rosengarten, dean of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, for his unflagging interest and encouragement, his faith in me, and his generosity in providing time for me to write and funds for me to pay my student assistants and my special Indological editor, Katherine Eirene Ulrich...

Katherine Ulrich read several long, long drafts, catching many howlers as well as stylistic tics, pinpointing obscurities, suggesting books and articles, challenging unsupported assumptions, and sustaining me with no-nonsense, appreciative, and often hilarious comments. To cap it all, she gave me the image of the composite horse that appears on the jacket of this book, not just finding it but buying it and carrying it back from India for me.

One unnamed art historian and art critic commented on this horse on the coverpage of Wendy's porno: The horse is ready for immaculate conception. See the hand jutting out through the hindlegs? The horse is the Divinity School of Univ. of Chicago of white naked women. On one butt rides a blue-bodied person hypocritically pretending to be a woman. But, really the horse is a donkey. Remember the Harvard Donkey Trial in California. Will this art critic's opinion constitute group libel or group defamation of a famous Divinity School of a famous University?

It is clear from NPR interview of Wendy Doniger that Penguin intends to import 1000 books with the same content as was found offensive in India and intends to distribute through electronic and other means.

Wendy Doniger said: " When I'm delighted that is that the book is sold like hotcakes everywhere in the world, that Penguin New York is considering sending several thousand copies to India, because there's no law against Penguin USA selling the book - just Penguin India selling the book. Copies are circulating in India and Kindle is available in India.If the purpose of these gentlemen was to keep people from buying my book and reading it, it has backfired quite wonderfully."

If the intent is to ensure the book somehow enters into India, to save Hinduism, is the Penguin settlement executed in good faith?

Wendy Doniger's intent was to use sex as a framework to analyze Hindu history.

Here is a quote from Wendy D:  "Aldous Huxley once said that an intellectual was someone who had found something more interesting than sex; in Indology, an intellectual need not make that choice at all." Wendy Doniger in  When the Lingam is Just a Cigar, Psychoanalysis and Hindu Sexual Fantasies.

Among the charges listed in the complaint against Penguin Books were charges of plagiarism, false claims in the book, and that it was written with a Christian missionary zeal. For example, the complaint alleged that the book falsely claimed that the image on the jacket of the book was from a temple in Puri in Odisha even though that was not the case. If true, such false claims would at least violate consumer protection laws in India. Making false claims to sell a book, that too on the cover of the book, is an unethical practice.

Wendy Doniger's book "The Hindus, an Alternative History" (see the cover), published and distributed by Penguin has been a phenomenal sales success. Already (in February 2010), more than 600 libraries in North America have acquired a copy of the book, in less than one year since its publication. The Indian division of Penguin has brought out an Indian reprint as well. Doniger claims that her book is about Hindu women, low castes, dogs and horses. But these merely appear to be an excuse for her to indulge in bouts of lewd descriptions, imaginary rapes, violence, titillating sleaze, drugs, booze and the like - all of which is then superimposed on the Hindus and on their traditions. As usual, she kinks fairly straightforward narratives in Hindu scriptures to present her own pornographic versions.

In a reply to Dr. Shukla's article in Washington Post, Doniger argued that her book did well in India, it was on the best-seller lists and sold 10,000 copies. The figure could well be an exaggeration; she might have taken the same liberty with truth in boasting about the sales of her book as she did with much of what is in it. For with a price tag of Rs 999, it is doubtful so many Indians had a taste for the bilge that it contained. The curiosity aroused by the title and the rave reviews of some magazines which have a penchant to celebrate anti-Hindu calumny might have sold a few copies.

This is how the website described the ‘acclaimed Sanskrit scholar and author’, in a write-up that accompanied Russell Peters’ interview with her, on March 27, 2002:

“Professor Wendy Doniger is known for being rude, crude and very lewd in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit Academics. All her special works have revolved around the subject of sex in Sanskrit texts ranging from Siva: The Erotic Ascetic to Tales of Sex and Violence.

Fellow Sanskrit academics and Wendy herself feel it was only a matter of course before she got round to doing her pièce de résistance - the definitive English translation of that most famed sexual text, the Kamasutra.

Never one to shy away from sex, she threw herself into the job of translating the text...She was particularly interested by the parts that justify adultery and the list of ways to get rid of a man.She feels that the book is basically about how to live the good life, it’s about wooing, and power in a relationship.

...When she was translating it (over a period of a few years and numerous Sanskrit classes), she frequently found herself having to take cold showers.” [Emphasis added - Vox Indica]

The referenced online petition by Sarasvati Research and Education Trust requesting Penguin to withhold publication of the book is at:

Call for a US Commission of Inquiry into Hindu studies in US Academe
Western academe should debate if Hindu studies started with such sincerity by scholars like Will Durant, who wrote the Story of Civilization and a 11-volume history of philosophy, is a civil rights issue given the fact that about 3 million Hindus are now an active minority in USA contributing to the advancement of US culture, economy and social harmony.

The The key questions raised to the US Academe and US Administration (Office of Faith in Whitehouse) are: 1. Is Wendy's book 'harmful material' as defined under Chapter 43 of US Penal code? 2. Shouldn't there be an ethical code for persons studying religions the way a Hippocratic Oath exists for medical practitioners? The answers to these questions may come if there is a joint effort by attorneys, history scholars, academics involved in religious studies and Capitol Hill insiders to deliberate further. 

We are Hindus and naturally supportive of the liberal view. Hindu tradition allows for Carvaka Darsana or Lokayata (even atheists) and debates on all issues of concern. No debate is ever denied. All ideas must come forward but there are limits to free speech as spelt out in the US Penal Code Chapter 43, for example in reaching 'harmful material' to minors to arouse their prurient interests and which is utterly without redeeming social value for minors.
The Penguin India action should be followed by Penguin USA group responding positively to the petition which has now received over 11,000 signatures. This is a call for withdrawal of the book and apology to the Hindus whose social values have been defamed. Penguin USA should act in good faith on their voluntary settlement in Indian court, and not try to indulge in wrong methods of reaching the harmful material into India from USA or using electronic media. Protests allowed in any civil society as in USA will continue using all democratic and legal means. Protests are part of free speech doctrine.

What we need is a law for irresponsible behavior. We can start with the US Commission of Inquiry proposing a form of Hippocratic Oath for researchers and teachers of Hinduism.

We certainly can start with an apology from Martha, Wendy, Penguin USA and withdraw the Wendy's porno from the market so that it does not fall into the hands of a minor as 'harmful material'.

S. Kalyanaraman
Sarasvati Research Center

February 24, 2014

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