Flaws in Encyclopedia
tell us about yourself and your interest in Hinduism.
Namaskar, thank you for giving me a chance to express my opinions.
I am an Indian. My schooling was in India. Deeply interested
in physics and maths, I advanced for higher education in these
fields. The profession of engineering intrigued me, and I came
to the Czech Republic at the end of 2002 to commence my Bachelors
at the Czech Technical University in Prague.
Till this date, majority of my time has been devoted to my “study”.
This study included professional courses at the university,
individual research, mathematics, physics, philosophy (mainly
spiritual and scientific), and typography. Recently (from 2007)
another subject has unintentionally caught my attention – it
can be best described under Indology.
Born in a Hindu family, I was granted Hindu values from childhood.
These came as blessings of my grandmother, Smt. Raj Kumari Chopra,
and my mother, Smt. Archana Dhawan. My father, Dr. T. R. Dhawan,
wanted the best possible education for his children. At the
age of five, I was sent to a prestigious boarding school – Bishop
Cotton School in Shimla. As Bishop Cotton School is a Christian
school, it was compulsory to attend to attend the 30 minute
chapel service everyday except on holidays. Like all other boarding
students, I was singing hymns, carols (Christmas celebration
only), saying graces for nine years. Along with these practices,
my personal beliefs were always present.
Till the age of 15 years, my concept of religion was of belief
sans deep philosophical thought. My realm of analysis was mild
as my age; it mainly consisted of scientific thoughts of fundamental
nature. The turning point in my religious thinking came with
an essay called Swami Vivekanand authored by the notable
writer, Shri Premchand. From this essay, mentioned below is
a part of Shri Premchand's summary of one of Swami Vivekanand's
If there is such a world that is invisible
to the normal vision, then a Hindu would like to take a trip
to this world. If there is a such an authority that is not physical,
if there is such an authority that is just, merciful and the
most powerful, then a Hindu would like to see it using his inner
vision. His (Hindu's) doubts are dismissed only when he reveals
These words sparked the first philosophical thought on dharma
in my mind. The great Swami Vivekanand's idea of a Hindu made
me ponder upon the concept of being a Hindu. Now, the term Hindu
– which included me and many others around me – moved from a
sense of belief to a sense of philosophy. With time, things
moved on... .
Following my grandmother and my mother, I started learning Raj
Yog, before turning 18. As my study had taught me to search
deep for the truth, so I did with Raj Yog. Though this
deep search began after 5 years of practice. Once again, I turned
to Swami Vivekanand and read his marvellous book, Raja Yoga.
Study of the sacred Bhagavad Gita – which has been
a guide in all situations of life – made my mind wanting to
study the holy Veds. I wanted to study the Veds, but how? After
consultation with learned people, I looked to the works of the
great sage, Swami Dayanand Saraswati. From that time, I have
been trying very slowly to understand the Veds.
The essence of Hinduism is present in every Hindu, maybe not
profoundly visible but it is deeply present. I am no exception
to this. I am an ardent admirer of Swami Vivekanand and Swami
Dayanand Saraswati. In my understanding: dharma, culture,
nation, and language are intricately interwoven. And every individual
is a part of this. The concept of Hindu dharma can
be explored to infinite depth in a finite lifetime, as we can
imagine the mathematical infinity in a finite time. Conceptualization
with clarity is an arduous task ahead of me.
2. What could be the reasons for the proliferation of anti-Hindu
literature / works?
The term anti-Hindu needs elaboration. In context of
this interview, I suppose, works that denigrate and defame Hinduism
can be considered as anti-Hindu. With this idea I proceed.
As almost all publications have proliferated with time, so have
anti-Hindu publications. Now, when access to any publication
has been made easy by the Internet, it is easier to find anti-Hindu
publications. Using Google Books, Amazon, etc., one can browse
parts of many books. Anti-Hindu writings, that were accessible
earlier only to a few, are now in open and more people have
started talking about it, which automatically gives an impression
that anti-Hindu writings have proliferated. But this is not
merely an impression that such writings have increased – it
is a fact. I mean, as all publications have increased, so have
anti-Hindu publications, and also the proportion of anti-Hindu
publications has increased. Many pseudo-scholars have contributed
whole-heartedly to this cause. It would be interesting to know
when and why were the first anti-Hindu publications produced.
