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Penguin India Agrees to Withdraw And Destroy All Copies Of An American Scholar's Book On Hindus

A right-wing religious group criticized Wendy Doniger's 2009 book, The Hindus: An Alternative History and its sexualization of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Posted on February 11, 2014, at 4:31 p.m. ET

Penguin India agreed Tuesday to withdraw all published copies of American academic Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, after a settlement with a right-wing Hindu organization that had petitioned against the 2009 book.

According to the settlement, Penguin said "it respects all religions worldwide." The publishers also agreed to destroy all the recalled and unsold copies of the book at its own cost.

Penguin has agreed to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book "The Hindus" from India & destroy all copies. See agreement below

Rajiv Malhotra@RajivMessage

Penguin has agreed to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book "The Hindus" from India & destroy all copies. See agreement below

07:37 AM - 10 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The petition to withdraw the "flawed book on Hindu history," was filed in 2011 by a group of Hindu academics including the president of a socially conservative group with alleged ties to the RSS — a Hindu nationalist group.

The petitioners asked for Penguin to withdraw all copies of the book and apologize for the "the publication of the factually incorrect and offensive book."

The petition claimed that Doniger's book was rife with "numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations" (although Doniger is a Sanskritist).

The petitioners also complained of Doniger's analysis of Hindu gods and goddesses using her "widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories," and her "bizarre emphasis on sexuality and eroticism."

They also complained of the book's "SCANDALOUS cover jacket" in the petition.

The Wendy Doniger book's jacket, which riled and embarrassed the #Hindus

Saurav Datta@SauravDatta29

The Wendy Doniger book's jacket, which riled and embarrassed the #Hindus

01:24 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

In a legal notice sent to Doniger and Penguin, the lead petitioner, Dina Nath Batra, stated that he found the book to be "a shallow, distorted and non-serious presentation of Hinduism, riddled with heresies."

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Batra also felt that book was written with a "Christian Missionary Zeal and hidden agenda to denigrate Hindus and show their religion in poor light."

Wendy Doniger, a widely-respected scholar on Hinduism and a professor at the University of Chicago, has often been perceived as a Hindu-basher by detractors both in India and in the U.S.

In a statement, Doniger said that while she did not blame Penguin, she was "deeply troubled" by what the incident "foretells for free speech in India." She also said it was impossible to "suppress a book" in the age of the Internet.

Statement from Prof Wendy Doniger on the Indian ban on The Hindus (2008)

sepoy@sepoy

Statement from Prof Wendy Doniger on the Indian ban on The Hindus (2008)

12:57 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Penguin's decision to withdraw the book caused a huge debate on Twitter and "The Hindus" became a top trending topic.

Doniger became idol of inferiority complex Indians in awe that white person studies Hinduism. Americans had dumped her after my articles

Rajiv Malhotra@RajivMessage

Doniger became idol of inferiority complex Indians in awe that white person studies Hinduism. Americans had dumped her after my articles

09:11 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Some came out strongly in support of Penguin's decision to withdraw The Hindus.

Congrats to Shikhsa Bachao Andolan for Ban on Book The Hindus. Feeling Proud for being Part of this Struggle

Tajinder Pal S Bagga@tajinderbagga

Congrats to Shikhsa Bachao Andolan for Ban on Book The Hindus. Feeling Proud for being Part of this Struggle

08:34 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Thank God Penguin agrees to axe Wendy Doniger's fetishist opus, The Hindus: An Alternative History - http://t.co/jYZRuTDkoo via @indiatoday

Rayan Khan@Rayanakhan

Thank God Penguin agrees to axe Wendy Doniger's fetishist opus, The Hindus: An Alternative History - http://t.co/jYZRuTDkoo via @indiatoday

01:08 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The Hindus appear like a sexual satire rather than scholastic work.

Rahul Roushan@rahulroushan

The Hindus appear like a sexual satire rather than scholastic work.

02:45 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@rahulroushan It's like a Indianised version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Shambolic.

IndianKopite@SriraghK

@rahulroushan It's like a Indianised version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Shambolic.

02:58 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Several others expressed outrage and disappointment over the publisher's decision to pulp the book.

Penguin agrees to pulp all copies of Wendy Doniger's book 'The Hindus' http://t.co/HxVAh99Hw5 via @ibnlive A GREAT SHAME TO FREE EXPRESSION!

Cedric Prakash@CedricPrakash

Penguin agrees to pulp all copies of Wendy Doniger's book 'The Hindus' http://t.co/HxVAh99Hw5 via @ibnlive A GREAT SHAME TO FREE EXPRESSION!

12:47 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

It's a terrible thing to force The Hindus to be destroyed. Those who can't face criticism of their religion are not confident of their faith

The Bad Doctor@doctoratlarge

It's a terrible thing to force The Hindus to be destroyed. Those who can't face criticism of their religion are not confident of their faith

05:20 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Penguin to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book. The "offended" prevail over freedom of speech. Surely gods too great to be so easily upset?

meenakshi ganguly@mg2411

Penguin to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book. The "offended" prevail over freedom of speech. Surely gods too great to be so easily upset?

12:59 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Utterly mad - Wendy Doniger's book 'The Hindus: An Alternative History' recalled by Penguin & all copies destroyed http://t.co/bpnerkk8hw

Sunny Hundal@sunny_hundal

Utterly mad - Wendy Doniger's book 'The Hindus: An Alternative History' recalled by Penguin & all copies destroyed http://t.co/bpnerkk8hw

11:01 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@HDLANNIHILATOR The answer to a book one doesn't like is another book, not a ban, or legal action, or physical intimidation.

Ramachandra Guha@Ram_Guha

.@HDLANNIHILATOR The answer to a book one doesn't like is another book, not a ban, or legal action, or physical intimidation.

11:36 PM - 10 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Very troubled @PenguinIndia is pulping all copies of Doniger's 'The Hindus'. Freedom of expression slowly ebbs away http://t.co/vPUmO8lpti

David Griffiths@dlgriffiths

Very troubled @PenguinIndia is pulping all copies of Doniger's 'The Hindus'. Freedom of expression slowly ebbs away http://t.co/vPUmO8lpti

12:15 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Very uneasy about Penguin decision on Wendy Doniger book. Ideas & academic studies, howevercontentious, cannot be handled by censorship.

Swapan Dasgupta@swapan55

Very uneasy about Penguin decision on Wendy Doniger book. Ideas & academic studies, howevercontentious, cannot be handled by censorship.

02:01 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

This The Hindus is actually a pretty fascinating book. Read it if you are not too touchy abt religious figures and stories ....

PragmaticIndian@Realist_Indian

This The Hindus is actually a pretty fascinating book. Read it if you are not too touchy abt religious figures and stories ....

01:00 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The last line of her preface is what Wendy Doniger's book is all about, and why it should be read.

Sanjay Sipahimalani@SanSip

The last line of her preface is what Wendy Doniger's book is all about, and why it should be read.

10:46 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

By choosing to withdraw The Hindus, Penguin chose to side with the Hindutva brigade: http://t.co/fgEmksnbZ9

Deepanjana Pal@dpanjana

By choosing to withdraw The Hindus, Penguin chose to side with the Hindutva brigade: http://t.co/fgEmksnbZ9

11:22 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

And another book burns in the name of religious sentiment. | Wendy Doniger's #TheHindus withdrawn by Penguin India http://t.co/prMVFOmAkv

Ayushman Khazanchi@aykhazanchi

And another book burns in the name of religious sentiment. | Wendy Doniger's #TheHindus withdrawn by Penguin India http://t.co/prMVFOmAkv

01:33 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Some believe that Penguin should have appealed to a higher court against the petition.