When did the major trend of anti-Hindu publicizing begin?
It is known from sources and sense that the British could exercise
better control and authority over colonial India by denigrating
it. Denigration of India included the denigration of its major
dharma, its customs, its beliefs, its people etc. Britishers
who came to colonize India were Christians; it cannot be doubted
if the Christian conversion policy had come along with them.
A salesman can sell his item easily if he convinces the others
that their product is bad and out of date. History remarks that
the British in colonial India left no opportunity to make the
Indians feel low in their own eyes – to make yourself look wise,
either be wise or make the other look stupid. They used the
second option quite extensively. Many scholars, who were supported
by the British, spent years in studying India (history, language,
customs, traditions, etc.) and finally they disgraced it. It
seems that the only motivation behind their Indian studies was
to ridicule India. The imprints of misinterpretation of Indian
texts and beliefs by such malignant people can be seen even
today, esp. in the western world.
This trend of producing anti-Indian and anti-Hindu works has
been preserved by many Indologists. Many of them have been Indians
of considerable influence. Many publications that can be considered
as anti-India or anti-Hindu were produced by recognized scholars,
and they have been serving as standards and references for further
work. Many scholars, who have not made an effort to delve deeper
into the problem and have based their work on concocted findings,
have further preached the flawed sermon. A work that is based
on false ideas is likely to produce false claims. Some scholars
have published material despite of being well-aware that their
writings were anti-Hindu and, to a great extent, false. But
still they have done it and are still doing it. Did (do) they
have grievance against India, or were (are) they doing it for
cheap fame, or was (is) it for money?
I suppose, the factors discussed above are some of the reasons
for a dramatic increase in anti-Hindu publications. The role
of religious bias, hidden motives behind such publications,
etc., cannot be ruled out.
3. What is the
possible source of funding for anti-Hindu literature?
I am not aware of any specific sources as such but I would like
to mention something. We have heard of the Taliban. According
to relevant sources, initially it grew out of a students' movement.
Now it has tanks
and rocket launchers. Who had funded and supported the Taliban
in its initial stages, so that it could afford to grow to what
it is today? Can a high-school
pass-out take raw materials and manufacture a military tank?
For sure, the tanks used by Taliban are coming from somewhere;
they are not indigenous. Does anybody show
the transcripts of these transactions?The possibility of funding
of anti-Hindu publications (money or status) can be a truth
to be proved.
should the average educated Hindu be doing towards his dharma,
in this context?
In my belief, an average educated Hindu can be an excellent
educator in her or his own right. It the responsibility of every
Hindu to understand and adhere to his dharma. At the
individual level, it would be ideal to go to the foundation
and uplift the truth using one's intellect. This task is difficult
but not impossible. There is no substitute to self-effort. Related
to the theme, a mantra from the RigVed has been quoted (RigVed:
pāvakā nah sarasvatī vājebhirvājinīvatī
| yajñam vashtu dhiyāvasuh ||
and truthful knowledge is purifying and leads to
supreme attainment. Virtuous offerings be enlightening.
(My translation has been inspired by Swami
commentary on RigVed)
We can speak sensibly for or against an issue, only if we understand
the issue. Explicit denigration of Hinduism can be noticed by
any Hindu, but implicit denigration is not visible to many of
us unless we brood upon it. Calumniation of Hindu dharma
has been present for a long time. There are many instances of
disparagement of our dharma even in children's textbooks.
Children believe what they are told. Later these children become
parents with an inbuilt inferiority complex regarding their
own dharma. They cannot be good critics of invalid criticism
about their traditions and beliefs, therefore they cannot be
good guides for their children.
With so much of misinterpreted information available on Hinduism,
it is required of every Hindu to rethink on what he has been
told. We have to be able to distinguish good from bad. This
sense of analysis can be procured from thoughtful reading of
good literature and wise commentaries on our sacred texts. We
have given the world the foundations of science, mathematics,
and language – our tradition is ever-enlightening. Time demands
that all Hindus rise and valiantly deny what is false. It is
the responsibility of every Hindu to protect the pride of Hindu
dharma – the pride of one's dharma is one's
own pride. I am also one of the average educated Hindus, who
is trying to learn. If I can do, so can you.