#PenguinBooks disappointing. Book sales should have decided the destiny of 'The Hindus'. Shocking that U didn't take appeal 2 the next level

Aparna Ponnappa@ApsEdge

#PenguinBooks disappointing. Book sales should have decided the destiny of 'The Hindus'. Shocking that U didn't take appeal 2 the next level

12:25 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Have read, reviewed and disagreed with Doniger's book. Certainly don't want it pulped. Astonished Penguin didn't appeal to a higher court

Ashok Malik@MalikAshok

Have read, reviewed and disagreed with Doniger's book. Certainly don't want it pulped. Astonished Penguin didn't appeal to a higher court

02:16 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

This is deeply disappointing: http://t.co/peYAZ4ajeK Penguin should have appealed in a higher court.

Ramachandra Guha@Ram_Guha

This is deeply disappointing: http://t.co/peYAZ4ajeK Penguin should have appealed in a higher court.

11:29 PM - 10 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Penguin should not have caved on this: http://t.co/hnPvzVKL8T

Kieran Healy@kjhealy

Penguin should not have caved on this: http://t.co/hnPvzVKL8T

12:10 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Following Doniger's statement, several people offered links and other means to read the book.

A good time to remind people that The Hindus: An Alternative History is not banned. Perfectly legal to read the book, in other editions.

Nilanjana Roy@nilanjanaroy

A good time to remind people that The Hindus: An Alternative History is not banned. Perfectly legal to read the book, in other editions.

12:13 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

"in the age of the Internet, it is no longer possible to suppress a book. The Hindus is available on Kindle" download Wendy Doniger's book!

Ex-Muslims Forum@CEMB_forum

"in the age of the Internet, it is no longer possible to suppress a book. The Hindus is available on Kindle" download Wendy Doniger's book!

12:51 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

There are worse crimes than burning books.One of them is not reading them. Read Wendy Doniger's The Hindus up at https://t.co/bd08dDbecD

Samina Motlekar@m_samina

There are worse crimes than burning books.One of them is not reading them. Read Wendy Doniger's The Hindus up at https://t.co/bd08dDbecD

04:29 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Read it anyway you can I say RT @hamrust: Amazon, Torrent and PDF links for Wendy Doniger's The Hindus http://t.co/6KHamy0K9m

Ashwin Mushran@ashwinmushran

Read it anyway you can I say RT @hamrust: Amazon, Torrent and PDF links for Wendy Doniger's The Hindus http://t.co/6KHamy0K9m

02:30 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@DeathEndsFun @mriganayanika Apologies for the piracy in advance but The Hindus is also available here. https://t.co/bd08dDbecD

Samina Motlekar@m_samina

@DeathEndsFun @mriganayanika Apologies for the piracy in advance but The Hindus is also available here. https://t.co/bd08dDbecD

04:06 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Here's an online copy: "The Hindus" by Wendy Doniger http://t.co/8wmsHqZvuJ …

Karuna Nundy@karunanundy

Here's an online copy: "The Hindus" by Wendy Doniger http://t.co/8wmsHqZvuJ …

07:40 AM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

If anybody out there looking for Wendy Doniger's book now being pulped, epub versions on https://t.co/HPRhsjEIGj. Please RT

Charles Assisi@5n0wcrash

If anybody out there looking for Wendy Doniger's book now being pulped, epub versions on https://t.co/HPRhsjEIGj. Please RT

12:47 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

download and read Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus -An Alternative History" here -http://t.co/Cw4IEr5blR

Sinu@i_scans

download and read Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus -An Alternative History" here -http://t.co/Cw4IEr5blR

12:08 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Hah. I have downloads of both Flappy Bird and The Hindus.

anuja chauhan@anujachauhan

Hah. I have downloads of both Flappy Bird and The Hindus.

01:22 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Owing to the renewed publicity, the book started climbing the charts on Amazon.

I see the book on Hinduism that Penguin were bullied into pulping is doing well on the Amazon chart: http://t.co/aRruvAtH6I

Tom Holland@holland_tom

I see the book on Hinduism that Penguin were bullied into pulping is doing well on the Amazon chart: http://t.co/aRruvAtH6I

01:14 PM - 11 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

On Feb. 11, the book was at No. 3 in Amazon's list of Movers & Shakers, featuring the biggest gainers in sales over the past 24 hours.

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