If a Hindu comes across derogatory material (written, audio,
visual) about Hindu dharma, he should oppose it in
the way he is able to do. For example, one can inform Hindu
organizations of such material, one can write ones own blogs,
publish articles to raise awareness, etc. Everyone should follow
his dharma, which includes well-preserving and well-presenting
it. If everybody says that somebody would do it, then maybe
nobody would do it.
5. You have spent a lot
of time / effort on the Encyclopedia Britannica work. Please
tell us about that.
Seeking information on subjects of my interest is my hobby.
One day I was browsing through the article on Hinduism in Encyclopædia
Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition. There I was shocked
to read the following sentence:
“Krishna was worshipped with his adulterous consort, Radha.”
Disturbed by this, I called an organization in the US, but in
vain. I sent e-mails to a few people, quoting the above mentioned
sentence, but did not receive any response. It was this time
when I decided to thoroughly study the whole article and compare
it with articles on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, in order
to write a critique. Reading about Hinduism in Britannica was
a torture. It was distressful to witness a reputed encyclopedia
like Britannica presenting false and insane claims as facts.
Why? My article: Hinduism
Misinterpreted: Encyclopedia Britannica insults Hinduism
was made available, and is available, for free on the Internet
The work was appreciated and circulated by many Hindu organizations
and concerned Hindus.
My first complaint to Britannica's customer service was on the
day when my article was published (May 5, 2009), but it was
not well-attended. On May 15, 2009, I called Britannica's office
in the US and spoke to Ms. Amy Tikkanen, who forwarded my complaint
as required. On the same day I received a reply from Mr. Brian
Duignan (Senior Editor, Philosophy and Religion, Encyclopædia
Britannica) assuring that they would revise their article on
Hinduism and they were searching for a Hindu scholar for this
purpose. Their revision is awaited.
I felt it as a duty to expose, and possibly lead to correction,
of the misinterpretation of Hinduism in Britannica – time and
effort spent do not count when the cause is crucial.
6. Please give us a few
other instances of anti- Hindu literature.
It is not such that I am hunting for anti-Hindu literature,
but one cannot help noticing if it comes in front of you, e.g.
Britannica's article on Hinduism. There is abundance of anti-Hindu,
anti-Christian, anti-Islam, anti-Judaism, … writings over the
internet. Most of these writings are coming from the hands of
ignorant and unimportant people, who have enough time to move
from short comments to three-page commentaries. The reader is
also aware that such blogs and preposterous (e)books from invalid
authors cannot be taken as any word. Hate websites belong to
Some Indology scholars (esp. western) have produced works that
contain many derogatory comments about Hinduism. The works of
Wendy Doniger should be considered for the Nobel Prize in
Defamation. Another comic kind of book, Introducing
Hinduism authored by Vinay Lal, is full of rubbish.
Encyclopedias and textbooks should be unbiased and should stick
to the facts. But in case of Hinduism, there are many instances
that are openly biased against Hinduism and are presenting somebody's
personal opinion as a fact. Britannica's article on Hinduism
and California textbook's depiction of Hinduism are bold black
examples of this.
7. What are the resources
online if a young Hindu wants to learn about Hinduism?
There are many websites on Hinduism but rather than visiting
many websites and listening to many people, I think, it is better
to understand the basics of Hindu dharma. This would
lead to fruitful realisation. In the absence of a true and vigorous
foundation, one is likely to infer incorrectly.
========= Veds ==========
The foundation of Hindu dharma. An excellent Hindi translation
and commentary of RigVed and YajurVed by Swami Dayananad Saraswati
is available at: http://www.aryasamajjamnagar.org/.
This website provides translations and commentaries on the other
two Veds (SamVed and AtharvaVed) too. Information on schools
of Hindu philosophy is also available.
======== Bhagavad Gita ========
A must for every Hindu. The book, Bhagavad Gita: As
It Is by Swami Prabhupada, is a good translation of the sacred
Bhagavad Gita. It can be downloaded as a PDF
file. I have found the translation very appealing, though the
commentary gives a strong Vaishnavism impression. I found it
quite well written.
==== Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo,
Swami Ramdev ======
of Swami Vivekananda summarize Swami Vivekanand's teachings.
His books, Karma
Yoga and Raja
Yoga are very educating.
of Sri Aurobindo include his writings on Veds, Upanishads,
Yog, and many other themes.
Swami Ramdev, though famous for Yog techniques, is a well-versed
scholar of Hindu dharma . You can watch him on YouTube
Search for “Bharat Swabhiman” using Google to view or listen
to thoughtful ideas.
======== Ramayan =========
The virtuous attributes of Shri Ram are exemplary. Ramayan,
enfolds many teachings for all of us. You can watch Ramanand
Sagar's Ramayan (aired on Doordarshan in 1986).
The most important, once again, is to think upon what has been
read, heard, or viewed, so that we can apply it judiciously
in our life. One must sharpen his reason to be able to discern
good from bad, to gain and give good. In suppose, this shows
our true education.
8. What steps should
be taken to address the problem of “Indians” collaborating with
anti-Hindu publishers/ writers?
A critic of Hinduism is free to criticize it, but if this criticism
unjustifiably hurts others, then it should be withheld. In the
name of academic freedom, a historian cannot assert false claims
as true. dharma is not an artwork! Writers or publishers
whose task is to tarnish the brightness of Hinduism are miscreants.
Why would anybody collaborate with miscreants? Why would an
Indian be anti-Hindu? It sounds like an Indian being anti-Indian.
Excuse me for taking the liberty of exchanging the terms Hindu
and Indian. In my opinion, the notion of India does not exist
without Hindu dharma.
Some of the reasons for “Indians” joining anti-Hindus can be:
• They hate the Hindu dharma and are determined to
malign its reputation.
• They are doing this for money, fame, opportunities, etc.
• To show another religion better than Hinduism and get converts.
• Out of ignorance – badly educated and manipulated. In India,
many Indians are being fed with an inferiority complex about
their customs, habits, language, and religion.
• Negative perception of the Hindu dharma in our school
books which teach much to many. People without a firm foundation
of concepts accept ill easily.
• The media, esp. the Indian media, is doing its best to insult
the Hindu dharma. I hardly hear any of the many good
deeds of Hindu organizations. Media wants to make masala,
no matter what they cook.
• Lack of awareness amongst Hindus. They do not seem to understand
the gravity of the present situation. What has changed in the
reputation of their dharma from 1950?
• Absence of the essence of the great teachings of the Veds,
Upanishads, Gita, Ramayan, and other graceful Hindu texts amongst
the newer generation.
• In some situations, Indians are stupidly adapting non-Indian
values. Trying to speak Hindi in English and write Devnagari
in Latin – un-understandable and incompatible, of course.
Mentioned above are some of the points that I believe, if tackled
wisely, would help in reducing the numbers “Indians” turning
to anti-Hindus, and also lower the number of anti-Hindus.
9. How well represented
are Indian scholars in international academic forums on matters
Very poor. The spiritual land of India has many educated and
learned gurus, who understand very deeply the concept
of Hindu dharma, but they do not have university degrees
or academic publishing experience. I have come across text that
misinterprets Hinduism maliciously but I could not find any
eminent criticism of it. It seems to me that Indian scholars
at universities are either sleeping or they simply do not care.
Someone rubs mud on our face and all we do is, walk away. Are
we setting an example of dignified behaviour or are we displaying
cowardice? And the ones who are sleeping, and are not even aware
that someone is deliberately rubbing mud on their face – it
is time to wake up!
Presently, in theology, the western academia is very strong.
Some Indian scholars have done a good job, but only some of
the many Indian theologians. To write an article on Hinduism,
Britannica, which has connections in India, had to hire non-Hindus
and non-Indians. Why? Does the western academia want to maintain
its hold in theology? Are they scared of Indian scholars? If
yes, then why? Why do not we come across as many papers, article,
critiques, and reviews on theology by Indians as by western
scholars. At least Hindu scholars should publish more about
Hinduism than anyone else.
Editor's Note: Kindly
click the links below for the original work of Shri Amit Raj
Dhawan on the flaws of Encyclopadedia Britannica